“Practice about to be all the way turnt up.”
Those were the words of Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas via Twitter after his team traded for explosive playmaker Percy Harvin last month, anticipating the daily matchups in practice during one-on-one drills the two will have this season.
Asked if he was looking forward to matching up with Thomas at practice, Harvin responded just how you would expect.
“Absolutely,” Harvin said. “That’s all I’m about – working and grinding. When I met Coach (Pete) Carroll, I told him I was already looking forward to one-on-one drills and things like that. Because those guys, if not the best, they’re on top of their game. So to compete against those guys, the rest of the teams will be a piece of cake.”
Competition obviously is part of Carroll’s core philosophy. It’s the reason undrafted free agents like tight end Sean McGrath are eager to sign with the Seahawks – traditionally, unheralded players are given a fair shot to make the roster.
“Being on the practice squad, you pay your dues,” McGrath said. “And the great thing about this organization is that free agency is such a big part of their core.
“Look at Doug Baldwin. It’s historically been a place for free agents to kind of shine. They go out and they give guys an opportunity that normally other teams would not to.”
Not only do players understand they will get a fair shake to make the roster, but the intensity level of daily practices helps young players get ready for Sunday.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson can attest to that. After looking impressive during rookie minicamp a week after the draft last year, Wilson struggled in his decision making going up against Seattle’s first-unit defense in his first couple OTAs. Things happened quickly, and he was fooled into throwing a couple bad interceptions early on.
However, the more reps Wilson put in, the more things started to slow down for him during minicamp and the first few days of training camp. Playing well against Seattle’s defense gave him confidence that he could be effective against the team’s opponents on Sundays – and also gave Seattle’s defensive players confidence that Wilson could effectively lead the offense.
“We have one of the best defenses in the league, so it was tough,” Wilson said. “We basically have four, Pro Bowl-type players in the back end of our defense. So they make you work.”
Carroll also believes in practicing how you will play on Sunday. It’s one of the reasons Seattle was fined for having too much physical contact by the league during OTAs last season, which included a couple dustups between receivers and defensive backs.
Carroll wants practices to be intense, competitive and hard, so the players don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to win on Sunday.
And this young Seattle team will need that type of regimented, disciplined approach this season, as one of the favorites in the NFC to reach the Super Bowl. Unlike 2012, the Seahawks will not be sneaking up on anybody in 2013.
The Seahawks recently were ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s latest NFL power rankings.
“There’s a target on whoever gets ranked preseason No. 1,” McGrath said. “So there’s always going to be a target on your back. But one of the things I love the most about this organization, and everyone on this team, is that everyone is out there having fun.
“Everyone’s out there doing their thing, and it’s just a great environment to be around. And really that’s the last thing on these guys’ minds. No. 1 is we want to win the NFC West. And we want to win a Super Bowl ultimately. So I mean when you get this group of guys believing in a common goal, great things can happen. You kind of saw that last year, and we’re just building on that.”