CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The reminders of what could be for the Seattle Seahawks this year were everywhere they turned during the offseason.
From the adoring looks of the fans who jammed their training-camp practices, to the newsstands filled with magazine covers endlessly touting their potential.
So too, though, has there been a constant reminder that they have yet to really do anything: Only 11 players remain from the 2010 team that won the NFC West, the last banner that hangs at CenturyLink Field and in the team’s practice facility in Renton.
“We are a talented football team and we have done some good things,’’ second-year quarterback Russell Wilson said this week. “We haven’t done anything great yet, though. That’s the thing I always think about. That’s the same thing that Richard Sherman thinks about or Earl Thomas or Marshawn Lynch. We’ve done a lot of good things but we haven’t done anything great yet.’’
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The road to what Seahawks fans hope is Seattle sports immortality starts Sunday when the Hawks open the season against the Carolina Panthers in the somewhat unlikely venue of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, a stadium in which the Seahawks have played just three times previously.
In the eyes of many, though, the bigger obstacle for the Seahawks this season may be handling the hype, the seemingly non-stop predictions of division titles and Super Bowl runs.
It’s a topic some coaches might choose to ignore.
Pete Carroll, though, has been a coach with many teams in the NFL and college that faced similar expectations — specifically, his nine years as coach at USC when the Trojans won at least a share of two national titles and seven consecutive Pac-12 crowns — and prefers a hands-on approach.
Receiver Sidney Rice recalled this week the first team meeting of training camp when offensive line coach Tom Cable taped a few preseason rankings on the wall, then tore them down and threw them into the trash.
“We all know where we stand,’’ Rice said.
Carroll said handling the expectations has been “a part of our conversation’’ since the beginning of the team’s offseason program.
Carroll said he wanted “to get our guys mentally prepared for what’s going to come.’’
And so far, so good, he thinks.
“We have really, I think, prepared ourselves to focus one week at a time,’’ he said, referencing what remains atop the lexicon of every football coach. “And it’s much more of a discipline than you might think, and it’s hard to do that.’’
They’ll begin to find out for sure Sunday if those efforts have worked against a Carolina team that may be just three years removed from a 2-14 season, and just 13-19 the last two years, but has more than enough talent to take advantage if the Seahawks stumble.
Carolina’s offense is led by mega-talented quarterback Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman winner, and one of an increasing number of quarterbacks who is as dangerous with his legs as his arm.
Seattle defenders talked all week about the need to stop Carolina’s running game and turn him into a pocket passer.
Particularly critical is limiting Newton’s running out of Carolina’s read-zone option offense.
“We have to find out where the ball is going instead of trying to read it, and force him to make a decision and you have to make the tackle,’’ said middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Carolina also boasts a solid defensive front seven, including a trio of linebackers that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said will be as good as any Seattle may see this year, led by second-year middle linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The Seahawks have not won an opener on the road since 2006, going 0-3 since. And the team was 1-3 last year in games that began at 10 a.m. Seattle time.
Carroll, though, said history doesn’t matter. Nor, he said, does it matter what might be down the road.
“We only have one game to play,’’ he said, repeating the mantra the players hear endlessly. “That’s all we’ve got.’’
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org