As Pete Carroll had a brief one-on-one coaching session with rookie cornerback Tre Flowers, the Seahawks coach paused briefly to appreciate what made that little moment special. For Carroll it was a conversation similar to one he has had so many times throughout his long coaching career, one that could have taken place when he was a young defensive backs coach in Buffalo or Minnesota in the 1980s, or as recently as last year with a rookie like Shaquill Griffin. But for Flowers, this was all new—the first time on an NFL practice field; the first time learning how the Seahawks expect their cornerbacks to play in Carroll's defense.
"That meeting right there, you could have put me in that meeting 30 years ago," Carroll said. "Talking the same stuff and principles and concepts, trying to reach a young kid and help him understand what this is all about and what he's getting into and all of that. It was awesome. I felt like I was right back in the middle of all of it."
That brief little exchange between a veteran NFL coach and a wide-eyed rookie is part of what made Day 1 of Seahawks rookie minicamp a special experience not just for the newest Seahawks who hope to make the team, but also for coaches who are working with a new group of players for the first time.
"There's this rejuvenation to every season that we have that's a remarkable part of our business that sometimes we don't talk about enough," Carroll said. "The newness, the challenges, the unknown, the expectations and the uncertainty of all of it makes this very exciting. I don't feel any different about this than any season I can ever remember, but I feel more excited to have a chance to see this opportunity come to life. I'm very grateful and appreciative of it. I was right in the middle of it today, and I had to stop for a minute—'wow, here we go'—I'm trying to make this kid understand and it's something he's never heard before or seen before. It's pretty darn exciting. That's just the start of it, then we'll see it unfold in time. It's really fun. That's just one of those stories."
Seahawks veterans returned to work in April for voluntary workouts, and the team is now into Phase 2 of those workouts, meaning players can do some work with coaches, but Friday's minicamp practice was the closest thing to real football for Seattle's coaches since the 2017 season came to an end.
"This is really fun," Carroll said. "We love coaching, and there's only so much you can do on the chalk board and in the film room and all that. So it's great to get on the field. Phase 2 gets us started on the field, but that's still a long ways from coaching football with the restrictions that we have, so this is the closest thing we'll get to it until we get to Phase 3 and onto the minicamp later on. It's just fun to be back out, it's fun to see the newness, the opportunities that the guys have. Whether they've been here for years or not, there's opportunity that's knocking in all directions right now, and you can sense on our club that they get that and they're coming very ready, and it just permeates everything that we're doing. There's an excitement about it and an energy about it that we like."
A new class of rookies and tryout players taking the field would bring a level of excitement in any season, but Carroll admits there is a little extra something adding to that excitement this year because there is so much newness on the team, both in terms of the roster and also on the coaching staff with changes at offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
"Yeah, there's a newness there," Carroll said. "I catch myself scrambling around with some reminders on things that just come up in the structure of practice—how we handle when a guy fumbles or we jump offside—little things like that. You try to cover everything, but then still things pop up, so there is still newness. But it brings a freshness and an excitement and energy about it that we're fortunate to be in the middle of."
Carroll joked that because of that newness on the coaching staff, "we messed up on the first drill of the day today—we were a little bit out of whack—which was my fault for not getting them orchestrated properly. I guess you've got to get 35 years of experience before you can really get it all right. It gave us something to kind of hound (offensive line coach) Mike (Solari) about."
But overall, Carroll said, "everything went really well. These guys are really experienced, savvy coaches, and you could see it already take hand. (offensive coordinator) Brian (Schottenheimer) is very active on the field, and because he's involved in the quarterbacks, he's very much in tune with everything that's going on and right in the center of the action, which is good. It's exciting to see that.
"(Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.) was barking at them Day 1, from the meetings on throughout. It's really fun to have him back, I love his spirit. He brings so much for the players and he has so much to offer these young guys. It's a natural connection we're lucky to have."
Photos from the first day of the Seattle Seahawks 2018 Rookie Minicamp on Friday, May 4 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.