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Brian Banks gets another shot at NFL

Brian Banks

Linebacker Brian Banks signs his contract today with the Atlanta Falcons (photo via Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com)

Linebacker Brian Banks, who was given a tryout with the Seahawks last year, is getting another chance to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL. This time, it’s with the Falcons.

Banks, who was exonerated after spending five years in prison, signed with the Falcons today and will participate in their offseason program.

“The kid will get a second chance that he deserves,” a team official said in a text.

NFL Insider Jay Glazer was the first to report the news this morning when he tweeted, “Gang, I’m reporting the best scoop I could ever report: my man FINALLY has his dream back: Falcons have just signed @BrianBanksFREE [Brian Banks]!!!!”

After passing his physical at the Falcons’ complex, Banks told Glazer, “Jay, I’m on Cloud 10, I passed Cloud 9.”

Banks’ road back into football began last offseason, when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called and invited Banks to tryout. He was then invited back for the team’s minicamp in June, but not signed.

In between, Banks signed with the United Football League’s Las Vegas Locomotives, appearing in two games and making one tackle before the UFL suspended its season in October.


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Thursday cyber surfing: ‘Hawks one of the most rugged teams in NFL; Banks lands in UFL

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, September 20.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says that this current physical and tough Seahawks team is one that former head coach Jim Mora would love, “After Mora was fired, Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over, and what did they immediately do? Start making the Seahawks bigger and more physical. It was a delayed dirtbagging of a football team that had become too clean. Three years later, the Seahawks are among the most rugged teams in the NFL. There’s little concern about whether they’ll push back anymore. They often push first. They excel in rushing defense and rushing offense, two areas that measure toughness. They have graduated from an undersized football team that aspired to be speedy (though it never quite got there) to an oversized squad that is still explosive despite the brawn. Teams don’t come to Seattle and punch the Seahawks in the face now. It’s too dangerous to stick your hands that close to their frothing mouths.”

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has some observations on the Seahawks offense, noting that they have yet to score a first-half touchdown and two of the three field goals they have converted in the first two quarters of games were the result of turnovers, “The slow starts for the offense are reminiscent of the way Seattle began last season when it didn’t score a first-half touchdown until the fourth game. If you break down the offensive and defensive performances down by halves, it’s evident that so far this season, Seattle remains a team that struggles to get going early in games.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has a look at the improvements of the NFC West division, “Since the NFL’s realignment, this is the first time that the teams from the NFC West have been 6-2 or better through the first two weeks of the season, according to Elias Sports Bureau. And the NFC West’s wins have not come against patsies. San Francisco has victories at Super Bowl contender Green Bay and at home against Detroit; Arizona defeated the Patriots in New England, where quarterback Tom Brady had not lost a home opener as a starter; Seattle handled Dallas at home in a game that most league observers thought they had no shot at winning; and St. Louis outdueled Washington and rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald details the play of the Seahawks special teams unit, who he believes set the tone against the Cowboys in Week 2, “Other than when a returner makes a big play, there is little glory on special teams. It’s grunt work that often goes unappreciated, but for the Seahawks, there is no mistaking the importance of special teams play. Carroll has long maintained that his blueprint for winning involves running the ball, winning the turnover battle, playing stout defense, and being strong on special teams. That was precisely the formula Seattle used in its win over Dallas, which is why Carroll said it was one of his most satisfying wins in Seattle, and his team’s special teams play had as much to do with his satisfaction as anything the offense and defense accomplished.”

Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports details the next step for Brian Banks, the high school football star who was recently exonerated of a California rape case and who worked out for the Seahawks earlier this year, saying he is set to sign with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.

In his latest edition of “Chalk Talk,” Brock Huard of mynorthwest.com breaks down Marshawn Lynch’s 36-yard run that came in the team’s 90-yard scoring drive in the win over the Cowboys.

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a quick look at injury situations that matter around the NFC West, “The Seahawks hope to have left tackle Russell Okung back from a bruised knee to face Clay Matthews and the Green Bay defense on Monday night. Frank Omiyale started in Okung’s place Sunday and did what coach Pete Carroll called a “credible” job. For Seattle, playing one day later than usual has affected the practice schedule. Players are off Wednesday. They’ll resume practicing Thursday. Seattle will not issue an injury report until then. Carroll did tell reporters earlier in the week that receiver Sidney Rice was healthy. Rice had left the team’s game against Dallas after absorbing a hard hit. He missed some practice time last week with a sore knee.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has a look at the Seahawks’ Week 3 Monday Night Football opponent – the Green Bay Packers, and details the effectiveness of Lynch and the Seahawks run game through two weeks of the regular season.


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Friday cyber surfing: Schedule changes, role changes and Banks re-visited

Good morning, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 29.

The NFL announced a scheduling change yesterday, pushing the start time of the second game of its Sunday doubleheaders on FOX and CBS back by 10 minutes to ensure fewer fans miss game-action. How might that affect the Seahawks schedule? Clare Farnsworth has that answer here at Seahawks.com, as he writes, “The move could affect four Seahawks games – their Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona; the Dec. 9 rematch with the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field; their Dec. 23 game against the 49ers at CenturyLink Field; and their Dec. 30 regular-season finale against the Rams at CenturyLink Field.”

