Seahawks wrap up Phase 1 of offseason program

Pete Carroll

The Seahawks concluded Phase 1 of their offseason program today, and it proved to be a win-win experience.

“The thing that I really believe is that they came in better prepared this offseason than they had in previous offseasons,” said head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, who came to the Seahawks from USC with coach Pete Carroll in 2010.

“It goes to the type of guys coach Carroll and (GM) John Schneider are bringing in. They’re bringing in not only five-star athletes, but they’re bring in five-star people that understand what it takes and what they need to do to prepare at the highest level. Then the competition is so good on this team, they know they’ve got to come in ready to go because we’ll bring in 10 more guys with this rookie class that will be ready to go. That’s a big factor in the current players coming in ready to go.”

The players concurred with Carlisle’s assessment of the past two weeks, when Carlisle and his staff oversaw the conditioning aspects four days each week and the assistant coaches also had classroom time with the players to prepare for Phase 2 – which kicks off Monday and allows the players to be on the practice fields with the coaches.

“The first phase went really well,” linebacker K.J. Wright said. “As for the workouts with Coach C, I feel I got in better condition and more toned up. And it was also good to see all the guys back. So it went real well.”

Phase 1 was important for the defensive players because it gave them an introduction into the schemes that will be used by first-year coordinator Dan Quinn, the team’s D-line coach in 2009-10 who has returned after two years as the coordinator at the University of Florida.

“We had install sessions, and had to get all that taken care of,” Wright said. “Coach Quinn did a really good job of teaching us and we have a good grasp of it.”

Phase 2 will include four non-OTA (organized team activities) workouts for the next three weeks, as well as the rookie minicamp May 10-12. Phase 3 begins May 20 and will include 10 OTA workouts and conclude with the mandatory minicamp June 11-13.


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Seahawks kickoff offseason program today

Offseason Workout

Year Two in the Brave New World of the NFL offseason begins this morning for the Seahawks.

As was the case last year, complements of the CBA that came out of the 136-day lockout in 2011, the Seahawks’ program is starting later and will be divided into three phases. Everything begins with a team meeting this morning, followed by the players taking a series of functional movement tests that were initiated last year by director of health and player performance Sam Ramsden to help determine just what it is individual players need to work on as the offseason progresses.

“I thought everything went well last year under the new guidelines,” said Chris Carlisle, the Seahawks’ head strength and conditioning coach. “We’re going to compete in everything we do, and we’re going to do it better than it’s ever been done.”

Carlisle then smiled before adding, “You’ve never heard those words come out of anyone’s mouth, have you?”

Well yes, because those are cornerstones phrases in the philosophy of coach Pete Carroll.

“We’re very excited to get started,” Carlisle said. “I look forward to seeing the guys come back and seeing where they’re at physically. And you gauge your program accordingly to where they’re at.”

During Phase 1, the players will work four times a week for two weeks with Carlisle and his staff – Jamie Yanchar and Mondray Gee. In Phase 2, which begins April 29 and runs through May 17, Carroll and his staff will get involved on a limited basis for on-field drills.

There also is a rookie minicamp May 10-12.

Phase 3, which begins May 20, will include 10 OTA workouts and conclude with a mandatory minicamp June 11-13.

“The first year, it was getting used to me – what my program was compared to what they’d done in the past,” said Carlisle, who came to the Seahawks from USC with Carroll in 2010. “The second year, we actually had nothing (during the lockout). Last year, it was getting used to the new CBA.

“This year, it should be a lot smoother.”

The offseason program might begin later than in the pre-lockout period, but the Seahawks were able to make the most of their reduced time last year – when they posted the third-best regular-season record in club history (11-5) and won the franchise’s first road playoff game since 1983.

“I kind of like the way it went,” strong safety Kam Chancellor said. “We started out with the whole team just working out together, pushing each other to get stronger, faster, quicker, smarter in the classroom. Then you just keep progressing to the minicamp. Being together in the voluntary workouts, we know how to push each other, we know our strengths and weaknesses.

“So the way it is now, with the progressive stages, it’s a better route.”


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On this date: Cortez Kennedy elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Cortez Kennedy

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 4:

1990: Dave Krieg completes 15 of 23 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 27-21. Jerry Gray, a cornerback for the Rams who would go on to coach the Seahawks’ defensive backs in 2010, is named MVP after returning an interception 51 yards for a TD and also registering seven tackles. Rufus Porter (two tackles) and Brian Blades (one reception) also represent the Seahawks in the game.

