The NFL lockout made for a “most unusual offseason,” as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told his players Wednesday night. But now that’s it over, Carroll stressed that it’s time to get “on the road to being something special.”
The NFL lockout is over. Done. Finished. In the past.
And that’s where it needs to stay, Pete Carroll stressed to his players on Wednesday night during a team meeting at Virginia Mason Athletic Center that “officially” kicked off his second training camp as coach of the Seahawks.
Carroll, like every other coach in the NFL, has emerged from an offseason like none other in his career – or in the 92-year history of the league. The 136-day lockout cost the players and coaches the minicamps and OTA sessions where offenses and defenses are installed, and skills honed.
So that puts an even greater emphasis on training camp, which continues Thursday with a pair of walk-thru sessions before the team practices for the first time on Friday in preparation for its nationally televised Aug. 11 preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego.
“It’s been the first spring in 30-something years that we haven’t been doing football, so in that regard it was very unusual,” Carroll, who began coaching in 1974 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater – the University of the Pacific – said earlier in the day.
“But it’s over now. It’s done. And we made it through it. The rest of it is history now, and it doesn’t make any difference.”
What will make a difference in the 2011 seasons – and beyond – for the defending NFC West champions is how the players and coaches bounce back from the oddness of the offseason and use their limited time to prepare for the season.
“We have to maximize every opportunity that we get, every day that we get to take advantage of the time to teach and learn and get prepared and get right,” Carroll said. “It’s a very competitive situation, maybe more so than ever.”
And just so no one forgets that the bottom-line cornerstone of Carroll’s program is competition, he hammered that point during the hour-long meeting.
“We’ve worked very hard to be really diligent about the repetitions that guys get, and the practice sessions, and the turns that we take to totally take full advantage of every shot,” he said. “Because we’ve missed a lot of time.”
Carroll caught himself before adding, “There’s no point in talking what we’ve missed, it’s what we have available now that the focus goes to.”
The meeting took place after another busy day of activity by the Seahawks, and their former players.
Former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice, former Oakland Raiders guard Robert Gallery and former Auburn kicker Wes Bynum agreed to sign with the Seahawks, according to league sources. Also, linebacker Matt McCoy agreed to re-sign with the team and seventh-round draft choice Pep Levingston agreed to his rookie contract.
Leaving via free agency, according to league sources, were quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who agreed to sign with the Tennessee Titans; kicker Olindo Mare, who agreed to sign with the Carolina Panthers; linebacker Will Herring, who agreed to sign with the New Orleans Saints; and wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who agreed to sign with the Washington Redskins.
The number of players participating in walk-thru sessions on Thursday will be limited, because those players agreeing to contracts can’t sign them until Friday and the team’s unsigned draft choices can’t report until they sign their rookie contracts.
But Carroll emphasized that as a positive, as well, because it gives those players already in camp more reps – and therefore more opportunities to make impressions on their coaches.
As Carroll told his players, “We’re on the road to something special.”
And the first step has been taken.