A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on “Back to Football Friday”:
The offensive line. After the team’s final practice to prepare for Sunday’s game against the 49ers in San Francisco, coach Pete Carroll stopped short of ruling anyone out for the regular-season opener. But he also added, “The way we practiced is the way it’s looking.”
And the way they have practiced all week is with rookie James Carpenter at left guard for Robert Gallery, who is listed as doubtful with a sore knee; and Breno Giacomini at right tackle for Carpenter. That double move has made what already was a young line considerably younger.
Only left tackle Russell Okung (10 starts last season) and center Max Unger (16 starts in 2009 and one last season) have even started in the NFL. Carpenter is this year’s first-round draft choice. Right guard John Moffitt was selected in the third round of the April NFL Draft. Giacomini was a fifth-round draft choice by the Green Bay Packers in 2008, but has played in only one game the past three seasons.
Did someone say young?
“It is what it is. There’s no reason to spend any time on it,” Carroll said. “We’re just young. That’s just what it is. I’m thrilled about that in one look at it. These guys can go out here and play NFL football this early, and if we can hold up and start growing, we’re going to get way better.
“So it’s exciting. We’re hoping right now that they’re going to play a good football game and give us a chance to win. I won’t be surprised if they do.”
Middle linebacker. Carroll isn’t ready to rule David Hawthorne out either, but rookie K.J. Wright continued to get all the reps with the No. 1 defense during today’s 90-minute practice. Hawthorne, the team’s leading tackler the past two seasons, has not played since injuring a knee in the second preseason game. He returned to practice this week, but has been limited.
“We can do that. I’m not sure that’s going to happen yet,” Carroll said when asked if Hawthorne would start if healthy. “I’m going to wait all the way through it, and he needs every day to comeback. We’ll just go up to game time with that.”
If it is Wright, however, it’s just the latest chapter in what has been a whirlwind of a summer for the rookie from Mississippi State. Selected in the fourth-round of the draft with the idea that he would backup Aaron Curry on the strong side, linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. decided to give Wright a look in the middle.
It’s turned into a look-what-we-found move, as Wright is prompting double-takes – as in, if you didn’t know he was a rookie learning a new position you wouldn’t know.
“K.J.’s ready to play the whole game, if we need him to. He’s had tremendous preparation. He’s really been impressive to us,” Carroll said. “We feel very confident about him starting a game. If we start him in this game he’ll be fine. He’s done a marvelous job. He really gives the guys around him a confidence that he knows his stuff – he can make his calls.
“He’s been ahead of the curve for a rook coming in, and particularly in the play-caller position that he’s in. We didn’t know that he was going to be that sharp. He surprised us in that he’s played beyond what you would expect from a first-year starter in the situation like he’s in. So it’s very cool.”
Brandon Mebane. Most of the attention in free agency goes to the players who change teams. But this week’s issue of Sporting New Magazine includes a “Who Says You Can’t Stay Home?” feature, and the Seahawks’ nose tackle is included, with this comment: “The most significant free-agent move for the Seattle’s defense wasn’t an addition but the retention of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane.”
Says Mebane: “This wasn’t a regular free agency. A lot of teams talked to me, but going into this free agency period was like going in blind with no trips or anything like that. Knowing what I know about this organization, this was the best fit and best opportunity for me to succeed. Coming back here was a great option for me, and I’m happy to be back.”
And the coaches are happy he’s back, as Mebane has moved from the three-technique spot he filled last season to the nose. Says line coach Todd Wash: “He’s simply a good interior defensive lineman. He’s not necessarily a nose, he’s not necessarily a three-technique. He’s got the athletic ability and the burst and the get-off to play three-technique, and he has enough weight (311 pounds) and anchor to play the nose spot. He’s very versatile.”
The first official status report of the season, as issued by the team:
OT Jarriel King (ankle)
OG Robert Gallery (knee)
WR Sidney Rice (shoulder)
DE Chris Clemons (ankle)
MLB David Hawthorne (knee)
S Dashon Goldson (knee)
IN AND OUT
As with Gallery, Carroll did not rule Rice out for Sunday. But the team’s starting flanker has not practiced the past two weeks because of a sore shoulder. He has been replaced by Ben Obomanu, who will start if Rice does not play.
“We need to protect him and take care of him,” Carroll said of Rice. “So likely he won’t go.”
Defensive end Chris Clemons also sat out after twisting an ankle during Thursday’s walk-thru, but Carroll said, “He’ll be fine.”
STAT DU JOUR
The 49ers’ Frank Gore has rushed for more than 140 yards seven times in his six-year NFL career, and three of those games have come against the Seahawks – including the top two. Here’s a closer look at Gore’s super seven:
Opponent (year) No. Yds. Avg. Long TD
Seahawks (2006) 24 212 8.8 51 0
Seahawks (2009) 16 207 12.9 80 2
Cardinals (2009) 25 167 6.7 36 1
Lions (2006) 22 159 7.2 61 1
Raiders (2010) 25 149 6.0 64 0
Broncos (2006) 31 153 4.9 24 0
Seahawks (2006) 29 144 5.0 40 0
Question du jour: How does a guy rush for 356 yards against one team in one season and not score one touchdown?
The players will have a walk-thru at VMAC on Saturday morning before the team flies to San Francisco for Sunday’s opener.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I think we orchestrate really well in camps. I think we have very good camp work, and I think we point well and prepare well. That’s always been the case. I’ve always attributed it to that we have a good plan in camp and we carry it through to start the season.” – Carroll when asked about his 4-1 record in previous openers as a head coach in the NFL