Seahawks react to official end of Offseason Program

Thursday’s final minicamp session marked the end of the club’s official Offseason Program. Break for team veterans begins tomorrow, but the rookies will report for workouts next week, with the coaches break beginning shortly after that.

At the end of today’s camp, several Seahawks players took to Twitter to voice the success they’ve enjoyed throughout spring workouts:

https://twitter.com/willblackmon/status/345331741067706368


Thursday in Hawkville: That’s a wrap on the offseason program

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Club for June 13, when the Seahawks wrapped up their offseason program by concluding their mandatory three-day minicamp:

FOCUS ON: SPRINGING FORWARD  

Three minicamp practices. Nine OTA sessions. Almost two dozen non-OTA workouts. And five players who excelled, from almost start to almost finish.

In honor of the offseason program ending today for the veterans, and taking a huge step in that direction for the rookies, we decided to check in with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to get their informed-plus opinions on which players had outstanding springs.

Darrell Bevell, Percy HarvinBevell opted for two new players, who bring elements an already good offense didn’t have – Percy Harvin, who was acquired in a March trade with the Vikings; and Luke Willson, who was selected in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft.

Harvin is a receiver, but also a runner, and that versatility – not to mention the productivity he provided the past four seasons in Minnesota – will complement the contributions of All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and wide-outs Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Willson is a 6-foot-5, 252-pound tight end who has more speed than anyone that size should. That speed allows him to exploit matchups with linebacker and strong safeties, and his arrival also softens the loss of incumbent backup Anthony McCoy, who tore an Achilles tendon in the first OTA session.

“With the other guys, we know what you have,” Bevell said. “And they’ve all done a great job. But Luke and Percy are new and it’s been good to see how their talents are going to blend in.”

Harvin missed some time because of injuries, but as Bevell put it, “You could see what he brings whenever he was on the field.”

Quinn, in his first year as the D-coordinator, went with a proven commodity – All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas; and a couple of young linebackers – Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.Earl Thomas

“With Earl, it’s the focus he has and his mindset,” Quinn said. “He has completely captured what we’re trying to do. It just leaps out at you and I’ve been totally impressed.”

Right on cue, Thomas forced and recovered a fumble during the scrimmage-like session that ended today’s final minicamp practice.

“Bobby has put the work in,” Quinn said of Wagner, the middle linebacker who led the team in tackles as a rookie last season. “He’s doing the things when no one is watching – studying video, putting in the extra work in the weight room and the meeting room.”

Wright finished second to Wagner in tackles last season while playing on the strong side. This spring, he has been working on the weak strong, and continuing to make strong contributions.

“K.J. just continues to jump out,” Quinn said.

ALMOST LIVE

Coach Pete Carroll ended practice with a scrimmage-like drill, and the players appreciated the opportunity to show what they’ve accomplished this spring.

“It’s fun,” Wilson said. “It was a nice way to finish it.”

The second-year QB led the only touchdown drive, capping it with a 3-yard scoring pass to second-year tight end Sean McGrath. They also set up the TD, as McGrath made a falling grab of a 24-yard pass from Wilson against tight coverage from linebacker Korey Toomer. Wilson also directed a nine-play, 42-yard drive, but Steven Hauschka’s 51-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright. Backup QB Brady Quinn led a drive that ended with a 44-yard field goal by Carson Wiggs.

But the defense also had its moments, as cornerback Will Blackmon intercepted a Quinn pass that was intended for rookie wide receiver Chris Harper to go with Thomas’ bang-bang play where he forced and then recovered a fumble.

ROOKIE WATCH: JORDAN HILL AND JESSE WILLIAMSJordan Hill, Dan Quinn, Jesse Williams

The coaches keep asking more from the defensive linemen that were selected in the third (Hill) and fifth (Williams) rounds of April’s draft, and the rookies just keep on delivering.

“They’re real different,” Carroll said. “Jesse is a 329-pound kid and strong as an ox. We see Jordan as much quicker and shiftier, and a very, very good technique player. He has really good leverage and hand placement. He’s exciting.”

Since joining the team for the rookie minicamp in May, Jordan has worked at both the three-technique and nose tackle spots in the both the base defense and nickel defense; while Williams has played both tackle spots as well as the five-technique end position in the base defense.

Today, Jordan got extensive work with the No. 1 line, while Williams got his turn to work with the starters on Wednesday.

“We have moved them around,” Carroll said. “That versatility helps. Both kids are really smart and they get it, and they have really good work ethic. … It’s very exciting that those guys have come in and we think they can add unique dimensions for each one of them.”

