A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 27:
Pro Bowl glow. Five Seahawks were basking in it today, after being named to the NFC squad on Wednesday, when eight others received alternate status.
But the selection might have meant the most to Leon Washington, the kick returner whose career was supposed to be over after he severely broke his right fibula in a 2009 game while playing with the Jets. The Jets traded Washington to the Seahawks in a draft-day deal in 2010, and all he’s done this season is return his eighth kickoff for a touchdown to tie the NFL career record and rank second in the NFL with a 30.1-yard average.
“It feels great,” Washington said. “Just to know that all the hard work you put into something, it pays off – eventually. Considering my situation, where I came from with the broken-leg injury and getting traded, there are so many people to thank. My wife, first of all, because we’ve been through so much together. She was there with me when I broke my leg and has seen me comeback from that.
“Then I’m just so thankful for the opportunity – for coach (Pete) Carroll and coach (Brian) Schneider to give me the opportunity to do what I love to do. And then you think about all the guys who protect me and block for me when I return the kick. You’ve got to give a special thanks to them. Like I said yesterday, I want to give special thanks to my teammates. And the two key words in there are ‘special’ and ‘teammates’ – which means special teams. It’s definitely a team award.”
Washington also went to the Pro Bowl in 2008 while with the Jets.
Here’s what the others had to say:
Left tackle Russell Okung, on his first Pro Bowl selection – and with the disclaimer that he refuses to talk about himself: “This is about the team and what we’ve been trying to out together since Pete and John (Schneider, the GM) arrived. I hope you guys know I hate this (talking to reporters). But from a talent standpoint and the guys we got, I guess we’re pretty good.”
Center Max Unger, who also was voted to his first Pro Bowl: “What really makes it special is that it came from your peers. It’s the defensive linemen in the conference who voted for me, and that means a lot.”
Free safety Earl Thomas, who was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl: “I just try to play my part, and I appreciate that the coaches and players just respect the way I play and the way I prepare. It’s truly a blessing just to be a part of this game another year.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch, who went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season and also was voted to the AFC squad in 2008 while playing with the Bills: Sorry. The Beast Mode back doesn’t like talking about himself, either.
Last year, Thomas was the only Seahawk voted to the Pro Bowl. He was then joined by four teammates who were alternates – cornerback Brandon Browner, strong safety Kam Chancellor, fullback Michael Robinson and Lynch. This year, that many players were voted to the NFC squad.
“We’re just getting better every year,” Thomas said. “And we’re showing the world what we’re all about.”
BRYANT WINS NFC HONOR
The league didn’t have to worry about selecting this week’s NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Carroll did it for them.
After Sunday’s 42-13 victory over the 49ers, Carroll offered, “The play of the game for me was Red. Red knocking that ball down on that field goal, and then Sherman scooping and scoring on that thing for 90, that was enormous moment.
“I think the bell rang right there – we have a chance to beat these guys on this night.”
The league office heard it as well, and tabbed Bryant for the weekly honor.
Bryant’s block – his first this season, but fifth in the past two seasons – came on the third play of the second quarter and extended the Seahawks lead to 21-0. It also followed Sherman breaking up a third-down pass in the end zone.
Bryant is the second Seahawk to win Special Teams Player of the Week this season, joining Washington (Week 12); and fifth Seahawk overall to be honored, joining defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 3), Sherman (Week 10) and rookie QB Russell Wilson (Week 13).
Sherman was nominated for Defensive Player of the Week, after also making an end-zone interception; while Wilson was nominated for Offensive Player of the Week for throwing four TD passes. But the winners were Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
HONORS ‘R US
Mike Sando at ESPN.com has selected his All-NFC West team and also handed out other honors, and the Seahawks are front and center.
Wilson is the division MVP. Says Sando: “Raise your hand if you thought the Seahawks rookie would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title.”
Schneider is the division Executive of the Year. Says Sando: “Schneider gets the call over St. Louis Rams counterpart Les Snead largely because he was the driving force behind the team’s decision to draft Wilson in the third round.”
Coach of the Year? Sando is waiting until after Sunday’s game, because if the Rams upset the Seahawks it’s Jeff Fisher for going unbeaten in the division and posting the Rams’ first winning record since 2003. If it’s the Seahawks, it’s Carroll. Says Sando: “If the Seahawks close out the season with an 8-0 record at home and an 11-5 record overall, Carroll will get my vote as top coach in the division. Carroll risked public ridicule and perhaps even his job by going with Wilson, a third-round rookie, when free-agent addition Matt Flynn had recently signed a three-year deal for $19.5 million. The move was subjecting Carroll to criticism as late as Week 4, when the Rams picked off Wilson three times during a 19-13 Seahawks defeat. Carroll trusted what he knew to be true about Wilson, and he has been proved right.”
Seahawks on the All-Division team: Okung, Unger, wide receiver Sidney Rice, Lynch, Robinson and Wilson on offense; Clemons, Sherman and Thomas on defense; and Washington as the kick returner.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)
WR Golden Tate (illness)
DE Red Bryant (foot)
OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
TE Anthony McCoy (back)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
FS Earl Thomas (ankle)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
After seven players sat out on Wednesday, the list was down to two today. Malcolm Smith continued to work for Hill on the weakside, while Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse filled in for Tate.
For the Rams:
S Craig Dahl (knee)
CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)
RB Steven Jackson (illness)
LB James Laurinaitis (back)
WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)
CB Scott Wells (knee)
STAT DU JOUR, TEAM EDITION
Having already scored 173 points in December, the Seahawks need 27 against the Rams on Sunday to become the fourth team in NFL history to put up 200 in a calendar month. Here’s a look at the company the Seahawks are trying to join:
Team (month, year) Games Points
Frankford Yellow Jackets (November, 1924) 8 238
Los Angeles Rams (October, 1950) 5 220
New England Patriots (October, 2007) 5 217
Seattle Seahawks (December, 2012) 4 173
STAT DU JOUR, PLAYER EDITION
If Wilson can maintain his passer rating of 98.0, he will move into the Top 3 among rookie QBs in league history. Here’s a look at those top-rated rookies – as well as Wilson and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, who can move into the top spot:
Player, team (year) Rating
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004) 98.1
Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983) 96.0
Greg Cook, Bengals (1969) 88.3
Matt Ryan, Falcons (2008) 87.8
Cam Newton, Panthers (2011) 84.5
With one game to go:
Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012) 104.1
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012) 98.0
“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before Sunday’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It was great news this morning to hear that. I know we’ve had our fingers crossed with the whole process. When we heard the news this morning I think everybody was pretty excited about it.” – defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Sherman having the appeal of his four-game suspension upheld