The Seahawks quarterback holds out hope for an Earl Thomas return and defended coach Pete Carroll.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson held his first press conference of training camp Friday, a session that lasted a whopping 22 minutes as he addressed holdout free safety Earl Thomas, coach Pete Carroll, the team’s offseason moves and his own busy summer, which included a honeymoon visit to South Africa.
Here are the top five things he said.
HOPING EARL THOMAS RETURNS
Wilson said of holdout free safety Earl Thomas that he worked out with him a bit in the offseason and hopes he’ll return at some point.
“Well obviously I’ve been around Earl this offseason. I was able to train with him a few times and everything else. I think part of it is business is business for certain guys and everything else. I don’t want to get into the details of his situation necessarily. I do miss my brother. He’s a Hall of Fame safety who has a crazy special talent that you can only find once every blue moon. You miss him out here and I know he’s training like crazy though. Hopefully he’ll come back tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back down the road, hopefully he’ll come back someday soon. But I know when he does come back, Earl if you’re listening now, it’d be great if you could come back because he can help us win a big one. He’s just a tremendous player. But at the end of the day, he’s got his family and his decisions and whatever he chooses is his decision. I think that he’s a tremendous player and hopefully he can come back for us. The good thing is that guys have stepped up in a big way. Guys have taken on the challenge and they’re getting that experience and really stepping into a major role. It’s an important position, you got to have that position. Guys like Tedric (Thompson) are stepping up. Bradley McDougald is stepping up in that position too playing everywhere. You want as many great players as you can have and Earl (Thomas) is a great player, he’s a one of a kind talent. Hopefully he’ll come back and it’ll be great.”
IT FEELS LIKE 2012 ALL OVER AGAIN
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While the team’s significant roster overhaul has lowered expectations for the Seahawks entering 2018, Wilson — as might be expected — thinks Seattle can surprise people and compared it to 2012, when he was a rookie and the team was coming off a 7-9 record.
“Every year feels like a new beginning, it’s exciting. I was telling somebody yesterday, I can’t remember who it was, this year kind of feels like my rookie year. Way more experience obviously, but the feeling of it all is just different for whatever reason. A lot of new faces and everything else. The outside world doesn’t really know what we are hoping to do and what we are working for. I don’t think anybody had really crazy high of expectations for my rookie year too. A lot of that feels the same. It’s exciting to be out here with a lot of the same guys though too, you know. Guys like Doug Baldwin, he’s a freak of nature out there on the field. Tyler Lockett as well. So many different guys. The running backs looked great, they looked healthy, fast, and strong. The line looks really good. Duane Brown is a difference maker, I think, in terms of how he plays the game. He’s a phenomenal football player. We didn’t have him last year early on in the season but now that he’s here it just shows up. So many other guys, I mean the guys up front are looking really good. I think our coaching staff looks great in terms of how they stepped in and had to take in a really, really, really good football team in the past and continue to help us improve and try to figure out what we can do and challenge us and everything else. So, I’m excited, it’s an exciting time. I love being out here with the fans obviously just to see the roar of all the fans every time you come out here. I wish they could be at every practice and every game you know obviously. It’s always just fun being out here.”
WORKING ON FOOTWORK
Asked what he’s working on this camp, Wilson said the main thing is his footwork, while humorously acknowledging that that’s basically what he says every year at this time.
“I don’t mean to be boring but I always say this. I think it’s always just the footwork stuff. I’ve always had good footwork and stuff like that. If I can find three plays a game, how much more would that do. Can I find four plays a game, five plays a game? Can I find hopefully just one. That little detailed meticulous focus is everything to me. It’s like a great free throw shooter, if you’re trying to be a great free throw shooter you got to keep your elbow in. You got to focus on the details, you got to have the same rhythm. All that is crucial. Same thing with a great hitters or golfers. For me, I’m always looking for more, I’m always looking for the fine details in everything. Still being natural, still being who I am, still being competitive and not overthinking. The one thing I don’t want to do is overthink. You don’t want to overthink when you’re hitting a golf ball you don’t want to overthink when you’re trying to pitch a fastball or whatever, you want to play ball. How you get rid of the thinking is how you train and how every play getting coached when you go in the game. Let it happen and just trust and when you go back and look at the tape and hopefully all of them have been great. That’s just kind of my thought, it’s been great. I think Coach (Brian) Schottenheimer (the team’s new offensive coordinator) has been tremendous so far. I love his enthusiasm and his dedication to the game. The way he translates and communicates, he’s heavily involved in every detail. (New offensive line) coach (Mike) Solari is tremendous as well, those two guys have been great. It’s going to be a great joyride and I’m looking forward to the journey of it all.”
