At this time last season, the Seahawks were in the early stages of training camp without a player who isn't just a playmaker and a tone-setter on the field, but a leader off of it. This year, Kam Chancellor is at camp, and the Pro Bowl safety is making his presence felt with everything from big hits on the field to lessons taught to teammates young and old off of it.
"When he's here and he's around, he affects other people," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "His toughness, his mentality, his words, his leadership is just exemplary. So it's just, we dealt with the void really, is what I could tell you best. It is just great to have him around."
Whether it's the hunger of players motivated by an early playoff exit, or the natural growth that comes with the nucleus of the team maturing, or the presence of a leader like Chancellor, the consensus seems to be that this camp has a more positive energy to it than has been felt around these parts in at least a couple of years.
"It feels like the (Super Bowl) 48 year," Chancellor said. "It feels like everybody's bringing that intensity. Feels like everybody is out to prove something, which it may be or may not be, but it just feels that way. The brotherhood, it's getting even tighter. Guys are just out here having fun, not thinking about a lot."
When Carroll was asked about that comparison to his team's Super Bowl-winning season, he said he wasn't sure it was the same feeling as that year, but did say there "is a unique vibe" to this year's camp.
"I think there is something going on here that has come over a few years' time," Carroll said. "I think there was a little bit of a frustration that we are not really in control of the things like we would like, and everybody's worked with a mindset of bringing it for this camp right now, for the guys that are sitting across from them, and I really like it. There's some similarities to a lot of different times when we felt really good, I know that. I felt similar like coming off after the Atlanta loss in the playoffs, so maybe that is what (Chancellor) is talking about."
Chancellor said he learned more about the business side of the NFL during and after last year's holdout, which extended two games into the regular season, but more importantly, that "it's about brotherhood. We started a brotherhood here and we've got to continue what we've started with. That's the most important thing."
While Chancellor can be a vocal leader when he needs to be, teammates feel his presence on the field and in the locker room even when he isn't saying a word.
"I think his presence by itself, man," defensive end Cliff Avril said. "He's the enforcer of the defense. He doesn't say much, but he goes out there, and just the power he brings when he hits guys, it just amplifies the game for us, it hypes us up. So just having him out there, his presence out there, because again he doesn't say much, it speaks volumes. It just brings the team together. Everybody knows what to expect from everybody and that's what he does. That's what he brings to the squad."
Whether or not this unique vibe, this tighter brotherhood leads to on-field success in 2016 remains to be seen, but there is definitely a good feeling around this team, and Chancellor is a big part of that.
"There's a really strong messaging in our locker room, these guys want to be part of this thing, they don't want to be the one who disrupts it, they don't want to be part of that," Carroll said on Saturday. "We went through a real learning process last year with one of our great players and great competitors in Kam. I think he's helped people understand what that's all about. He has been a big inspiration, I think anyone would think that way."
Check out the best photos from Day 3 of Seahawks training camp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.