Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and safety Kam Chancellor walked to a podium Wednesday afternoon together and stood side-by-side for a press conference, a sign that the Pro Bowl safety was not only back with his team after sitting out training camp and the first two games of the season, but also that whatever difference existed between the two sides have been put to rest.
"We're here to welcome Kam back to the Seahawks and back here to camp with us," Carroll said. "It has been a long process getting him here. We're really thrilled that he's here. He's a big part of our program and he always has been. He's a fantastic leader, he's just one of the blood and guts of this program and has been forever. So we're thrilled to have him back, ready to go to work… We look forward to a really long time together working well into the future. That's what we've always thought of it, and that's what we plan to do, so it's good to have the big fella back."
Later that afternoon, Chancellor was back on a practice field with his teammates for the first time since June minicamp. And if there were any hard feelings about Chancellor missing the first two games of the 2015 season, they went away as soon as No. 31 walked into the locker room earlier in the day.
"Everybody welcomed him with open arms," said linebacker Bobby Wagner, the captain of Seattle's defense. "We're excited to have him back. We just picked up like he never left. We're excited to get back on the field and start getting wins."
Richard Sherman echoed those comments, saying "Guys were excited, guys were excited to have him back in the building, happy to know he's going to be back out there."
Neither Chancellor nor Carroll got into the business side of Chancellor's decision to stay away from the team or his subsequent decision to return, but both sides are eager to work towards turning things around on the field after an 0-2 start.
"I just feel like the time was now," Chancellor said. "I've always been a guy who followed my heart, and just watching my teammates and my team play week to week, first and second game, you know watching those losses it hurt me being the leader that I am. So I think the time is now to come back and put all business to the side, and address that after the season, and just get back to work."
Having missed all of camp, four preseason games and two regular season games, there is no guarantee that Chancellor will be game ready this weekend when the Seahawks host the Chicago Bears in their home opener, but Chancellor said he has been working out hard on his own and insisted, "I know I can play Sunday."
Carroll wasn't quite ready to make guarantees like Chancellor was, but he noted that the Seahawks for now will "take it one day at a time with the thought that we'd love to have him play."
Chancellor, a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time, second-team All-Pro, will make a difference when he is back on the field. Carroll couldn't allow his or his team's focus to be on who wasn't on the field while Chancellor was away, but now that he's back, Carroll can admit that an important piece of the defense was missing.
"There's nobody like him," Carroll said. "Nobody plays like him. He's an extremely unique football player. His style and his mentality and all of that, he's about as obvious as you can get, so yeah, I think (his absence was felt)."
Added Wagner: "You definitely could tell he wasn't here. We've all been playing with each other for a long time now, so when you've got a new guy in, it's like you've got to relearn the stuff that you already know. So it's definitely good to get somebody you've been playing with for a while back in the game… Shoot, he's damn near a linebacker playing safety. He's coming downhill and making a lot of plays, so when he's not there, you definitely could tell. We're excited to have him back."
And after a prolonged absence, Chancellor was happy to be back Wednesday.
"I'm happy to be back playing football, happy to be back with the organization, with my team, with my teammates, my coaches," he said. "They were highly missed and it was hard to watch those games. You know I'm just ready to play football now."
The first official day of autumn fell on "Competition Wednesday" and the backfield saw the return of number 31.