RENTON, WASHINGTON – It started on the first day back during offseason workouts.
There was no acknowledgment of the case being constructed in the lobby where the Seattle Seahawks’ first Lombardi Trophy would reside. Or of the giant banner hanging in the indoor practice facility listing the name of every player and coach a part of the 43-8 Super Bowl triumph.
Pete Carroll’s way of humbling his players still on a high from earning the first title in franchise history came from returning to the most basic elements. Things as rudimentary as cradling the football properly in your arm as a ball carrier. Or as a defender, ways to knock the ball free.
Seems simplistic, almost condescending to professional athletes. But that wasn’t the point. It was a conscious effort by Carroll to reprogram his team.
“Repeating doesn’t matter unless we take care of our business right now,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “There was no talk about repeating. It was going back to the basics.”
Don’t be mistaken. The end goal, albeit unspoken, is to be the first team since the New England Patriots 10 years ago to become repeat champions. Why is Seattle more likely than others to accomplish the feat?
At least in part, because of Carroll. He went through the process of winning a title and trying to do it again at Southern California. The blueprint is similar, if not the same.
“I love this opportunity that we have,” Carroll said. “We are so fortunate to have this chance to come back after a season like that to see if we can find that kind of discipline and find that kind of ability to focus. It’s challenging, it’s difficult, it hasn’t happened a lot and we are going to see what happens.”
Sam makes first cut
St. Louis — Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, moved one step closer to a place in the St. Louis Rams’ lineup Tuesday by surviving a league-mandated roster cutdown.
The Rams trimmed four players from the active roster to reach the NFL-required limit of 75 players by Tuesday, but another 22 players must be dropped by Saturday afternoon to create the final 53-man roster for the regular-season openers.
The Rams play their final pre-season game Thursday at Miami and will open the regular season at home against Minnesota on Sept. 7.
Sam, a rookie from the nearby University of Missouri, is among eight defensive ends competing for up to six expected spots at the position. He ranks third on the right side depth chart but injuries could see the Rams keep more players than usual at the position as a precaution.
Sam has five tackles in pre-season games and a team-high three quarterback sacks, two of them last week in a win over Cleveland, and while he has played on special team units during kicks and punts, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Sam will be evaluated and judged only on his defensive skills.
ESPN aroused some controversy by talking about Sam’s showering habits in the locker room, a report that prompted a Twitter rebuke from Rams defensive end Chris Long — “Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it.”