RENTON -- Cornerback Shaquill Griffin and running back Rashaad Penny said Thursday that they are in better shape than a year ago and believe they have adjusted their focus to put themselves in a better mindset for 2019.
"Last year was just an average year, and I hold myself to a higher standard," Griffin said. "I’ve got a different mindset than I did last year. The maturity level has changed and I learned a lot more, and just becoming a better person and better man before I can change my game. My mindset is totally different this year."
Griffin and Penny are at different points in their career but a reset could prove to be beneficial for both. Griffin is entering his third year in the NFL and suddenly finds himself as part of the leadership of a young secondary that no longer has Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas roaming the back end of the field. Penny is hoping to have a breakout campaign after an up and down rookie season.
Both Griffin and Penny said they have worked with nutritionists this offseason in an effort to get their bodies in the best shape to succeed at their given positions.
"I feel like it took a different approach this year," Griffin said. "I focused on losing some of the gained weight I had last year. I wanted to come in more trim, leaner, faster. I feel a lot better. I feel great actually."
Griffin said he's lost about 12 pounds this offseason and is back down to around 194 pounds. He said that while he never lost his speed carrying the extra weight a season ago, it was more difficult to reach that peak and proved more taxing physically.
"I think I came in about that same weight my rookie year, between 194-198," he said. "That’s kind of what I want to play at, I want to stay fast. I’m stronger than I was last year at this weight, so I’m feeling pretty good.
Additionally, Griffin said he tried to chase stats a season ago as he tried to fill the void created by the release of Sherman last offseason.
"I just think I had the wrong mindset coming into it," he said. "I felt like I put too much pressure on myself going to who was there before me. It got to the point where I know I’m taking over this spot from the guy that was just here, let me make sure I have just as many picks, make sure I have just as many good plays, just as many pass breakups. That’s the type of mindset I came in with, it was all about accolades and stats, and it’s not about that. It’s about helping this team win in any type of way that you can, being a better teammate to become a player."
Griffin led the defensive backs this offseason in pulling up tape of the 2013 Super Bowl defense to study some of the things that made that group so exceptional. He wanted to find out how the group played and see what could be incorporated into their games for this season.
"It’s kind of cool to see the type of environment they created in 2013, see the way guys played with each other," he said. "Sometimes you’ve got to go back to your roots to see how they did things. So I had some of the (defensive backs) download that tape to see how the 2013 defense played, the way they cared for each other, the way they played for each other, the way they celebrated, and it kind of opened people’s eyes to the things we want to be at, the things we want to get back to. So we’re back into it. Everybody’s excited, everybody’s buying into it. Sometimes you’ve got to figure out where you came from so you can get back to it."
Meanwhile, Penny had revelations of his own that made him want to adapt his game and body for 2019.
A finger injury in training camp kept him from practicing for several weeks. While the injury seemed relatively minor, Penny and head coach Pete Carroll both said last season that it had a real effect on his rookie season.
"That’s definitely frustrating," Penny said. "Definitely when you have a finger issue, as a running back you need all your fingers. It is frustrating, and it was frustrating for me as a rookie. I didn’t know how to take it. I’ve never been hurt playing football in my life, so when that happened, I just hit a wall. I’m glad that I’ve grown up. Over these past months and this offseason, I’ve just started taking everything seriously by treating my body right and doing the little things. Also I think what helped me was losing all that extra weight. Now I feel better. I don’t have all those nagging injuries. I’m at my best."
Penny didn't say exactly how much weight he's lost but said he's back down under 230 pounds now.
"I feel better than I've ever felt. Just coming in from last year... hoping to stay at this weight and just keeping playing where I'm at now," he said.
Penny said he's also connected with Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, who is a fellow San Diego State alum. He said they first started talking in January and will chat a couple times a week with Penny sending Faulk their playbook and videos to discuss. It's all part of Penny's desire to really focus in on things that could improve him game this season.
"Just being in the details," Penny said. "Just coming in early, getting treatment whenever my body is sore. Doing all the little things. Focusing on other positions, techniques and what they do besides just knowing mine. I have a mentor in Marshall Faulk who's teaching me as well. He knew everything, what the offensive line was doing to receivers and just learning different reads and things.
"I send him the playbook and he just shows me what to look for. We also watch videos on FaceTime, so I'm just trying to learn the dynamics of being more of a pro."
Griffin will be the team's No. 1 cornerback again this fall while Penny is likely the No. 2 running back behind starter Chris Carson. Both players will be pivotal for the Seahawks this season and have implemented plans to get the most of themselves this season.
Photo Credit: Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny speaks with reporters following practice on June 6, 2019 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)