RENTON — Training Camp Day One: Seahawks Still Undefeated.
Super Bowl hopes remained alive for the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday after a two-hour workout without pads.
Word from San Francisco was that the 49ers remain undefeated, as well, keeping their Super Bowl aspirations likewise intact.
Don’t scoff. This is how 2013 is shaping up, each day a referendum on the Seahawks’ status relative to the highest preseason appraisals in team history.
Clearly not a group short on confidence as it is, the players for the Seahawks don’t appear burdened by the weight of external expectations.
“I think (the players) understand all that stuff is there,” coach Pete Carroll said on a beautiful day that
drew a full crowd of fans and a respectable flotilla of the 12th Man Navy scoping out practice from Lake Washington. “What we can do about it is have great days one at a time. Our ability to discipline ourselves and focus on what is right in front of us … that’s a challenge. We’re going to try to be uncommonly focused and take care of business.”
But if fans are brash enough to talk about a Super Bowl in July, it’s also fair to prematurely inflate concern over Day One injuries, though it’s 44 days until the Seahawks’ first real game.
So, for today’s Chicken Little report, the team’s highest-profile acquisition (Percy Harvin/hip), best pass rusher (Chris Clemons/knee) and invaluable tight end (Zach Miller/foot) were all on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and watched the first practice from the sideline.
Harvin’s hip will cause the greatest dithering among fans, because it might be more than just the mild hip flexor issue that slowed him slightly in minicamp action. Players on the preseason PUP list may be activated at any time.
Clemons, injured in the playoff game at Washington in January, is probably about where he was expected to be in his rehabbing. Miller’s situation might be the most worrisome, because the depth at his position is mostly untested.
But, now, so much is in place that even a few high-profile injuries aren’t enough to cause fans to cease their excessive salivation.
Harvin is expected to be a versatile weapon, but remember, they still made it to the divisional round of the playoffs with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin catching passes from a quarterback in his rookie year.
So, forget Dickens, the Great Expectations of the Seahawks have been authored by Carroll and general manager John Schneider, who constructed a talented young roster with enough depth at most positions to withstand a certain amount of breakage.
Thursday’s practice was an example. Former first-round draft pick James Carpenter, a 320-pound powerhouse with Chihuly knees, was back on the field and looking strong and fit and well recovered from the injuries that sidelined him in each of his first two seasons.
If Carpenter can stay intact and rejoin the starters at left guard, the offensive line should be upgraded in both talent and depth.
Also, it was our first chance to get a look at pass-rush end Cliff Avril in action. He will replace/supplement Clemons, depending on the speed of Clemons’ rehab. Avril looks the part, although on one pass-block/rush session against the offensive line, he was face-planted by tackle Breno Giacomini.
Another new look: All-Pro safety Earl Thomas was freshly shorn of the dreadlocks he’s had since arriving from Texas as a first-round draft pick in 2010. Supposedly, even some of the coaches didn’t recognize him in the locker room.
If possible, Thomas seems even faster (less wind resistance?) and was everywhere during team sessions.
Tate was similarly showy on offense, coming up with several impressive catches, including one in tight coverage against Brandon Browner that quarterback Russell Wilson cited as a highlight of practice.
Here’s an example of this team’s spirit at this point, as well as the secondary’s closing speed: After reserve cornerback Ron Parker made a nice pass deflection, starters Richard Sherman and Thomas, who were on the sideline resting, spontaneously sprinted halfway across the field in the middle of a drill just to pat Parker on the back.
They seemed as excited as if he’d made the winning play in the Super Bowl.