Farnsworth also catches up with new Director of Football Health & Performance Sam Ramsden, as Ramsden and Seahawks General Manager John Schneider share their thoughts on the exciting responsibilities and challenges that come with this new role, “’Just like the coaches self-scout at all times, and we do it from a personnel standpoint, we feel like we need to be doing that in all areas of our football operation,’ Schneider said. ‘This was an area that stood out, so we probably could be a little further ahead or we could kind of be cutting edge. It’s a player-driven league, so why wouldn’t we do everything possible to be able to make sure that not only are we bringing the right people into the building, but that we’re treating them in the right manner particular to their needs?’”

Over at YahooSports.com, Les Carpenter shares his thoughts on Brian Banks, who received a mini-camp tryout with the Seahawks earlier this month. At that time Carpenter spoke with Seahawks General Manager John Schneider, who offered his thoughts on Banks, “‘He didn’t fall flat on his face,’ Seahawks general manager John Schneider said before adding that Banks ‘is a consideration for sure,’ for a training camp invite. Then Schneider was asked if he could see Banks working in a team’s front office, guiding players. ‘There’s no question,’ Schneider replied. ‘He’s a phenomenal kid and twice the man I was when I was that age.’”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com gives us four quick fantasy notes from KC Joyner’s newly published 2012 fantasy guide. Sando points to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch posting impressive numbers late in the season, but Joyner see’s room for significant improvement along the offensive line, “‘The Seahawks posted terrible numbers in the good blocking rate (38.9 percent, tied for 30th) and offensive good blocking production metrics.’” According to Sando, Joyner’s guide spans 444 pages and includes multiple charts and text categories for potential fantasy contributors for each team.

Joyner, who on Tuesday included Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner on his list of the seven most overrated players in the NFC, prompted this discussion from Brock Huard and Mike Salk of mynorthwest.com, as they talk about whether or not that designation fits a Pro Bowler who intercepted six passes, returned two for touchdowns and finished first on the team, and NFL, with 23 passes defensed.


Wednesday cyber surfing: Seahawks, past and present, preach achieving your goals

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 20:

Members of the Seahawks, past and present, visited schools on the Kitsap Peninsula on Monday to promote a partnership with the South Kitsap School District to help students achieve their goals. Katie Scaff at the Kitsap Sun has the details: “ ‘There’s no such thing as overnight success. I was 5-foot and 104 pounds when I entered high school, and I made it to the NFL. I just kept trying and trying,’ said Paul Johns, a wide receiver from 1981 to 1984. Johns visited an end-of-year assembly at John Sedgwick Junior High School with current wide receiver Ricardo Lockette in the afternoon while four other former members and (author) Debbie Macomber visited assemblies at Marcus Whitman and Cedar Heights junior high schools.”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times takes at look at what some of the top pass-rushers in the NFL make as the Seahawks and Chris Clemons continue to discuss an extension: “Clemons is one of seven players in the league to total double-digit sacks in each of the past two seasons, and he’s on a significantly smaller deal as he enters the final year of a five-year contract that totaled $18.5 million.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com tackles the Seahawks’ QB situation while answering questions from his mailbag: “Seattle’s quarterback competition could not be settled without exhibition games. There was never an expectation one candidate would jump to a huge lead before training camp. The fact that no one has seized the job does not necessarily mean the team has no quarterbacks worthy of starting. Coach Pete Carroll was going to promote competition through the offseason and into training camp. That was the plan in the absence of exhibition games. I covered the Seahawks’ final minicamp practice last week and didn’t even think to report on whether one of the quarterbacks had won the job. Yet, it’s unusual to divide reps three ways. That isn’t sustainable. At some point, the Seahawks will have to decide whether they’re comfortable enough with (Matt) Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson to consider moving past 2011 starter Tarvaris Jackson or adjusting his $4 million salary.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at the national media’s obsession with the three-QB competition for the starting job: “OK, obsession is a bit strong, considering the amount of national attention the team generates. But most of the mention the Seahawks have gotten this offseason stems from Carroll’s decision that incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson will vie for the job with free-agent addition Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson. It happened Monday – again, and understandably – when Lindsay Rhodes of the NFL Network caught up with Carroll at a Play 60 event in Southern California. Three of her six on-camera questions – and the first three, at that – involved the QB situation.”

Pete Prisco at CBSSports.com offers his overrated/underrated tandems for each team in the league, including the Seahawks: “Overrated: WR Sidney Rice. They paid him like a No. 1 receiver and he didn’t stay on the field. Even healthy, is he really that? Underrated: DE Red Bryant. He isn’t a pass rusher, so he doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he is a good run player and a big part of Seattle’s improving defense.”

Gregg Rosenthal at NFL.com reports from the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp, which included Seahawks, past and present: “The players range from active (Nate Burleson,  Michael Robinson, Joel Dreesen) to retired (Chad Brown, Jenkins) to free agents (Melvin Bullitt and Patrick Crayton). Producers give honest feedback about what players can improve after their segment is done. No one is coddled. ‘Say what you have to say to me,’ Brown said. ‘I’ve played for Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. I’m used to being criticized. It doesn’t bother me one bit.’ “

