The Seattle Seahawks took their first steps into a new season on Thursday morning, beginning the annual rite that is an NFL training camp.
Coach Pete Carroll still plays music during warmups, and coaches shout instructions in the same gravelly voices, but this is unlike any other year in the NFL. An unprecedented offseason has given way to an unusual reality as Seattle held its first practice exactly two weeks before its first exhibition game in San Diego.
“With the lockout and the small window of free agency, there was going to be a lot of change,” Seahawks receiver Mike Williams said. “A lot of overnight changes.”
Rosters are a work in progress, changes happening so fast that it makes it difficult to focus on the players on the field for practice without thinking about those headed elsewhere and who’s coming next.
Coaches can’t talk about the players the teams will add, and players who’ve agreed to come to Seattle can’t sign contracts until Friday. With hundreds of players still on the free-agent market — including Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane — the result is that the intrigue of what is happening in the front office is as compelling as anything occurring on the field.
“There’s a lot of unknowns,” cornerback Marcus Trufant said, “just because everything is so different.”
The skies were clear for Seattle’s first day of practice at the team’s headquarters, but the forecast is a little less certain. No one knows quite what to expect next.
Additions can happen at any time. Seattle agreed with defensive tackle Alan Branch of Arizona late Thursday night. Just one of many additions Seattle still must make.
The longest work stoppage in league history is going to cast quite a shadow over the next month as teams try to prepare for a season at warp speed. It was only Monday that the league’s lockout was lifted. Matt Hasselbeck is headed to the Tennessee Titans. On Thursday, Charlie Whitehurst was one of three quarterbacks in uniform for the Seahawks, along with two undrafted rookies.
“It’s amazing how fast it has happened, for sure,” Whitehurst said. “I was expecting anything to happen at this position. … I was open to anything, but yeah, it has been pretty fast.”