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, as defensive players whooped it up behind him.
He threw passes to the secondary in an interception drill. Once he got too involved, pushed away by a lineman who was trying to get into position for a snap.
After it all, when he had offensive players running laps for fumbles and botched snaps, the 58-year-old ambled up a hill and exchanged high-fives with some of the 1,500-plus fans who watched the start of training camp
Carroll didn’t just conduct his first practice as Seattle’s frenetic new coach on Saturday to start his first NFL preseason since 1999.
He lived it.
“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,” said three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who became Seattle’s starter in 2001 and has played for three head coaches since.
“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 _ months ahead of the NCAA slamming 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 position drills.
Even in July, Carroll wants practice day to simulate game day.
“Whenever you are out there stretching there is music _ he’s trying to make it feel like a game,” Hasselbeck said. “The energy we feel off the crowd is real.”
Leon Washington was running with Carroll. The recent Pro Bowl kick returner with the New York Jets participated in individual drills and was held out of team scrimmaging nine months after a compound leg fracture put his career in doubt.
“It’s just great to get to accomplish one of my goals, which was to get back on the field for the first day of training camp,” Washington said, grinning. “With all the energy out there, I wanted to jump right in there.”
At one point in the morning, Carroll was talking excitedly inside the defense’s huddle. As it broke, 325-plus pound Red Bryant grabbed Carroll and just about threw him out of the way as the tackle scrambled to get into his stance before the offense snapped the ball.View Entire Story
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