A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 20:
Rookies of the Year. There’s no question that quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner have been the Seahawks’ offensive and defensive rookies of the year.
You would have to consider their production heading into Sunday night’s bigger-than-big rematch with the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field as beyond impressive for seasoned vets. Wilson has passed for 21 touchdowns, run for 402 yards and three scores and taken the offense to unprecedented heights. Wagner leads the league’s No. 3-ranked defense with 121 tackles and has developed into a productive every-down player, as evidenced by his three interceptions and two sacks.
Not surprisingly, Wilson, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft, and Wagner, a second-round pick, have played their way into contention for the league rookie honors as well. And each definitely has noticed the contributions of the other to the Seahawks’ 9-5 record.
Wilson on Wagner: “Bobby Wagner has done a tremendous job. He’s one of our leaders on our defense, for him to be able to play at such a high level. He can run around. He can make all the plays. He’s come up with several interceptions already. What he’s doing as a rookie and how he approaches the game, in terms of just getting here early and doing what he needs to do to be successful on Sunday and lead, is really exceptional.”
Wagner on Wilson: “I think Russell should win it. I feel like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin, they were kind of deemed rookie of the year before they even set foot on the field or even proved themselves. The stuff Russell has been doing, going out there and performing every week, I feel like he has the numbers. So you can’t be biased just because the hype before those other guys got here. For me it’s like, the first-round guys, you expect them to do that. You didn’t expect Russell to come in and do what he’s done.”
But this stumping for Wilson and Wagner transcends VMAC. In his weekly rookie rankings at ESPN.com, Matt Williamson has elevated Wilson into the top spot (up from No. 3 last week) and lists Wagner at No. 10 – and as the third defensive player behind Packers cornerback Casey Hayward (No. 6) and Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 9).
Williamson on Wilson: “Led by Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and an extremely talented and opportunistic defense, the Seahawks are simply on fire right now. Wilson’s Seahawks have amazingly scored 108 points over the past two weeks, after dismantling the Bills in Toronto. Wilson was his usual efficient self throwing the ball, but he also ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries. Wilson must be strongly considered for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors – and he is now quarterbacking the best team of any of this year’s rookie signal-callers.”
Williamson on Wagner: “Wagner has been on and off the Top 10 all season, and he is an excellent candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. What Seattle’s defense has done of late is nothing short of remarkable, and Wagner is a key component to that great success. Against Buffalo, Wagner had 12 tackles, 10 of them solo. He is an exceptionally productive every-down linebacker on one of the elite defenses in the NFL.”
The fans balloting for the Pro Bowl concluded on Monday, and the Seahawks players and coaches cast their votes today. Each segment counts one-third toward selecting the NFC squad for the NFL all-star game on Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
After the fan voting, Marshawn Lynch is second among the NFC running backs (534,073 votes) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (828,225). Richard Sherman is third among the cornerbacks (169,404) to the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings (312,595) and Charles Tillman (221,364). Leon Washington is third among the kick returners (68,151) behind the Packers’ Randall Cobb (131,626) and Bears’ Devin Hester (102,688).
Kam Chancellor is fourth among the strong safeties (83,310). Jon Ryan is fourth (81,208) among the punters. Max Unger is fifth (116,135) among the centers. Chris Clemons is fifth (159,088) among the defensive ends. Earl Thomas is fifth among the free safeties (63,585).
Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the top vote-getter in fan balloting with 993,045.
The NFC and AFC squads will be announced next Wednesday on the NFL Network.
LYNCH, OKUNG HONORED
Lynch and left tackle Russell Okung have been selected by their teammates as the Seahawks’ NFLPA Pulse Award winners.
The NFL Players Association recognizes players each year for their community service. From the field of team winners, five finalists will be selected and from that group will come the recipient of the Byron Whizzer White Award – the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow on a player. The White Award winner will be announced during a press conference at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Also among the team winners are four former Seahawks: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (Titans), wide receiver Nate Burleson (Lions), defensive lineman Cory Redding (Colts) and linebacker Aaron Curry (Raiders).
JONES OUT, FANGUPO UP, WALTERS IN
With defensive lineman Jason Jones being placed on injured reserve earlier today, it opened a spot on the 53-man roster for practice-squad lineman Hebron Fangupo, which opened a spot on the practice squad for wide receiver Bryan Walters.
“He’s really strong inside,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of the 6-foot-1, 293-pound Fangupo. “It will be exciting to see, if he has a chance to play.”
Walters, who went to Juanita High School in Kirkland, played in four games for the Chargers last year and was with the Vikings in training camp this summer before being released.
“It’s pretty fun to be able to just be a part of the team you grew up watching and rooting for,” Walters said. “Even when I was on other teams, I was looking at the scoreboard to see the Seahawks’ score.”
The official report, as released by team:
Did not practice
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
CB Richard Sherman (not injury related)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
Limited in practice
S Jeron Johnson (groin)
RB Robert Turbin (illness)
DT Alan Branch (ankle)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
RB Leon Washington (illness)
With Trufant and Thurmond still out and Sherman excused from practice, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell worked at the corners with the No. 1 defense and Ron Parker joined them as the third corner in the nickel.
Branch and Washington returned after not practicing on Wednesday, while Lynch took part in all phases of practice after being limited on Wednesday.
For the 49ers:
Did not practice
LB Clark Haggans (shoulder)
DT Justin Smith (elbow)
Limited in practice
LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder)
CB Tarell Brown (shoulder)
LB Tavares Gooden (ribs)
WR Mario Manningham (shoulder)
RB Bruce Miller (shoulder)
LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)
DT Will Tukuafu (concussion)
K David Akers (pelvis)
OG Alex Boone (knee)
LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder)
S Dashon Goldson (foot)
RB Frank Gore (wrist)
OG Mike Iupati (shoulder)
CB Carlos Rogers (knee)
LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
Justin Smith did not practice for the second consecutive day because of the elbow he injured in Sunday night’s win over the Patriots in New England.
STAT DU JOUR
Among Wilson’s mounting accomplishments has been his impressive performance in the red zone. The Seahawks’ rookie QB has the NFC’s fifth-best passer rating inside the oppositions’ 20-yard line. Here’s a look at his numbers, and those who rank ahead of him:
Player, team Att. Comp. Pct. Yds. TD Int. Rating
Aaron Rodgers, Packers 52 33 63.5 216 18 0 111.9
Drew Brees, Saints 81 50 61.7 359 25 0 111.6
Jay Cutler, Bears 39 22 56.4 160 10 0 105.8
Robert Griffin III, Redskins 38 23 60.5 100 9 0 104.6
Russell Wilson, Seahawks 51 27 52.9 198 13 0 102.0
“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before Sunday night’s game. And don’t forget, the kickoff against the 49ers is 5:20 p.m., not the originally scheduled 1:25 p.m., after the game was flexed into the primetime spot on NBC.
YOU DON’T SAY, LOCAL EDITION
“It’s going to be a blast. And we know it’s going to be a battle all the way to the very end of the game. We’re excited about that opportunity.” – Wilson on Sunday night’s game
YOU DON’T SAY, NATIONAL EDITION
“The Seahawks are playing fast-break football in December, and they don’t seem to know they’re not supposed to be hanging a Hawaii 5-0 on opponents. But this week is the ultimate test. If Seattle can put up a stupid number against the 49ers’ stout defense (kind of the way the Patriots did in the second half), then a case of legitimate Super Bowl fever may break out in the Pacific Northwest.” – Don Banks in listing the Seahawks at No. 7 in his weekly NFL power rankings at SI.com