Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 28:
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has the story on how the Seahawks’ search for a big-play receiver finally led them to Sidney Rice, the former Minnesota Vikings’ Pro Bowl wide-out who reportedly agreed to sign with Seattle on Wednesday. Says O’Neil: “Seattle began looking at big-name receivers as soon as coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider began reshaping the roster last year. The Seahawks courted Brandon Marshall of Denver, bringing him to Seattle for a visit, before the Broncos traded him to Miami. Seattle was also interested in Vincent Jackson of San Diego, but the Chargers didn’t end up trading him. Rice is an unrestricted free agent, which meant Seattle didn’t have to offer compensation to sign him. The Seahawks just had to pony up the loot, which they apparently did, offering Rice a five-year contract totaling $41 million, according to the NFL Network. Rice is assured of receiving $18.5 million, according to the report.”
Dave Boling of the News Tribune checks in with Max Unger, who is coming off a toe injury in the opener that forced him to sit out the 2010 season. Unger is expected to man the center position on the team’s new-look line. Says Boling: “For the past 11 months, whenever someone asked him why he missed 15 games last season, he had to offer a response somewhat humbling to a powerful 305-pound lineman: “I hurt my toe.” This was not like stumbling into an end table in the dark; the injury required surgery and extensive rehabbing. But Unger is not only back on both feet, he will be in the middle of a reconstruction project most crucial to the development of the Seahawks this season.”
Also from the News Tribune, Eric Williams has this look at Rice and guard Robert Gallery, who also reportedly agreed to sign with the Seahawks on Wednesday. Williams on Gallery: “Considered an excellent run blocker, Gallery is expected to play left guard next to talented second-year tackle Russell Okung, with Max Unger taking over at center. Rookie draft picks John Moffitt and James Carpenter fill out the rest of the line at right guard and right tackle.” Williams on Rice: “Rice, 24, was considered one of Seattle’s main targets when free agency started Tuesday. And Seattle had familiarity working in its favor, with former Minnesota offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell now serving as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator and former Minnesota quarterback Jackson agreeing Tuesday to sign with Seattle as a free agent.”
Christian Caple at PI.com provides this wrap-up of a busy day for the Seahawks. Says Caple: “Wednesday may very well end up being the most important day the Seahawks will have until the season starts. Not only did they waste no time filling their vacancy at left guard by agreeing to terms with free-agent offensive lineman Robert Gallery, but they reeled in their star later in the day: Pro-Bowl receiver Sidney Rice.”
Why are NFL teams so adamant about stressing that a player “agrees” rather than “signs”? Because agreeing is not signing. Take wide receiver Brandon Stokley, one of the 22 Seahawks who became unrestricted free agents this week. He had agreed to sign with the Redskins, but won’t. As this report from ESPN.com explains: “Wide receiver Brandon Stokley came to terms on a contract Wednesday with the Washington Redskins, but the player’s agent said Stokley has backed out of the deal. ‘Spoke to soon. Brandon Stokley won’t sign with Redskins. Too many WR’s signed,’ agent Rick Smith tweeted on Thursday.” The same thing happened to the Seahawks on Tuesday, when QB Matt Leinart agreed in principle only to then re-sign with the Texans.
At NFL.com, former Seahawks scout and NFL player Bucky Brooks takes a look at the Seahawks’ quarterback situation. Says Brooks: “(Coach Pete) Carroll has been taken to task for bypassing the opportunity to make another run at the division crown behind a wily veteran, but he might be crazy like a fox when his gamble on two unproven signal callers results in improved play from the Seahawks’ offense.”
Here at Seahawks.com, we sat in on the team meeting that “officially” opened training camp last night, and also talked with Max Unger and Russell Okung about the team’s new-look offensive line. We also have an item on Charlie Whitehurst’s odd situation now that he’s lost a friend, but gained an opportunity to become the starting QB. Oh, and then there’s the latest – and one of the last – in our series of articles on the team’s first 35 seasons. This one looks at 2003.