Michael Martinez at FoxSports.com looks at Brian Banks’ tryout tour, which included a stop at the Seahawks, and wonders if the exonerated linebacker can get a contract: “Banks, who was away from the game for 10 years and only resumed working out after his case was cleared, will begin working with noted trainer Travelle Gaines this week. He also has done MMA-style training with FOX NFL insider Jay Glazer, who works with several NFL players at his Las Vegas gym. If the additional training helps Banks get closer to football shape, his chances of receiving an invitation will improve, (Seahawks coach) Carroll said. ‘We’re going to give him the next six weeks to get in shape and show us what he can do with a really good conditioning program behind him,’ Carroll said. ‘Then we’ll make a decision whether or not he gets to come to the big camp. He’s tried out for a couple of other teams, and he’s going to continue to do that. It’s a real long shot, of course, but he’s such a strong-minded kid, he’s got a chance.’ “

Speaking of linebackers, John Manasso at FoxSports.com checks in with Lofa Tatupu, the former Seahawk who is trying to restart his NFL career with the Falcons: “Last year, Lofa Tatupu was only 28 years old and four years removed from an All-Pro season as a middle linebacker. Yet, after undergoing surgery on the lateral meniscus in both knees following the 2010 season, he ended up having no takers when Seattle cut him a few days into training camp. He received a couple of invitations to work out. One, he said, appeared simply to be a ploy by a team to pressure its own player into signing. (It worked.) Tatupu said he was a victim of circumstance. Not only did the lockout hurt him, but when he received offers, they were at outside linebacker, which he had never played. He wasn’t sure he could do it. As a result, he sat out the entire season and contemplated retirement. ‘I thought it was over,’ he said. ‘I was ready to send those (retirement) papers in.’ “


Tuesday cyber surfing: A lot less Lutui

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 19:

Dave Boling at the News Tribune checks in with Deuce Lutui, the former bad boy for the Arizona Cardinals who’s here to tell you – and show you – that he’s not that guy anymore. Not all the time anyway: “Now that he wears a Seahawks uniform, fans will note that he’s an Eagle Scout in behavior, a charitable individual, and among the more engaging guys on the team and in the community. Cardinal Hyde and Seahawk Jekyll … ah, the wonders of perspective. ‘I’m a nice guy, a mama’s boy, a sweetheart off the field,’ Lutui said. ‘(On the field) I like to go to my alter ego, you could say.’ ”

Boling also handicaps the three-QB competition for the starting job: “The situation is an obvious upgrade. If it’s (Tarvaris) Jackson who wins the start, it will be because he beat out two other candidates and was not just named the starter, as was the case last season, because the only other choice was incumbent Charlie Whitehurst. If (Matt) Flynn proves an upgrade over Jackson, then that will mean a better balance with a rushing attack that was one of the best in the NFL over the second half of last season. And paired with a top-10 defense that returns 10 starters, that’s a promising situation. If (Russell) Wilson can come in and earn the starting job as a rookie over a pair of veterans, he will have to show the kind of potential that would make him a steal as a third-round draft pick.”

Coach Pete Carroll also discussed the QB situation when the NFL Network caught up with him at A Better L.A. function: “In Around the League’s conversation with the coach, we brought up the widely held belief — despite Carroll’s public insistence otherwise — that Flynn is the favorite to win the job on account of the $10 million in guaranteed money coming his way. Carroll dismissed the notion. ‘It has nothing to do with it. And I’ve said that from the start; I came into the league saying I don’t care how much you guys are getting paid, it’s who plays the best,’ Carroll said. ‘That’s free agency, you know? That’s what that is. That’s what it cost to get him in the free-agent market, but on the field, he ain’t carrying around any money in his pocket.’ “

NFL.com’s 32 in 32 series has gotten to the Seahawks. You can watch the video report here. Spoiler alert: They don’t like the three-man competition at QB or the team’s pass rush.

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at the guidelines that prohibit players from working in football fundamentals together during their extended breaks under the new CBA: “Asked last week if he could foresee a push by the coaches in the league to tweak the format, (Pete) Carroll offered, ‘I think this is going to come from the players. I think if a movement is going to be made at all, the players are going to have to decide what they think is best and what they would like to have. I would be surprised if they think that this is a good thing that they can’t throw the football and play catch out here as quarterbacks and receivers. I don’t think that they’re going to like that because it’s not convenient for them at all. But we’ll find out. It’s up to them.’ ”

The Sports Xchange has the word on the latest stop on Brian Banks’ tryout tour, which included a two-day stint with the Seahawks last week: “Brian Banks’ workout tour continues this week in San Francisco. The 26-year-old inside linebacker is participating in a three-day rookie minicamp with the 49ers. Banks, who was exonerated last month when the alleged victim recanted 10 years after he was convicted, has also worked out for the Seahawks, Chiefs and Chargers.”


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Monday cyber surfing: Father’s Day memories, and quarterbacks

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 18:

