The Seahawks returned to practice following their off day, kicking off the final stretch of work ahead of what head coach Pete Carroll called a "long awaited" season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
Here are some highlights from Carroll's Week 1 Wednesday meeting with the media prior to practice.
1. Carroll is fine playing the hot hand at running back.
During Marshawn Lynch's tenure in Seattle, there was no question who would be the lead running back in the Seahawks offense, but with Thomas Rawls only recently returning from last year's ankle injury, and with Christine Michael playing so well last season and in the preseason in Rawls' absence, there's no telling who will see the most carries in this week's game or beyond. And that's just fine with Carroll, who had plenty of success at USC relying on multiple backs, most notably when Reggie Bush and LenDale White shared a backfield.
"I think basically you get a couple of guys and you get it going so that you can feed off of those guys," Carroll said. "I thought our days at SC really showed that. We had multiple guys who could play with different strengths, and sometimes one guy was more effective on a day than other guys, so we never played favorites, we just played the guy that was hot. I think the ability to mix guys gives us more flexibility and a higher level of play too. But I do really appreciate the guy who just needs to be out there and stay out there and adjust keep digging, and he gets more instinctive as the game goes on—I've got that understanding too. But I think all in all over the course of a long season like we have, it's better to have guys who can feed off of one another. I've always enjoyed that and have no problem with it."
2. Carroll's offseason schooling with Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas didn't go quite as planned because "my curriculum was a little bit scattered."
Following the 2015 season, Carroll said one thing he was looking forward to was "going to school" with two of his best players, Russell Wilson and Earl Thomas, in order to help the quarterback and free safety understand the game at an even deeper level. In particular, Carroll wanted to help both understand the game better from the perspective of the side of the ball on which they don't play—so digging deeper into defense with Wilson and offense with Thomas. And while some of that went on, Carroll admits that it didn't go quite as planned because of the limited amount of time coaches can spend with players during the offseason.
"My curriculum was a little bit scattered," Carroll when asked about working with Wilson. "We've done a ton of talking. It has been a great offseason, but I kind of had it pictured a little differently. The time frame didn't allow it—we couldn't go past the times we were already using, because you're restricted. We kind of just had to fit it in when we could. But since we've gotten to camp since we've worked and all that, we've been able to spend a bunch of time and hanging out, just talking ball. It's a great conversation. We're really deep into what we're doing and it's been fun for me and I think it's been fun for us. We just continue to grow together. Hopefully I can share with him what I have to offer. He's a very aggressive learner; he wants everything he can get. It's really fun to work with him."
As for working with Thomas?
"Not as much either," Carroll said. "My curriculum fell short of my expectations, but that's me being an optimist. It didn't quite work out as much. But in like fashion, we continue to talk about stuff and we're hanging out together to make sure that we're staying abreast to what's cooking. It's really fun to be with these guys after these years. They've grown so much and they see so much more than they used to and they communicate on such a deeper level. It's really a joy for a coach to work with our guys and communicate on that kind of level. It's a big part of our team. We have a serious group of guys that are really experienced and they've been with us for a great while, and they can bank on that."
3. At 64, Carroll is still focused on growing as a coach.
Carroll has been coaching football for a long time, but that doesn't mean he feels like he has all the answers, so in addition to trying to help his players get better each offseason, he also tries to find ways to improve himself as a coach.
"I would like to think that I'm in constant search of whatever I can grab on to that's going to help me," Carroll said. "From everywhere from the football, whether it's catching a glimpse of a play that you see on television, it might be a high school play or a college play or whatever it is, to the depths of expressing what it's like to be a great teammate and what it takes to find your nest and uncover the potential that you have. I'm an open book for drawing information, I'm trying to get as much stuff as you can, and that's—you're either competing or you're not—and to me, that's how I do it. We're fortunate, we have a lot of people come through here. We go places, we're seeking out people to help us understand more. I think that's a crucial aspect of competing. You have to be on it, and I try to really illustrate that for everyone here. I want to be the guy that's the hungriest to learn. I hope not many things get by me. I'm trying to pick up as much as I can, and you just don't know where it's going got come from. Sometimes it's in the political scene and how people handle situations and issues and decision making and all that stuff, there's so many things. Hopefully that's how it goes."
This offseason in particular, Carroll said he learned from reading David Brooks' book The Road to Character, which in turn led to further conversations with other people Carroll looks to in order to broaden his horizons.
"That led us to reconnect with Angela Duckworth again because (she and Brooks) had worked together," Carroll said. "That took us to some really good places. I had some really good opportunities to study with an old friend of mine, Dr. Harry Edwards, which was very meaningful and that has helped us to maintain and continue to develop a perspective about what's going on. On and on, there's millions of things."
4. Carroll is encouraged about his offensive line after "terrific offseason work."
Seattle's offensive line will get a big test facing a Miami Dolphins front that is, as Carroll put it, "loaded. They've got terrific personnel." But Carroll likes what he has seen from his young line this offseason, and is optimistic about that group going forward.
"We're ready to go," he said. "I think we've had terrific offseason work, coming together. Camp has been great. They've worked extensively against our first guys at a really high tempo. They've carried it out, we've run the ball pretty well in preseason. We had one game where we gave up some sacks for miscellaneous reasons, but other than that I thought they did a really consistent job of protecting."
5. The relationship between rookies and veterans "is really going to be crucial" for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks currently have 15 rookies on their 53-man roster, including seven who went undrafted. But on the flip side of that, Seattle is very experienced in other areas, including a nucleus of players who have been around for several years. And the way those veteran players help bring rookies along will be big for the Seahawks this year, Carroll said.
"It's also so obvious that there's some young guys, and some guys that have been around, that the older guys help them," Carroll said. "They really reach out to them and that's a big part of the relationship that's in this locker room that I think is really going to be crucial for us as we move forward. The young guys are going to see things for the first time sometimes here, and they're going to have to be brought along and helped, sometimes on the field, sometimes in the locker room, sometimes when we're traveling and all of that. Our guys have a big role to bring them along. All of that is good stuff, it's really good stuff. And the young enthusiasm, the excitement about the game, these guys are just so pumped to go play and that always has added to the overall mentality."
Carroll didn't necessarily make a point of getting his veterans to step up in leadership roles as much as it happened naturally.
"We have such a great core of guys that they have really taken to this season and the preparation for this season to really be on point, be at their best, and welcoming the new guys that do come in," Carroll said. "They've been incredibly obvious about their willingness to go and help guys learn, so I think it's just a natural thing with really good people like we have. They've done a fantastic job with that part."
The Seahawks returned to practice on Wednesday at Virginia Mason Athletic Center to prepare for the first regular season game of 2016 against the Miami Dolphins.