1996: Chris Warren leads the NFC with 43 rushing yards, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 20-13.

1998: Jim Johnson is named linebackers coach on Dennis Erickson’s staff. Johnson remains for only one season before becoming the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, but his impact on the Seahawks’ defense is apparent even after he leaves.

2010: First-year coach Pete Carroll announces his staff: Jeremy Bates (offensive coordinator), Gus Bradley (defensive coordinator), Brian Schneider (special teams coordinator), Kippy Brown (wide receivers), Luke Butkus (quality control/offensive line), Dave Canales (quality control/offense), Chris Carlisle (head strength and conditioning), Jedd Fisch (quarterbacks), Mondray Gee (assistant strength and conditioning), Alex Gibbs (offensive line), Jerry Gray (defensive backs), Kris Richard (assistant defensive backs), Rocky Seto (quality control/defense), Sherman Smith (running backs), Jeff Ulbrich (assistant special teams), Art Valero (assistant offensive line) and Jamie Yancher (assistant strength and conditioning).

2012: Cortez Kennedy, in his seventh year of eligibility and fourth year as a finalist, is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the NFL Team of the Decade for the 1990s as a defensive tackle, Kennedy joins Steve Largent as the only career-long Seahawks player in the Hall.


Thursday cyber surfing: Wilson a ‘star in the making’

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 28:

Mike Sando at ESPN.com passes along an interesting – and possibly insightful – comment on rookie QB Russell Wilson from Tony Softli, a former personnel evaluator for the Panthers and Rams: “(Matt) Flynn will have his hands full in a training camp competition against this star in the making.” The item also includes this pre-draft assessment from Football Outsiders of the player who ended up being the Seahawks’ third-round choice: “Considering the examples from Wilson’s junior year in the Atlantic Coast Conference where he’s effective on deep passes off play-action, throws receivers open, and improvises on the move, his potential to develop into an NFL quarterback is better than his height may indicate,” (Matt) Waldman wrote. “Still, it is reasonable to approach Wilson’s NFL prospects with skepticism. (Drew) Brees never overcame doubts from the organization that drafted him. … However, as Brees, Tom Brady, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner, and several others have demonstrated, careers don’t end due to an inauspicious beginning.”

Sando also offers his thoughts on KC Joyner’s thought that cornerback Brandon Browner is among the most overrated players in the league: “Joyner pointed to the Seahawks cornerback’s league-high penalty count (19) as one indicator. He also used various coverage metrics to suggest Browner wasn’t all that good in coverage, either. I might have considered Browner’s teammate, Richard Sherman, as a superior choice to represent the NFC at season’s end. Pro Bowl voting was completed before then, of course. While Browner did commit too many penalties, those flags represented something positive, as well. Browner continually harassed opposing receivers near the line of scrimmage. Overrated or not, he was a pain to play against.” I’ll second that, and also point out that Browner led the NFL with 23 passes defensed.

And still more from Sando, he offers his “hidden treasure” for the NFC West teams and tabs the wide receivers for the Seahawks: “The Seahawks haven’t sent a player to the Pro Bowl as a full-time wide receiver since Brian Blades made it following the 1989 season. That streak appears unlikely to end anytime soon. The team invested virtually nothing in the position this offseason. A few questions persist – for example, what does Mike Williams have in store? – but with so much attention on quarterbacks and the Seattle defense, wide receiver gets my vote as a Seahawks position group that could surprise.” The Seahawks have had only two wide-outs voted to the Pro Bowl in franchise history – Steve Largent (seven times) and Blades (once).

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at rookie offensive linemen J.R. Sweezy and Rishaw Johnson: “… There are going to be the rookies to consider, and yes, that’s going to be rookies with an ‘s’ to indicate plural. The Seahawks chose J.R. Sweezy from North Carolina State in the seventh round, and have converted him from defensive tackle into an offensive guard. When the rookie minicamp ended in early May, coach Pete Carroll gave a very positive review. … The other rookie who made a strong first impression was Rishaw Johnson, an undrafted free agent signed from California (Pa.) University, which is the same college where the Seahawks found quarterback Josh Portis a year ago.”

