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Tuesday in Hawkville: A very happy, and also productive, birthday for Percy Harvin

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 28, when the Seahawks had an OTA session that was open to the media:

FOCUS ON

Percy Harvin. So, what do you get a player who seemingly has everything for his 25th birthday?

Percy HarvinHow about a 57-yard touchdown reception? That’s what quarterback Russell Wilson came up with during today’s OTA session, and it was just one of four receptions for Harvin during the final team period that slapped an exclamation point on the workout.

Harvin was acquired in a trade with the Vikings in March because he was proficient and productive as a receiver, returner and runner the past four seasons with the Vikings. But today, on his birthday, the spotlight was on Harvin’s receiving skills.

On the second play of the team period, Harvin got behind Brandon Browner, a 6-foot-4 cornerback who is as physical as he is tall, to take Wilson’s pass along the sideline and run it into the end zone. A few snaps later, it was Wilson to Harvin on a crossing pattern. Then, Harvin made a nice grab of a pass from backup QB Brady Quinn as he was racing across the field toward the sideline. Finally, it was Quinn to Harvin to round out the day.

Four routes, four receptions; one big reason why the Seahawks deemed Harvin worth the three draft choices they gave up to acquire him.

None of this should come as a surprise, because last year Harvin tied for first in the NFL with no dropped passes on 82 targets before being sidelined for the final seven games with a torn ligament in his ankle. In fact, according to the statistics provided by ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, the Seahawks have three players who ranked among the top 20 in that category last season: Harvin at No. 1; wide receiver Sidney Rice, another ex-Viking, who had one drop on 78 targets to rank No. 9; and tight end Zach Miller, who had one drop on 49 targets to rank No. 16.

Marshawn LynchPLAYER WATCH

Marshawn Lynch. The team’s leading rusher the past three seasons was back after missing last week’s OTAs. Today, Lynch didn’t miss a beat – or an assignment, or a hole – while displaying the explosive quickness and power that helped him rush for a career-high 1,590 yards last season.

POSITION WATCH

Linebackers. It was difficult not to watch assistant coach Ken Norton’s crew during the session was featured rain, wind and even a sun break or two along the shores of Lake Washington.

Outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Kyle Knox intercepted passes in the 7-on-7 drill, when cornerback Byron Maxwell added a third. During the final team period, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner slapped away a pass that was intended for Miller, while outside linebacker Malcolm Smith made a last-second tip of a pass that was almost in the hands of rookie tight end Luke Willson.

ANTHONY McCOY WAIVED/INJURED; JAKE BSCHERER SIGNED

In a procedural move, tight end Anthony McCoy was waived/injured today. When he clears waivers, McCoy will revert back to injured reserve. McCoy tore his right Achilles tendon during an OTA session last Monday and had surgery on Thursday.

Jake Bscherer, one of three dozen players who attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, was signed. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle played at Minnesota-Duluth.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions on Wednesday and Friday, which are not open to the media. Next week, they have OTAs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“They’re very serious. And I think they’re hungry. They’re very hungry. The way these guys work in the weight room or running inside. You can see them compete in practice. Yeah, they’re ready to go.” – Antoine Winfield, the team’s new nickel back, when asked about the other starters in the secondary: cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Browner and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor


Tight end Anthony McCoy waived/injured; Tackle Jake Bscherer signed

Anthony McCoy

Tight end Anthony McCoy, who underwent surgery last week to repair a torn Achilles tendon he suffered during the team’s first OTA session, has been waived from the club with the designation of injured, the team announced this morning.

As a result of the injury, McCoy was expected to miss a good chunk of time in 2013. He was originally selected by the Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of USC and saw action in all 18 games last season, catching 18 balls for 291 yards and three touchdowns. Often lining up in two tight end sets with No. 1 tight end Zach Miller, McCoy was the team’s first player to top 100 yards receiving a year ago, when he had three catches for 105 yards in the club’s 58-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.Jake Bscherer

In McCoy’s place, the team announced the signing of tackle Jake Bscherer, a 6-foot-6, 305-pound product who spent his senior season at Minnesota-Duluth after three years at the University of Wisconsin. Bscherer took part in the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp that was held earlier this month and he is the fifth player from that workout to sign on with the club, joining defensive end Benson Mayowa, tight ends Victor Marshall and Darren Fells, and wide receiver Justin Veltung.