To celebrate Father’s Day, we wondered what it was like growing up with Pete Carroll as your father. So we asked Nate Carroll, a defensive assistant on the Seahawks’ coaching staff headed by his father: “On this Father’s Day what better way to salute the father figure of the Seahawks than by taking a stroll down memory lane with the youngest of coach Pete Carroll’s three grown children. Growing up the son of a football coach also can make for some less-than-fond memories, because the occupation can easily lead to preoccupation. But that’s not how Nate remembers it ‘When he came home, it wasn’t ‘head coach dad,’ it was dad,’ said Nate Carroll, now 25 and a defensive assistant on his father’s staff. ‘He could flip the switch when he came home, which was awesome.’ For example? ‘I don’t like saying this, but as a child I used to think my dad wasn’t all that smart because he used to play dumb for me,’ Nate said. ‘I was always too smart for my own good, so I was like, ‘My dad’s just not that smart.’ But I came to realize he was just trying to relate to me as much as possible. It was awesome, and I thank him for that.’ ”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald not only looks at the Seahawks’ three-man QB competition, he warns readers of that fact: “Warning: You are about to read about the Seahawks’ quarterbacks competition. This is not the first time you have read about this topic, nor will it be the last. You will continue to read/see/hear countless stories about Seattle’s three-way QB competition between now and September. So, if you’re already tired of this quarterback talk, well, sorry. Things are only going to get worse in the coming months. Much worse.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we also look at the continuing competition between Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson: “One by one, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson continued to take their turns quarterbacking the No. 1 offense at the Seahawks’ just-concluded three-day minicamp. One at a time, they stepped to the podium this week for post-practice Q&A sessions, where they said all the right things but also made it clear there will be no backing down before coach Pete Carroll and his offensive staff decide just which QB will lead the team in the 2012 season. But no one has yet to take a discernible lead in this arms race. ‘I can’t tell you that there’s anything that’s happened other than to say we’ll stay with the same format going into (training) camp,’ Carroll said Thursday. ‘I don’t think that will change. T-Jack will go first and away we go. But other than that, let the games begin. We’ll be really excited to see what happens.’ ”

We’ve also got a look at how the Seahawks became the Seahawks in our “On This Date” series: “It happened in 1975, when ‘Seahawks’ was selected from 1,741 different names that were suggested by 20,365 entries. ‘It’s overwhelming, simply overwhelming,’ then-managing general partner Herman Sarkowsky said at the time. ‘We expected only about one-tenth this many entries.’ ”

Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. ranks his 10 most versatile players in the NFC, and Leon Washington checks in at No. 10. It’s an Insider feature at ESPN.com, so requires registration and a fee, but here’s what he says about the Washington who plays in Washington: “Entering his eighth season in the NFL, Washington is still a productive player in a lot of areas for the Seahawks. He is most dangerous as a returner (as an outlet receiver, he had a modest 10 receptions), and as a backup running back, he rushed for 248 yards on 53 carries. He is a shifty guy with good open-field elusiveness and dependable hands. He will likely fill in as a third-down back and see more touches in 2012.”

NFL.com celebrated Father’s Day with a photo gallery of fathers and sons, including a three-generation picture of Seahawks tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., his Hall of Fame father and his son, Jalen; and a 2002 photo of Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and his daughter, Courtney.

Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange is reporting that Chris Clemons has “politely declined” the Seahawks’ offer on a contract extension, which is why the defensive end was not at last week’s mandatory minicamp in an under-the-radar move for a player who has produced 11 sacks in each of his first two seasons with the team: “That might have something to do, of course, with the fact that Seahawks play in a part of the country to which many fans don’t pay much attention, and which merits only modest media scrutiny. Or it might be because Clemons, a nine-year veteran who had started only three games with three different franchises in the seven seasons before he arrived in Seattle in 2010, isn’t particularly well-known. That said, it was a fairly significant storyline, especially for a Seattle team that could quietly challenge for a title in the relatively unleavened NFC West.”

But GM John Schneider said in an interview on 950 KJR on Saturday that talks are continuing with the Clemons: ‘ “What I can share with you guys is that we’ve had dialogue with Chris and his agent,’ Schneider said. ‘It’s all been positive. You know, he elected not to come to the camp, that’s his prerogative. He’s got a year left on his contract, he’s very talented, he’s a very important part of what we’re doing. And we’ll try to do what’s in the best interest of the organization. I think the fans recognize that he’s an important part of what we do on defense, and the 12th Man has really helped his game, too, in terms of being filled out at the stadium and allowing him to jump off the ball. Obviously we’d like to extend a number of different guys. We have several unrestricted free agents coming up that we’d like to start working on and he’s a priority.’ ”

And Eric Williams at the News Tribune cites a team source as saying Clemons’ declining the offer never happened: “However, a club source close to the situation contradicted the report, saying the Seahawks have not received a formal rejection on any deal, and the two sides continue to negotiate.”

For a look at the rest of the league, including LaDainian Tomlinson signing with San Diego so he can retire a Charger, there’s Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com. He’s also got more on Brian Banks, the linebacker who had a tryout last week with the Seahawks, including: “When the Chiefs worked out Brian Banks this month, they put him through a scouting combine type of workout, designed to see exactly what kind of athlete he was and potential he had. Banks measured at 6-2 ½ and 239 pounds. He ran a 4.77-second 40-yard dash. There were 33 linebackers at the Scouting Combine in February; 29 ran the 40-yard dash. Banks, who hadn’t worked out seriously before being exonerated May 24 because he never thought he’d ever have a chance to play pro football after 10 years away from the game, ran a faster 40 than eight of the 29 prospects, including running faster than five of the inside linebackers running for their NFL lives in Indianapolis.”


