Seahawks free agents finally get to work

Sidney Rice thought the Seattle Seahawks had unwittingly become

the subject of a practical joke as he stood on the sideline and

watched them practice without him for yet another day.

”We thought we was getting pranked for a minute with everyone

just sitting out there with their pads on waiting on a phone

call,” the wide receiver said.

It was one last strange moment from the collective bargaining

process that took a little longer than expected to get

completed.

”It wasn’t that odd considering what’s happened the past six

months,” tight end Zach Miller said. ”It wasn’t that surprising

to have to wait a few more minutes to go. I think everyone was

excited to finally, officially, (know that) everything is over and

done with and the next 10 years we’ll have football

uninterrupted.”

The Seahawks open the preseason with a trip to San Diego next

Thursday. Seattle will have just four more days of practice as a

full team, with a scheduled players day off on Sunday, before they

take the field for the first time. Ultimately, the free agent

signings had to wait an extra half hour before getting to work out

with their teammates.

Seattle had 16 players dressed in shoulder pads watching as

their teammates went through individual drills at the beginning of

their scheduled afternoon practice. Ten minutes into it, the entire

team stopped what they were doing to go over to the fans located on

the edge of the practice field. The team spent the next several

minutes signing autographs and talking to fans to stall until the

players got the final word that they could work out.

The players finally came together soon after and were given the

green light to practice.

”We had to sit around for an extra 25 minutes waiting on the

word for us to be able to go,” Rice said. ”But it felt good to be

able to get out there with my new teammates and get to work.”

Seattle has been one of the most active teams in this mad dash

of an NFL offseason. The team added quarterback Tarvaris Jackson

and big name free agents Rice, Robert Gallery and Zach Miller to an

offense the Seahawks desperately wanted to overhaul.

The new pieces were about to work together for the first time on

Thursday, and the lack of familiarity was obvious. In one

three-play sequence, Jackson fumbled two snaps from center Max

Unger and a handoff to running back Leon Washington. The practice

was littered with fumbles and false starts as the team struggled to

digest the playbook of new offensive coordinator Darrell

Bevell.

”Usually you have 15 days before your first preseason game, so

to go in a week really compresses everything,” Miller said.

”You’re going to have to study a lot. You’re going to have to get

as many reps as you can because it’s coming quick.”

Carroll designated Jackson the team’s starting quarterback on

Saturday without him taking a single snap in practice for his new

team. Charlie Whitehurst has been working with the first-team

offense for the first week of training camp, knowing he was just a

place holder until Jackson was able to begin practicing.

Now Jackson is on an accelerated timetable to get comfortable

with the rest of his new teammates in time for the fast-approaching

preseason opener.

”Trying to learn the guys, and they’re trying to get used to

me,” Jackson said. ”Snap count, getting used to the centers and

stuff like that. Getting used to the receivers and how they like

the ball thrown and stuff like that. That’s why that one week was

so big for us not to be able to practice because we could have that

stuff worked out by now and be more familiar with each other.”