The Seahawks broke training camp Tuesday with a lighter practice two days ahead of their second preseason game, wrapping up a camp in which the energy was "awesome," according to Pete Carroll. "It's been the best ever."
Practice continues as the Seahawks prepare for their regular-season opener, but Tuesday marked the official end of camp, and with it the end of practices open to the public, which means for the last time this summer, we offer six observations from training camp.
1. Earl Thomas practices at a different level.
After six seasons, a Super Bowl ring, a big contract extension and five Pro Bowl and four All-Pro nods, it would be understandable if Earl Thomas wanted to take it easy in practice from time to time. Understandable, that is, if you didn't know Earl Thomas.
As he finished his seventh training camp with the Seahawks, Thomas was, as always, all energy and intensity Tuesday. He showed off his instincts and closing speed to intercept a pass on one play, then blitzed a couple plays later to force a rushed throw that went incomplete, all while treating every rep of an August practice like it was a postseason game.
"It would be impressive to see Earl Thomas practice at the level he does every day if I did not know Earl Thomas was Earl Thomas," cornerback Richard Sherman said, before going off on a bit of tangent. "Earl Thomas is kind of like either the Dos Equis guy or Chuck Norris."
Why is Thomas like "The most interesting man in the world," or like a martial artist and actor who has turned into something of a mythical figure thanks to the internet?
We'll let Sherman explain: "Practice watches Earl Thomas, Earl Thomas does not watch practice… I've seen him bend blades of grass (with his mind), I've seen him catch footballs by looking at them. The list is long about things Earl Thomas has done. I've seen him beat up Chuck Norris."
On a more serious note, Sherman added: "People don't get to see him work on a daily basis, they don't see how hard he goes, how hard he practices even when the practice doesn't matter. In walk-throughs, he doesn't let people catch the ball, he doesn't let people execute their plays when we're supposed to let the offense catch it. He just doesn't live his life that way."
2. J'Marcus Webb and others returned to action.
Tackle J'Marcus Webb was back on the field after missing the preseason opener because of a knee injury. Webb, who joined Seattle as a free agent this offseason, had been working mostly with the starting offense at right tackle before his injury, but in his absence, Garry Gilliam moved from left tackle to the right side with Bradley Sowell playing left tackle. Gilliam and Sowell were again the No. 1 tackles on Tuesday, with Webb mostly working with the No. 2 offense.
Also back was Jordan Hill, though he appeared to be limited in his workload. Carroll said Monday that Hill, who has a groin injury, was close to returning, though he likely won't play Thursday. Linebacker Mike Morgan was also back with the team after being absent Monday to see a specialist in Philadelphia about what Carroll described as a "groin thing."
3. Doug Baldwin continues to shine.
Like Thomas, Baldwin falls into the category of established star who can sometimes be overlooked this time of year when the focus is on battles for starting jobs and roster spots. But Baldwin's play Tuesday, and throughout camp, deserves a mention. Coming off the best season of his career, Baldwin looks like he's ready to pick up where he left off since returning from a brief injury absence earlier in camp. On Tuesday, he used his exceptional quickness and route-running to get wide open on a number of occasions, including one short catch he turned into a long touchdown.
"He has a fantastic feel for the game," Sherman said. "He's just a man amongst boys right now."
Look through the best photos from the Seahawks final day of training camp practice held at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
4. Receiver depth continues to stand out.
On numerous occasions, Carroll has pointed to receiver as one of the position groups with the most competition for roster spots. And once again Tuesday, the group of receivers battling for playing time and for jobs behind Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson managed to impress time and time again. Hamstring injuries have limited Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith and Deshon Foxx—though Williams returned to practice this week—but even with those three out, there have been plenty of bright moments for this position group. Whether it was Douglas McNeil III hauling in a couple of nice catches, or Antwan Goodley making a leaping grab on the sideline, or Kenny Lawler showing off his hands, or Tanner McEvoy using his size to make a play, it was clear throughout camp that figuring out the final couple of roster spots at receiver will be a real challenge.
5. Some players are WWE fans.
One of the many reasons the Seahawks have been successful in recent years has been the way Carroll embraces individualism on his team. While Thomas and others are all-business at practice, some players perform better in a more relaxed environment, and Carroll is fine with players being themselves, as long as they do so in a way that doesn't hurt the team.
"It's a blessing to be out here in a team like ours, an environment, an organization that appreciates its players, that gives them the freedom that lets them dance and do WWE moves at practice," Sherman said. "But we still go out there and do our jobs, and that's what football is about. You go to some places and it's militant, it's straight by the book. There's no music, there's no anything, just do your job for three hours and get off the field. Here, you're playing with your family, my son gets to see me play, there's nothing better."
Wait, did he said, "do WWE moves at practice?"
Yes, indeed Sherman and few other players are fans of professional wrestling, which at times, such as at the end of Tuesday's practice, leads to some playful wrestling between teammates. In this case it was Sherman taking on receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.
"It was kind of a tag-team between (Kearse) and Doug, it was a surprise attack," Sherman said before joking that he would look into taking legal action. "I'm calling my lawyers to see what kind of charges we can press. There's a lot of cameras out here, hopefully somebody got it."
And no, this isn't the first time Sherman has used his wrestling skills on a teammate.
6. The 12s will be missed.
With camp ending Tuesday, practices from here on out are a private affair. But as is the case every year, players are grateful for the more than 31,000 fans that came to camp over the past two weeks, providing an extra level of energy and excitement at a time when practice can otherwise start to become a grind for players.
"It's a lot of fun," tight end Luke Willson said. "It gets you ready for what the season's going to be like when you have fans around… The fans add another dimension, it's a little more game-like and it's a lot of fun. Having all the 12s here is pretty awesome. We'll miss them, but we'll still get some hard work in at practice."
Check out the best fan photos from the final day of training camp held at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.