Friday cyber surfing: Observations aplenty from minicamp

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 15:

The Seahawks wrapped up their three-day minicamp on Thursday, and Mike Sando at ESPN.com offers his observations, including: “The Seahawks are loading up rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner with play calls, same as they did for K.J. Wright last season. Wright has been expected to handle the calls this season even though Wagner projects as the middle linebacker in the base defense. That might not be the case, however. Wright smiled and shook his head when asked about continuing to handle all the calls. He’s heard and read the reports suggesting that will be the case. But Wright said Wagner is making the calls. Wright said he expects Wagner to make the calls this season. The Seahawks have options, but for now at least, they want to see what Wagner can handle. Hand strength is one of Wagner’s biggest assets – and an important one for middle linebackers, who must continually operate in heavy traffic.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune looks at the continuing competition for the starting quarterback job: “For now, (coach Pete) Carroll said incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, high-priced free agent addition Matt Flynn and third-round draft pick Russell Wilson will continue to compete for the starting job once the team reconvenes for the opening of training camp in late July. ‘It’s going to take us until we start playing games to see something happen, I think,’ Carroll said. ‘At this point, they’re doing everything they can do with the opportunities. And they look good. I can’t tell you that there’s anything that has happened, other than we’ll stay with the same format going into camp, I don’t think that will change. T-Jack (Jackson) will go first, and away we go. Other than that, let the games begin.’ ”

 
Williams also offers some observations from the final practice: “(Russell) Wilson looked more comfortable working with the first unit offense today. He made a couple impressive throws, but missed on others, including a diving interception by Richard Sherman, who went up high to pull down the ball on a go-route over the outstretched arms of Kris Durham. Wilson also appeared in control, sometimes correcting veteran receivers like Kellen Winslow if he didn’t feel the route was run correctly, something you seldom see a rookie quarterback do.”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times also looks at Wilson’s “turn” to run the No. 1 offense: “Russell Wilson was in the closer’s role Thursday. The rookie quarterback worked with the Seahawks’ first-unit offense on the final day of a mandatory minicamp. He was also the last player off the field after that final practice. ‘I always try to stay after practice,’ Wilson said. ‘Twenty-five more throws, 30 more throws, just to really focus on the throws that I think I either missed that day or things that I can always work on.’ “

Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson offered his assessment of Wilson in this interview on 710 ESPN: “ ‘You don’t look at him as a rookie,’ said Robinson, who finished fifth in Heisman voting and led Penn State to an Orange Bowl win as a senior in 2005. ‘You get the sense that he’s been around for a while, and I think that’s gonna help him going down the road.’ “

Dan Hanzus at NFL.com has the latest on Brian Banks, the exonerated linebacker who had a two-day tryout with the Seahawks: “Banks tweeted Thursday night his next stop is San Francisco, where he’ll take part in the 49ers’ minicamp.”

Doug Farrar of Shutdown Corner takes a longer look at Banks’ two days with the Seahawks at YahooSports.com: “The most impressive thing about Banks from a purely competitive perspective was that after so long away from the game, he looked like an undrafted free agent who would probably come up short on first cuts. That is to say, he didn’t appear to be some schlub who hadn’t played football in years. Banks ran to the ball with average speed in non-contact drills, he showed decent speed and flexibility in his drops, and he certainly appeared to be a step late to the action at times … but given the circumstances, it was pretty darned impressive.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at the conclusion of the minicamp, which also happened to be the conclusion of the offseason program: “(Coach Pete) Carroll is hoping – no, planning – that the improved play down the stretch last season, coupled with an offseason and the infusion of some new talent, will make for a better start to the 2012 season. ‘There’s a good feeling about where we’re going, and we’re excited about it,’ Carroll said. ‘We’re young, and the young guys who started for the first time last year don’t feel like young guys anymore. And that’s a big deal to us, because we need to grow. Being the youngest starting team (in the NFL) last year gives us a chance to really make a big step forward, and we can feel it. There’s a lot of energy about it and it’s a good place to be right now.’ ”

We also take a look at the final practice in our Hawkville recap: “After (Kellen) Winslow made the first of his trio of catches, the veteran tight end had a few choice words for the rest of the defense that was standing along the sideline as he made his way back to the huddle. ‘It’s amazing. He’s definitely brought a different element out there,’ Sherman said. ‘And I think we appreciate it on defense. He makes it real lively out there. When he makes a catch you can hear him. We finally have somebody to go back (and forth) with, because sometimes we’re kind of going back with ourselves – it’s kind of one-sided. They’ll make a catch, then there’ll be a little bit of talk. But it won’t be the kind like we’re doing. But Kellen, we’ll bring some of the trash. … He plays with a lot of swagger, and I like that. I like his style of play.’ ”

There’s also Tony Ventrella’s video recap, as well as video of the Q&A sessions with Carroll, Wilson and Sherman.


Thursday in Hawkville: QB competition to continue in training camp

A recap of the activities on the third – and final – day of the Seahawks’ Bing minicamp:

FOCUS ON

Quarterbacks. After the team’s last practice before training camp opens in late July, reporters had one last chance to ask coach Pete Carroll about the three-armed race for the starting job at the pivotal position.

The best way to continue summing up the situation? To be continued.

“It’s going to take us until we start playing games to see something happen,” Carroll said, referring to the preseason schedule that begins Aug. 11 with a game against the Titans at CenturyLink Field.

“At this point, they’re doing everything they can do with the opportunity. And they look good. So I can’t tell you that there’s anything that’s happened, other than we’ll stay with the same format going into camp.”

That means a rotation involving incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson, free-agent addition Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson – in that order, just as it has been since Wilson threw himself in the competition during the rookie minicamp last month.

Today, it was Wilson’s turn to run the No. 1 offense, after Jackson did it on Tuesday and Flynn had his turn on Wednesday.

