By that time, every Seahawks player had heard all the hype. They all knew their team was the buzz of the NFL. Super Bowl predictions were everywhere. And the fans in Seattle were in a Seahawks frenzy. Expectations for the 2013 season were through the roof.
But offensive line coach Tom Cable gave a symbolic message to the players on Day 1.
“When we came in for the first day of camp, coach Cable put up all those preseason rankings on the wall and all that stuff about us,” Rice said. “Then he took them all down and threw them in the trash.”
Cable let every player know right off the bat that it doesn’t mean a darn thing.
“We all know where we stand,” Rice said. “And we know what’s at stake here.”
The Seahawks are coming off an 11-5 regular season in 2012; a playoff victory at Washington followed before their run ended with a last-second loss at Atlanta.
Many experts believe the Seahawks can reach the Super Bowl with a talented young team that should improve. But how these players handle all the hype could be a factor in how things go this season.
“Obviously, we have very, very high outside expectations for this team,” said quarterback Russell Wilson. “Like I always say, you have to ignore the noise. At the end of the day, we set higher expectations than everyone else.
“We come to work every single game and try to bring our A-game. It’s a competition to try to be the best individually, but also as a team, collectively. So for us, we are just trying to put our best foot forward. We’re ready.”
Coach Pete Carroll is convinced his team has the right attitude to deal with the expectations.
“I think that they have responded exactly the way we wanted them to,” Carroll said Wednesday. “We just kind of let them take it in, let it wash over and not affect them.”
After a 4-0 preseason, Carroll believes the Seahawks are mentally ready to play at a high level entering the season opener on the road against the Carolina Panthers.
“We had a really successful preseason,” Carroll said. “We’ve done things just like we hoped we would do them. It’s about our guys being tuned into the things that are important, which is how we play and how we operate come game day.
“The factors outside come from the media and just the normal buildup. All that needs to be left where it is and dealt with appropriately, and that is to realize it shouldn’t affect the way that we perform. That’s the discipline of our mindset, and hopefully, we continue to do that as we get through the season. Now it really starts.”
Rice said the team will have specific goals that have nothing to do with everyone’s expectations.
“When we line up on Sunday, our main thing will be discipline,” said Rice, who missed the preseason after undergoing a procedure on his knee. “The pre-snap penalties are something we struggled with in the preseason. We want to get on top of that and not step on our own toes. We have to make opponents do things themselves and not do it for them.”
The Seahawks were undefeated at home last season, but 4-6 on the road, counting the two playoff games.
“We struggled on the road last year,” Rice said. “This year we want to own it.”
It starts Sunday in Charlotte. The expectations don’t mean a thing.