Seahakws.com passes out some honors for the just-completed season:
Best offensive player: Matt Hasselbeck. In the end, the team’s 35-year-old quarterback was at his best, passing for seven touchdowns and throwing one interception in the two postseason games. Like the rest of the team, Hasselbeck struggled down the stretch (10 interceptions vs. four TD passes in Weeks 12-15). But he played his best game (four TD passes, 113.0 passer rating) in the biggest game (the upset over the Saints in the playoff opener). Along the way, Hasselbeck passed for 3,000 yards for the seventh time in his 10 seasons with the club and also won his 74th game (including playoffs) – both franchise records. Honorable mention to Mike Williams, who led the team with 65 receptions; and Ben Obomanu, who went from No. 5 receiver to starting flanker and responded with 14 of his 30 receptions in a three-game stretch at midseason and five more in the division-clinching win over the Rams.
Best defensive player: Chris Clemons. He was, in a word, relentless as the “Leo” end in coach Pete Carroll’s defense. No one was quite sure what to expect from Clemons after he was acquired in a March trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, because he never had been a fulltime player in his previous five NFL seasons – with three other teams. But Clemons exceeded expectations by delivering a career-high 12 sacks, a team-high 22 QB hits and also finishing first among the D-linemen in tackles (48). Honorable mention to David Hawthorne, who moved to weak-side linebacker and led the team in tackles (105) for the second consecutive season.
A little news from today and a few leftovers from departure day:
Ben Obomanu. Somewhat lost in the excitement leading up to Sunday’s playoff game against the Bears in Chicago and the disappointment of losing that game was the three-year contract extension the fifth-year wide receiver signed on Friday.
Obomanu could be the poster player for coach Pete Carroll’s “Always Compete” approach.
Seventh-round draft choice 2006. Perennial “bubble” player when the final roster cuts are made. No. 5 wide-out this season until an injury to Deon Butler gave him a chance to actually start.
“There’s a little bit of personal satisfaction, knowing that for one of the first times in a long time you feel wanted a little bit,” Obomanu said Monday as he was cleaning out his cubicle in the locker room. “Instead of having to prove yourself and that you deserve to be around.
“Now you get to prove why you were chosen to be around.”
Seattle traveled to Chicago to face the Bears in a NFC Divisional Playoff game at Soldier Field, where for the second week in a row they were vast underdogs. After two amazing weeks of football, the Seahawks run came to an end on a frozen, snowy day in the Windy City.
A recap of the activities on Day Three of wild-play playoff week:
Jon Ryan. Seven punts. One downed at the 3-yard line. Two others fair caught at the 10 and another at the 9. Only one return, for 9 yards. A net average of 33.4 yards.
Connect the dots between those impressive numbers and it creates a picture of the NFC special teams player of the week. Ryan won the honor today for his efforts in Sunday night’s win over the St. Louis Rams that lifted the Seahawks to the NFC West title and into Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field.
“The best part of Jon’s game is that – punts going in,” said kicker Olindo Mare, pointing out that Ryan had one touchback in 78 punts this season compared to 27 downed inside the 20. “It is what it is. You can say that right now there aren’t many people that are better.”
A recap of the day’s activities on Day One of NFC West Championship week:
The obvious. Before his first season as Seahawks coach ever began, Pete Carroll set his sights on winning the NFC West title. He made sure his team shared that goal.
Although the season has not been as successful as planned, that goal remains: With a win over the St. Louis Rams in Sunday night’s nationally televised game at Qwest Field, the Seahawks will win the division – and advance to the playoffs – for the first time since 2007.
Even at 6-9, the victory would pull the Seahawks even with the Rams at 7-9, and the Seahawks would prevail because of a better record in the division (4-2 vs. 3-3).
“This is an interesting finish to this season, obviously,” Carroll said today. “It’s a week that comes up on us much like we kind of looked ahead. If we had said maybe six weeks ago, ‘What do you think this last game of the season is going to mean?’ Well, we would have said it probably would have to do with the championship position in our division.
“And that’s what it’s come down to. This is a week that we have to get focused on in a unique way, I think, because last week we leave behind us, ‘last’ season we leave behind us. And it comes down to championship time. So it’s one that we look forward to, and one where we have to get some things done. We have a lot of work to do.”