Carroll wouldn’t say that he’ll stick with the daily rotation plan, but he did offer, “It’s worked out OK to give them an even shot. That’s the point, is to really make it as evenly competitive as we possibly can. We’ve done that to this point.”

DONNY ON THE SPOT

In a practice filled with impressive plays, none was better than the interception turned in by Donny Lisowski. The rookie cornerback from Montana and Seattle’s O’Dea High School tipped a Flynn pass that was intended for wide receiver Ricardo Lockette near the goal line and then controlled the carom as he was falling to the turf.

“It was press coverage and our No. 1 rule is to stay on top,” said Lisowski, who was signed after getting a tryout at the rookie minicamp. “I stayed on my man after 15 yards. I knew he wasn’t running a comeback, so I turned my head and just made a play on the ball.

“I was just going for the knockdown and I ended up tipping the ball straight up to myself.”

Lisowski’s heads-up play was greeted by hoots and hollers from the No. 1 defense.

Among the other notable efforts: on back-to-back plays, rookie defensive end Cordarro Law got to running back Vai Taua for a 2-yard loss and then produced a rush on third down that forced the play to be whistled dead as a sack; rookie kicker Carson Wiggs drilling a 47-yard field goal; tight end Kellen Winslow flashing open over the middle and then going up to make nice grab of a pass from Flynn; Wilson threading a pass between a pair of defenders to Winslow; Jackson and Winslow hooking up on a 23-yard completion; defensive lineman Pep Levingston tipping a pass incomplete; and cornerback Richard Sherman intercepting a Wilson pass that was intended for wide receiver Kris Durham.

WOOFIN’ ’N BARKIN’

After Winslow made the first of his trio of catches, the veteran tight end had a few choice words for the rest of the defense that was standing along the sideline as he made his way back to the huddle.

“It’s amazing. He’s definitely brought a different element out there,” Sherman said. “And I think we appreciate it on defense. He makes it real lively out there. When he makes a catch you can hear him. We finally have somebody to go back (and forth) with, because sometimes we’re kind of going back with ourselves – it’s kind of one-sided.

“They’ll make a catch, then there’ll be a little bit of talk. But it won’t be the kind like we’re doing. But Kellen, we’ll bring some of the trash. … He plays with a lot of swagger, and I like that. I like his style of play.”

INJURY UPDATES

Carroll said second-year offensive lineman James Carpenter is the only player among the 11 who didn’t practice during this minicamp who is likely to remain sidelined when training camp opens.

“I don’t think he’s going to make it for the start of camp,” Carroll said of Carpenter, who had season-ending knee surgery nine games into his rookie season. “We’re not going to push him for that. That’s not important to us. We want to get him back when he’s right. He’s making good progress at this time. But it will be somewhere down the road from there.”

Third-year cornerback Walter Thurmond “has a chance,” Carroll said, to be ready for the start of camp. Thurmond remains sidelined because of the leg he broke in late October.

THE NORTON AFFECT

Carroll might wield the whistle that controls practice, but the voice that often serves as the metronome for practice belongs to linebackers coach Ken Norton as he praises and also prods “his” players as well as those from other position groups.

Brian Banks, the story-unto-himself linebacker who’s at this camp on a tryout basis, is getting his first taste of the Norton Affect.

“I was waiting for that,” Banks said when asked how it felt to have his position coach, well, yelling at him. “I don’t want anybody to take it easy on me out here. I know I have a lot of work to do and if that’s what’s required, then definitely give it to me. I’m ready for it.”

Banks not only had heard of Norton, he arrived for his workout last week that led to this week’s tryout holding the former Pro Bowl linebacker in the highest regard.

“I’ve heard of his coaching style,” Banks said. “It wasn’t until that day of the tryout that I was on the way up here with one of the (scouts) and he was like, ‘I want to let you know, coach Norton, he’s no joke,’ ” said Banks, smiling. “But you know what? I like that intensity. I like that style of coaching.

“If it’s not right, tell me it’s not right. And if it needs fixing, tell me it needs fixing and let’s fit it together. We’ll get it done. I appreciate that.”

THIS ’N THAT

Former Seahawks and University of Washington safety Lawyer Milloy watched practice from the sideline. … Carroll said no decisions have been made on the six players who attended this camp on a tryout basis, including Banks and veteran wide receiver Antonio Bryant. … Former CFL offensive lineman Edawn Coughman was added to that group today. … Practice ended with two linemen attempting PAT-range field goals. Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin made his; veteran offensive guard Deuce Lutui did not.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’m not scared to face anybody.” – Sherman, laughing, when asked which of the three QBs he was most “scared” to face


Thursday cyber surfing: Banks, of course, but also so much more

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 14:

Brian Banks returned to the Seahawks on Wednesday to begin his two-day tryout, and so did the national media. But there were other stories from the second day of the team’s three-day minicamp.

Eric Williams checks in with Sidney Rice, the wide receiver whose first season with the team was cut short because of a shoulder injury: “ ‘They thought it was just a little tear in the back when they read the first MRI, but once Dr. (James) Andrews got in there, he (saw) that it was an actual, 360 degree tear,’ he said. Rice had the torn labrum in his left shoulder repaired a month and a half later. ‘A lot of slipping out and popping out of place,’ Rice said. ‘Right now, they’re supposed to be brand new shoulders, and we’ll take it from here. Right now I’ve got to regain my strength in my shoulders and get ready for the season.’ Rice has gained 11 pounds of muscle, upping his weight to 209 pounds. Rice said he’d like to arrive at training camp at 215 pounds in order to better handle the pounding of a 16-game season.”

