RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks now may have the most coveted title in the NFL by their name, and a huge target on their back.
But players and coaches insist that the feeling around the team is the same as it was a year ago, when the Seahawks were simply a contender that had yet to win a division title.
"The same vibe, the same hunger in practice, the same speed," said cornerback Richard Sherman on Monday after the Seahawks began their final week of OTAs.
As he thought about it, Sherman then allowed that the speed of practice might even be increased over what it was a year ago due to the vets having one more year of experience, and the presence of some new, or fully healthy, players.
"Might be a tad bit faster than last year," Sherman said. "Guys are getting back to their rhythm quicker. Percy (Harvin) is spending a lot more time out there. So that's bringing a different element of speed."
Sherman is among those whose hunger hasn't receded, according to coach Pete Carroll.
The brash cornerback continues to rack up off-field honors, most recently being voted to grace the cover of the Madden NFL 15 video game.
Carroll, though, said none of Sherman's accolades has gone to his head.
"He's had a great offseason," Carroll said. "I don't know that he's missed a day the whole time. His work ethic is perfect, his attitude every day is here, his competiveness, every day. He does a great job of leading in that regard."
Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas each signed new deals in the off-season, following an extension given last year to strong safety Kam Chancellor, assuring that the core of the Legion of Boom secondary will be under contract through 2017.
Chancellor is out until training camp after having hip surgery. But Sherman and Thomas are leading a defense that -- in the OTAs visible to the media -- more often than not is getting the better of the offense. That's no real surprise given that the defense led the NFL a year ago. But to Carroll, it's also an indication that fame and money are not changing anything.
Still, Carroll also knows that there's a long way to go before it can be said that the Seahawks have successfully navigated all of the potential pitfalls facing a defending Super Bowl champion.
"It's an incredible challenge (to repeat)," Carroll said. "I just love this challenge that we have and we're fortunate to have it. We're going to try to do it well and see if we can't keep our guys right at the cutting edge of their development and their game and pass it over to the whole football team. We're trying to get better."