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Russell Wilson gives offense even stronger legs to stand on

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson has given new meaning to the term base offense.

The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback says he has added five pounds this offseason – and it’s all in lower body.

“I’ve worked on my legs a lot,” Wilson said Monday after the team’s first OTA session. “That’s kind of the main thing that I’ve been working on all offseason, in terms of squatting a lot more (weight) and doing a lot more of movement stuff on my feet just to have that strong base.

“I’ve gained a couple of pounds here and there in my legs.”

Wilson played at 210 pounds last season, when he tied the NFL rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes and also broke the franchise mark for rushing yards (489) by a quarterback. He said he now weighs about 215.

“I would like to be where I’m at right now when the season starts.”

If Wilson’s on-field performance Monday was any indication the extra work has paid off. He displayed quickness and an impressive initial bust while breaking from the pocket on several runs – not that Wilson wasn’t already proficient in those areas while being productive running the zone-read last season.


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Monday in Hawkville: Russell Wilson picks up far beyond where he left off

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 20, as the Seahawks kicked off the OTA portion of their offseason program:

FOCUS ON

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback made it difficult to not watch him, and coach Pete Carroll summed up the situation when asked how much farther along Wilson is this year compared to last year – when he had just been selected in the third round of the NFL Draft and still was competing for the starting job with the since-departed duo of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.

“There’s no way of even calculating that,” Carroll said after a crisp, spirited practice on yet another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. “His awareness and his sense for the finest details, we jumped offside today and he’s working on hard counts on the first play of team (drills).

“He didn’t know what a hard count was last year at this time.”

That might be stretching it just a tad, but saying that Wilson had a very impressive outing in the first of the team’s 10 OTA practices is not.

In that first team segment Carroll mentioned, Wilson completed passes to wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and also scrambled twice, before throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson remained almost as sharp, and aware, for the rest of the session.

“It’s really hard to equate what it is, because he’s applied himself so much that he’s taken an extraordinary amount of information and he’s processing it,” Carroll said. “He threw a couple of balls today – things that we’ve talked about over the offseason we’d like to take a shot at – and he did it today just to see what would happen. With full awareness of why he was doing it.”

Before the OTA session was over, Wilson had completed passes to 10 receivers – running back Robert Turbin; Baldwin and McCoy; Tate, running back Derrick Coleman, rookie tight end Luke Willson, Percy Harvin, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

The pass to Kearse was vintage Wilson – and that’s saying something, as well, that a second-year QB already has established trademark nuances to his game. It came on the final play, as Wilson avoided pressure and got off a pass that caught Kearse as much as Kearse caught the pass.

“Russell is the kind of players that will affect other guys,” Carroll said. “He affects everybody around him and hopefully that will help everybody play better.”


UNIT WATCH

Offensive line. Right tackle Breno Giacomini participated fully, after being limited in Phase 2 of the offseason program following elbow surgery. His returned allowed the No. 1 offense to field the same line that closed last season – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger, right guard J.R. Sweezy and Giacomini.

Comprising the second unit, from left tackle to right: Mike Person, who had been working for Giacomini with the No. 1 line; Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, John Moffitt and Michael Bowie. In the third unit: Alvin Bailey, Johnson, Jared Smith, Ryan Seymour and Jordon Roussos.

PLAYER WATCH

Cliff Avril. And that’s what the defensive end who was signed in free agency was doing – watching, because he’s dealing with plantar fascia that he got a month ago.

But with Bruce Irvin facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season and Chris Clemons still recovering from surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee from the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in January, Avril is slated to be the starter at the Leo end spot in the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina.

“I like the fact that Cliff is here because he gave us a cushion for Clem,” Carroll said. “That now changes for the first month of the season.”

Today, Irvin continued to work at Leo end in the No. 1 nickel line, with Mike Morgan taking over with the second unit and Ty Powell going with the third unit. In the base defense, Michael Bennett was the Leo end with the No. 1 line.

ROSTER MOVES

Tight end Darren Fells was re-signed this morning, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.

Fells, a basketball player in college who also played professionally in Belgium, Ireland and Argentina, was released two weeks ago. But he attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Steiner had been claimed off waivers last week.

