The calendar might have said it was Aug. 4, but Thursday also was Christmas morning for John Schneider and Pete Carroll.
After an offseason of inactivity and then a week of hyperactivity, the Seahawks general manager and coach finally got to “unwrap” the gifts that their efforts have delivered as the 14 players added in free agency finally were able to practice with the team.
“It was kind of a relief to finally get to watch them and start evaluating our team now,” Schneider said after a 2½-hour practice at the team’s training camp. “It was fun to see the draft choices and some of the free agent guys mixed together, and get some of that veteran leadership out there.”
But even that entailed yet another wait, as the players took the field at Virginia Mason Athletic Center only to be told there would be a delay until the league gave the go-ahead after the new CBA was ratified. The Seahawks players had ratified the new deal earlier in the day, but it took every team getting it done for the league year to actually begin – and practice to start.
Carroll had the players pass some of the downtime by going to the fence on the east side of the practice fields to shake hands and sign autograph for fans. The practice that was scheduled to start at 1:45 finally got underway at 2:05.
“I think everyone was excited that finally, officially everything is over and done with and the next 10 years we’ll have football uninterrupted,” said
“I’ve never had a stall before practice like that where you’re just waiting and waiting for that phone call. Thankfully it happened and we got to practice.”
But after a 136-day lockout and then the past week, what was another 20 minutes?
“It wasn’t that odd considering what’s happened the past six months,” Miller said. “It wasn’t that surprising to have to wait a few more minutes to go.”
Besides, this was a day to celebrate as several important pieces of the puzzle that will be the 2011 Seahawks were wedged into place – finally:
Wide receiver –
Tight end – Miller. Acquiring the Pro Bowler was not in the original plan, but luring him to Seattle turned out to be one of the best moves. Miller has caught 60-plus passes the past two seasons and will join incumbent starter
Left guard –
Defensive tackles –
Weak-side linebacker –
All in all, it was a Christmas in August to remember.
“We’re very happy with it. Very happy with it,” Schneider said.
It was Schneider and his staff who were able to go out and get the players Carroll and his staff targeted – and the team needed. Rather than making a belly flop of a free-agent splurge, the Seahawks were selective, and direct, in their pursuit of these players.
“It’s easy to go out there and go hog wild,” Schneider said. “The hard thing is to kind of discipline yourself to manage people on the staff’s expectations about acquisitions. And I think between the two groups – between our personnel staff and our coaching staff – we’ve done a great job with that.”
The other hard thing was the wait to finally see these players, and for the players to actually join their new team.
“I’m glad they got it done, so now we can practice,” Jackson said.