PAUL ALLEN TAKES IN PRACTICE

Owner Paul Allen watched part of today’s practice from the sideline.

“It was good to see the owner out here,” Carroll said. “Mr. Allen came out and saw us work on the last day, and it looked like he was having a good time, too.”

Also on hand were former quarterbacks Jim Zorn, the team’s original QB (1979-84) who also coached the position (2001-07); and Hall of Famer Warren Moon, who played two seasons with the Seahawks (1997-98) and is now the analyst for the team’s radio broadcasts.

MARSHAWN LYNCH HIGHLIGHTED IN TOP 100 OF 2013

NFL Network’s countdown of the Top 100 Players of 2013 continued this evening with the unveiling of players ranked No. 30-21. The Seahawks’ Beast Mode back earned a mention at No. 24 on the list.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I think the biggest thing is just to be consistent. Be clutch. And try to dominate. When the game’s on the line, just help our football team win. I think that’s the biggest thing as a quarterback, be a great leader, have attention to detail and have that relentless competitive nature every day. I think that’s the biggest thing I can bring to the table, in terms of practicing and in games.” – Wilson when asked about his goals for the 2013 season


Wednesday in Hawkville: The continuing evolution of Richard Sherman

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 12, when the Seahawks held the second practice in the mandatory three-day minicamp that concludes the offseason program:

FOCUS ON: RICHARD SHERMAN

Richard ShermanWelcome to the continuing evolution of an on-his-game cornerback who was forced into the Seahawks’ starting lineup in 2011 because of injuries to two other players and last season developed into an All-Pro performer.

Sherman is the first cornerback in franchise history to be voted first team All-Pro, as the late Dave Brown was a second-team selection in 1984. But this offseason, Sherman has looked even better and is playing with even more confidence – if that’s possible – than the corner who intercepted eight passes and led the NFL with 24 passes defensed last season.

No one can remember Sherman giving up a completion during the team’s OTA sessions or first two practices of this week’s three-day minicamp. At least not in man-to-man coverage.

What gives? Certainly not Sherman.

“It’s just a part of the evolution,” defensive backs coach Kris Richard said after today’s practice, when Sherman had near interceptions on back-to-back plays and then recovered on another play to break up a pass.

“He’s growing and continuing to learn what he’s going to be able to get away with when he’s out there. Just trying to figure out what his limitations are, if there are any. Really, that’s what this time is for. So it’s really good to see him continue to grow and develop.”

Sherman, a fifth-round draft choice in 2011 after playing cornerback for only one season at Stanford, credits this evolutionary improvement to studying video and the fact that he’s entering his third season as a member of the Legion of Boom – which also includes All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner, who played in the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season.

“It’s just confidence and a lot of film study,” Sherman said. “You go down to the nitty-gritty. If you watch film enough, if you see things enough, it’s ‘You fool me once, shame on me. If you fool me twice, you can’t fool me twice.’ ”

As for that still-developing rapport and chemistry with the other defensive backs, Sherman offered, “Sometimes we’ll be out there mid-play and Kam will tell me to jump this. I’ll jump it, because it’s just trust. I know he’s going to where he’s supposed to be if he tells me to jump this.

“We’ll call plays out halfway through the play and be moving pieces. If you saw it on film you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell what coverage we were in because it’s probably not the most technical way to run it. But it works. We’re effective and the chemistry is there.”

Whatever works, and things obviously are working extremely well for Sherman.

In addition to Sherman’s plays, the defense-dominated practice also included cornerback Jeremy Lane’s leaping deflection of Brady Quinn a pass that was intended for Stephen Williams at the goal line; rookie defensive tackle Jesse Williams deflecting a third-down pass by Jerrod Johnson; Thomas recovering a fumble; another breakup by Browner and a tipped pass by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner; and an interception by cornerback Will Blackmon.

Doug Baldwin

PLAYER WATCH: DOUG BALDWIN

The day was tinted Cardinal, as Baldwin had almost as good a day on offense as Sherman had on defense. They played together at Stanford and came to the Seahawks in the same year – Baldwin as a rookie free agent.

Today, when quarterback Russell Wilson found himself running out of time he looked for Baldwin. They hooked up for a 20-yard completion on a third-and-10 play and a 12-yard gain on second-and-10.

Like Sherman, Baldwin’s efforts today mirrored the type of spring he has had.

“Doug has done really well,” coach Pete Carroll said after Tuesday’s practice. “At this time last year, Doug was pressing a little bit. And he was coming off his great first season (when Baldwin was the team’s leading receiver). I think he came in just wanting to do so much.”

