Is it football season yet?

12 Tour

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Today, on a beautiful Seahawks Blue Friday in Seattle, it’s all about the number 12.

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the number of days remaining until the Seahawks kickoff the 2013 regular season on the road against the Carolina Panthers – there’s still 58 of those. Nor am I talking about the number of days remaining until the team’s first preseason game on the road against the San Diego Chargers – there’s still 27 of those. And as close as we are, I’m not even talking about the number of days remaining until the club’s first training camp practice – there’s still 13 of those.

What I am talking about is today’s date – July 12 – and how it coincides with the continuation of the Seahawks 12 Tour in Vancouver, B.C., how it falls one day after the release of our “Spirit of 12″ 12th Man-oriented section of Seahawks.com, as well as one day after Russell Wilson came in at No. 12 on ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski’s rankings of the League’s 32 quarterbacks. Really, the number 12 is everywhere, or perhaps we’re just really quick – and at times obsessively compulsive – to point it out.

All right, that’s enough 12ing (for now). Let’s get down to what’s in store for the week ahead with your Seattle Seahawks, as together we inch closer and closer to answering the all-too-often-uttered question: Is it football season yet?

Sunday, July 14:

  • 12 Tour Vancouver, B.C. rolls along with a family festival at West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Events include a Gatorade Junior Training Camp, a flag football tournament, a Q&A session with defensive end Red Bryant and wide receiver Doug Baldwin, live entertainment, and more
  • 12 Tour Yakima – a one day Gatorade Junior Training Camp event
  • Cornerback Jeremy Lane celebrates his 23rd birthday. Send your well wishes to Lane on Twitter @StayingInMyLane
  • Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy tour wraps up at the University of Washington

Monday, July 15:

  • 12 Tour Victoria, B.C. – a one day trip featuring wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who will sign autographs from 4-6 p.m. at Jersey City – Mayfair Centre and who will follow that up with an appearance at a season-preview party at 7:30 p.m. at Victoria’s Strathcona Hotel
  • ProFootballTalk.com will unveil players ranked No. 50-26 on their Top 100 Players countdown

Tuesday, July 16:

  • There’s not too many Seahawks-related activities going on, but this nugget of knowledge might come in handy for your Tuesday night trivia session: On this date in 1968, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders is born. Sanders will celebrate his 45th birthday.

Wednesday, July 17:

Thursday, July 18:

  • The 12 Tour ramps back up again, this time making it’s way to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Wash.), where cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will host a Seahawks fan forum at 6 p.m. at Kennewick’s “The Pub” on Clearwater Ave.

Friday, July 19:

Saturday, July 20:

  • 12 Tour Vancouver, WA – Cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will host a Seahawks fan forum at Vancouver’s “Big Al’s” on SE 18th St.

12 Tour headlines summer of Seahawks activities & youth football camps

12 Tour

Yesterday, the Seahawks announced a schedule of summer activities dedicated to the 12th Man across the Pacific Northwest.

Showcasing that summer schedule is the Seahawks 12 Tour – when wide receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive end Red Bryant, kicker Steven Hauschka, long snapper Clint Gresham and cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will make stops across the states Washington and Alaska, as well as Vancouver B.C. In conjunction with Washington Tourism Alliance, the Seahawks players will be joined by members of the Sea Gals, team mascot Blitz, and Seahawks fan development staff as they host fan forums, make community appearances and participate in area football camps for youth at each stop.

The tour’s first stop is in Anchorage, Alaska with Hauschka and Gresham (July 9-14) and from there it’s on to Bellingham, Wash. (July 11-12) and Vancouver, B.C. (July 13-15) with Baldwin and Bryant. The tour will wrap-up with the cornerback-half of the “Legion of Boom” – Browner and Sherman – traveling to Kennewick (July 18-19) and Vancouver, Wash. (July 19-21).

Doug Baldwin“I wanted to be able to do it again because I had so much fun doing it before and meeting all different kinds of people,” said Baldwin, who participated in last year’s 12 Tour. “First and foremost, you get to connect with the fans and get to see that side of the game. It’s always interesting, but it’s also inspiring because you’ve got all of these people that are cheering you on. It kind of builds us up and gives us that extra energy and extra drive.”

