Training Camp: Holmgren speaks

Ah…Training camp. It's finally here. For the better part of five months, Seahawks fans have been waiting for the opening of camp following what was one of the greatest seasons in Seattle's 30-year history. The whistles blew earlier today to start camp at Eastern Washington University and head coach Mike Holmgren spoke with the media about several subjects near and dear to the Seahawks faithful.

"We're going to go today and get their legs under them and get them used to playing football a little bit again," Holmgren told the assembled media following a brisk first workout. "It was very enthusiastic. The guys for the most part were pretty assignment prepped so I was pleased. I always like the beginning of training camp, its good to see them all again. There is a good spirit on the football team and they practiced well today."

One of the reasons for the "assignment prepped" status of the squad was the offseason mini-camps and conditioning the players participated in this summer.

"I think that we had such a good participation in the offseason program," Holmgren said. "I believe I know where they are and they showed it today. We didn't have a lot of mistakes and they were pretty crisp and they were concentrating. We have had a good off season.

"The only guys who couldn't practice were the guys on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) and are not allowed to practice so I think we're in pretty good shape."

Holmgren delved into some of the players who are nursing injuries and still recovering from offseason surgery, including Seattle's number one wideout Darrell Jackson.

"It is a little concerning since he had the surgery a long time ago and for the numbers typically on that type of surgery it should be a little farther along," Holmgren lamented. "It is a little too early to get major concern over it, but I am hopeful he will be able to come back and practice here pretty quickly.

"Skyler Fulton threw the one at me but I'm not sure. They fall into three categories. There is a group of them that will be ready by the second preseason game and then there's another group that will be ready hopefully by the third preseason game. There are a couple guys, like (Michael) Boulware, who we will really monitor. They're practicing now, but they won't be practicing all the time. (Jerramy) Stevens is a third preseason game, there's a list and what I will try to do is look at that list and I have a better answer for you. We should have them all back, including (Grant) Wistrom, by the fourth preseason game."

With those players currently sitting out or limited, a list of over ten players, Holmgren said he might focus on things a little differently now that he is older and wiser and his team is a bit more experienced.

"I probably worry about the injury thing at camp a little bit more than I used to. Of all things you worry about, those are things you can't control, other than we probably won't bang as much as we have in the past," Holmgren noted. "Now we'll have some scrimmages and there will be some periods where I'll set it up as a game type scrimmage, but probably not as many as I've had in the past. I think now that we're a little bit more experienced in some areas of the football team I have fewer questions to answer then in the past and we'll save the banging around for the games. That's not to say we won't do it, and as I told the team last night, the offensive and defensive line, nothing much changes for them anyway, but it's the tackling of the backs and the receivers and of course you don't want to hit the quarterbacks."

After a year where the Seahawks started several rookies, including both Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill at linebacker, Holmgren said things aren't as unknown heading into training camp and therefore he can watch some battles at some key positions.

"I think we have some things that are a little bit more known, but at the same time, in fairness to the young guys on the football team, you have to create a situation where it is competitive and they have a chance to make the team," Holmgren said. "Certainly for the depth of your football team, Walter Jones is going to be our starting left tackle, we know that, but for the depth of the football team you have a lot of questions to answer that way. So the approach in training camp, other the fact that I won't bang quite as much, will be the same."

One player who won't be battling for his starting spot is NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, who set an NFL-record by scoring 28 touchdowns in 2005.

"I'll say the same thing I said last night in my state of the union to the players I said everyone in this room must get better, and I pointed him out," Holmgren said. "I said we have the MVP of football, who set the touchdown record, but I don't care. You can get better.

"Now it is up to the player to decide how he is going to do that and in what areas but I expect the coaches and players, every single person, to improve and decide how they're going to do it and we will continue to talk about it during training camp, and Shaun Alexander falls into that category."

As they head into training camp, does the team look back on 2005 and know they had the Super Bowl within their grasp, and think that maybe they are jinxed? Holmgren doesn't think so.

"I don't really believe in that and I thought about that and studied that a little bit and the teams that really had a tough time after that game were teams that had football reasons for it," Holmgren said matter-of-factly. "It was injuries and things we can all understand. It doesn't have to happen and we've talked about it and that's all I'm going to say about that to the team. Now we just prepare like we always prepare.

"There's nothing to say, you have to have this record or have to have that record, and just like there are no guarantees you're going to have a good season. You just have to do what you do, keep working and prepare like you prepared and have to have that good feeling and you have to be unselfish, all the things that help you win. This team, this group of guys, they understand that. When I say there's a good feeling on the team, clearly that helped us last year, and they're just building on it because we have great leadership now."

Holmgren and his players will take the field again on Sunday at 8:45 a.m. for their first of two practices on day two of training camp. Top Stories