Get 59 guys together for a weekend of touch football: It’s both the bachelor party I’ve always dreamed of, and the format of last weekend’s Seahawks’ rookie minicamp.
This was the first of six events over the next month called “offseason workouts.” Really, they’re preseason workouts. The team that will defend Seattle’s Super Bowl championship starts forming now.
The minicamp was for the 28 rookies already on the Seahawks’ roster and the 31 non-roster tryout players. Pads aren’t allowed, so neither is tackling. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about a player’s ability to succeed in the NFL—it’s like having a MLB tryout camp with wifflebats.
Still, in this first organized team practice of the 2014 season, the Seahawks sought the key trait that now defines the franchise: competitiveness. Said Pete Carroll after the minicamp’s final day: “We’re always looking for that—the guys that really battle and come out busting their tail, and digging and scratching to get to the ball. We’re looking for that first.”
It’s a subtle but radical concept—Carroll rarely talks about the impact new players will have on opposing teams, but the effect they’ll have on his own. And the effect he’s looking for is, basically, to make your teammates fear for their jobs.
Second-round pick Justin Britt will “make [incumbent right tackle] Michael Bowie stretch it, and that’s good for us.”
Rookie free agent Gerry Gilliam “looked very good at left tackle. We need the competition there.”
Rookie free agent defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat “fits in athletically with the guys that play for us, so we’re anxious to see if he can push and fight for a spot.”
The competition started last weekend, with the non-roster tryout players trying to wrench away a spot on the 90-man roster. It will continue over the next five weeks during the Hawks’ offseason training program (known as OTAs)—10 days of drills and scrimmages, all non-contact just like rookie minicamp. And even though there’s no tackling, Seahawks players can still get bruised. The team cut nine players last year during OTAs.
It all begins after a visit to the White House this week, where, presumably, “digging and scrambling” won’t be required. Although with Pete Carroll in charge, don’t be so sure. The Hawks may be the first team to arrive at the Rose Garden after a sprint from the National Mall.