This time of year for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, the preparation is in the separation.
Because NFL rules allow offseason workouts to start the third Monday in April, Wilson and a group of receivers and defensive backs again got a head start by going to California to conduct their own training and passing drills.
Those who wondered if a sense of complacency would hit the Seahawks in the Super Bowl aftermath can check out the Instagram and Twitter accounts of various players.
They’re lifting weights, jump-roping and running patterns. The whole attitude is pretty much summed up by the message on a T-shirt seen on receiver Jermaine Kearse: “All In … Again.”
From the looks of various electronic posts, the participants, among others, include receivers Doug Baldwin, Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, Phil Bates; tight ends Zach Miller, Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy; running backs Robert Turbin, Spencer Ware; and quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and B.J. Daniels, along with Wilson.
Several times during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season, players referenced the importance of the unofficial getaway in helping to develop crucial timing in the passing game.
But it’s also about building rapport.
When Baldwin missed time with injuries during the training camp of Wilson’s rookie season, he didn’t have the chance to perfect his timing with the young quarterback, and his catch numbers dropped.
But with the early start in California last spring, he became one of Wilson’s most reliable targets.
Kearse, too, was probably viewed as mostly a depth and special teams guy heading into the season. But when injuries opened the way for playing time, he stepped in seamlessly and came up with a number of big catches – none bigger than his catch-and-run TD in the Super Bowl, one of the most impressive plays of the game.
Wilson explained that he recognized that potential in Kearse – a former Lakes High School and UW player – during the spring workouts in California.
The videos from Hermosa Beach this time around show Bates, a hard-working young receiver. Who’s to say he won’t be the next Kearse, ready to replace an injured starter and raise his game to the next level?
As reported by Seahawks.com this week, Wilson told Sports Illustrated before the Super Bowl that the Hermosa Beach experience “exceeded my expectations.”
“I already knew I had great teammates,” Wilson said. “But the time in California allowed us to bond away from the distractions of everyday life. No cameras, no coaches, no pressure, just a bunch of teammates accountable to each other and no one else. We went there as teammates, we came back as fraternity brothers.”
One receiver who is not yet healthy enough for the work but back in the fraternity nonetheless is veteran Sidney Rice, who was re-signed last week after having been cut as a salary cap victim.
He’s still recovering from the knee injury that cost him the end of last season and left him deemed too great a risk for the expense of his salary of $9.7 million.
But Rice was one of the latest players who had been waived or asked to take salary reductions and were later invited to return and chose to do so.
It’s not always easy for players to come back to their old teams in those situations. Sometimes it’s easier on the ego to just go elsewhere and start fresh.
But, as was the case of Seahawks Mike Robinson, Zach Miller and Tarvaris Jackson, Rice wanted to be a Seahawk.
He tweeted last week how much he appreciated the discovery that no one had touched his locker or removed his nameplate even though he’d been released in February.
The reason those specific guys were wanted back? They are examples of the team-first players who bought in completely and helped create the winning attitude that got them to the Super Bowl.
Last week’s work in California appears evidence that many are all in … again.