Players and coach Pete Carroll all greet opening of training camp with a great outlook for coming season
RENTON — An overcast morning gave way to afternoon sun as the Seahawks opened training camp Saturday.
There was no evidence to suggest it was Michael Bennett’s doing.
But in football terms, at least, the last remaining dark cloud potentially hovering over the Seahawks evaporated when Bennett walked onto the field right as practice began at 10:15 a.m.
Bennett remains unhappy with his contract — a four-year, $28.5 million deal that has two years left. And his agent, Doug Hendrickson, is known to have talked to the Seahawks this week about a possible extension or renegotiation, all of which led to conjecture that Bennett might hold out.
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But Bennett not only reported on time but insisted later he hadn’t really thought of staying away.
“Nope,’’ Bennett said. “I just want to show up and be a great teammate. No distractions for the team. I just want to be a Seahawk for the rest of my life.’’
That comment contrasted with a recent Bennett quote to the Huffington Post in which he said in part that “if you don’t think I’m valuable then just get rid of me.’’
Saturday, Bennett acknowledged that “hopefully everything works out and you get compensated the way you play.’’
But that was about as far as Bennett went in expressing any displeasure with his contract.
“I haven’t been worried about that,’’ he insisted. “Just like I said, it’s just up to the coaches and my agent to take care of that. You know, I don’t want to stir anything up in the media — he says, she says. Whenever it happens, it will happen.’’
When Bennett reported, it meant that for the first time since 2012 there was no first day of training camp surprise for the Seahawks.
In 2013, the first day of training camp was met by the news that Percy Harvin was dealing with a hip injury that would eventually require surgery. In 2014, Marshawn Lynch began what turned out to be a weeklong holdout as camp opened, and in 2015 Kam Chancellor was absent as he began a holdout that eventually lasted through the first two games of the regular season.
But there was nary a discouraging word Saturday, not even the news that tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Thomas Rawls would begin camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
That was an expected move that gives the team added roster flexibility as each player recovers from an injury suffered last season — Graham a patellar tendon tear and Rawls a broken ankle.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said each player is in “fantastic shape. Nobody has worked harder than those two guys.’’
And he said there was a chance that either could be taken off the PUP list as early as Thursday (players can come off the preseason PUP list at any time).
Carroll said each will remain on the PUP list through at least the first four practices. The Seahawks will then have a day off Wednesday following the fourth workout, and Carroll said the status of each will be re-evaluated then.
“We are kind of looking at it in segments, looking at the first four days then we have a break after that and we will see where we are after that,’’ Carroll said. “If we are really looking good then we go ahead and make the move (to place them on the active roster). We are not going to be impatient at all with this, but there will be a time when we want them to start to develop because they can’t do stuff with the coaches, they can only do stuff with the trainers. So there will be a time. But there is plenty of time.’’
As well as loads of optimism and good vibes.
At one point, Bennett helped lead fans in a “Sea-Hawks” cheer. At another, Richard Sherman broke into a dance while the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back’’ played.
And on the field, Chancellor — a year ago just beginning a holdout that would come to serve as a symbol of all that ailed the Seahawks as they stumbled to a 2-4 start — picked off a Russell Wilson pass, quickly surrounded in celebration by Sherman and the rest of the Legion of Boom.
“We have everybody here and it’s great to see,’’ said Wilson.
It all left Carroll, who just a few days ago agreed to a new contract that will keep him with the Seahawks until 2019, barely able to contain his excitement.
“I’ve been more excited in the approach to this camp than I can ever remember,’’ he said. “Where we have come from, what we have done, the guys we are working with, the coaches, the continuity, all those types of things. Really inspired by the guys that have been around here and the way they have handled the offseason and approached it. They got me all jacked up. So I’ve got to be a little careful — I might get a little out of control here.”