Sunday, August 8, 2010
Updated: August 10, 8:15 PM ET
Pete Carroll sends message to Hawks
By Chris Mortensen
RENTON, Wash. -- Pete Carroll isn't afraid to admit that his honeymoon with the Seattle Seahawks was stung by the NCAA sanctions that "will stay with me forever."
But even as he vows to assist USC in its fight to lessen its penalties, he knows he must be very focused coaching a Seahawks team that has suddenly dropped off the NFC West map. That's why he has two mottoes that must be adhered to: "Always compete" and "Buy in."
So when you see and hear the energy of a Seahawks practice, with large crowds and Lil Wayne music blaring over loudspeakers, it is done with purpose.
"Every day is about competing, and we like to compete in an environment where a lot is going on because that's how games are," said Carroll, who also had NFL head-coaching stops with the New York Jets (1994) and New England Patriots (1997 to '99).
The competition message was loud and clear -- especially to incumbent starter Matt Hasselbeck -- when the Seahawks stunned many by trading a second-round pick in the 2010 draft (and a pick in '11) for Chargers third-string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
"So it was symbolic -- even a veteran starter has to compete for his job -- but it's not the only reason, because we think Charlie can help us out [at some point]," Carroll said.
Hasselbeck is over the surprise. He's quick to point out the sign above the doors that lead to the practice field that reads: "I'm In." Each player must tap it before he steps onto the field.
"It's sort of like the concentration line that Tom Coughlin has employed," Hasselbeck said.
It would be a mistake to believe that Hasselbeck won't be the starter. Carroll and general manager John Schneider also did the quarterback a favor by hiring legendary line coach Alex Gibbs and then drafting their left tackle of the future, Oklahoma State's Russell Okung.
"Alex Gibbs was the most important hire I made," Carroll said. "He's the best, maybe the best ever, in my opinion, especially when it comes to the zone-blocking scheme he teaches. We will run the football. Everything will play off running the football -- our passing game will be better, and our defense can stay off the field a little longer, we hope."
That passing game figures to have plenty of bootlegs and rollouts -- Hasselbeck, Whitehurst and No. 3 QB J.P. Losman have excellent mobility. The running back trio of Justin Forsett, Julius Jones and Leon Washington will get their share of carries. Carroll beamed when Washington -- the ex-Jet who is fully recovered from a severe broken leg -- was mentioned.
"Leon Washington is going to be special in this offense," Carroll said.
Other observations from Seahawks training camp:
• Ex-USC wideout and first-round bust Mike Williams is a nice comeback story. "He knows he tanked his career, but he has come in here with a blue-collar mentality, he's in shape and I fully expect him to contribute," Carroll said.
• After the season, Hasselbeck believes that tight end John Carlson will have his photo framed and placed on the wall at the Seahawks' facility in honor of the team's best player.
• The Seahawks' biggest weakness is their defensive line, which lacks a dynamic pass-rusher. Carroll concedes that the scheme must be creative to pressure the passer.
• Lofa Tatupu, a Pro Bowl linebacker who missed the final 10 games of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, is fully recovered. Once Aaron Curry, last year's first-rounder, returns at linebacker from an early camp concussion, the team will feel good about its defensive back seven.
• On the whiteboard in the QB meeting room is a note: "JP, $10." Explained Hasselbeck: "[Losman] has such a cannon for an arm [that] he's always trying to make a big throw for touchdowns. I bet him 10 bucks he couldn't go perfect in seven-on-seven drills.
He did. I owe him the $10."
ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen will file reports from all the training camps and send updates on the road via Twitter (@mortreport).