The Seahawks kicked off organized team activities on Monday, and while what took place on a sunny afternoon in mid-May was still a far cry from regular-season football, it was a significant next step in the team's offseason workout program.
Monday's practice marked the first time since Seattle's 2017 came to an end that offensive and defensive players could compete head-to-head on a practice field, and was the first of 10 voluntary OTA practices before June's mandatory minicamp that will wrap up offseason workouts.
"It feels good to put helmets on," center Justin Britt said. "It's the first chance we really get to line up across from somebody since the end of last season. It's good to get out there, get the communication rolling, get closer to real football and just get the feel for it."
Added linebacker K.J. Wright, "It felt great just to be able to put those cleats on, put the helmets on and just be able to compete against each other. We know it's not real football, but at the same time, we get that mental aspect where we can go through our plays and fit things up. The DBs can chase receivers and stay on top like they always do, we can get our run fits going. So it felt good to put together the plays we've been going over."
On the defensive side of the ball, Wright noted that one priority is building chemistry following the loss of several starters, though he did point out that despite some big-name departures, what is taking place now is an annual process regardless of who comes and goes during an offseason.
"We've got to get that chemistry," Wright said. "This is where teams are made. We've got to get that chemistry started. I've got to learn guys, learn how my D-line moves, watch these rookie linebackers to make sure they know what they're doing, know what's going on, coach them up. This is where championship teams are made.
"I think people are more surprised because of the big names, but this turnover happens every year. This happens every year. Every time you've got to replace guys and rebuild that chemistry, so it's definitely not a big deal, we've just got to find ways to get better."
On offense, players are adjusting this offseason to a new coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, and offensive line coach, Mike Solari, but so far that process is going well.
"I don't think it's too much of an adjustment," receiver Tyler Lockett said. "The coaches did a good job in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of giving us the playbook in a specific order that allowed us to be able to study the way we needed to study to understand the system and the scheme. For Day 1, of course there were some mistakes because it's new, but I think we were farther along than we probably thought we would be in learning the new playbook."
And while coaching changes means some extra learning this offseason, it also can help reenergize the team.
"I think all of our mindsets are the same as they've been as far as our expectations of ourselves, of the group, of the team, and what we want to accomplish this summer before we get to the season," Britt said. "But I feel like everyone's just more tuned in because it's something new. If you're doing the same thing over and over and over, it can become kind of repetitive and you maybe don't dig into as much. Having a change of pace with a new O-line coach and a new OC kind of adds the excitement of getting out there and actually doing it."
The Seahawks kicked off Phase 3 of their voluntary offseason workout program on Monday, May 21, holding the first of 9 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.