Russell Wilson's new contract and the absence of Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor were the dominant stories as the Seahawks eased into training camp by practicing without pads the first two days.
Wilson signed a four-year, $87.6 million dollar extension Friday as camp opened, turning what could have been a season-long distraction into an instant ray of optimism brighter than the hot sun reflecting off of Lake Washington.
Coach Pete Carroll talked about what it means to have Wilson locked up long-term and the process through which he, general manager John Schneider, chief negotiator Matt Thomas and owner Paul Allen have used to maintain what may be the league's most talented roster.
"It was imminent, it was coming the whole time," Carroll said when asked about Wilson's new deal. "We wanted to do it, it was his turn, you know how we've done it, you've watched this. We give guys opportunities and we try to take full advantage of nailing them when we can. It was a long process to get it done but now that it's over, it's good for him, it's good for our club, he's worked his butt off for years with us, we've got a lot off Wilson so it was time to get him a new contract. I think you can see that still, we continue, we're still working, we've got big stuff to do today, and we're not done. You know we've got things to do and we're watching to see what's happening but we're not finished."
While re-signing Wilson was certainly a major accomplishment, the Seahawks can't bask in the glory for too long. There are 32 more players on the roster entering the final year of their respective new deals, including 11 projected starters.
As part of his own contract dispute, Chancellor elected not to attend camp either of the first two days. He certainly could be the next priority. Negotiations for Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner are "very active," a team source said.
Meanwhile, on the field, the usual suspects have stood out so far. Team personnel can't stop gushing about how well Jimmy Graham has improved the team's passing game.
Some early surprising developments have been the impressive play thus far from center Drew Nowak and free agent wide receiver Kevin Smith, two players who may be emerging out of the shadows cast by their more well-known peers.
The 6-3, 292 pound Nowak is "doing very well" while alternating with veteran Lemuel Jeanpierre as the club's starting center. Whereas I and others have characterized the battle at center as essentially a two-man competition between holdovers Jeanpierre and Patrick Lewis, Nowak has legitimately worked his way up the depth chart, I'm told, and has played well over the first two days of camp.
Smith was overshadowed by Kasen Williams throughout much of his time at the University of Washington and during minicamps this spring but he's the former Husky undrafted free agent building the most buzz early on. At 6-0, 218 pounds, Smith has the build of a running back or safety and he's caught the ball well. He led the Huskies with 765 receiving yards a year ago and unlike some of the other receivers fighting for a roster spot, Smith has experience on special teams. He's seen time at kick and punt returner, among other roles on special teams thus far for the Seahawks.
For all of the excitement that the opening of camp provides, expect things to amp up significantly on Sunday, when the players will be in full pads for the first time since the Super Bowl.
Carroll: Seahawks "not finished" negotiating
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