Game balls. It has been a Friday tradition to pass out game balls after practice from the previous week’s victory.
Not today. In fact, it was coach Pete Carroll who got the game ball from last week’s season-opening victory over the San Francisco. It was presented by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, immediately after the game in the locker room at Qwest Field.
“That was pretty special,” Carroll said today after practice. “I’m not into the game ball thing. I was kind of into the fight song, and I got screwed up at the end and we didn’t have one. So when that popped up it kind of saved me a little bit, to tell you the truth.”
Carroll spent the past nine seasons at the University of Southern California, and game balls cannot be awarded in college because it is considered a gift. But the fight song, “Fight On,” blared loud and proud as the Trojans compiled a 97-19 record under Carroll.
But getting the game ball from the first victory on his return to the NFL was significant.
“That was an honor,” Carroll said. “It’s kind of like a game ball for everybody. It’s all of the effort that we put together and all that. They’ve got to hand it to someone, and they handed it to me.
“But it was a nice gesture.”
Offensive line. Another week, another new starter. This time it’s Stacy Andrews, who will start at right guard in Sunday’s game against the Broncos in Denver.
“Stacy did fine (this week),” Carroll said. “He’s a very, very good pass protector and he’s going to help us in that regard. He’s just got to learn all the calls to do a nice job with the running game. That’s going to take a while before we’re really sharp. It takes a long time to get that right and he’s been here about eight or nine days.”
It was 13 days ago that Andrews was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, but today was only his seventh practice with the team.
Andrews is in, of course, because Max Unger is out – for the season. Last year’s second-round draft choice is waiting to have surgery on his left toe after damaging the plantar plate during the third quarter of Sunday’s opener.
Last week, Tyler Polumbus started at left tackle for injured first-round draft choice Russell Okung. Polumbus, who started eight games for the Broncos last season, will be on the left side again Sunday – and likely stay there until Okung is able to return from a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him for four weeks.
There was even another minor delay in developing some continuity on the line this week when right tackle Sean Locklear missed Wednesday’s practice to tend to a family matter and was replaced by the just re-signed Mansfield Wrotto.
“Once Sean got in there things really kind of settled down,” Carroll said. “He did a nice job of helping Stacy with the calls and things like that.”
But change continues to create a level of uncertainty.
“We’re going to be a work in progress there,” Carroll said. “It’s going to take us a while to really get together the way we want to as the changes have occurred. And if you think about it, it will continue until Russell returns.”
And when might that be? Carroll can only wish he had the answer to that oft-asked question. Okung was scheduled to do some running on the practice field this week, but it didn’t happen.
“I was hoping he’d be running a little more than he was,” Carroll said. “He was jumping rope and a bunch of stuff. He is getting up on his toes and doing the things that show that he’s ready to do that stuff (running) next week.”
ON THE FIELD
The team practiced for 85-minutes in its indoor practice facility, the final full workout before Sunday’s game.
The official report, as released by the team:
- OT Russell Okung (ankle)
- OT Chester Pitts (knee)
- LB Matt McCoy (quad)
- DE Chris Clemons (ankle)
- WR Mike Williams (thigh)
- OG Mike Gibson (back)
McCoy did not practice today, while Clemons, Williams and Gibson participated fully and are expected to start. Carroll said McCoy’s status will be reevaluated Saturday morning and that Pitts will not make the trip to Denver, so he can continue to rehab his right knee – which needed microfracture surgery last season.
Linebacker Leroy Hill completed his first week of practice after serving a one-game suspension last week and Carroll said Hill is “ready to go.”
For the Broncos: S Darcel McBath (forearm), OL Ryan Harris (ankle) and RB Laurence Maroney (thigh) are out; OL Chris Kuper (knee/ankle) and LB Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) are questionable; and WR Eddie Royal (groin) and WR Demaryius Thomas (foot) are probable.
With Harris out, rookie Zane Beadles will start at right tackle. If Kuper can’t play, Russ Hochstien will start at right guard.
The players will have a walk-thru Saturday morning at Virginia Mason Athletic Center before the team flies to Denver for Sunday’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“How ‘bout the Storm, huh? That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Undefeated in the playoffs. That’s great stuff. Very proud.” – Carroll, on the Storm winning the WNBA Championship on Thursday night by completing a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Dream