Anthony McCoy undergoes surgery to repair torn Achilles tendon

Anthony McCoy

Fourth-year tight end Anthony McCoy underwent surgery yesterday to repair a torn Achilles tendon, an injury he suffered Monday of this week during the team’s first OTA session. The surgery was performed by Dr. Ed Khalfayan at Seattle Surgery Center.

Drafted by the Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of USC, McCoy saw action in all 18 games last season, often working out of double tight end sets with No. 1 tight end Zach Miller. He caught 18 balls for 291 yards and three touchdowns last year and was the team’s first player to top 100 yards receiving that season, when he made three catches for 105 yards in the club’s 58-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.

The injury to McCoy leaves second-year players Sean McGrath and Cooper Helfet, 2013 fifth-round draft pick Luke Willson, and rookie minicamp signees Victor Marshall and the former professional basketball playing Darren Fells as the five players rounding out the position behind Miller.


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


Tight end Darren Fells released

Darren Fells

Darren Fells, a former professional basketball player who was trying to catch on with the Seahawks as a tight end, has been released the team announced today.

The 6-foot-7 Fells had been signed in March following a tryout.

Fells played basketball last season for the Libertad Sunchales in Argentina and before that also had played professionally in Mexico, France, Finland and Belgium. He played his college ball at the University of California, Irvine.

The release of Fells leaves the Seahawks with five tight ends on their 90-man roster, as the veterans put the wraps on the second week of Phase 2 in their offseason program today and the rookies are set to report Thursday for a three-day minicamp this weekend: starter Zach Miller, who finished third on the team with 38 receptions last season; incumbent backup Anthony McCoy, who had career-best totals in receptions (18), receiving yards (291) and TD catches (three) last season; Sean McGrath, a rookie free agent last year who spent most of the season on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster in December; Luke Willson, who was selected in the fifth-round of the NFL Draft last month; and Cooper Helfet, who was signed to a future contract in January after being with the team in training camp last year.


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Seahawks sign basketball-playing tight end Darren Fells

Darren Fells

Looking to increase the competition at tight end, the Seahawks have reached into another sport and another continent.

Darren Fells, a 6-foot-7, 281-pound basketball player who was last with the Libertad Sunchales in Argentina, was signed today after going through a workout with the Seahawks on Tuesday.

Fells, who will turn 27 next month, was an all-state tight end at Fullerton (Calif.) High School. He opted to play basketball at UC Irvine and then played in Finland, Belgium, Mexico and France before going to Argentina. His brother, Daniel, is tight end with the Patriots and also has played for the Falcons (2006), Rams (2008-10) and Broncos (2011).

Zach Miller is the Seahawks’ starting tight end, and he caught 12 passes for a 15.8-yard average in their two playoff games last season after catching 38 passes for a 10.4-yard average during the regular season. But Miller tore the plantar fascia in his left foot during the playoff loss to the Falcons.

Anthony McCoy was the No. 2 tight end last season, when the sixth-round draft choice from 2010 posted career-highs in receptions (18), receiving yards (291, for a 16.2 average) and touchdown catches (three, tying Miller and wide receiver Doug Baldwin for second on the team).


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Thursday cyber surfing: Bruce Irvin ready for first NFL start

Bruce Irvin

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 10.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times rehashes defensive end Bruce Irvin’s path to the NFL – a path that has led him into the starting lineup this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons, “Irvin didn’t start this season, but was more than a backup. He was a situational pass-rusher on the field for about half of Seattle’s defensive snaps. He had eight sacks this season, more than any other rookie in the NFL. Sunday in Washington, after Clemons was injured, Irvin had a sack of quarterback Robert Griffin III that demonstrated just how fast Irvin is. ‘It’s his great asset,’ Carroll said. That quickness has carried him all the way to the NFL. And now, 10 years after he was headed toward a dead end in Georgia, Irvin is returning to the town where he grew up — for the first starting assignment in a career that is just beginning. ‘He can be a double-digit sack guy for a long time once he gets going,’ Carroll said.”

