A recap of the activities on Day Three of wild-play playoff week:
Jon Ryan. Seven punts. One downed at the 3-yard line. Two others fair caught at the 10 and another at the 9. Only one return, for 9 yards. A net average of 33.4 yards.
Connect the dots between those impressive numbers and it creates a picture of the NFC special teams player of the week. Ryan won the honor today for his efforts in Sunday night’s win over the St. Louis Rams that lifted the Seahawks to the NFC West title and into Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field.
“The best part of Jon’s game is that – punts going in,” said kicker Olindo Mare, pointing out that Ryan had one touchback in 78 punts this season compared to 27 downed inside the 20. “It is what it is. You can say that right now there aren’t many people that are better.”
The only other punter with a single touchback was the Redskins’ Hunter Smith (on 21 fewer punts because he was released Dec. 15), while 12 punters had more punts downed inside the 20.
Ryan just smiled when informed of the honor, because the part of his game he flaunted against the Rams used to be the weakness in his game.
“When I first came into the league that was definitely the weakest part of my game,” said Ryan, who signed with the Seahawks in 2008 after two seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s probably one of the biggest reasons why I was let go in Green Bay. So that kind of really motivated me to fix that and improve on that. I’ve worked really hard on it since I got here, and it’s gone from the weakest part of my game to the strongest part of my game.”
Coach Pete Carroll singled out Ryan after Sunday night’s game for his efforts in keeping the Rams pinned deep in their own territory.
“Sometimes it feels like you’re not getting recognized as a punter, and that’s fine because that’s part of it,” Ryan said. “So when someone goes out of their way to recognize what you do, it means a lot to you.”
It was the first time Ryan has been selected for the NFC’s weekly honor. Kickoff returner Leon Washington was the choice in Week 3 after scoring on 101- and 99-yard returns against the San Diego Chargers. Mare won it in Week 7 after kicking five field goals in a win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Ryan is the third Seahawks punter to be selected, joining Rick Tuten (Week 5 in 1993, Week 16 in 1995 and Week 15 in 1996) and Tom Rouen (Week 2 in 2004).
Slot receiver. The Seahawks got theirs back today when Brandon Stokley returned to practice after being sidelined last week because of the concussion he got in the Week 16 game at Tampa.
“He’s made it through the bulk of his testing, so he should get a little bit of work today and a lot of work tomorrow and might be available for us come game time,” Carroll said before practice. “So that’s a good thing for us.”
Actually, it was better than that because Stokley got a lot of work today – including a nice grab while running at full speed.
“I feel better,” Stokley said. “It’s really up the coaches on how they’re going to handle everything. But I feel better.”
Reggie Bush. The former Heisman Trophy winner for Carroll at USC didn’t play in the team’s Week 11 game in New Orleans. He will Saturday, and probably a lot because the Saints have placed running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory on injured reserve the past two days.
Bush has diminished numbers (36 carries for 150 yards, 34 receptions for 208 yards and 14 punt returns for 92 yards) because he missed eight games with a broken leg.
“Reggie is an unusual, unusually gifted football player that no matter who watches the film, you’re going to say, ‘We gotta to something here because he can do this, this and this,’ ” Carroll said. “He has his own kind of boundaries on things he does that you need to understand or he’ll leave you in the dust.”
ON THE FIELD
When is Wednesday actually Thursday? When the Seahawks have a Saturday game. So the players worked for 90 in their indoor practice facility on “Turnover Thursday.”
Rookie free safety Earl Thomas and veteran strong safety Lawyer Milloy underlined the emphasis of the day with interceptions.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
OT Sean Locklear (not injury related)
That was it for the Seahawks, and Locklear’s absence isn’t injury related. With Locklear tending to a family matter, Stacy Andrews worked at right tackle with the starting line.
For the Saints:
Did not practice
LB Danny Clark (hamstring)
TE Jimmy Graham (ankle)
DL Anthony Hargrove (knee)
FS Malcolm Jenkins (knee)
TE Jeremy Shockey (groin)
TE David Thomas (knee)
DE Alex Brown (shoulder)
WR Marques Colston (knee)
LB Anthony Waters (ankle)
Colston was able to participate in all phases of practice despite having arthroscopic knee surgery last week.
STAT DU JOUR
Thomas intercepted five passes to tie the Seahawks’ rookie record, but the team’s free safety didn’t have one in the final six games. Thomas’ last pick? It came on Drew Brees’ final pass in the Saints’ Week 11 win over the Seahawks in New Orleans.
YOU DON’T SAY
“At this point, there’s no reason to say anything more about it from my perspective. You may think so, but we’re going to keep going and I’m pleased that we’re in the position we’re in there.” – Carroll, during his weekly news conference when asked repeatedly whether Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst would start at quarterback against the Saints