RENTON — Many of the usual trappings were there for a typical first day of Seahawks training camp.
DJ SupaSam spun tunes as players eagerly took to the glistening grass fields at the VMAC. Seahawks training camp was painted brightly on the berm.
Pete Carroll performed his usual early practice custom of tossing a few passes, still able to fire strikes a month shy of his 69th birthday.
The practice that followed — the first official practice of the season for the Seahawks — looked like any other early training-camp workout, with early special-teams work, individual drills and offensive and defensive team periods.
But a closer look at Carroll revealed this isn’t the usual training camp.
Throughout the practice, Carroll wore a mask, as did every other coach and staff member, and even a few players, though many went without, one of the many protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And other than the music, the usual hum of training camp was gone.
The tents that usually host hundreds of fans have been converted into outdoor weight rooms and training centers.
Tents where radio hosts generally conduct pre-practice player interviews were empty.
Carroll most noticed the absence of the din of the usual 2,500 fans or so piled onto the berm and around the back of the fields. Missing were the kids who regularly line the fence hoping for an autograph from Russell Wilson or their favorite Seahawk.
“It is different,’’ Carroll said. “I miss that already. This is the fun part of coming to camp is that we get to share it with our fans and all that, you can feel there is a difference. We we’ve just got to send the messages through the airwaves someway how things are going and hopefully you guys (the media) can really keep everybody abreast of what it’s like, and they can stay with us as we go through it.’’
Carroll’s media session helped accentuate the difference.
A few reporters who have passed COVID-19 tests were allowed to ask questions in person.
But attendance at camp is being strictly limited and monitored, and facing Carroll along with a few reporters was a large screen showing many other reporters who had logged in via Zoom to ask a few questions.
That will be how almost all interactions will be done this season, with all player interviews scheduled to be done virtually, and most of those for coaches.
The good news is the protocols seem to be working.
The NFL announced Wednesday that of 2,840 players who were tested, there were only 53 new positives, and that of 109,075 total tests given through Tuesday only 0.48% have been positive. The league said no one has had “a severe illness up to this point.’’
The Seahawks are back to officially having zero positive tests after it was determined that receiver John Ursua had a false positive. After two negative tests, Ursua was cleared to take the field Wednesday.
“If we can keep carrying it out we’ll be in good shape,’’ Carroll said.
Carroll feels comfortable enough with what the team is doing that veterans are continuing to be allowed to go home at night instead of staying in a hotel, another difference of this camp. He’s confident those players will show the needed discipline when away from the team.
Wednesday’s practice was the first with the entire team on the field and wearing helmets, but it largely resembled a June workout with drills run with the gas not yet fully on the throttle.
“Friday is the first full-speed practice for us,’’ Carroll said. “We’ll see how that works and how we recover from that and if we get that done then we are on our way.’’
Where they hope it leads is to a game at Atlanta on Sept. 13 to start the regular season and hopefully 15 more and the playoffs.
Whether there will be fans for any of those games remains unclear. If there are, it’ll be the first time the Seahawks will play before any fans with the preseason canceled.
Carroll noted that will put the onus on the coaches to create competitive periods to try to get the team ready for game speed, especially younger players.
COVID-19 means the Seahawks had to conduct their offseason program virtually.
And the regularly scheduled start to training camp on July 28 instead kicked off a two-week period of testing, physicals and strength and conditioning work.
“It starts to feel like football a little bit,’’ said Carroll of what was the first practice for the team since last January. “We all love this game so much and we’ve been having to wait forever. So guys are thrilled to be out here working.’’
Even with all of its differences, a brief moment of needed normalcy.