The Seahawks kicked off 2021 training camp on Wednesday, and for the first time since their final game of the 2019 season, they took to the field with the 12s on hand to cheer them on. A year after music and the voices of players and coaches were the only sounds at practice, Wednesday's session included the familiar "Sea-Hawks!" chant, fans shouting to get the attention of their favorite players, the drums of Blue Thunder and more of the noises that help make football sound like it's supposed to.
With that in mind, here are five observations from Day 1 of camp:
1. Welcome back, 12s.
After a practice full of fan noise, Seahawks players and coaches made their way over to the side of the field, as close as NFL protocol allow, to the berm, where nearly 2,500 fans took in the day's practice. COVID-19 protocols prohibit players from signing autographs or otherwise interacting directly with fans this year, but the walk to the sideline allowed them to get close to the crowd and offer their thanks to the NFL's best fans.
"It's really a thrill to come back and get going again," Carroll said. "Just to get in this setting, seeing some fans come out, having some fun with them being here just re-connect the thought of, we play in front of an extraordinarily loyal following. We're so fortunate that the 12s are ours."
Carroll added, "It's just more fun. The game is fun, you play football because it's fun, but the fans add to that. Our guys love bouncing off of them, just hearing the noise and the chants."
2. Jamal Adams & Duane Brown were present but did not participate in practice.
Two of Seattle's top players, Jamal Adams and Duane Brown, are heading into the final year of their current contracts, which means both are at the stage where the Seahawks would usually work on an extension if that is going to happen. Both reported to camp on time, so there are no holdouts taking place, but neither was on the field on Wednesday. Those two watching from the sideline wasn't necessarily contract related, Carroll said, and both did take part in the walk through earlier in the day. As Carroll noted, Adams is coming back from surgery on his shoulder and on multiple broken fingers, so regardless of his contract situation he would be eased into things early in camp.
"He's got some stuff that's in question, he had shoulder surgery and he had surgery on both hands, so he's got some stuff that he would be working through anyway," Carroll said. "He wouldn't be working yet, so it's OK at this time right now. He's out to for the walk throughs, he's in the meetings and all that kind of stuff. He's doing everything."
And when it comes to Brown, who turns 36 next month, the Seahawks have managed the Pro-Bowl left tackle's workload for the past couple of years.
"He did the whole walk through today," Carroll said. "Starting up camp, we've got a long haul. He looked great, he's in great shape, hopefully we'll get a ton of work over the over the course of time, but right now we've got extra guys at left tackle that helps us a little bit in the rotation, so he didn't work today."
As for potential extensions, Carroll didn't give any information on any potential negotiations with Brown, but did say he expects a deal to get done soon with Adams.
"The conversations have been ongoing for some time and have been very amicable," Carroll said. "He's in a good place, and they've worked really hard to this point. I'm very hopeful that it's going to get taken care of here soon, very soon."
3. Re-signing Chris Carson was big for the offense.
When the 2020 season ended, there was a lot of doubt about whether or not Chris Carson would be back in Seattle. It wasn't that the Seahawks didn't want Carson back, but he was one of the top running backs available in free agency and Seattle went into free agency without much cap space. Fortunately the Seahawks were able to bring back their top running back from the past four seasons, and the speed and fluidity he showed on the field Wednesday was a good reminder of how important that re-signing could prove to be. Seattle has good depth at running back behind Carson in Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer and Alex Collins, but Carson, who has rushed for 3,062 yards and scored 27 touchdowns over the past three seasons, brings something rare to Seattle's offense.
"It is a big deal," Carroll said of having Carson back. "He's always been one of my favorites from the start. I love the story, he came out of nowhere, seventh-round pick and all that. He probably wasn't going to get drafted; we were in love with the guy from those 82 carries he had in his senior year. His attitude he brings, his style that he runs with is exactly what we like. I thought it was a real emotional deal when we got him back, because he didn't know what was going to happen, but he wanted to be here; we wanted to him to be here, but we had to figure it out and it worked out.
"He brings such style to us, it's just important to have. You go back, we really found ourselves moving in the right direction when Marshawn (Lynch) came in here. The style he brought, which is unique to him, it stood out and was obvious, we needed that. That's part of what Chris brings."
4. The pass-rush rotation is deep.
Carroll noted at the end of last season that he hoped the Seahawks could keep together a pass rush that was one of the league's best in the second half of the 2020 season. The Seahawks not only kept Carlos Dunlap II and Benson Mayowa; they also added Kerry Hyder Jr. and Aldon Smith. Watching those players work in a rotation that also includes L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Alton Robinson and 2020 second-round pick Darrell Taylor provided a good early reminder that Seattle's defensive end rotation could be the deepest it has been perhaps since the 2013-2014 Super Bowl teams.
"I've never had an experienced group like this with this many career sacks under their belt," Dunlap said. "… We've got a lot of young players and a good mix from a variety of positions and a lot of depth. I think we've got the most experienced depth at our position. You normally have a lot of young players who are aspiring to be starters, but we have starters who are coming in and taking on roles, so it's going to be interesting. Day 1 was a good start."
5. Injury updates.
The Seahawks opened camp with receiver D'Wayne Eskridge and running back Travis Homer on the physically unable to perform list, both due to injuries that came up during offseason workouts.
Eskridge, Seattle's first pick in this year's draft, has a big toe injury "that's bothered him to where he wasn't able to do enough work to be in shape to go," Carroll said. "He's feeling pretty good right now, he's working hard at it. The PUP status allows us to wait and see how he comes along. For sure we don't want to rush it, because it's been kind of a nagging thing, so we'll see what happens. We'll hold a really good thought that we can get him back out here in a week or two… They know exactly what it is, he's had a couple of different opinions on it, there's nothing to do surgically at this time, so it's just a matter of just getting him comfortable with the return to the workload. He's running, he's doing stuff, but we can't put a timeline on it right now."
Homer, meanwhile, is dealing with a calf injury he re-injured on a couple of occasions this offseason.
"He's got a little bit longer thing he's dealing with," Carroll said. He had a calf that, that he re-injured a couple times during the offseason, so right now we have to be very careful. He's running, but he's not ready to just explode on it yet, so we've just got to take our time, because it kind of was a little bit unpredictable, and it's really nagged him throughout the summertime. So we'll be really patient with that one, because of what we don't know on it. It's a little bit of a mystery, so we'll just waiting it out. He's in great shape, he looks phenomenal and all that; he's dying to get out there, but we can't go yet."
Also not practicing was center Ethan Pocic, though his hamstring injury is minor enough that the Seahawks didn't put him on PUP, allowing him to take part in walk-through practices prior to the full-speed work.
Photos from the first day of Seahawks Training Camp, held on Wednesday, July 28 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.