RENTON – Players took physicals, attended their first team meeting and checked into the team hotel on Friday in anticipation of the Seattle Seahawks’ first training camp practice this morning.
For veteran defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, today is the beginning of what he hopes will be a return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons during coach Pete Carroll’s tenure.
For Mebane, it’s about doing the little things.
“We have to execute,” Mebane said. “We have to get it into our minds to play the way we’re capable of playing, and then don’t make mental mistakes.
“We’re building. So the key is to just take one game at a time.”
Carroll enters Year 3 of an effort to ultimately build the Seahawks into a regular playoff contender. Seahawks owner Paul Allen did not hire Carroll away from national college power USC three years ago – after giving hometown product Jim Mora only one year to turn things around – just to hover around the .500 mark.
Carroll and general manager John Schneider remade Seattle’s roster into one of the youngest teams in the league, cycling through over 500 roster moves since January 2010 on their way to back-to-back 7-9 campaigns.
Now, the 60-year-old coach known for his enthusiastic approach is expected to lead this team to the playoffs.
“There’s a good feeling about where we’re going and we’re excited about it,” Carroll said. “The young guys that started for the first time last year don’t feel like young guys anymore, and that’s a big deal to us because we need to grow.
“Being the youngest starting team last year gives us a chance to really make a big step forward and we can feel it. There’s a lot of energy about it and it’s a good place to be right now.”
Carroll has a 47-49 record in six NFL seasons. He’s 2-3 in the postseason. In his third season with New England, the Patriots finished 8-8 and Carroll was out of a job after the season. He’s likely not facing that dire circumstance in Seattle. Carroll’s in the third year of a five-year deal that pays him $7 million annually.
With a top-10 defense and one of the game’s best running backs in Marshawn Lynch returning, the Seahawks have the foundation to be a consistent winner.
The critical decision for Carroll will be picking the right signal-caller in a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job between Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson.
Jackson, the incumbent, will take opening snaps with the starters this morning. However, similar to the routine established during minicamp, Flynn and Wilson also will get regular repetitions with the first unit.
Carroll said that ultimately exhibition games will determine which of the three players will be the starter for the team’s Sept. 9 regular-season opener at Arizona.
“It’ll be really important to see how they come back when we’re top-speed and going and see how it all fits together,” Carroll said at the end of his team’s offseason program earlier this year.
“So I’m just as anxious to see as you guys.”
Carroll begins that process today, but he won’t have much time to make his decisions.
The Seahawks have just 12 practices before the team’s first exhibition game at home against the Matt Hasselbeck-led Tennessee Titans on Aug. 11.
Seattle will have three more practices before travelling to Denver for the team’s second non-counter Aug. 18 against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
By then, Carroll will have mounting pressure to pick a starting quarterback heading into the team’s third exhibition at Kansas City on Aug. 24.
Traditionally, NFL teams play the starting unit at least three quarters in that third game, so Carroll will want his starting quarterback to get significant repetitions with the first unit in order to establish a rhythm heading into the regular season.
However, when questioned about his timetable for making a decision, Carroll was predictably coy.
Asked if there’s a point when he plans to narrow the competition from three quarterbacks to two, Carroll said: “The answer is yes, I guess. You’re just going to have to suck it up and wait.”firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams