Russell Wilson gives Seahawks an A in offseason’s final exam

Posted Jun 13, 2013

Coach Pete Carroll called the Seahawks’ just-concluded three-day minicamp the final exam in the offseason program, and the team’s passer handed out a grade that was well beyond passing.

The Seahawks put the finishing touches on their offseason program Thursday, but you could sense they can’t wait to get started again.

“The only thing I really look forward to is the next opportunity to get out and practice,” second-year quarterback Russell Wilson said after the third practice in the team’s three-day minicamp.

That won’t come until July 25, when the first training camp practice is scheduled at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Until then, the veterans are off – with the rookies having 10 more days of workouts before getting their break.

But if the way the players approached the just-concluded minicamp, the OTA sessions that preceded them, and the offseason workouts at preceded them, is any indication, they’re not only ready but prepared for training camp and a 2013 season that comes with heightened expectations.

Wilson’s next-opportunity response came to a question about looking forward to the Sept. 15 regular-season home opener against the defending NFC and NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. But, as usual, Wilson’s words went beyond expectations.

“If you look too far ahead, too many games ahead, you’ll forget the ones before that,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is we’ve got to stay in the moment. We’re a young football team that has a lot of talent. Now we have experience. But at the same time, we’ve got to stay in the moment and stay in the now.

“You look at all the great teams of the past, they’re in it in every game, every play. They’re focused. And I think that’s the biggest thing that we have to do, and the biggest challenge. But I definitely believe we’re up for it.”

And part of that “up” is not getting too up about all the expectations that have been heaped upon the Seahawks this offseason in the wake of their breakthrough 2012 season – the third-best regular-season record in club history (11-5); the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983; a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL; an offense that ran the ball a league-high 536 times for a franchise-record 2,579 yards; four All-Pro selections in running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger, free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman; and a Pro Bowl quintet in Lynch, Unger, Thomas, Wilson and left tackle Russell Okung.

The way the team handles those expectations will go a long way in determining just how great the expectations will be. No one knows this better than coach Pete Carroll, who dealt with a similar situation almost annually while winning seven Pac-10 titles and two national championships during his ridiculously successful nine-season run at USC.

“We have a very rigorous plan to give them to follow so they can stay on track,” Carroll said when asked about turning his veterans “loose” for almost five weeks. “They’ve worked so hard for so long to get to this point. And we’re in great shape. So we’re concerned about the five weeks that guys could not work.

“They’re not in the same kind of environment that’s so competitive and so driven and all. So we’re concerned about that. But they have good guidelines and most of the guys will be working with each other in different areas, and they’re getting together from time to time.”

But this break is here for a reason – to help the players get their bodies and minds rested and right for the rigors of training camp.

“They need a little break right now,” Carroll said. “They need time away and so we understand. But we’ll always be a little concerned about it.”

Carroll had referred to three-day minicamp as the final exam for the offseason. So how did the players do?

“I think we did great. I think we got an A,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to do a little more work to get an A-plus, but we’re right around there and I think we’ll have a great football team this year.”