RENTON, Wash. -- With music blaring, the energy from the practice field is nearly as loud as the tunes. Pete Carroll has always been a high-octane guy who warmly welcomes all competition, and the Seattle Seahawks have assumed the form of their fourth-year coach.
Veterans who should be secure fear being cut. Rookies know they have a chance to start. In the gorgeous setting around the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, everything is placid -- except for the action on the field. Seattle is ready for Act 2 after playing a breakout role in 2012.
Here are five things I learned during my day in Renton:
1) The decision to start Russell Wilson has left its mark: The Seahawks' 2012 campaign began with a stunning move, as Carroll announced that Wilson -- and not free-agent signee Matt Flynn -- would be his starting quarterback. For most of us who hadn't watched the competition day in and day out, it was beyond explanation. "The fact that you guys didn't see it (made it a surprise)," Carroll told me. "The conventional wisdom was you'd never do that. But he's that good. And we could tell. He still has to go out and do it and prove it." Yes, he is that good. Wilson clearly established himself as one of the pillars of the franchise's future last season, guiding the Seahawks to an 11-5 mark and falling just short of the NFC Championship Game. Looking back on the move, Carroll said, "The bad thing would've been to not name Russell, because he was the guy. He won the job." Who cares that he was an unproven rookie? He earned it. A year later, this mentality is not lost on players. They know this: Everyone's job is simultaneously in jeopardy and attainable. One secure veteran recently went to his position coach and innocently asked if he's on the roster bubble. Meanwhile, 25-year-old corner Walter Thurmond knows he has a chance at the nickel job, despite the Seahawks signing 14-year veteran Antoine Winfield in free agency. The message is loud and clear: The depth chart is completely fluid. This is the way Carroll has always done it, but the Wilson decision really hammered home his unwavering devotion to open competition. "There comes a time when you have opportunities to really demonstrate that," Carroll said. "That was one of the best ones." The result is a stronger team with players who know they have to perform on a daily basis.