Baldwin has never traveled to Bellingham or Vancouver, B.C., so he’s looking forward to connecting with the local community and fans in a setting outside of CenturyLink Field.

“Seeing them outside of the football field will be a great chance to interact with them,” Baldwin said. “It was just fascinating, because as dedicated as we are to our craft, we met tons of people last year who are just as dedicated to cheering us on every Sunday. It’s an awesome experience.”

Minicamp may have wrapped yesterday and training camp is still over a month out, but Baldwin’s football fun at Virginia Mason Athletic Center isn’t over just yet. Tomorrow, he’ll take part in the Seahawks All-Pro Varsity Skills Camp with youth ages 9-14, coaching up kids who eventually hope to play ball at the high school level.

And if you’re a loyal-12 looking for some Seahawks-love outside of the Pacific Northwest, here’s a look at several other Seahawks-player-driven football camps that may be in your area:


Minicamp round-up: Camp wrap

Good morning, and happy Seahawks Blue Friday. Here’s a look at what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 14 – one day after the team wrapped up the final day of their three-day minicamp that officially brought an end to their Offseason Program.

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has agreed to terms with the club and will come in to compete with Brady Quinn for the backup spot behind entrenched starter Russell Wilson. Jackson was with the Seahawks during the 2011 season when he led the team to a 7-7 record as a starter. He threw for 3,091 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions while playing most of the year with a torn pectoral muscle. On Jackson’s addition, head coach Pete Carroll said, “I think it’s a great boost for us in a competitive sense. We thought of Tarvaris as a tremendously tough football player and competitive kid that battled for us.”

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times has his notes following the team’s final day of camp.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along some observations as the club closes out camp, noting the depth the team has at running back behind All-Pro/Pro Bowl back Marshawn Lynch.

Speaking of Lynch, he joined five of his teammates on the NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 Players of 2013 when he was highlighted at No. 24 last night.

Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com catches up with cornerback Brandon Browner and has the transcript from his latest “Hawk Talk” chat here.

ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando has a look at the news around the rest of the division and reiterates League guidelines as they pertain to training camp scheduling.

NFL.com Around the League writer Chris Wesserling has his list of 10 things we learned on Day 3 of NFL minicamps.

Our Clare Farnsworth has his minicamp wrap feature and talks with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in his “Hawkville” blog on which players stood out the most throughout the team’s Offseason Program.

Insider Tony Ventrella chats with running backs coach Sherman Smith in his “Seahawks Daily” on the different personalities and talents present in the Seahawks backfield.

Team photographer Rod Mar has compiled 96 photos from the team’s three-day camp.

And we leave you with a pair of Seahawks-themed podcasts from 710Sports.com:

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin with “Bob and Groz”

Linebacker Bobby Wagner with Danny O’Neil & Tom Wassell


Seahawks react to official end of Offseason Program

Thursday’s final minicamp session marked the end of the club’s official Offseason Program. Break for team veterans begins tomorrow, but the rookies will report for workouts next week, with the coaches break beginning shortly after that.

At the end of today’s camp, several Seahawks players took to Twitter to voice the success they’ve enjoyed throughout spring workouts:


Wednesday in Hawkville: The continuing evolution of Richard Sherman

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 12, when the Seahawks held the second practice in the mandatory three-day minicamp that concludes the offseason program:

FOCUS ON: RICHARD SHERMAN

Richard ShermanWelcome to the continuing evolution of an on-his-game cornerback who was forced into the Seahawks’ starting lineup in 2011 because of injuries to two other players and last season developed into an All-Pro performer.

Sherman is the first cornerback in franchise history to be voted first team All-Pro, as the late Dave Brown was a second-team selection in 1984. But this offseason, Sherman has looked even better and is playing with even more confidence – if that’s possible – than the corner who intercepted eight passes and led the NFL with 24 passes defensed last season.

No one can remember Sherman giving up a completion during the team’s OTA sessions or first two practices of this week’s three-day minicamp. At least not in man-to-man coverage.

What gives? Certainly not Sherman.