Instead, injuries limited Baldwin’s reps during training camp, he had his front teeth knocked out in the season opener and then played through a shoulder injury for much of the regular season.

Now? “You can just see how relaxed he is,” Carroll said. “He’s playing like a vet. He knows our system. He’s working great with the quarterback. And he does so many intricate things.”

RUGBY INVASION

USA Rugby SevensTeam USA’s Sevens National Team watched today’s practice. The players are in town to prepare for the World Cup in Moscow in two weeks.

The connection to the Seahawks? It’s Carroll and Waisale Serevi, the former Fijian rugby union footballer who did for his sport what Pele was able to do for soccer. Serevi is based in Seattle and Carroll has gotten to know him.

UP NEXT

The final practice in the three-day minicamp starts at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. Friday, the veterans begin their break until reporting for training camp on July 24. The rookies will continue to work out through June 26.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’ve learned that he’s probably one of the most tenacious players in the NFL. He’s a rugged, hardworking, hardnosed football player.” – Sherman on Browner


Minicamp round-up: Day two

Good morning, and welcome to day two of the Seahawks’ three-day minicamp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Like yesterday, today’s workout is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., but before we get there, here’s a look at what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for June 12, 2013:

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times has his notes from day one of minicamp, including injury updates, practice observations and post-practice reaction from head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune dissects Wilson’s approach to the 2013 season and has his practice notes from day one.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune analyzes ESPN.com’s 20 Greatest Coaches in NFL History feature, looking at where past and present Seahawks coaches fall in relation to the list.

Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com catches up with wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who has impressed coaches and media alike so far this offseason. O’Neil also has notes from day one of minicamp, keying in on versatile defensive end Michael Bennett.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald also has a feature on Bennett, one of the club’s top offseason acquisitions.

ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando has his thoughts after Wilson’s Tuesday morning appearance on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” – the podcast of which can be found below:

Audio File – Russell Wilson on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike”:

Our Clare Farnsworth looks at Wilson’s approach to avoiding a “sophomore slump” and his “Hawkville” blog focuses on rookie defensive tackle Michael Brooks.

Insider Tony Ventrella talks with Carroll, Wilson and Baldwin following the first day of minicamp in his Seahawks Daily.

Team photographer Rod Mar has a look at day one of camp in photos.

And we’ll be back with plenty more following this afternoon’s practice.


Tarvaris Jackson released by Buffalo Bills

Tarvaris Jackson

Tarvaris Jackson, the Seahawks’ starting quarterback in his only season with the club, has been released by the Bills, it was announced on the team’s website today.

The Seahawks traded Jackson to the Bills last August, on the same day coach Pete Carroll announced that rookie Russell Wilson had won the Seahawks’ starting job. Jackson did not play last season for the Bills, but was re-signed this offseason.

In 2011, after signing with the Seahawks in free agency, Jackson passed for 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns. But last summer he lost the starting job to Wilson and the backup job to Matt Flynn, who was signed in free agency last March and traded to the Raiders this offseason.


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Wednesday in Hawkville: Brandon Mebane reverts to baseball-playing days to make one big interception

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 5, when the Seahawks put the wraps on the on-field activities in the OTA portion of their offseason program:

Brandon MebaneFOCUS ON: BRANDON MEBANE

Pete Carroll stopped short of announcing the move of 311-pound nose tackle to extra-strong strong safety, but the Seahawks’ coach was duly impressed with the interception Mebane made during today’s OTA.

“The return was not that good,” Carroll cracked. “But the pick was nice.”

For Mebane, it was his second interception this week as he also had one on Monday. But today’s pick – which came off a pass that was tipped by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner – allowed him to display the full array of his athletic skills.

“I just saw the ball go up and my eyes got real big,” Mebane said. “I was like, ‘Just like baseball. Just catch it.’ ”

Baseball? Mebane played third base, catcher, second base and centerfield while growing up. That was before he grew into a nose tackle.

“That was just like a pop fly,” he said of the batted Brady Quinn pass he intercepted.

But Mebane’s second pick also was a testament to the work he has been putting in. The D-lineman began today’s OTA with a drill where coordinator Dan Quinn had them drop, turn and catch the ball as he threw it. Mebane displayed cat-like quickness in grabbing his.

Marshawn Lynch

PLAYER WATCH: MARSHAWN LYNCH

The All-Pro running back participated in today’s session, Lynch’s first OTA appearance this week. He looked quick and explosive while getting carries with the No. 1 and even No. 3 units.

