If there were any lingering issues between Kam Chancellor and Seahawks last year after he missed the first two games of the season because of a contract dispute, they have been taken care of heading into the 2016 season.
"I'm in a great place," Chancellor said after the first day of minicamp. "I just feel like I have a lot of experience and these young guys need to hear my voice. They need to get that extra coaching from guys who play on the field and kind of know what's going on and how teams are going to attack us and where they're supposed to be. So any time I have a chance to help those guys out, I'm out there trying to coach them up."
Chancellor quickly emerged not just as a key player for the Seahawks when he took over a starting role in 2011, but also as a vocal leader on what would eventually become the NFL's best defense, and his status as an important voice in Seattle's locker room remains unchanged as he prepares for his seventh season in the NFL.
"He has been awesome," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He has been such a great leader for us. He has been just on point. Really, he's got the experience, the wisdom of listening and hearing and watching what's going on. He can sense what's going on with the young guys and he's quick to straighten them out, get them on the right path. He's got a big voice here; when he speaks, everybody shuts up and listens, and he's just as tough as you can get in terms of playing the game. He has practiced every day, he has been at it. He has been a thousand-percenter for us, he has been great. It's been a fantastic offseason for him."
Chancellor and his teammates are optimistic about the season ahead not just because they're in a good place mentally, but also because of the talent and experience on their roster, and in the secondary in particular. With Chancellor missing the first two games and with the Seahawks having lost Byron Maxwell at right cornerback, the secondary struggled at times—at least by their lofty standards—early in the season. This offseason, however, the Seahawks have back their entire starting secondary from last season after re-signing Jeremy Lane, as well as much of the depth; they're significantly healthier than they were at this time last year; and they all come back with one more year of experience under their belts.
"I think we've advanced together, took another step together as a unit," Chancellor said. "Just pointing out the mistakes we've had in the past or faults we've had in the past, I think we've pointed them out and talked about them and found ways to fix them as a unit.
"I think this is a new year and guys are just healed up. The year before, guys were banged up. We went into the season and did what we did. We just got a little more time to heal up now and get stronger."
Another reason Chancellor and so many others like what they see out of the secondary is the return of Brandon Browner, who brings not just a physical presence to his new hybrid role, but also an understanding of what it is to be a competitor in Seattle's defense.
"I think he brings that O.G., that intensity, that experience," Chancellor said. "Showing these young guys how to compete. When we were first together, we just came out here and competed every day out here at practice, in the games, whatever we did, we just competed - whether it was shooting baskets. I think he's one of those guys who just embodies it and he can show the younger guys what the L.O.B. is all about. The originals."
Photos from the first of three mandatory Seahawks minicamp practices held at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.