“It’s just a part of the evolution,” defensive backs coach Kris Richard said after today’s practice, when Sherman had near interceptions on back-to-back plays and then recovered on another play to break up a pass.

“He’s growing and continuing to learn what he’s going to be able to get away with when he’s out there. Just trying to figure out what his limitations are, if there are any. Really, that’s what this time is for. So it’s really good to see him continue to grow and develop.”

Sherman, a fifth-round draft choice in 2011 after playing cornerback for only one season at Stanford, credits this evolutionary improvement to studying video and the fact that he’s entering his third season as a member of the Legion of Boom – which also includes All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner, who played in the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season.

“It’s just confidence and a lot of film study,” Sherman said. “You go down to the nitty-gritty. If you watch film enough, if you see things enough, it’s ‘You fool me once, shame on me. If you fool me twice, you can’t fool me twice.’ ”

As for that still-developing rapport and chemistry with the other defensive backs, Sherman offered, “Sometimes we’ll be out there mid-play and Kam will tell me to jump this. I’ll jump it, because it’s just trust. I know he’s going to where he’s supposed to be if he tells me to jump this.

“We’ll call plays out halfway through the play and be moving pieces. If you saw it on film you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell what coverage we were in because it’s probably not the most technical way to run it. But it works. We’re effective and the chemistry is there.”

Whatever works, and things obviously are working extremely well for Sherman.

In addition to Sherman’s plays, the defense-dominated practice also included cornerback Jeremy Lane’s leaping deflection of Brady Quinn a pass that was intended for Stephen Williams at the goal line; rookie defensive tackle Jesse Williams deflecting a third-down pass by Jerrod Johnson; Thomas recovering a fumble; another breakup by Browner and a tipped pass by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner; and an interception by cornerback Will Blackmon.

Doug Baldwin

PLAYER WATCH: DOUG BALDWIN

The day was tinted Cardinal, as Baldwin had almost as good a day on offense as Sherman had on defense. They played together at Stanford and came to the Seahawks in the same year – Baldwin as a rookie free agent.

Today, when quarterback Russell Wilson found himself running out of time he looked for Baldwin. They hooked up for a 20-yard completion on a third-and-10 play and a 12-yard gain on second-and-10.

Like Sherman, Baldwin’s efforts today mirrored the type of spring he has had.

“Doug has done really well,” coach Pete Carroll said after Tuesday’s practice. “At this time last year, Doug was pressing a little bit. And he was coming off his great first season (when Baldwin was the team’s leading receiver). I think he came in just wanting to do so much.”

Instead, injuries limited Baldwin’s reps during training camp, he had his front teeth knocked out in the season opener and then played through a shoulder injury for much of the regular season.

Now? “You can just see how relaxed he is,” Carroll said. “He’s playing like a vet. He knows our system. He’s working great with the quarterback. And he does so many intricate things.”

RUGBY INVASION

USA Rugby SevensTeam USA’s Sevens National Team watched today’s practice. The players are in town to prepare for the World Cup in Moscow in two weeks.

The connection to the Seahawks? It’s Carroll and Waisale Serevi, the former Fijian rugby union footballer who did for his sport what Pele was able to do for soccer. Serevi is based in Seattle and Carroll has gotten to know him.

UP NEXT

The final practice in the three-day minicamp starts at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. Friday, the veterans begin their break until reporting for training camp on July 24. The rookies will continue to work out through June 26.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’ve learned that he’s probably one of the most tenacious players in the NFL. He’s a rugged, hardworking, hardnosed football player.” – Sherman on Browner


Kam Chancellor ready to wing it

Kam Chancellor passed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior at Maury High School in Norfolk, Va. He also worked at quarterback as a freshman at Virginia Tech before being moved to cornerback, then rover and eventually safety.

Now, the Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety is lobbying to air out his right arm for the Seahawks.

“I think I’m fourth string right now. I’m just trying to work my way up the depth chart,” Chancellor said through a smile on Tuesday after the team kicked off the second week of its OTA sessions.