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says that for everything Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has accomplished in four seasons in the NFL, he has still yet to win a game in the playoffs, “This year, Ryan has received MVP chatter for leading the Falcons to the best record in the NFC. His coach, Mike Smith, said Wednesday that ‘individually, it’s been his best year in terms of most of the markers you look for in a quarterback.’ Except one, and therein lies the paradox. In three playoff games over the previous four seasons, Ryan has yet to produce a victory. He has thrown for less than 200 yards in all three of those games, and has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). His playoff QB rating of 71.2 pales in comparison to his regular-season mark of 90.9. It’s getting dangerously close to being a legacy-killer for the quarterback selected third overall out of Boston College in the 2008 draft (15 spots ahead of Joe Flacco, who already has six playoff wins with the Ravens). But rectify that omission to his resume, and Ryan will be celebrated both as the man who led the Falcons out of the wilderness of a 4-12 record the season before he arrived, and the one who can take them to the next level.”

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says head coach Pete Carroll’s decision making as a head coach has improved, “It’s not that the coach is arrogant. He often gambles within games because he’s too hopeful. Carroll is the ultimate optimist. And during his USC tenure, that optimism often resulted in dramatic success. ‘I got going for nine years straight of going for it every single chance you get — forever,’ Carroll said. But he is learning that, in the NFL, being conservative is both a virtue and a life-saver. ‘I think we’ve cleaned things up,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a good formula for doing it. It’s interesting: It hasn’t come up as much. We haven’t had that many dramatic opportunities to go for it or not.” You get the feeling that, if the Seahawks advance far enough in the playoffs, Carroll will have to make some tough choices under great scrutiny. Will he continue to play it safe? Or will the riverboat gambler in him sneak out?”RM2_6589

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times checks in with newly-signed kicker Ryan Longwell, “Longwell beat out three other kickers who were invited to try out Tuesday, heading into Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Atlanta. ‘It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching,’ he said. Changing kickers at this point of the season is “a big deal to us,” coach Pete Carroll said, but Longwell’s experience — winning a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1998 — helped earn him the job, not to mention a 55-yard field goal in Tuesday’s workout. ‘When you look at Ryan’s background, the great experience he’s had, the time he’s had in playoff situations and all of that, to make this transition for a younger guy might be more of an issue, and we think he can handle that,’ Carroll said.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the signing of defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, “The 33-year-old Chukwurah, who most recently played two seasons in the UFL before that league folded, hasn’t played organized football of any sorts for more than a year. Yet he was impressive enough in a tryout Tuesday that the Seahawks signed him over other better-known defensive ends, a result that even he had a hard time believing. ‘Honestly, no,’ Chukwurah said when asked if he still thought an NFL comeback was realistic. ‘I was really set on moving on and starting the next chapter, so it’s definitely a blessing.’ “

Boyle also writes that the Seahawks are not letting the playoff pressure get to them, “Any player you ask will tell you a Super Bowl title is the team’s goal. But it has been clear the last two weeks that this young team, which has gotten better faster than most expected, isn’t tensing up now as the stakes become higher. ‘This team is in a real good place,’ said veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant. ‘It’s good for us that we can focus and just kind of take the challenges as they come, and not get too high or too low. We’re just trying to stay the course, and that’s been good for us.’ Seattle’s levelheadedness has led to pretty consistent play all season — the Seahawks have not lost a game by more than seven points all year — and keeping things the same in the postseason has helped a young team from succumbing to the pressure of the playoffs. ‘It’s very important to just maintain the same routine,’ said fullback Michael Robinson. ‘(Head coach) Pete (Carroll) does a great job of keeping practice the same.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press says defensive end Bruce Irvin is ready to step in for the injured Chris Clemons, “For most of his rookie season, Irvin has thrived being used on passing downs as a rush end opposite Clemons. Getting pressure from both sides on quarterbacks has worked well for Seattle with Clemons getting 11 1/2 sacks and Irvin having another eight in the regular season to set a franchise rookie record. Now that Clemons is out, Irvin will be called on not only to pressure the quarterback, but also be stout in the run game. ‘I’m still depressed that (Clemons) is down. He’s like an older brother to me. He showed me a lot, man,’ Irvin said. ‘Next year, I’ll be in this same role, me and (Clemons) rotating and whatever. I’m not looking to come in here and ball out and take over (Clemons’) spot. I’m not looking for that. My time will come and when it’s that time it will all handle itself.’ “