 
Williams also has the word on Banks’ return to a practice field: “ ‘The first day was amazing,’ Banks said. ‘This is just an amazing environment as well, to work out in this kind of weather, right off this water right here, with these coaches and these players. I’m just honored to be our here giving it my all.’ And Banks won over Seattle linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. ‘He made a great first impression,’ Norton said. ‘He’s really bright, really smart. He’s well spoken. And he has a great memory. He remembers everything you tell him. And that’s all a plus at this point.’ ”

 
Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times also looks at Rice’s offseason of recovery: “Sidney Rice’s offseason sounds more like an anatomy lesson. Start with the right shoulder, where he had 11 anchors surgically installed to stabilize the joint. A month and a half later, he underwent a similar procedure on his left shoulder, another 11 anchors installed. Now, after an offseason of rehabilitation, the player signed to be Seattle’s top receiving threat is ready to start reaching for those heights once again. ‘They’re supposed to be brand-new shoulders,’ Rice said.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com looks at what’s at stake for Chris Clemons, who is not attending this week’s mandatory minicamp: “Seattle’s current leadership hasn’t gone through a similar situation since taking over before the 2010 season. The rest of the team will be watching to see how the Seahawks respond. Coach Pete Carroll has made it clear through his public comments that the team values Clemons’ contributions. These situations are usually personal from the player’s perspective. It’s easier to reach a solution when the team takes the high road.”

Jason LaCanfora at CBSSports.com takes a bigger-picture look at Banks’ quest: “Bruce and Ryan Tollner had pretty much seen it all, spending their entire lives around football, running an agency with over 65 years of combined experience guiding careers and placing players with NFL teams. But nothing could truly prepare them for the events of the past three weeks. They’re facing one of the more daunting and unprecedented challenges of their careers — unquestionably one of their more rewarding endeavors — and enjoying every minute of the task. You see, the Tollners have been charged with directing the football career of Brian Banks, an extraordinary young man who is jetting around the country for tryouts having recently been exonerated of a false rape charge. The story has international appeal, and the response to Banks — a once-promising college football prospect who was away from the game for nearly 10 years due to this tragedy of justice — from the NFL community has been overwhelming. The demands for media (Banks, 26, has appeared on The Jay Leno Show, among others) and the difficulty of juggling so many requests from NFL teams has kept the Tollners, who are cousins, quite busy during what is normally a mostly dormant time in the NFL business calendar.”

Tim Booth at the Associated Press has the details on Banks’ first day: “The tryout candidate wearing No. 43 in white got yelled at when he screwed up, praised when he did something correct and treated just like the rest of the 80 or so Seahawks players on the field Wednesday. Being exactly like the peers around him never felt so rewarding to Brian Banks. ‘’It was more overwhelming than I thought,’’ Banks said. ‘’I had high hopes and dreams of being out here today and just to finally be out here, to have this helmet on, to have this name on the back of this jersey, to be a part of this team for a day, it’s more than I could ever imagine.’ ”

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times also was on hand to see the first day of Banks’ tryout: “Brian Banks is living a childhood dream (and probably a Hollywood screenplay), but he faces long odds of garnering an invitation to training camp from the Seattle Seahawks. Banks, the former Long Beach Poly linebacker who spent five years in jail after being falsely accused of rape, participated in Seahawks minicamp Wednesday and plans to do so Thursday. If the team doesn’t sign him to a deal that assures him of a spot in training camp, he will fly to Minnesota later Thursday to work out for the Vikings. Already, he has made trips to San Diego and Kansas City to audition for those teams.”

Bob and Groz at 710 ESPN also have been impressed by the way Banks has handled himself – on and off the field – as you can hear in this report at mynorthwest.com.

Adam Rank at NFL.com selects his 1992 Dream Team, and of course Hall of Fame-bound Cortez Kennedy is featured in the photo gallery that also includes Reggie White, Jerome Brown and John Randle on the D-line: “Kennedy, who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012, had perhaps his finest season in 1992, when he recorded 14 sacks. Kennedy and Randle would clog the middle.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at the Seahawks’ unusual-looking defense through the eyes of tackle Alan Branch: “ ‘The coaches definitely knew what they were doing when they put this defense together,’ Branch said Wednesday, after the second practice in the team’s three-day minicamp. ‘When they put us all together they had a good thought of what can happen, and they kind of got a glimpse of that last season.’ Did they ever. In addition to that No. 9 ranking – only the sixth time in franchise history that the Seahawks have fielded a Top 10 unit – the defense also ranked No. 7 in average points allowed. (Earl) Thomas was voted to the Pro Bowl and (Brandon) Brandon and (Kam) Chancellor joined him as injury-replacement alternates. Browner (two) and (Red) Bryant returned interceptions for touchdowns; while Browner (six), (Richard) Sherman (four) and Chancellor (four) combined for 14 of the team’s 22 picks. After years of talking about playing more aggressively, the Seahawks actually went out and did it.”

