The Seahawks only began taking part in on-field work on Monday, six days after players began reporting to training camp, but after almost a full week of testing, head coach Pete Carroll is encouraged about the way his team responded to a very unique and challenging offseason to put itself in this position of reporting to camp healthy.
"We're in a ramp-up period just getting started," Carroll said on a video press conference. "We won't be practicing like we like to practice for days ahead here, but at this time at least we're on the field and we're getting going and we're starting to make the process come to life. We're off to a really good start with our guys. One of the big emphasis to get rolling here was coming in under quarantine mentality, and we're very fortunate that we tested our way through it and we had very good results. Our guys have prepared themselves really well in that regard, and now as we start strength and conditioning today and get the guys actually running and doing things, we'll start to begin the evaluation process of where everybody is and how they feel and the condition that they're in and where things start to fit together, so we're just getting started. But it feels good to get after it and get out here in the sunshine."
Not surprisingly, Carroll sees both his team's ability to get things done during unusual circumstances, as well as the players' and coaches' abilities to follow all the necessary protocol to stay safe, as competitive situations.
"We're really pleased with the start," he said. "Really absolutely pleased we did everything we could have done in the quarantine week. There's a lot that goes into that, but it was trying to win the week really, so we competed our way through it, and I feel like we did that. As far as moving forward, what's happening right now is we're trying to get everything in motion so that we can operate at a really high level of taking care of our guys. We don't want to leave any stone unturned of what it takes to make sure our guys are safe. They're smarter about what's going on, They're respectful of every aspect of the process, and this falls on a whole mentality that makes me take a step forward in terms of accountability and responsibility and respect for one another the fullest extent. As far as projecting what that's going to mean, I don't know but we're going to try to kick ass in every aspect of this thing, and we're attacking it with a really clear discussion and open dialogue about what it takes and what we need to do, and hopefully our guys will be really educated to be at our best to carry this this challenge out."
As Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner pointed out last week, the team's veteran leaders will have a bigger role than ever in terms of making sure young players are acting responsibly.
"I can't tell you what's going to happen, but I'm optimistic that we're doing everything we can, and I love the leadership on this team continuing to send the message to the guys," Carroll said. "I really feel like, more than ever, the leadership in your locker room is going to be more meaningful and more instrumental in our success. I mean, it's always crucially important, but now more than ever. In essence, we don't bubble like the NBA did or like the NHL did in the same fashion, but don't think for a second that we aren't in a bubble; we are. And that bubble is the conscience that we can hold—always protect the team, Rule No. 1, is in effect, and it's crucial we do a great job with this."
As far as the football side of this training camp, the first couple of weeks will be an exercise in patience for players and coaches, who would normally going through full, padded practices this time of year. With in-person offseason workouts wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with players having to go through multiple days of testing before anything football-related can take place, NFL teams are way behind schedule. Padded practices won't come until mid-August, and the NFL cancelled the preseason, though Carroll noted one way the Seahawks will make up for the loss of games will be multiple mock-game practices, two of which will take place at CenturyLink Field.
"This is not like any other start any camp I've ever been around," he said. "The call for patience is ridiculous."
As far as getting ready for the season, physically speaking, without preseason games, Carroll said, "We have to catch up physically with the things that you would get accomplished in the four games. And not all the players—some of the young players played a lot in all four of those games but the starters did not, so we would ramp up their play and try to get them to where they could play three quarters of (the third preseason) game before they would take the fourth game and basically let the young guys play. We have to make that time up and make that physical part of the game come to life here on the practice field. We will have a couple events in the stadium—we're going to have a couple game-like events on the 22nd the 26th of the month, to really play it all out and get us in the mode. We will be playing with more opportunities, the physical stuff will be done here rather than in the games, and that will have to take care of all of that."
Carroll doesn't know for sure what this unusual NFL season will look like—nobody does—but he does plan on having a team that does everything it can to not just keep itself healthy, but set a good example.
"I know this, when you reopen, it doesn't work," he said. "We saw that across our country. To break down and start to feel comfortable that you've got this thing made is not the way to go. We have to keep the hammer down throughout, from now on. It's got to start with me, and it's got to go through Russell (Wilson) and Bobby (Wagner) and K.J. (Wright) and Duane (Brown) and all of our guys to pass the message. That's what this challenge is all about; it's way more than the football season, it's way more than that, and we're trying to respect the heck out of this every step of the way.
"This is a very treacherous thing everybody's dealing with, and we got to hopefully have good fortune along the way as well as great discipline. And so it's really important for me to take it head on and deal with it. I'm so disappointed that we weren't tough nationally. We weren't tough enough, we were too soft on it and we couldn't hang. We had to let up and find ways and excuses for not maintaining the discipline that it takes to beat this thing back. So we're hoping in our program here we can set an example. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but I hope we set a great example of what it takes to do this. I mean, six months from now, we're still going to be involved, so this this season, as we as we play it out, maybe we learn something. Maybe we can help some other people, maybe we can inspire somebody if we're fortunate enough to do well and do right to beat this thing that's disrupted everything. I don't think it would surprise you that I'm competing my butt off to do this well and right, and hopefully I can affect those that I can reach and in the program and we can all do this. It's really important stuff."
Seahawks coaches, veteran players and some of the team's newest additions arrived at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Tuesday, July 28th for pre-entry COVID testing. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.