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice – a practice running back Marshawn Lynch sat out with a foot injury, “Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not participate in practice. Unlike most weeks when he is given a rest day for his balky back, Lynch was listed on Wednesday’ practice report with a foot injury.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com passes along a conversation with NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes, who believes that if the Seahawks can secure an early lead over the Falcons on Sunday, “it’s over”, “The Falcons, Seattle’s divisional-round opponent, have one of the league’s better passing attacks, ranking sixth in passing yards and fifth in touchdown passes during the regular season. Despite that, NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes doubts their ability to come back if they were to fall behind to the Seahawks. ‘If they get up early, it’s over. Have a nice day, Atlanta Falcons,’ Dukes told “Bob and Groz” on Wednesday. ‘The Falcons’ line is not built to handle that pressure.’ ” Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” share their thoughts in this short video.

The staff at SportsPressNW.com passes along several notes from Atlanta head coach Mike Smith’s Wednesday press conference.RM2_6350

Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along QBR ranks from Wild Card weekend, “Wilson made positive contributions, impressing those who have watched mostly from afar to this point. The visuals were all there: Wilson flipping a touchdown pass to fullback Michael Robinson, Wilson running interference downfield so his running back could gain additional yardage, Wilson firing downfield strikes to Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice. If tight end Anthony McCoy hadn’t dropped a pass deep in Redskins territory, Seattle might have fared better than its 1-of-6 showing in the red zone. On the whole, however, this performance from Wilson was hardly consistent with the ones that separated him from Robert Griffin III and made him second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR from Week 8 through regular season’s end.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson joined ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike”, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.

ESPN The Magazine has a look into Wilson’s past as a professional baseball player, sharing conversations with the scouting supervisor of the Colorado Rockies, Wilson’s baseball coach at North Carolina State, the editor of Baseball America, and more.

Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com says Russell Wilson may be the best young quarterback in the League, “If Russell Wilson is too short, give me short! Facing Baltimore, first overall selection Andrew Luck wilted under a steady blitz. Experienced quarterbacks want to be blitzed — if Baltimore tries the same at Denver, Peyton Manning will eat the Ravens’ lunch. But Luck is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Facing Seattle, second overall selection Robert Griffin twisted his knee late in the first quarter, lost his amazing quickness, then lost the game. RG III throws himself at a defense, taking big hits. Experienced quarterbacks avoid big hits. But Griffin is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Then there was Wilson. Washington blitzed him hard, and by the fourth quarter, he wanted to be blitzed, because he was beating this tactic like a veteran — see more below. Wilson ran for 67 yards, including the game’s longest rush, but whenever a defender had him in his sights, he stepped out of bounds, slid or threw the ball away. Wilson played like a seasoned veteran. One reason is that he had the most college starts of the young-gun quarterbacks. Wilson started 50 games in college, versus 40 for Griffin and 38 for Luck. Add another dozen starts to RG III and he will avoid big hits. Add another dozen starts to Luck and he’ll be looking forward to the blitz. Wilson already has these skills.”

And Chris Burke of SI.com offers an X’s and O’s break down Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and Falcons, “Will Seattle continue to use Irvin off the left edge this coming Sunday? Carroll said only that Irvin will start at the “Leo” spot — a position in Carroll’s defense reserved for a fast rusher, almost like a 3-4 outside linebacker. Irvin, as mentioned, has done a lot of his work from left end, but will the Seahawks try to play the matchups? Playing Irvin on the left means he’ll deal with Clabo; on the right is Baker. Neither is a slouch, but Clabo, a 2010 Pro Bowler, may be the stiffer test of the two.”


