Finally — after five months of pandemic shutdown, 5 million coronavirus cases in the U.S., more than a thousand tests for COVID-19 in the team facility’s parking lot — the Seattle Seahawks return to football.
Wednesday the players will be on the field at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton for their first team practice of training camp. It’s their first team workout in seven months, since the day before Seattle’s playoff loss at Green Bay in January.
“It’s been a really different process. It’s not like any other start to any other camp I’ve ever been around,” 68-year-old Pete Carroll said of his 11th training camp as Seattle’s coach, and 26th as a coach in the NFL.
“The call for patience is, like, ridiculous. We get to this point — we missed the offseason, the physical part, in the complex here and all of that — we are so rarin’ to go.”
This is the next, new phase of how the NFL is preparing to play the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time, players will be massed on the same field in offense-versus-defense drills and line play. It’s a new test for the COVID-19 and social-distancing protocols the Seahawks and all teams are adhering to daily.
But they won’t be hitting each other. Not yet.
The Seahawks will have four days of practices without pads: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. They have a players day off Saturday.
The first full-pads practice is scheduled for Monday. Seattle gets 14 practices in full pads between Aug. 17 and its opening game Sept. 13 at Atlanta. There are no preseason games this year.
That’s all per the COVID-19 testing, acclimation and practice plans to which the NFL and its players’ union agreed last month for this unprecedented training camp.
The Seahawks are having game-like scrimmages inside CenturyLink Field Aug. 22 and 26. Their home stadium in downtown Seattle will be without fans, just as it appears it will be for Seahawks home games this season per King County’s ongoing coronavirus restrictions.