That's a wrap

Posted Jun 14, 2012

An offseason that seemed like it would never begin is suddenly over as the Seahawks slap an exclamation point on their reduced practice schedule with a spirited three-day minicamp.

In the immortal words of Alice Cooper, “School’s out for summer …”

And that definitely was the vibe on Thursday, as the Seahawks wrapped up not only a three-day minicamp but their offseason program.

“It’s kind of like we’re going home for summer vacation,” coach Pete Carroll said after yet another spirited practice.

That it was. The veterans are off until training camp opens in late July, and most had vacated the locker room by the time Carroll completed his post-practice Q&A session. The coaches will get their extended break starting next week. The rookies will be around, working with the strength and conditioning coaches the next two weeks before they’re off.

But as far as on-field preparation for the 2012 season, that’s on hold until training camp.

“We’d like to keep playing football and keep practicing,” Carroll said.

They can’t, however, because of the new guidelines in the CBA that ended last year’s offseason-erasing lockout. So Carroll, his coaches and the players had to make the most of the on-field sessions they did have.

“We really have had productive days,” Carroll said. “The attitude of our team and the willingness to do everything that we’re asking them has been great. So we have taken a huge step here.

“We just feel so much differently going into camp than we did a year ago.”

That’s because so much is different. Last year, there were no OTA practices or minicamps. All teams were forced to hit training camp at a dead sprint, and it was especially taxing for the Seahawks because they were installing a new offense with a new quarterback (Tarvaris Jackson).

They then started 2-6, only to rally to a 5-3 record in the second half of the season.

Carroll is hoping – no, planning – that the improved play down the stretch last season, coupled with an offseason and the infusion of some new talent, will make for a better start to the 2012 season.

“There’s a good feeling about where we’re going, and we’re excited about it,” Carroll said. “We’re young, and the young guys who started for the first time last year don’t feel like young guys anymore. And that’s a big deal to us, because we need to grow.

“Being the youngest starting team (in the NFL) last year gives us a chance to really make a big step forward, and we can feel it. There’s a lot of energy about it and it’s a good place to be right now.”

On offense, Jackson is back, but competing for the starting job with free-agent addition Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson. Marshawn Lynch continues to lead a running than can setup the play-action passing in coordinator Darrell Bevell’s scheme – and those on the other end of the passes should be improved with the recent acquisition of tight end Kellen Winslow and the return to health of wide receiver Sidney Rice.

“We’ve got great players on the offensive side of the ball,” Wilson said. “You’ve got Kellen Winslow. You’ve got other receivers like Sidney Rice. We’ve got a bunch of guys that can really make plays. … That’s what it’s all about.”

On defense, pass-rushers Bruce Irvin and Jason Jones were added to improve the one element that was missing from a unit that ranked No. 9 in the league last season.

“I can only worry about the defensive side of the ball, and I think we’re looking great out there,” second-year cornerback Richard Sherman said. “The rookies are coming along great. The vets are who they are. The D-line and linebackers are doing great. And the backend, you know you can trust us.”

Even the night-and-day analogy can’t capture just how different this offseason feels from the one that wasn’t last year.

“(Last year) was such a mess,” Carroll said. “For a coach, it just felt like you were getting cheated of an opportunity to present a really good product. We’re not complaining about it. But this process now has been so complete. We’ve adapted to the phases (in the offseason program) that we go through and how it works.

“We’ve tried to max out everything we could to bring these guys as far as possible and we feel very good about the progress we’ve made. We expect to really come out flying in camp. We’re going to hit it going full speed when we get to camp, and we look forward to that.”

But first, “School’s out for summer …”