Friday cyber surfing: Sherman’s appeal to suspension upheld

Richard Sherman

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 28.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times has the story on Richard Sherman’s appeal of a four-game suspension, “Sherman had just been told by his attorney that he had won the appeal of his four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. ‘I won!’ he told the players. Hoots and cheers echoed across the room. High fives were exchanged. ‘High fives, as old school as it is, is still the best way to celebrate,’ Sherman said later in the day, grinning like a kid discovering another gift under the tree. ‘There was a sigh of relief for the whole team knowing that that was done and over with and we could move on from it. Justice was served.’ “

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has the Seahawks and Rams injury reports from yesterday, noting the return of five Seahawks players to practice.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his take on Sherman coming out on top of his suspension, “For the past two seasons, Sherman’s supreme confidence has helped the Seahawks defense. Now, the cornerback’s belief in himself and in his innocence helped him restore some of his reputation, and will help the Seahawks in the 2012 playoffs.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com comments on the improvement of the Seahawks’ offensive line, “Seattle’s offensive line has been considerably better this season, so much so that it will send two members to the Pro Bowl. Okung and center Max Unger were named starters Wednesday for the NFC team, becoming the first Seahawks offensive linemen to play in the Pro Bowl since Walter Jones following the 2008 season. It is the first Pro Bowl selection for each player.”

Henderson also passes along a short video from 710Sports.com’s Mike Salk, who discusses the impact Sherman’s availability will have on the Seahawks as they make their playoff push.

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Linebacker Leroy Hill has a hamstring injury, while receiver Golden Tate came down with an illness. Limited in Thursday’s practice were right tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Receiver Sidney Rice was a full participant after sitting out Wednesday’s session with a sore knee. After one day out with a back problem, tight end Anthony McCoy was also full go. The St. Louis Rams are a pretty healthy team preparing for Sunday’s regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field. Running back Steven Jackson was over a Wednesday illness enough to do all the work in Thursday’s practice.”

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from yesterday, “S Earl Thomas said it made his day better to know Sherman was going to be able to keep playing. ‘I came in a little shaken up just because you don’t know,’ Thomas said. ‘That’s my brother back there and it definitely feels good for him to take this journey and be on this team with us.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press writes that even with a playoff berth secured, the Seahawks will look to continue their current win streak when they face the Rams in the regular season finale on Sunday, “Seattle is drastically different from the squad that floundered through a 19-13 loss in St. Louis in Week 4, and no one more so than quarterback Russell Wilson. At that time in late September, the Seahawks were still in the infancy of learning the unique qualities of their new quarterback. That was before Wilson’s running became a true threat as a complement to running back Marshawn Lynch. And it was before Seattle’s offense became the efficient machine it’s been the past three weeks. The whopping 150 points the Seahawks have scored the last three games stole the attention. But within that points eruption was a stunning run of offensive prowess led by Wilson. ‘He’s just an athletic guy. He’s been playing very well, as a rookie, as a young guy,’ Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said. ‘You’ve got the combo of being a premier quarterback, but the athleticism of some of the best out there as well.’ “

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his best guesses for Week 17, picking the Seahawks to top the Rams, 27-13, “The Seahawks are 7-0 at home and about as hot as a team could be, having become the first team since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams to score 150 points over a three-game period. St. Louis has gone 3-0-1 in its past four road games, and 4-0-1 against the NFC West. I’m most interested in seeing how the young quarterbacks compare. The Rams’ Sam Bradford faces a tougher test behind a reshuffled offensive line. Advantage, Russell Wilson. Also, the winning coach should be coach of the year in the division, in my view. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 27, Rams 13.”

Sando takes a look at how the Rams are preparing for quarterback Russell Wilson, “Dave McGinnis, assistant head coach for the St. Louis Rams, knows the coverage might have to hold up a little longer when his team visits Seattle in Week 17. ‘The thing about him is, it’s not panic scrambles,’ McGinnis told reporters in St. Louis. ‘He’s moving and he’s improvising, but he’s doing it with a purpose. He’s always looking down field and most all of those types of plays that he makes, they’re all positive plays.’ “

Sando also has a look at the play of a pair of young NFC West corners – Janoris Jenkins and Sherman, “Seattle’s Richard Sherman has two touchdowns over the Seahawks’ past three games, one on an interception return and the other on a blocked field-goal return. His two touchdowns against Arizona and San Francisco are more than the one touchdown the Cardinals and 49ers scored in those games.”

