The Seahawks practiced Thursday at their resort in Watford, just northwest of London. They're taking in the London sights, "but you could see that we’re still here for business," cornerback Shaquill Griffin says.
LONDON — Take a left turn at Langleybury Cricket Club.
OK, now follow the narrow highway through the green rolling hills, past the flock of sheep grazing peacefully to your left. Make sure to stay on the left side of the road, no matter what your instincts tell you. See that gate? That’s the spot. Pull in past the security guards in tight suits, lining the street as if awaiting a sitting president. You made it. You’ve arrived at a golf course, a country club, a hotel, an immaculately manicured oasis.
And, for the next few days, the Seattle Seahawks’ European headquarters.
ACROSS THE POND 🇬🇧
Seahawks vs. Raiders
Sunday, 10 a.m. | Wembley Stadium
Here in Watford, just northwest of London, Pete Carroll’s team arrived Thursday after a roughly nine-hour flight directly from Seattle. The Seahawks decided to delay their needed naps for a few extra hours, practicing on a converted soccer pitch surrounded by forest on the grounds of the country club. As they ran through drills, camera crews from outlets like Sky News and ESPN Brazil recorded from the sidelines.
In every sense, this was a long, long way from the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
It was an unfamiliar setting.
But Carroll saw a recognizable result.
“The guys were cooking out there,” the ninth-year Seahawks coach said, surrounded by plants and paintings and media members, while conducting a news conference in a crowded greenhouse dubbed by the locals a “potting shed.”
“It was a quick practice, but we did a lot of working. Everybody was battling like we always do, and we just wanted to get our feet on the ground and make sure we could knock this first day out and try to keep our guys awake as well.”
In that case, mission accomplished. Three days before the 2-3 Seahawks meet the 1-4 Oakland Raiders at 10 a.m. on Sunday, second-year cornerback Shaquill Griffin said the eight-hour time difference from Seattle to London — not to mention the change in scenery — hasn’t negatively affected his team’s focus.
“You could see everybody dialed in,” said Griffin, who has produced 21 tackles and two interceptions in his first five games in 2018. “As soon as we got off the flight and everybody got their rest, we came in, got a quick meal and hit the practice field. You can see how everybody hit the ground running. So you could see the focus was still there, but you could tell everybody was having fun and just enjoying the experience of being here in London and out of the country.
“But you could see that we’re still here for business.”
That includes starting tight end Nick Vannett, who participated in Thursday’s practice after sitting out Wednesday with a back issue.
Though, if you ask Carroll, Thursday’s practice never technically happened — at least, not in the sense of the Seahawks’ typical game week routine.
“This day really doesn’t exist,” Carroll said of the differences in their practice schedule. “It’s not (a typical) Thursday. It’s not Friday. It’s kind of a tweener, so we’re walking between the spaces right now.”
This is unfamiliar territory — all of it. The routine. The scenery. The cricket clubs on the side of the road.
The stadium, too.
When they leave Watford on Sunday morning, what can the Seahawks expect from the iconic Wembley Stadium?
“We’ve heard a little something about it, but at the end of the day we don’t know what it’s going to be like as far as the noise level,” Griffin said. “When we’re on defense, is it going to be loud? When they’re on defense, is it going to be loud? You have to be ready for anything. You have to be ready to adjust well to the noise, or if anything (unexpected) happens to the field.
“It’s everything we talked about before we got here, so we’ll be well prepared for anything that’s going to come to us and I’m just excited to get there.”
Then Griffin smiled, as a spitting rain watered the grass outside of the “potting shed.”
Turns out, not everything will be an adjustment.
“And I think we brought a little bit of rain from Seattle,” Griffin added. “I think it might be raining a little bit in the game. We did bring a couple things with us in our bag, so that’s going to work to our advantage.”