That would be fourth string behind the three players wearing the red QB jerseys – starter Russell Wilson, backup Brady Quinn and Jerrod Johnson. But Chancellor also might have to get past fullback Michael Robinson if it ever came to that, because Robinson not only played quarterback at Penn State he was Big 10 offensive player of the year as a senior.

But Chancellor just wants it known that he’s available, if needed.

“I had like five plays last year in the playbook,” he said. “So I’m trying to get up to six or seven this year. I’ve still got the arm.”

For now, the Seahawks need Chancellor to continue using both arms – and his 6-foot-4½ wingspan – to break up passes and wrap up ball carriers in his physical and intimidating style.

In the past two seasons, since he moved into the starting lineup, no one on the defense has more tackles than Chancellor (185). Rounding out the Top 5 are linebacker K.J. Wright (157), All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas (153), middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (140, all last season) and linebacker Leroy Hill (136). When it comes to defending passes, Chancellor has 17 to rank third behind All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman (41) and cornerback Brandon Browner (19), and just ahead of Thomas (15).


The Real Rob Report: Offseason Workouts

“The best way to kick off my appearance for the season is without a shirt on. I’m in a little bit better shape, right?”

If you’re a fan of Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson’s “The Real Rob Report” then it should be a pretty easy guess as to who’s behind that lighthearted quote that helps kick off his newest episode.

If you’re not yet a fan of the show, it’s about time you get in on all of the behind-the-scenes Seahawks goodness.

Robinson’s latest chapter features a look in at Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The familiar faces of Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Winston Guy, John Moffitt, Max Unger, Josh Portis, Jermaine Kearse, and Phil Bates are all included, as well as the first “Real Rob Report” introductions with newcomers Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett.

Remember, you can stay up to date on everything from the Real Mike Rob by following his show on Twitter and subscribing to his channel on YouTube. And be sure to check out Moffitt’s venture into the apparel business at moffittmerch.com, where like he said in the video above – he’s not “lining his pockets” with the proceeds – they help feed the homeless at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.


Marcus Trufant visiting Jaguars today

Marcus Trufant

Marcus Trufant played the past four seasons under Gus Bradley when Bradley was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator. Today, Trufant, an unrestricted free agent, is visiting Bradley in his new role and location – head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Trufant’s visit was reported by the Jaguars’ website.

The Jaguars rebuilt their secondary during the NFL Draft by selecting strong safety Jonathan Cyprien with the first pick in the second round and then adding cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz (third round) and Demetrius McCray (seventh) and safety Josh Evans (sixth). But Trufant, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 2003, could mentor the young secondary – just as he did for the Seahawks the past few seasons with the All-Pro tandem of free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman as well as Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner.

The Seahawks released Trufant last offseason, only to re-sign him for a 10th season. But this year, a similar move is unlikely because the team signed nickel back Antoine Winfield in free agency, drafted cornerback Tharold Simon and also has incumbent backups Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell.

UPDATE – At 11:54 a.m. the Jaguars officially announced they had signed Trufant:


Secondary thoughts from Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett

In the interview for Tuesday’s story on defensive lineman Michael Bennett, the once-Seahawk and now once-again Seahawk offered another reason for wanting to re-sign with the team in free agency last month.

In a word, it’s the secondary. In 10 words or less, it’s Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner. Two were voted All-Pro last season – Thomas, the free safety; and Sherman, the left cornerback. Three have played in the Pro Bowl in at least one of the past two seasons – Thomas (twice); Chancellor, the strong safety; and Browner, the right cornerback.

“I’ve never played with a secondary with this caliber of talent,” Bennett said. “That’s one of the unique things about this defense and this team. I’ve played with some OK secondaries since I’ve been in the league, but this is my first time playing with a secondary like this.”

And make no mistake, the Seahawks were Bennett’s destination team even before he hit free agency last month.

“I turned down money to come here, and came here on just a one-year contract,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be. I love this place.”


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Weighing in on the NFC West

Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.

Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.

It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:

Quarterback

Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”

Running back

Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”

Wide receivers

Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”

Tight ends

Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”

Offensive line

Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”

Defensive line

Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”

Linebackers

Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”

Safeties

Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”

Cornerbacks

Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”

Head coach

Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”