“He had a nice day today. He got a little running room,” Carroll said. “He’s in really good shape. We’re trying to get him all the way through this offseason and get him ready for the real season. We know what Marshawn can do as long as he’s in good shape, and he’s in fantastic shape. He’s hard as a rock and he’s worked really hard to this point.

“It’s really just take the next step, the next step. Get him through minicamp. Then get him through the summertime. Then show up for camp and get him through the preseason. So that he’s right and ready to go. There’s so much (tread) on the tire and we don’t want to wear down that.”

The Seahawks ran the ball a league-high 536 times last season, and Lynch used his career-high 315 carries to produce 1,590 rushing yards and average 5.0 yards – also a career-bests.

POSITION WATCH: RIGHT TACKLE

Rookie Michael Bowie continued to work with the No. 1 line because, as Carroll explained, starter Breno Giacomini has been in New York to have a knee that’s been bothering him checked out.

The news is good on both fronts: Giacomini will not need surgery, and the reps Bowie got with the first unit in his absence were invaluable for the seventh-round draft choice.

“He could have practice this week, but we wanted to take this time to make sure that we were doing the right thing,” Carroll said of Giacomini. “So he’s in good shape and that’s a really positive report for us.”

On Bowie, he added, “Michael got a great chance to show and it was cool to have him with the first group out there. He handled himself well. It’s a good initial statement that he’s made that he looks like he can fit in. He’s got a lot of ground to make up, but we’re very pleased with him.”

ALUMNI WATCH: CURT WARNER

Three generations of Seahawks running backs were on the field before the start of practice, as Warner had a sideline conversation with Lynch and Sherman Smith, the team’s original running back who now coaches the position.

Smith led the team in rushing from 1976-79 and again in 1982. Warner, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 1983, ran for 6,705 yards in six seasons, including 1,481 in 1986 and 1,449 as a rookie. Lynch has been the team’s leading rusher the past three seasons.

Lt. Colonel Edward DrummondPULLING RANK

Also at practice was Edward Drummond, a retired Lt. Col. and the youngest of the Tuskegee Airman. He had his picture taken with Carroll and several players after practice.

Drummond, 86, was accompanied by his wife and eight students from Pacific West Aerospace Academy.

UP NEXT

The players will work out on Thursday, but they won’t have their scheduled on-field session.

Friday, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman will sign autographs from noon to 1 p.m. as part of the weekend-long grand re-opening of the Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field. Quarterback Russell Wilson and team president Peter McLoughlin will handle the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:30 p.m.

Next week, the team’s mandatory minicamp will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with an afternoon practice each day.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Walter is physically capable of showing off. He is a tremendous athlete. He has been in a situation where he’s kind of had to hold back a little bit for a long time. He’s really able to just go for it now.” – Carroll on oft-injured cornerback Walter Thurmond, who we profiled in this story on Monday


Pete Carroll to host 2nd annual Seahawks Town Hall

If you could ask Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll one question, what would it be?

It’s something to think about because tomorrow night you could very well get that chance, as Carroll will host his second annual Seahawks Town Hall – an interactive conversation between Carroll and the 12th Man.

Carroll will speak to and answer questions from select season-ticket holders on the team’s upcoming season, and you’ll have the opportunity to follow the event in its entirety at shwks.com/townhall. The fan forum kicks off at 6:30 p.m. PT.

To submit a question to Carroll, simply log on to Twitter and tag your query for coach with #SeahawksTownHall and your question will be considered.


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Mike Williams — yes, that Mike Williams — heading to CFL

Mike Williams

Just how many football lives does Mike Williams have?

You remember Williams: 6-foot-5 wide receiver; played at USC for Pete Carroll; first-round draft choice by the Lions in 2005; out of the league for two seasons; led the Seahawks in receptions in 2010 after being given a minicamp tryout by his former college coach.

Yeah, that Mike Williams. He’s looking to jumpstart his career, again, this time in the CFL with the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts. The club has announced the signing of Williams, who’s still only 29 despite all his tribulations and triumphs in the NFL.

Williams’ stay with the Seahawks was well-documented. From that successful tryout in April of 2010. To that 65-catch season, and the contract extension that followed. To the injuries and additions of other receivers that helped lead to his release last July.


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Rookie receiver Justin Veltung signed

Veltung

Justin Veltung, one of the three-dozen players who participated in the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, signed with the team this morning.

The 5-foot-10, 183-pound receiver/returner from the University of Idaho and Puyallup High School was singled out by coach Pete Carroll when he was asked if there had been any surprises during the May 10-12 minicamp.

“Veltung did a nice job,” Carroll said.