NFL Films previews the Seahawks’ Week 17 matchup against the Rams in this short video.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has the story on Sherman’s successful appeal, “On more than one occasion during the process that was his appeal of a four-game suspension by the NFL, it was suggested to Richard Sherman that his chances of winning were slim and none. But Sherman, the Seahawks’ second-year cornerback, hasn’t just been there before. Slim and none have been his constant companions. ‘There were always people who said the chances were slim and none,’ Sherman said on Wednesday, when he was informed by his attorney that he had indeed won his appeal. ‘I told them, ‘My chances have always been slim and none. And I’ve always found a way to win those.’ You don’t make it this far without getting through some kind of adversity. This is just another phase. And I have great teammates and great coaches who supported me through it. The great fans we have supported and had faith through the whole process, and I was appreciative of that.’ “

Farnsworth also recaps the activities surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville” with a focus on Leon Washington and the team’s Pro Bowlers.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” with reaction from the club’s Pro Bowl players.

We have coach Bradley and Wilson’s full video press conferences from yesterday.

Finally, team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos here.


Wednesday cyber surfing: Wilson exceeding expectations, developing better rapport with receivers

Russell Wilson

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 19.

The club made a roster move yesterday afternoon, releasing tight end Evan Moore and promoting rookie tight end Sean McGrath from the practice squad to the active roster.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes why Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson deserves the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award, “Wilson, unlike the other rookies, wasn’t granted the luxury of time. His future was now. He had early games against Dallas, Green Bay and New England. If he wasn’t ready, if he made even the usual amount of rookie mistakes, the Seahawks could have been buried early and the call for Flynn would come swiftly and loudly from the sellout crowds at CenturyLink. But the Hawks won all three. Wilson has surpassed — I suspect even Carroll’s — most optimistic expectations. And, with two games left in the regular season, I believe he should be NFL Rookie of the Year. Wilson had to win. And he has. He had to get better. And, oh my, has he. He has run the Seahawks like a 10-year veteran. He has dodged blitzes and escaped pass rushers like no quarterback since the Minnesota Vikings’ Fran Tarkenton in the 1970s.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune highlights the relationship between Wilson and wide receiver Sidney Rice, “In the past seven games, Rice has 27 receptions for 422 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the big-play threat the Seahawks were looking for when they signed him to a lucrative deal as an unrestricted agent during the 2010 offseason. Wilson has developed a better rapport with Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller and the rest of Seattle’s receiving threats, throwing more passes in rhythm and doing a better job of anticipating when players are coming out of their breaks. ‘Things have slowed down for him some,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson. ‘He’s much more comfortable with situational football — red zone, he’s better at because he has had repetition running the offense. Third downs, he has been more consistent lately. I think he’s way more comfortable throwing the ball to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Zach Miller primarily, with Anthony McCoy getting in there as well. I just think he’s better and more comfortable.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Seahawks fans have the right to dream big, “This is a team, after all, that is hitting its stride at the right time, and momentum has often proven to be more important than seeding in the NFL playoffs. After starting the year as a team hoping to win with defense and a running game, the Seahawks are suddenly dangerous on offense. One of the lowest scoring teams in the league early on, the Seahawks now rank 11th in scoring at 25 points per game, a scoring average they haven’t bettered since 2005. Buoyed by back-to-back blowouts, Seattle now has a plus-131 point differential this season, a total that trails just New England, San Francisco and Denver. And even if the Seahawks can’t take over first place on Sunday, they can with one more victory clinch a playoff berth as well as their first 10-win season since 2007. But as much as the Seahawks have done to change people’s opinions of them while winning five of their past six, nobody is patting themselves on the back just yet. ‘We ain’t done nothing yet,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘When that happens, it happens. Every one of these games are championship matchups. Every one of them makes the statement that you’re still in it and you get it. We just have to go play this football game, and play it really, really well.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com notes that San Francisco 49ers second-year linebacker Aldon Smith, who has 19.5 sacks through Week 15, is the latest challenge facing the Seahawks pass protectors, “San Francisco’s defense ranks second in yardage and first in scoring. It has playmakers and Pro Bowlers at every level, but it’s the guys up front that seem to generate the most fear. ‘Really, their front seven is I think definitely the best in the league. They’ve shown it,’ Seahawks tight end Zach Miller told ‘Bob and Groz’ on Monday. “They have a great defense with those two linebackers, [NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis], and then you’ve got Aldon Smith coming off the edge and Justin Smith in the middle there. There’s some challenges we’re going to have, but I like what we’ve been doing lately.’ What the Seahawks have been doing lately – aside from scoring at least 50 points in their last two games – is protecting their quarterback much better than they did a season ago. Seattle allowed 50 sacks last season, the fourth-most in the NFL. That number is 26 through 14 games this season, tied for eighth-fewest.”

