Russell Wilson, Seahawks' receivers build chemistry during SoCal sessions

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RENTON, Wash. -- Russell Wilson sat at the front of the room, facing a group of offensive teammates gathered tightly around him. There were about a dozen of them, mostly wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.

It's hardly uncommon for a quarterback to summon his skill players for a meeting. It might be inside team headquarters before practice or on the field for a pregame speech.

This one was in the living room of Wilson's home in San Diego.

That's where he brought teammates this past July for their latest offseason get-together, a training and bonding trip that Wilson has put on every year since his second NFL season in 2013. Most of them have taken place in Los Angeles, where Wilson's Seattle Seahawks (10-2) will go for a season sweep of the Los Angeles Rams (7-5) Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

Southern California has been the destination for all but one year -- they went to Hawaii in 2015 -- because of proximity and weather. Some players are already down there for individual offseason training, and it's a relatively quick flight for those coming from Seattle. The trips are either right before the start of the offseason program in mid-April -- when it's still rainy in the Pacific Northwest -- or right before training camp like it was this past year.

Wilson plays the dual role of quarterback and coordinator, laying out the routes during the morning throwing sessions and whatever they'll do for fun once the work is done. "Seahawks Summer Camp" thus was an apt title for the videos of the three-day trip put together by Wilson's West2East Empire Production Team.

The first video shows Wilson addressing his teammates, half of whom are either rookies or new to the team. He tells them they're there to work, first and foremost, but also to get to know each other.

"I would say the one thing that I don't think, for me, that I've had enough time to do in my world or haven't really focused on as much is this kind of relationship part of it," Wilson said. "So this is my challenge to myself, too, as well, to continue to learn you guys on a personal level, your worlds and everything else."

California dreamin' with a football twist

A typical day, according to Wilson, begins with a workout at around 8 a.m. He had his personal trainer, Decker Davis, leading those in San Diego. During the Los Angeles trips, the athletic departments at USC or UCLA let them use their practice fields for the two-hour throwing sessions that follow. In Hawaii, they went to a high school.

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Wilson's back yard in San Diego has its own football field. It's surrounded by palm trees and has the quarterback's RW3 logo painted in the middle of it.

"Guys are working in the offseason -- don't get me wrong -- but it's tough when you all go home and you don't have an arm like Russ throwing," said tight end Luke Willson, who was getting ready for training camp with the Oakland Raiders during the most recent trip but has taken part in four previously. "For me especially -- really for everyone -- you're not going to get a guy who throws the ball like Russ does."

One of the videos from the San Diego trip shows Wilson telling since-waived rookie Gary Jennings where he expects him to be at the top of a route based on the coverage they were simulating. In another clip, he tells rookie receiver John Ursua to attack the football on a deep throw lest he gives an incoming safety enough time to get a hand on it.

"We got a lot of timing, attention to detail with the playbook with what Russ wants on certain routes," said second-year receiver Malik Turner.

Depending on what else is on tap that day, they might watch film for an a hour after throwing. Then it's some sort of a recovery session, such as a yoga session led by Wilson's personal yoga instructor/movement specialist, Elena Cheung.

"You wouldn't have needed to do it 10 years ago because the offseason was so long and the players were together for a ton of time," said Trevor Moawad, Wilson's mental conditioning coach, of the types of offseason training sessions that Wilson and other quarterbacks put on.

Moawad was previously the director of performance at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, which has hosted player-led minicamps for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers since the NFL's latest CBA significantly reduced the amount of offseason time players are required to spend at their team's facility.

"The simple reality is now, they don't get a long time together," he said. "Once the season ends, particularly if you don't make the playoffs, it's early January. You may not see your teammates for four months. That's a long time to go without training."

Fun in the sun

Wilson wants the relevant football portion of each day to end by about 1 p.m. Then they'll have fun, usually with some sort of competitive activity before they'll head out for dinner or a ballgame or a comedy show.

"The last day, we always do something fun where we'll play beach football and we'll pick teams," Wilson said. "I'll play safety or corner or something like that. We also play beach volleyball ... You can really see who can really play because it's always really competitive.

"First, it'll start kind of slow. The next thing you know, the game gets close and guys are smashing the ball in each other's faces and stuff. It's a good time. We have a blast."

One of those matches was against professionals in 2014. The players were staying and training in Hermosa Beach -- which is something of a beach volleyball capital -- working out at a gym that was frequented by members of the U.S. women's beach volleyball team. Of the four that Willson, the tight end, could recall, two competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics: Brooke Sweat and Lauren Fendrick.

"They wiped us," Willson said. "So we ended up having to go two and two, like splitting teams. Two of them and two of us and we did four on fours."

Willson recalls Travis Beckum -- a tight end who didn't make the team that year -- going up for a spike and getting stuffed at the net in epic fashion.

"Don't laugh at him," one of the pros told Willson. "She does that all the time."

Willson had some spike opportunities of his own that didn't go his way.

"I'm a taller dude," the 6-foot-5 Willson said. "Like, I consider myself a decent athlete, and I was like slamming these spikes down and it was like a joke for them to hit them back. Like Brooke Sweat was just like, bong, right back to center. You know when you watch kids play volleyball and someone spikes one and it's like, 'oh, they got it' but it's like way directed over there?

"It was a joke. We were pathetic. So that was a fun experience."

Which is the part of the idea with those trips.

"We have the best jobs in the world: We get to play football for a living," Wilson said. "We get to spend time together. A lot of great guys I've gotten to play with, lot of guys I've been fortunate to throw touchdowns to. That didn't just happen. It's a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of focus, a lot of long days, long nights, early mornings.

"All of those things add up, even in the offseason."