Nice enough to get another chance, but Veltung joins a crowded group of receivers that features incumbent starters Sidney Rice and Golden Tate and free-agent addition Percy Harvin; and also includes slot receiver Doug Baldwin and fourth-round draft choice Chris Harper.

But Veltung showed enough to get this second opportunity.

“He’s a smart guy,” receivers coach Kippy Brown said after the rookie camp. “He knows what to do. He doesn’t make very many mistakes, and so far he’s been real reliable catching the football.”

That continued today in the team’s third OTA session, when Veltung went down to get a low throw over the middle and displayed good separation – and got both feet in – while making a catch along the sideline.

Among Veltung’s pluses are his speed (4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day workout); athleticism (41½-inch vertical leap); and ability to return kicks (two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns at Idaho).


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Monday in Hawkville: Russell Wilson picks up far beyond where he left off

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 20, as the Seahawks kicked off the OTA portion of their offseason program:

FOCUS ON

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback made it difficult to not watch him, and coach Pete Carroll summed up the situation when asked how much farther along Wilson is this year compared to last year – when he had just been selected in the third round of the NFL Draft and still was competing for the starting job with the since-departed duo of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.

“There’s no way of even calculating that,” Carroll said after a crisp, spirited practice on yet another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. “His awareness and his sense for the finest details, we jumped offside today and he’s working on hard counts on the first play of team (drills).

“He didn’t know what a hard count was last year at this time.”

That might be stretching it just a tad, but saying that Wilson had a very impressive outing in the first of the team’s 10 OTA practices is not.

In that first team segment Carroll mentioned, Wilson completed passes to wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and also scrambled twice, before throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson remained almost as sharp, and aware, for the rest of the session.

“It’s really hard to equate what it is, because he’s applied himself so much that he’s taken an extraordinary amount of information and he’s processing it,” Carroll said. “He threw a couple of balls today – things that we’ve talked about over the offseason we’d like to take a shot at – and he did it today just to see what would happen. With full awareness of why he was doing it.”

Before the OTA session was over, Wilson had completed passes to 10 receivers – running back Robert Turbin; Baldwin and McCoy; Tate, running back Derrick Coleman, rookie tight end Luke Willson, Percy Harvin, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

The pass to Kearse was vintage Wilson – and that’s saying something, as well, that a second-year QB already has established trademark nuances to his game. It came on the final play, as Wilson avoided pressure and got off a pass that caught Kearse as much as Kearse caught the pass.

“Russell is the kind of players that will affect other guys,” Carroll said. “He affects everybody around him and hopefully that will help everybody play better.”


UNIT WATCH

Offensive line. Right tackle Breno Giacomini participated fully, after being limited in Phase 2 of the offseason program following elbow surgery. His returned allowed the No. 1 offense to field the same line that closed last season – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger, right guard J.R. Sweezy and Giacomini.

Comprising the second unit, from left tackle to right: Mike Person, who had been working for Giacomini with the No. 1 line; Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, John Moffitt and Michael Bowie. In the third unit: Alvin Bailey, Johnson, Jared Smith, Ryan Seymour and Jordon Roussos.

PLAYER WATCH

Cliff Avril. And that’s what the defensive end who was signed in free agency was doing – watching, because he’s dealing with plantar fascia that he got a month ago.

But with Bruce Irvin facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season and Chris Clemons still recovering from surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee from the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in January, Avril is slated to be the starter at the Leo end spot in the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina.

“I like the fact that Cliff is here because he gave us a cushion for Clem,” Carroll said. “That now changes for the first month of the season.”

Today, Irvin continued to work at Leo end in the No. 1 nickel line, with Mike Morgan taking over with the second unit and Ty Powell going with the third unit. In the base defense, Michael Bennett was the Leo end with the No. 1 line.

ROSTER MOVES

Tight end Darren Fells was re-signed this morning, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.

Fells, a basketball player in college who also played professionally in Belgium, Ireland and Argentina, was released two weeks ago. But he attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Steiner had been claimed off waivers last week.

Also, running back Christine Michael, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, signed his rookie contract.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week. Next week, they’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

YOU DON’T SAY, PLAYER EDITION

“We really don’t care. Coach said we’ve got a lot of hype, but he also said let’s make it natural. Everybody around here expects us to win, but we expect ourselves to win, too. We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose. With a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.” – Harvin, when asked how the players were handling the heightened expectations that have come from being regarded among the “favorites” in the league this offseason by the national media

YOU DON’T SAY, COACH EDITION

“It was a very, very good first day for us.” – Carroll