Mike Salk of 710Sports.com has a look at why the Seahawks’ zone-read offense has been so successful under Wilson in this short video.

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “MVP Watch” putting running back Marshawn Lynch at No. 7 and Wilson at No. 9 on his list of 10 candidates, “Lynch trails only Peterson in rushing yards this season. He has 21 carries for 241 yards over his past two games. The four other backs with at least 200 yards over that span have needed between 42 and 55 carries to get their yardage. That includes Peterson (55-366), Knowshon Moreno (54-237), Alfred Morris (50-216) and Arian Foster (42-211). Lynch has eight games with at least 100 yards this season. He has four additional games with at least 85 yards. He also ranks tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns with 10. … A strong performance in victory against the 49ers might be enough for Wilson to overtake Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as the perceived leading candidate for offensive rookie of the year. Wilson was the only one of the three to appear in MVP Watch this week for three primary reasons. One, Luck has slipped a bit lately and is coming off a defeat. Two, an injury forced Griffin to watch from the sideline while Kirk Cousins led Washington to victory in Week 15. Griffin’s injury status is affecting his candidacy. Three, Wilson has been sensational. He leads the NFL in Total QBR (85.1) and ranks second to Rodgers in passer rating (106.7) over the past 10 weeks.”

Sando also has a look at NFC West QBR ranks from Week 15, “Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (99.2 QBR, 104.4 NFL rating). Wilson completed 14 of 23 passes (60.9 percent) for 205 yards with one touchdown, zero interceptions, two sacks and 10 passing first downs. He carried nine times for 92 yards and three touchdowns, with five first downs rushing. He had no fumbles. The Bills sacked Wilson on the first play of the game. They had a hard time getting a hand on him most of the day, however. The Bills did not touch Wilson on any of the quarterback’s nine rushes. Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch continued to play off one another effectively on option runs.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has a recap of “Tuesday in Hawkville” with a focus on rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane, who has gained the confidence and trust of the coaching staff with his recent play.

Farnsworth has his first look at the San Francisco 49ers, who are 5-0 in primetime games this season and will face a Seahawks team on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field that is 6-0 at home.

Farnsworth also recaps a surprise visit from Wilson to Skyline High School quarterback Max Browne, who was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year yesterday, “Browne’s selection as National Player of the Year shouldn’t come as a surprise, despite the stiffest of competition, because he was awesome during his senior season. He led the Spartans to a 14-0 record, capped by the victory in the state title game. He passed for 4,526 yards and 49 touchdowns while completing 277 of 377 passes and throwing only five interceptions. During his career with the Spartans, Browne set the state record with 882 completions, which led to 12,947 yards. But there’s more to Browne than just impressive stats and overwhelming victories. He has a 3.5 GPA and volunteers for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and Generation Joy. Sound familiar? Browne shared the stage on Tuesday with another QB who’s too good to be true – on and off the field. ‘He’s just a tremendous person, first of all,’ Wilson said. ‘He has a great attitude, a great personality. He works so hard. Max is a tremendous football player and Gatorade found the best football player in the country. Max does a tremendous job in the three pillars of what Gatorade does in terms of naming a National Player of the Year. Athletically, obviously he’s very good.  But academically he’s carried a 3.5 his whole career in high school. And then to do what he does in the community, and put so many smiles on so many faces, is really unbelievable.’ “


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Tuesday in Hawkville: Young corners coming up big, and when needed

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 11:

Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane

FOCUS ON

Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. The backup cornerbacks certainly have looked the part since joining the Seahawks in the draft the past two years.

Maxwell, a sixth-round pick in 2011, has the size (6 feet 1, 207 pounds), length and athletic ability that coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley covet in a corner. So does the 6-foot, 190-pound Lane, who was a sixth-round pick this year.

But how would they play the part? We finally got a look at both in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, as Lane took over as the nickel back and he and Maxwell then manned the corners for the conclusion of the 58-0 romp. Each made a tackle, while Maxwell also broke up a pass.

“I was really pleased with the play of those guys,” Carroll said. “I think I was as fired up about that as anything, as far as the challenge of new guys jumping in and all of that.”

