Massive expectations greet Seahawks

Players, coaches anticipate this season will be their chance for success, but questions remain, plenty of hard work lies ahead

Staff writerJuly 25, 2013 

As the Seattle Seahawks open the most anticipated training camp in franchise history Thursday morning, perhaps Pete Carroll’s team should take a cue from middle-aged rapper Flavor Flav’s familiar chorus.

Don’t believe the hype.

That said, Carroll’s crew will be hard-pressed to squelch the national fervor that has Seattle being talked up as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl when the team begins regular-season play Sept. 8 at Carolina.

Single-game tickets for all eight Seattle regular-season home games sold out in a day. And for the first time since the team opened training camp practices to fans at the team’s Renton headquarters, all 14 camp dates open to the pubic have been sold out before the start of camp, with a capacity crowd of 2,500 scheduled to attend each session.

Games also will be broadcast locally in Spanish this season.

About 7,000 fans packed into Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium three weeks ago to watch players known more for touchdown dances swing for the fences in Richard Sherman’s celebrity softball game.

The talkative Sherman’s smiling face also appears on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, joining Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck as the only Seahawks featured on the prominent magazine’s cover.

However, Carroll, who dealt with his share of acclaim while winning two national titles as coach of USC Trojans during a decade of dominance in what was then the Pacific-10 Conference, has experience managing high expectations.

“This is an exciting young football team, and these guys are at a point where they have worked really hard to grow together and to establish the kind of makeup on the team that gives you a chance to do good things,” Carroll said during the team’s offseason program in May. “And coming off of last year, that is all a part of what’s going on.

“But with that also comes the responsibility to handle it well. Over the years I’ve seen what it takes to be consistently on top and to stay on top and to keep winning, and to endure all that goes along with that. It takes a giant

commitment. Guys have to really be in it for the right reasons and to do things right.”

Like every NFL team, the Seahawks have question marks that need to be answered during the next month of practice and exhibition play.

Can leading sack man Chris Clemons return from ACL knee surgery to start the team’s season opener?

Can second-year pro Bruce Irvin transition from defensive end to outside linebacker?

Who will win the battle for the starting right guard job between J.R. Sweezy and John Moffitt?

Can 2011 first-round draft choice James Carpenter get healthy and seize control of the starting left guard spot?

How will new receiver Percy Harvin be used in Seattle’s offense?

But the main question that persists for Seattle remains at quarterback: Can second-year signal caller Russell Wilson improve on a rookie campaign that ended in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl?

Even though he had the Seahawks 30 seconds away from the NFC Championship Game, Wilson understands there’s more work to be done if Seattle wants to attain its ultimate goal of reaching the Super Bowl.

For any team, success starts at quarterback. And Carroll knows Wilson is setting the tone for a championship season by working hard, studying harder and not getting caught up in the media attention.

Wilson said he’s not concerned about a sophomore slump. He said his focus is on helping the Seahawks improve as the team inches closer to the regular season.

“I make my own expectations, so I don’t really worry about what the media says or what other people say, to be honest with you,” Wilson said. “My only expectation is to work as hard as I can to be consistent, for our football team to be consistent, and for our football team to play as hard as we can every Sunday, every practice, and then we’ll see what happens.

“You have to believe that success will come through hard work, and I think that’s the way we’re thinking right now, that’s the way we have to believe and that’s the way we’ll play.”

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams

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