Richard Sherman and John Schneider walked off the practice field side-by-side.
The star cornerback and the general manager who talked openly this offseason about trading him, chatted in a seemingly amicable way for a couple of minutes. Then, as Sherman and Schneider approached the door to the locker room, they shared the Kumbaya theme for this Seahawks Friday.
Divided locker room? What divided locker room?
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That was the assertion Friday from Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson – heck, seemingly every Seahawk down to Turf, the team’s resident practice-field dog.
And the reason the Seahawks didn’t sign Colin Kaepernick, Carroll said, had nothing to do with the controversy the former San Francisco starting quarterback caused last season. Kaepernick kneeled during national anthems before games to protest racial injustice in our country.
“He’s a starter. And we have a starter,” Carroll said, one week after Kaepernick’s free-agent visit to Seattle.
“But he’s a starter in this league, and I can’t imagine somebody won’t give him a chance to play.”
Carroll refused to comment on contract specifics the team discussed with Kaepernick, a starter the last five years for San Francisco.
The coach didn’t have to comment. The inference was clear: Seattle was offering minimum, backup money for a 29-year-old veteran of the game’s biggest stage that thinks he’s worthy of more starter-like money.
It was the first – and eventful – day since an ESPN story last week quoting anonymous team sources saying Richard Sherman prominent in an defense-vs.-offense rift stemming from Seattle’s last-second loss in Super Bowl 49 to New England in February 2015.
Carroll on Friday called last week’s ESPN piece by Seth Wickersham an “old story” from years, plural, ago.
“We’re in great shape. This locker room’s in great shape,” the coach said, his outlook as characteristically sunny as the brilliant day along Lake Washington.
“Everybody’s pulling for one another. Whatever you guys think may be otherwise, it isn’t. We are in great shape right now.”
Asked specifically about the story’s assertion Carroll treats Wilson differently as the quarterback than any other player, and that it is part of what angers Sherman and the defense, Carroll’s tone strengthened.
“I’m not going to treat everybody the same and overlook whatever is going on with their individual ways. I’m not doing that,” Carroll said. “And you’ve watched it. You don’t think it’s working, then too bad. I think it’s working pretty darn well. And it’s the best way that we know how to do it.”
Carroll said that last paragraph with a forcefulness, almost defiance, that is rare for him.
Asked if the ESPN story was accurate, Carroll said: “I think it was an old story that ... I don’t even know where all the stuff came from.
“I will say this: I’ve said to you guys before that the big wins are just as hard as the big losses, if you let it be. And our first Super Bowl (win Denver at the end of the 2013 season) was a challenge to get back from. Our second Super Bowl was a challenge to get back from. That’s just how it is; it is that impacting. And if you notice, most teams don’t make it back. ...
“I’m proud of where we are, and how we’ve handled our past. That article makes reference to something that’s, you know, it’s years old now. And this time of year, you guys want to keep talking about it if you can. It’s not a big deal to us, at all. It isn’t an issue to us, at all.”
Wilson walked along the side of the practice field at one point Friday with Hall-of-Fame quarterback Warren Moon. The Seahawks’ radio analyst this week told TuneIn online radio of the team that employs him: “They are still having a hangover from two years ago, if you can believe it or not, about losing that Super Bowl in the last minute with the interception on the 1-yard line.”
At one point in their on-field chat Friday, Wilson and Moon shared a laugh.
Carroll’s response to whether he showed favoritism to Wilson, Seattle’s $87.6 million franchise quarterback the coach drafted in the third round of 2012, was basically: Of course I do.
“I show favoritism to every one of these guys, you know? Every one of them,” Carroll said. “I’m trying to figure each guy out and help them out the best I can. And I think we are doing OK doing that, you know?”
Carroll summarized with: “Things are a lot different than maybe you guys think. ... In here, and with us and what we are doing, I think we are in marvelous position. That doesn’t mean everybody’s on the same page exactly right all the time. I’m not either. We’ve got to work at it. It’s a challenge. It’s relationships, and working with people.”
Asked how much discord he had to go through last season in the locker room, Carroll said: “Nothing.”
“But I will say this – and I’m getting myself in trouble saying this – it’s never going away from me,” he said of the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. “The first one is never going away from me. It’s affected me for the rest of the life. And the next one affected me for the rest of my life. I’m OK with that. ... It’s a lot to go through. It’s a big experience. And you’ve got to put it in the right place so the next step you take can be the best step that you take. And that’s what we are working at doing.”
Wilson stood behind his coach’s unshakable assertions their locker room is fine, not fractured as nationally depicted.
“We keep winning,” Wilson said. “I don’t think teams do that if they are truly divided.”
EARL THOMAS UPDATE
Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and DeShawn Shead watched practice, meaning three-fourths of the starting secondary was out.
Thomas rested after two days of what Carroll said was almost full participation in practice closed to the media. Friday was two days short of six months since the three-time All-Pro safety broke his tibia. Carroll said Thomas definitely will be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July.
Chancellor had surgeries on both ankles this offseason. He expected back for training camp, too.
Shead tore knee ligaments in the playoff loss at Atlanta in January and may not be back until deep into the season.