We also take a look at Wednesday’s practice in our Hawkville report, including one exchange between Flynn and Thomas that the free safety won: “Flynn got a taste of just how much closing speed Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas processes. It happened on a deep throw to wide receiver Deon Butler that instead ended up in the hands of Thomas. ‘I got first-hand experience to see how fast Earl was today,’ Flynn said. ‘I get a two-minute situation and I’ve Deon streaking down and I throw it. I’m thinking, ‘That might be a touchdown.’ Then all of a sudden I see this flash like come across. I don’t think I’ve had a DB back there, especially at safety, with that kind of speed.’ ”

There’s also Tony Ventrella’s video recap, as well as video of the Q&A sessions with Flynn and Banks.


Wednesday in Hawkville: An ‘overwhelming’ experience for Banks

A recap of the activities on the second day of the Seahawks’ three-day Bing minicamp:

FOCUS ON

Brian Banks. The latest stop on his exoneration tour was a return to Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where Banks began a two-day tryout with the Seahawks after he worked out for the team last Thursday.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to have a number or a jersey,” said Banks, who was wearing No. 43. “I didn’t know what to expect when I first got here. I got to my locker and saw that there was a jersey in it and I just wanted to take a picture of it just for myself.

“It was amazing just to see my name on the back of it. It’s just an honor. It’s an honor to be taken serious and to be given this opportunity.”

In between trips to Seattle, Banks worked out for the Chargers on Friday and the Chiefs on Tuesday. It’s all part of trying to regain his life – and his love for football – after spending 62 months in prison for being wrongly accused of rape.

Today, Banks worked at middle linebacker with the No. 3 defense, flanked by Mike Morgan and Kyle Knox – who, like Banks, is at this minicamp on a tryout basis.

“This is the NFL – the best of the best – so it’s going to be really tough for him,” linebackers coach Ken Norton said. “Just the fact that he came out here and gave it a shot and didn’t shy away from it, you’ve got to give him a plus for that.

“But again, this is the best of the best, the highest level of athlete, and he’s been out of it for 10 years. So it’s going to be really, really tough. … Right now, he has a chance. But it’s going to be really, really tough.”

That’s all Banks is asking: An opportunity to make up for lost time. So today was a huge step for him.

“It was more overwhelming than I thought,” Banks said. “I had high hopes and dreams of being out here today. And then just to finally be out here, to have this helmet on, to have my name on the back of this jersey, to be a part of this team for a day, it’s more than I could ever imagine.”

What’s next for Banks? Another practice, as the Seahawks conclude their minicamp on Thursday. After that?

“What I take from it all, the advice that I appreciate the most, is just enjoy the moment,” Banks said. “Enjoy the moment – if it’s for one day, if it’s for the whole season, if it’s for however long. Just enjoy the moment.

“I’ve already won. I have my freedom. That’s what’s most important to me. Making this team is just an additional blessing to this freedom.”

POSITION WATCH

Quarterback. Today was Matt Flynn’s turn to run the No. 1 offense in the three-way competition for the starting job that also includes Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson.

Flynn admitted that while it is a competition, it’s not a cut-throat situation as he vies with Jackson, the incumbent starter; and Wilson, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft.

“I don’t think we look at it like we’re going against each other,” said Flynn, who was signed in free agency after serving as Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay the past four seasons. “We’re trying to help each other out. If they made a good throw, I’m the first one there telling them good job. So it’s not like any bad blood coming out here – where we’re on the field and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m going against you.’

“It’s not like that. Everybody’s trying to compete. Everybody’s trying to get better. And everybody’s trying to make the team better. I think that’s really the overall goal.”

SECONDARY THOUGHTS

Flynn got a taste of just how much closing speed Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas processes. It happened on a deep throw to wide receiver Deon Butler that instead ended up in the hands of Thomas.

“I got first-hand experience to see how fast Earl was today,” Flynn said. “I get a two-minute situation and I’ve Deon streaking down and I throw it. I’m thinking, ‘That might be a touchdown.’ Then all of a sudden I see this flash like come across.

“I don’t think I’ve had a DB back there, especially at safety, with that kind of speed.”

LOOKING GOOD

In addition to Thomas’ out-of-nowhere interception, other practice highlights included nickel back Marcus Trufant slapping away a pass intended for wide receiver Doug Baldwin; wide receiver Charly Martin going up between cornerback Ron Parker and safety Winston Guy to pull down a touchdown pass from Wilson; Guy making a last-second tip of a pass just as it was settling into the hands of wide receiver Phil Bates; tight end Kellen Winslow grabbing a low pass from Jackson for an 18-yard gain; defensive lineman Pep Levingston getting to running back Robert Turbin for a 1-yard loss; and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner reaching around running back Marshawn Lynch to deflect a pass.

ON THE MEND

Eleven players are not practicing as they continue their rehabs from offseason surgeries or more recent injuries: wide receivers Golden Tate, Mike Williams and Jermaine Kearse; offensive lineman James Carpenter; defensive lineman Monte Taylor; linebackers Barrett Ruud, Malcolm Smith and Jameson Konz; and defensive backs Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell and Chris Maragos.

Tate has what coach Pete Carroll calls “a very slight, little crack” in a bone on his right hand, adding the left-handed Tate could play if there was a game this week. Williams is “close” to returning, Carroll said, and should be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July. Ruud is “very close,” in Carroll’s words, and he also should be ready for training camp.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I can’t even imagine. So I wouldn’t be doing justice if I talked about it because I can’t imagine what he’s been through and what he’s feeling just being out here now.” – Flynn, when asked his thoughts on Banks’ situation