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Seahawks open training camp with a lot to prove

Posted Jul 24, 2014

Winning the Super Bowl is one thing. Defending a Super Bowl title is something completely different, as the Seahawks are about to discover as they opened training camp on Thursday and will practice for the first time on Friday.


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What’s next? Or should that be: What’s next!

The catchphrase that the team came up with during its Super Bowl-winning season has moved into the catch-all phase as the players reported on Thursday for the start of an unprecedented training camp – with the first practice set for Friday morning.

Because the Seahawks never had been Super Bowl champions in their first 37 seasons, they open this 39th training camp – and sixth at Virginia Mason Athletic Center – as defending World Champions.

With that distinction come possible distractions, especially after an offseason that started with a parade in downtown Seattle through a throng of 12s three days after the 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII; featured a visit to the White House to be honored by President Barack Obama; included the ceremony where the players and coaches received their Super Bowl rings; and culminated with the Seahawks winning the ESPY for “Best Team.”

What’s next, indeed?

“I think it’s starting from where we ended up,” quarterback Russell Wilson said Thursday during the lull between taking his physical and the evening team meeting. “Let’s see if we can pick it back up from where we ended up, and that’s from the Super Bowl and the OTAs that we had. Starting from that point, the progression that we’ve had from all of last year and the success we had last year.

“And kind of moving forward from that point. Not recapping, necessarily, and going backwards. It’s just going from where we were and continuing to grow.”

Which brings us back to where the blurred line between when last season ended and this offseason started, and Carroll’s motivational mantra: What’s next?  

The Seahawks opened training camp a year ago with heightened expectations as they were the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. With those expectations met, and exceeded, the task this summer is to handle the hype that comes with not only winning the Super Bowl but dominating the highest-scoring offense in NFL history in the progress.

“Nothing has to be different just because of what happened last season,” said middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, the leading tackler on a defense that led the league is average points and yards allowed last season. “We just go with the same mindset – we have to get better. Everybody has things to work on.

“We’re not perfect. If we were, we would have won all our games last season.”

But the Seahawks did win 13 games during the regular season, tying the 2005 team for the most in franchise history. They then one-upped that ’05 squad by getting to the Super Bowl and winning it, in emphatic fashion as all three units scored – the defense on a first-play-of-the-game safety and Malcolm Smith’s interception return for the touchdown; on special teams on Percy Harvin’s return of the second half kickoff for a TD and a pair of Steven Hauschka field goals; and the offense on a run by Marshawn Lynch and Wilson’s scoring passes to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

“We’re just looking forward to being back together and rebuilding everything we had last year and trying to be better,” Wagner said. “We know we have to be better because we understand we have a bigger target on our back.

“But I think everybody in this organization is ready for that. We’re excited about it.”

For Wilson, who is 28-9 in his two seasons as the starter, including a 4-1 record in the postseason, that means taking each day as it comes and making the most of it.

“I think that we approach it the same way we did last year and the year before,” he said. “This is a new year, but our focus still needs to be on having a championship mindset and going 1-0 every week. So you do your best today, because you can’t get to tomorrow until you get through today.”

And you can’t get back to the Super Bowl without first getting through training camp, the preseason, the regular season and the postseason.

“Everybody on this team is better than they were last year,” Wagner said. “And that’s kind of scary, because we were really good last year. But if everybody is better than they were last year that only makes us a better team.”