And that definitely is saying a lot because there was so much to be fired up about on Sunday.

“Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell did really well,” Carroll said. “They both looked disciplined. They played confident. Technique-wise, they played the way we had hoped they would play. They both looked just about the same and, for their first outing, they really handled it well.

“There were very few plays that they didn’t get graded on the positive side.”

And that will remain a plus this week, when the Seahawks travel to Toronto to play the Bills. Walter Thurmond, who stepped in at nickel back for Marcus Trufant two weeks ago, is now at right corner because Brandon Browner is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances.

“Walter Thurmond played really well,” Carroll said of his efforts against the Cardinals.

That’s what put Lane on the field as the nickel back for Thurmond. Whether Trufant is able to return this week remains to be seen. But the coaches have seen enough from Lane, and Maxwell, and Thurmond, that they’re comfortable turning things over to the young corners.

“I think that’s a really good statement about what (defensive backs coach) Kris Richard and (passing game coordinator) Rocky Seto are doing with these guys,” Carroll said. “It really is good stuff.”

STATS ’N STUFF

The Seahawks rank No. 3 in total defense, allowing an average of 301.7 yards per game. They’re No. 4 in passing defense (196.3), No. 4 in rushing offense (152.3) and No. 10 in rushing defense (105.4). The offense ranks No. 21 overall (341.2) and the passing offense is No. 29 (188.9).

After Sunday’s eight-turnover avalanche against the Cardinals, the Seahawks are plus-8 in turnover differential, which ties for eighth in the league. Only seven teams have fewer giveaways than the Seahawks (17; nine interceptions, eight fumbles).

Marshawn Lynch remains second in the NFL in rushing (a career-high 1,266 yards) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (1,600). Only four players in the league have more than Lynch’s nine rushing touchdowns – the Texans’ Arian Foster (14), Bucs’ Doug Martin (10), Patriots’ Stevan Ridley (10) and Peterson (10). Lynch also is sixth in total yards (1,415) and tied for ninth in first downs (64).

Rookie QB Russell Wilson is seventh in the league in passer rating (94.9), and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III is the only rookie with a higher rating (a league-leading 104.2). Wilson also is sixth in fourth-quarter passer rating (97.9), which tops all rookies.

Leon Washington is second in the NFL in kickoff return average (31.2), while Jon Ryan is seventh in net punting average (41.7) and tied for sixth for punts inside the 20 (27).

Richard Sherman is tied for third in interceptions (six).

STAT DU JOUR

Lynch’s efforts against the Cardinals were impressive: three rushing touchdowns, tying his career high; a franchise-record 11.6-yard rushing average; his seventh 100-yard rushing effort of the season (124); and surpassing his single-season career best in rushing yards (1,266), with three games to play.

What put it even more over the top was that Lynch accomplished all this on 11 carries. Here’s a look at what he did to get his 128 yards, and when he did it:

Situation               Yards     Result

First-and-10             2          Seahawks punted on first possession

Second-and-12        1          Seahawks converted on third-and-11

Second-and-6        10          First down in first TD drive

First-ansd-10            2         Seahawks converted on second-and-8

First-and-10           15          Seahawks lost the yards on penalty

First-and-10           20          Touchdown run No. 1

First-and-goal          4          Touchdown run No. 2

First-and-10           15          Seahawks eventually punted

Second-and-5        18          First down at Seahawks’ 37

First-and-10             8          Came on next play after 18-yarder

Third-and-4            33         Touchdown No. 3

“I think the thing that comes to mind is consistency,” Carroll said Monday when asked about the season Lynch is having. “He’s been very consistent with his output and his effort and his style. Everything has been there every single game.”

UP NEXT

The players return from having two “off” days to begin practicing for Sunday’s game against the Bills.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The final score in Seattle got most of the attention. There was plenty of credit to go around in Seattle. (Anthony) McCoy’s first 100-yard receiving game could be a good sign for the Seahawks. McCoy made an important catch to help beat Chicago on the road last week. His 67-yard reception against the Cardinals set up Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run for a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. Arizona hadn’t scored more than 17 points in seven of its previous eight games.” – Mike Sando including the Seahawks’ tight end among his weekly “Risers” on his NFC West blog at ESPN.com