Also, running back Christine Michael, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, signed his rookie contract.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week. Next week, they’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

YOU DON’T SAY, PLAYER EDITION

“We really don’t care. Coach said we’ve got a lot of hype, but he also said let’s make it natural. Everybody around here expects us to win, but we expect ourselves to win, too. We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose. With a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.” – Harvin, when asked how the players were handling the heightened expectations that have come from being regarded among the “favorites” in the league this offseason by the national media

YOU DON’T SAY, COACH EDITION

“It was a very, very good first day for us.” – Carroll


Christine Michael signs; Darren Fells re-signs

Christine Michael

Running back Christine Michael, the Seahawks’ top draft choice last month, signed his rookie contract this morning.

The club also announced that tight end Darren Fells has been re-signed, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.

The 5-foot-10, 221-pound Michael was selected in the second round of the draft. His signing leaves two of the team’s 11 draft choices unsigned: cornerback Tharold Simon (fifth round) and tackle Michael Bowie (seventh round).

Fells, a basketball player in college and then professionally in Belgium, Finland and Argentia, had been released two weeks ago. But he was invited to the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout out basis. Steiner was claimed off waivers from the Raiders last week.

The team will hold the first of its 10 OTA sessions today.


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Earl Thomas highlighted at No. 66 in NFL’s Top 100 of 2013

Free safety Earl Thomas joined teammates Max Unger and Percy Harvin on NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 Players of 2013, checking in at No. 66.

It’s yet another recognition for the hard-to-believe-he-is-already-in-his-fourth-year pro. Thomas, who turned just 24-years-old earlier this month, has garnered Pro Bowl honors (2011, 2012) and first-team AP All-Pro (2012) selections since coming into the League out of the University of Texas with the 14th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has led a Seahawks defense that has jumped from ranking 27th in the NFL in 2010 to ninth in 2011 to fourth last season.

Despite a stellar 2012 where he racked up 66 tackles, nine passes defensed, forced and recovered a fumble, and picked off three passes – one of which he returned 57 yards for a touchdown, Thomas’ ranking at No. 66 is the exact same spot where he showed up last year on this same list.

That’s why it’s not too surprising that the hyper-competitive Thomas isn’t all that satisfied with his rank, saying he’ll use it as “fuel to the fire.”


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Chiefs hire Will Lewis as director of pro scouting

Will Lewis

Former Seahawks Director of Pro Personnel Will Lewis (right)

Will Lewis, who worked in the Seahawks’ scouting department and front office for 13 years, has been hired as director of pro scouting by the Chiefs.

The move was announced on the team’s website. Marvin Allen was added as director of college scouting on the staff of first-year general manager John Dorsey, who also worked for the Seahawks in 1999.

“Will and Marvin are tremendous at what they do,” Dorsey said. “I had the privilege of getting to know Will while working with him in both Seattle and Green Bay, and he has a lot of experience that will benefit us.”

After playing for the Seahawks in 1980-81, Lewis returned in 1999 as the team’s director of pro personnel and was vice president of football operations from 2010-12.


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Spencer Ware Signs Contract

Spencer Ware

Running back Spencer Ware, the Seahawks’ sixth-round pick in last month’s NFL Draft, signed his rookie contract today.

Ware is being used at fullback and tailback by the Seahawks, and his wares have been on display at last weekend’s rookie minicamp as well as the team’s offseason-program workouts this week.

“I want him to learn how to play fullback for us and compete at that spot,” coach Pete Carroll after watching Ware over the weekend. “We’ve seen him run the ball a lot and we know he can. He’s a really aggressive, tough runner and we love that about him. So we’re trying to transfer that nature to the fullback spot.”

In three seasons at LSU, the 5-foot-10, 229-pound Ware rushed for 1,249 yards, including 707 in 2011; and caught 39 passes, with 18 of his receptions coming last season.

The club signed seven of its 11 draft choices last week: defensive tackles Jordan Hill (third round) and Jesse Williams (fifth); wide receiver Chris Harper (fourth); tight end Luke Willson (fifth); defensive end Ty Powell (seventh); and offensive linemen Ryan Seymour and Jared Smith (seventh).

Still unsigned are running back Christine Michael, who was drafted in the second round; cornerback Tharold Simon (fifth) and tackle Michael Bowie, the last of the team’s four selections in the seventh round.


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Patriots at Seahawks featured as 12th-best game of 2012

It’s quite fitting that the 12th-best game on NFL.com’s list of the Top 20 games of 2012 goes to the home of the 12th Man.

