Thursday cyber surfing: Embracing the next-man-up mentality

Walter Thurmond

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 6.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his story on the suspension of Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, who violated the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances, “[Walter] Thurmond will start in Browner’s place at right cornerback, with rookie Jeremy Lane expected to play when Seattle uses formations with five defensive backs. Veteran Marcus Trufant did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury that caused him to miss Sunday’s overtime road victory over Chicago. ‘The focus goes for us right to the guys who are stepping up,’ Carroll said. That was how Seattle approached the absences of linebackers K.J. Wright, who was replaced by Mike Morgan last month after suffering a concussion, and Leroy Hill, who missed Sunday’s game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Malcolm Smith. ‘It’s like (Browner) got injured, really, is what it amounts to,’ Carroll said.”

O’Neil also has his report from Wednesday’s practice session, “Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant did not practice on Wednesday, resting the sore foot that kept him out of practice all last week. But last week is an important measurement because Bryant was still able to play after sitting out the week, which bodes well for his availability this week. ‘He was better Monday than he was last Monday,’ coach Pete Carroll said, ‘so we anticipate he’s going to be OK to play. That was really a surprise. It was a big surprise that he made it back and played and played well. We limited his reps, but Red did a very, very good job in this game, helping us. We anticipate we can count on that again this week.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his story on Browner’s suspension news, and a few notes on Walter Thurmond – the next man up, “Thurmond played for the first time this season last week against Chicago, replacing an injured Marcus Trufant as Seattle’s fifth defensive back in passing situations. The University of Oregon product also has experience as a starter. A fourth-round selection by Seattle in the 2010 draft, Thurmond has started four games for the Seahawks. ‘That’s just the NFL,’ Thurmond said about his starting job. ‘If somebody goes down, you have to be able to come in and step up. It’s like that all over the league, and you just have to make the most of the opportunity when you get your chance.’ “

Williams recaps a media session with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and the club’s decision to rely on the zone-read option attack in the final drives in the road win against the Chicago Bears last Sunday, “Bevell said he planned to run some read option against Chicago last week, but mostly stayed with in the overtime because it proved so effective in getting to the edges of the Bears’ defense. ‘I told coach that was our overtime plan,’ Bevell said. ‘We did it six times in the overtime. No, it was definitely something we wanted to use going in. We started with it going into the overtime. Then I put a different a formation on it, and then when we did it, I kind of liked the matchup a little better. On the first time I think we got it on (Israel) Idonije rather than (Julius) Peppers. And a couple times early it was on Peppers, and he’s a pretty good athlete and can change directions. So then I saw that the first time, so we ran that three straight times to start the overtime (against Idonije), and it ended up being pretty good for us.’ “

Williams also brings notes from a conference call interview with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, “About the Cards’ quarterback instability: ‘I don’t think it’s really our position to be worried so much about that, we have to do our job. My job is to be able to get open against press coverage and make my plays and do my job. Our quarterbacks have to make their throws, the offensive linemen have to make their blocks, when the running backs get the opportunity to get the ball they’ve got to make guys miss. That’s what it comes down to; the game is won by individual matchups. You look last week and you saw the game they won in Chicago, it’s because of plays by Sidney Rice and the extra effort of Golden Tate and those guys on defense causing turnovers. It’s about the individual matchups and guys stepping up and making plays in key moments. We have to match that intensity and turn it up a little bit.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald reminds readers that before he got injured cornerback Walter Thurmond was ahead of fellow corner Richard Sherman on the depth chart, “While there is no arguing the importance of cornerback play in Seattle’s defense, the Seahawks do feel like they have the depth to handle Browner’s absence. Thurmond was ahead of Sherman on the depth chart last season, and briefly took over as a starter for an injured Marcus Trufant, only to break his leg in his third start of the season. Sherman didn’t just fill in admirably, he grabbed a hold of a starting job and never let go, and this year has developed into one of the league’s best shutdown corners. ‘Trufant went down and I had to step in, then I went down,’ Thurmond said. ‘We just have a lot of depth on the team.’ Thurmond won’t necessarily jump in and play at a Pro Bowl level, but he should at least give Seahawks fans some level of confidence that this regime knows how to find and develop talented defensive backs.”

Boyle also has his notes from Wednesday’s practice and media availabilities, “Pete Carroll said Wednesday that receiver Sidney Rice has been cleared to return to action after taking a nasty-looking shot to the head on the final play of Sunday’s win in Chicago. Rice wrote on Twitter that night that he was fine and had been cleared, but Carroll said the next day that Rice would go through the league’s concussion protocol as a precaution. Rice apparently got through that fine, and while Carroll said his leading receiver would be limited in practice today, he is expected to play against the Cardinals this weekend.”

Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com takes an in depth look at Russell Wilson’s recent performances and what they have meant for the Seahawks’ success, “It was a crucial road win for the Seahawks [against the Bears], who have now won three of their last four games and now have, according to Football Outsiders, an 87.4 percent chance of making the playoffs. Wilson’s improvement has been cited as the key factor in that winning streak, and that’s something worth looking at: Has Seattle’s rise coincided with a dramatic leap in Wilson’s play? Is there some particular aspect of Wilson’s performance that has driven that improvement? And is that sustainable? Is this the real new Russell Wilson?”

Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss the Seahawks’ cornerback situation in this short video.

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com says the club’s secondary depth will be put to the test in the coming weeks, but they should be able to handle it, “Another man with roots in the state of Oregon will make his first Seahawks start in more than a year. Walter Thurmond took over for and injured Trufant early last season, only to break his leg against Cleveland and have Richard Sherman step in for him. ‘Everyone on this team is pushing each other to get better,’ said Thurmond, a former Oregon Duck. ‘You have to watch your back in practice every day and can’t slack off because someone behind you is ready to play and waiting for an opportunity as well. I think the depth on the team is very great, especially the defensive back group.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recounts a conversation with ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, who joined “Brock and Salk” yesterday to discuss rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “Wilson’s numbers from inside the pocket, according to Sando, are comparable if not better than those from outside the pocket. Inside the pocket: 14 touchdowns against seven interceptions, a 95.2 passer rating and a 77.4 score (out of 100) in Total QBR, ESPN’s metric for quarterbacks. Outside the pocket: five touchdowns against one interception, a 95.1 passer rating and a 60.8 QBR. ‘To say that he is dependent on getting outside the pocket for a lot of his gains would really be inaccurate,’ Sando said. As Sando noted, it would be easy to come away with the wrong impression about Wilson having only watched him play against Chicago. He was particularly effective while outside the pocket, especially on the two late touchdown drives. He threw the game-winner to Sidney Rice while rolling to his left. As for the batted down passes, those haven’t been much of a problem for Wilson. According to Sando, he’s had just five of them this season. Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, who is 6-foot-4, is tied for the league lead with 15.”

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Despite being placed on the non-football illness list, head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday [James] Carpenter’s knee injury was the leading factor to his season coming to an end. ‘It’s still knee related and it’s just overcoming of getting back,’ Carroll said. ‘He had a real twinge and something happened this week. It’s not something that requires surgery, but it’s going to hold him out for a while and we can’t tell how long it’ll take to get him back. It is related to what happened last year and we just think he needs some time to get back and get right and it’s going to take a while to do that.’ “

Doug Kretz of ESPN.com breaks down the Seahawks’ Sunday matchup with the Cardinals. You must have an ESPN Insider subscription to view the entire article, but he likes the Seahawks by nine points, “Seahawks 19, Cardinals 10: Two solid defenses should help to keep this a low-scoring affair. Seattle’s ability to generate an offense with a solid ground game mixed in with a big-play passing game should provide the difference.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, with a few nuggets on the Seahawks, “Starting left guard James Carpenter is finished for the season. His absence requires an adjustment, but the change could produce an upgrade in the short term. Carpenter wasn’t healthy and it showed in his play. John Moffitt is a natural candidate to start. Seattle has had eight linemen start this season. That is tied for third-most in the NFL behind Philadelphia (nine) and St. Louis (nine). The Seahawks held out defensive end Red Bryant, who surprised the coaching staff by playing — and playing well — against the Bears despite a foot injury. Bryant wore a boot on his foot in the locker room after the game in Chicago. Cornerback Marcus Trufant also missed practice. He has a hamstring injury. It sounds like the team will try Jeremy Lane at nickel corner while Trufant recovers. Walter Thurmond is expected to play right corner while Brandon Browner serves a four-game suspension. It’s possible Thurmond could play inside as well. Receiver Sidney Rice does not have a concussion, according to the team, but he was listed as limited with a head injury after absorbing a hard hit while making the winning touchdown catch Sunday. Leroy Hill (ankle) was limited. Coach Pete Carroll sounded excited about Hill’s replacement, Malcolm Smith.”

Sando also adds Wilson to his latest “MVP Watch“, “Wilson has three comeback victories in fourth quarters or overtime. Seattle had zero last season, one of the main reasons the team finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Wilson, who leads the NFL in QBR after Week 5, has 14 touchdowns with two picks in his past seven games. He has a passer rating in triple digits for four games running. He’s also a team leader already and the leading reason Seattle is getting its money’s worth from Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, who lead the NFC West with seven receiving touchdowns apiece.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights Thurmond’s return to the starting lineup, and recaps “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on last year’s leading receiver Doug Baldwin, “The Seahawks host the Cardinals in a rematch at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. When asked about his memories of that first game, Baldwin didn’t have to ponder the question at all. ‘Not only do I remember, but it’s a constant reminder – my two teeth are missing,’ he said. ‘These are fake ones I have in now.’ Baldwin lost his teeth trying to make a fourth-quarter catch in the end zone in that 20-16 loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 9. The teeth might be missing, but Baldwin has returned as a major factor in the passing game after dealing with injuries that forced him to miss the entire preseason (hamstring) and then two regular-season games (shoulder and ankle). After catching eight passes in his first seven games, last year’s leading receiver has eight in the past three – and half of those came in Sunday’s big win over the Bears in Chicago.”

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” video feature rehashing the team’s latest roster moves and opportunities that have arisen in the secondary.

We bring you coach Carroll and coach Bevell’s full video press conferences from yesterday.

And our team photographer Rod Mar has 29 frames from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available for viewing here.