Carroll and his staff already have begun working on the game plan for the rematch with the Rams, a team that beat the Seahawks 20-3 in St. Louis in Week 4. Since then, the Seahawks have gone 4-7, and they’re on a three-game losing streak. The Rams have gone 5-6, and they’ve won three of their past five games.
“Through this whole process of putting it together, you can see that there are opportunities to make jumps and there are ones that we’ve missed,” Carroll said. “We’ve done some good things, but we’ve missed some.”
Of Sunday’s 38-15 loss to the Bucs in Tampa, he added, “Last week, I thought that’s what happened. I thought we missed an opportunity to gain momentum going into this final game. I didn’t like that that happened.”
The Seahawks, as well as the Rams, are down to this final opportunity.
WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM
Sports Radio 950 KJR broke into its broadcast of the Independence Bowl game between Air Force and Georgia Tech to carry Carroll’s weekly day-after news conference live. The announcement to the listening audience coincided with Carroll walking to the podium at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, and made the coach laugh.
“Now that we’re addressing the Independence Bowl crowd live …” Carroll cracked. “Let’s make sure this one is of stellar nature so that we deem it worthy.”
The big news, of course, was the strained hip that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck got while scoring on a 1-yard run in the first quarter against the Bucs. He has not been ruled out for Sunday night’s game, but it’s also not certain that he will be able to play.
Also, wide receiver Brandon Stokley got a concussion when he hit his helmet on the turf at Raymond James Stadium after catching a pass.
“He had a very good day today, as the doctors saw him,” Carroll said. “We’ll have to go though the regular process with him. We’re counting on him to be practicing on Friday; maybe he’ll be back by Thursday.
Rookie left tackle Russell Okung also twisted an ankle, but the team’s top draft choice was able to finish the game. Okung has missed six games because of sprains to his right and left ankles.
“Russell did reinjure his ankle some,” Carroll said. “He’s still hobbling a little bit. If you watch him closely, he’s not 100 percent. But he was determined to get back. The docs were trying to sit him down for a bit and let it rest. He said, ‘I can go. I can go.’
“So we shoved him back out there and he did. He did a nice job of finishing the game. It’s a factor in his play. It is what it is. We’ve just got to keep trying to help him get through it.”
STAT DU JOUR
Rams QB Sam Bradford completed 28 passes in Sunday’s win over the 49ers, giving him 335 for the season. That surpasses the NFL rookie record that was set in 1998 by the Colts’ Peyton Manning (326).
YOU DON’T SAY
“From everything I’ve heard Seattle is a tough place to play. I’ve heard it’s one of the loudest (stadiums) in the NFL. We know it’s not going to be easy to go up there and get a win. But if you don’t get excited for games likes this, then you’re probably in the wrong business.” – Bradford, after Sunday’s win that lifted the Rams into first place in the division
A recap of the day’s activities:
A playoff game. Or at least that kind of approach, and atmosphere.
That’s how the Seahawks are looking at Sunday’s matchup against the 11-2 Atlanta Falcons at Qwest Field.
“If we do expect to make the playoffs, it’s going to be a team like this that we match up with,” middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu said today after practice.
If the Seahawks win the NFC West – they’re currently tied with the St. Louis Rams atop the division at 6-7 – they would host a first-round playoff game against the wild-card team with the best record. The Falcons have a one-game lead in the NFC South over the New Orleans Saints, and they play next Monday night in Atlanta. So the second-place team from the South could be headed to Qwest – if the Seahawks prevail.
“Definitely looking forward to the challenge, and it is going to be a challenge,” Tatupu said of Sunday’s game having that playoff feel and importance.
A recap of the day’s activities:
The 49ers. The good feelings generated by Sunday’s storm-from-behind victory over the Carolina Panthers still were reverberating through Virginia Mason Athletic Center today. But coach Pete Carroll and staff already were directing their attention to the fourth quarter of the season.
For the Seahawks, that starts with his week’s game against their division rivals in San Francisco. The Seahawks beat the 49ers at Qwest in their season opener, 31-6. But that seems even longer ago than three months.
If the Seahawks are to achieve their season-long goal – which is winning the NFC West – a sweep of the 49ers would be a giant step in the right direction.
Check out some images from Thursday’s practice, which was held in the team’s indoor practice facility.