The Seahawks’ 24-23 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 6 of last season at CenturyLink Field was unveiled today at No. 12 on their list. In that game, the Seahawks battled back from a 23-10 deficit midway through the fourth quarter, as quarterback Russell Wilson threw scoring passes to wide receiver Braylon Edwards and again to wide receiver Sidney Rice with less than 90 seconds to play. The Seahawks defense then closed the door on Tom Brady and the Pats by forcing a turnover on downs on New England’s ensuing possession to secure the 24-23 win.

The game was somewhat of a coming out party for Wilson, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, good for a 133.7 quarterback rating. Until that point, Wilson’s arm had been kept under wraps by head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who asked Wilson to avoid risks and play it safe with the football.

Wilson’s counterpart that day, Brady, threw 31 more times than the Seahawks rookie, completing 36 of 58 for two touchdowns and two interceptions – one by cornerback Richard Sherman and another by free safety Earl Thomas.

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has his full recap of the game here, and below he explains why this game was ranked where it was:

Patriots-Seahawks featured two of the better clubs from last season, with the bonus being that we rarely see this interconference matchup.

Going a step further, you couldn’t find two more contrasting styles if you tried. Seattle pounds the ball, tries to completely shut down your offense and asks its quarterback to make plays in spots. Meanwhile, New England often places the whole game on its quarterback’s shoulders, while living off takeaways on defense. Consider: Brady attempted 31 more passes than Wilson in this game, despite the fact New England had a two-score lead in the fourth.

All that made for an intriguing matchup decided by one point. Not bad.”


Throwback Thursday: Marcus Trufant a.k.a. “French Dip”

Marcus Trufant

Former Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant (photos from Principal Dan Besett of Wilson High School)

On this Thursday, May 16, we’re here to add a little bit more to Marcus Trufant’s legacy in the Pacific Northwest.

From the annals of Wilson High School, we bring you a rare look at the former Seahawks cornerback Trufant, pictured here as a senior in the Tacoma school’s football program. The photo and self-submitted biography reveal some little known facts about the cornerback Seattle chose with the 11th pick in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Washington State University.

Trufant, or “French Dip” as he dubs himself in his bio above, planned to go to college and major in engineering with hopes of being an architect, but notes his dream was to make it to the NFL. Here we are several years later and Trufant is still living out that dream.

After 10 seasons with his hometown Seahawks where he snagged 21 interceptions (good for fifth on the Seahawks’ all-time list), Trufant is now continuing his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars and head coach Gus Bradley, who spent four seasons as defensive coordinator in Seattle.

Update: After posting the above photo on Twitter, Trufant gave us a little friendly reaction:


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Another Seahawk included in NFL Network’s Top 100 Players

The Seahawks already have had two players ranked among the NFL Network’s countdown of the Top 100 Players of 2013 – All-Pro center Max Unger at No. 95 and receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin at No. 90.

Those players ranked 61-70 will be unveiled Thursday starting at 5 p.m., and there is another Seahawk in this group. We can’t tell you who it is, so you’ll have to tune in to the NFL Network to find out.

Fans also can vote for their top players at www.NFL.com/Top100 through May 31.


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Touching each of the bases in the NFC West

Kam Chancellor

The NFL Draft is over, and so are the rookie minicamps that followed. It’s a good time to touch base with each of the four teams in the NFC West, which ESPN.com division blogger Mike Sando has done.

Here’s his bottom-line take on the Seahawks, as well as their NFC West rivals, and a link to his more in-depth analysis:

Seattle  – “The Seahawks appear better on paper for the moves they made this offseason, and they were already pretty good.”

San Francisco  – “The 49ers are still the team to beat the NFC West. They are still good enough to win the division and compete for the Super Bowl. It’s just that the road out of the division is more treacherous these days.”

St. Louis – “What went right outweighs what went wrong. I was reaching to find items in the latter category and resisted adding a note about the team being unable to keep (Steven) Jackson at a reduced salary. My feeling was that the Rams valued Jackson, but they were also ready to move forward with younger players. The Rams have made the NFL’s youngest roster even younger, so there are some short-term uncertainties surrounding this team. However, the longer-range plan is proceeding on schedule.”

Arizona – “The Cardinals are better at quarterback. They are younger throughout their roster. They are in position to improve.”


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