PETE CARROLL’S MESSAGE IS ANYTHING BUT STALE
Wilson was asked about a comment made by Michael Bennett — which echoed a comment of Richard Sherman’s — that the message of coaches can wear out after a few years. Bennett famously said he’d heard all of Carroll’s stories enough that he took a book to read to one meeting. Wilson, though, defended Carroll when asked if a coach’s message can grow stale over time.
“No. Some people may call it staleness, I call it consistency. In the past, we’ve had some amazing joyrides. We’ve done a lot of amazing things, we’ve had a couple tough moments. At the end of the day, what I do know about all the teams I’ve been fortunate enough to play with and all the guys I’ve been fortunate enough to play with is every single one of those guys laid it on the line. From guys like Michael Bennett, to Kam Chancellor, to Richard Sherman, to guys who didn’t play very much, to guys who were only here for a day. The one thing I can say is every single person to every single coach gave it everything we’ve had. That’s the thing that I love about my experience so far for the Seattle Seahawks, is that I can say that literally every game that I can say nobody has ever given in, given up or doubted that we can win. Hopefully that never changes.”
MEETING CHILDREN IN SOUTH AFRICA WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF HIS BUSY SUMMER
Wilson took trips to England (to check out where the Seahawks will play the Raiders in London in October), China, and South Africa during his summer break. The latter, he said, was a somewhat belated honeymoon saying that when he an entertainer Ciara were married in 2016 they didn’t take a trip longer than four days. Wilson said a trip of at least seven days is needed for a true honeymoon, so the pair went to South Africa. He said that turned into the highlight of his summer when he was able to visit with some children in townships.
“I was fortunate. Going to London was pretty cool because I got to go to the Tottenham Stadium. I’m not sure if we are still going to play there or not, but hopefully. That was really cool going to London. Then going to China was great, went to China last year and that was really cool. Just getting to play football with the kids, football is really growing there. I got to play football with a lot of the young kids and older kids. The best part about Africa was going to the townships. One of the coolest things was seeing the joy on these kids faces when they didn’t have anything at all. I think about in America, and our own personal lives that we all live and when I see somebody who is 10, 13, 14, 15 years old who has nothing but yet can still live a life of full joy and happiness. They just love dancing with Ciara or love throwing the football, they’ve never seen a football. The curiosity and watching these kids throw a ball when they’ve never thrown it before is fascinating to me and how good they were throwing it. They were throwing spirals on day one. To be able to throw with them, that was the most gratifying thing probably that I’ve ever experienced. Seeing a kid walk out with cancer was probably the most gratifying thing but that right there just seeing kids with joy when they have absolutely nothing. They might not even have parents or whatever it is, that was pretty cool. I was grateful for that experience.”
Wilson also said a highlight was traveling to the Cape of Good Hope as well as a trip to help save a pair of rhinos from being poached by putting microchips in their horns.
“To be able to microchip these rhinos too was pretty fascinating too. … With a veterinarian and everything else, they safely dart the rhino so that way the heart’s beating and everything else but they fall down gently and then you have about, 15 or 20 minutes, something like that. They cover up the eyes just for the sun just to make sure they don’t mess up their eyes and everything else. Then you take their DNA, you get the hair, you get the blood, everything else, and then you’re able to — without saying too much — you’re able to put a microchip in their horn, essentially. That way when somebody steals their horn you know where they are. Or if the rhino’s running around and something’s going on they can track the rhino.”
Wilson said the rhinos were given the names Zahir and Princess, which are the middle names of his children with Ciara.
“There’s a Zahir and there’s a Princess running around, named after our kids. So that’s kind of cool.”