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Pete Carroll all smiles at start of Seahawks era
He was clapping, smiling and running with the thumping music and through the morning fog. He led his Seahawks in bounding joyfully over blocking pads in a rousing drill he calls “The Bags,” as defensive players whooped it up behind him.
He threw passes to the secondary in an interception drill. Later he got too involved, pushed away by a lineman who was trying to get into his stance.
After it all, after he had offensive players running laps for fumbles and botched snaps, the 58-year-old coach exchanged high-fives with some of the 1,500-plus fans who watched the start of training camp.
Later he signed footballs, flags, caps, his new book “Win Forever” and T-shirts _ including scarlet-and-gold, USC one with “Fight On” printed across the front. He smiled at that, then signed his name across the young woman’s shoulder.
Carroll didn’t just conduct his first practices as Seattle’s frenetic new coach on Saturday to start his first NFL preseason since 1999.
He lived them.
“It’s so much fun,” Carroll said following more high-fives in the evening practice. “I feel very fortunate. Feel a bit like a little kid out here playing around and having fun with it.
“I’m having a ball.”
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck became Seattle’s starter in 2001 and has played for three head coaches since. The three-time Pro Bowler said he was called to a meeting with Carroll this week _ on the one-hoop court Carroll had installed beside the team’s headquarters.
“Pete came in and said he wanted to change the culture … and this culture that he’s trying to establish here is so much different,” Hasselbeck said of a team that was 9-23 the last two seasons. “There’s just a different feel to the start of this training camp. There’s a different feel every day you come to work. Not that the old one was bad, it’s just very different. And it’s working.”
Carroll’s idea is the same as it was at Southern California, where he built a dynasty for a decade then left for Seattle in January, before the NCAA slammed the Trojans with sanctions. He wants to make it ultra competitive, yet fun for his players every day.
He had a huge black scoreboard with the mandate to “ALWAYS COMPETE” painted on it installed this week. It hovers ominously over the northeast corner of the practice field to keep score during drills.
Even in July, Carroll wants practice day to simulate game day.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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