With school out for the summer, Pat Kirwan at CBSSports.com offers a final examine to test your retention of what happened during the 2011 NFL season: “Think you remember how it all happened? Want to test your memory and maybe learn a thing or two? Have some fun taking this 21-question, multiple-choice (guess?) quiz.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at the last of the team’s offseason workouts – and the nine rookie free agents who concluded the program this week: “Rookie free agents do face the longest of odds, as (strength and conditioning coach Chris) Carlisle said, in their attempts to earn spots on the 53-man roster or practice squad. But the Seahawks always have been good to undrafted rookies, and vice versa. The team’s honor roll of longest-odds beaters includes Ring of Honor quarterback Dave Krieg; free safety Eugene Robinson, the franchise’s all-time leading tackler; nose tackle Joe Nash, special teamer/linebacker Rufus Porter and fullback Mack Strong, who all played in the Pro Bowl during their careers and, like Robinson, were voted to the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team; and Doug Baldwin, the team’s leading receiver last season. ‘There are a lot of guys who came in as free-agent rookies who play in the Pro Bowl, who were Super Bowl champions, that are in Canton (at the Pro Football Hall of Fame) right now that have gone from didn’t-have-a-chance to being pretty darn special,’ Carlisle said. Carlisle’s history lesson did not fall on deaf ears. ‘This is a program that kind of breeds these undrafted free agents, and that fact is very encouraging,’ said (tight end Sean) McGrath, who was heading back to Henderson State University in Arkansas to pack up the last of his left-behind belongings before going home to the Chicago area. ‘Anything can happen. You’ve just got to put your mind to it and keep working hard.’ ”


That’s a wrap for Week 1 of Phase 1

The Seahawks wrapped up the first week of their offseason program today, and saying that strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle was happy with the players’ efforts tells only part of the story.

“I am very, very, very happy with the way things are going, the way they came in with the desire to work,” Carlisle said. “That’s evident. Our leadership is in place, with the players who are leading the effort, and the younger guys are learning from those older guys on how we do things here.”

Which is up-tempo. It’s how coach Pete Carroll practices. It’s how Carlisle and his staff – Jamie Yanchar and Mondray Gee – are conducting the weight-training and other conditioning drills that comprise the Phase 1 workouts.

“If you talk to some of the new guys, the biggest thing they mention is that the tempo is much different than they’re used to,” Carlisle said. “The tempo we run here is much quicker, and the reason why is our practice tempo is much quicker than most programs.”

Phase 1 of the revamped offseason program continues – and concludes – next week with workouts scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Phase 2, when the players can be on the field with the coaches, kicks off April 30.

A primary purpose of Phase 1 is to make sure the players are ready to make a seamless transition to the next phase, and the next phase and so on as the delayed and condensed offseason progresses.

“In order to get us ready to play at the highest level, we’ve got to prepare at the highest level,” Carlisle said. “You prepare at the highest level, to practice at the highest level, so you can play at the highest level. That’s something Pete told me back when we first got together in 2001 (at USC).”

It’s a method that Carlisle is preaching to the players – in words and actions. It’s a message that is being received.

“This first week has gone pretty well,” cornerback Roy Lewis said. “Coming in under the new rules of the new CBA, the program is conducive to trying to be successful early – as early as possible. The players do appreciate the time constraints, because we get out and still have time in our day, but we do get our work in.

“That’s the beauty of it.”


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Tuesday cyber surfing: Big Walt No. 1 at No. 6

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, April 17:

The best-ever No. 6 pick in the first round of the NFL Draft? It was Walter Jones, who came to the Seahawks with that selection on 1997. Says who? Elliott Harrison, in this photo essay at NFL.com: “The sixth spot in the order has produced some guys who imposed their will on games … James Lofton (1978), John Riggins (1971) and Floyd Little (1967) were all picked just outside of their respective draft’s top five. But none of them — or any sixth pick — dominated the way Jones did. The former Seahawks left tackle was a nine-time Pro Bowler and at one time was the very best in the game.”

The Seahawks receive a B for their free-agency activity from Alex Marvez at FoxSports.com: “The Seahawks did a far better job than Miami in courting Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn, who will now compete with Tarvaris Jackson for a starting spot. The re-signing of running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant insured Seattle will keep two of their best players. … The Seahawks must hope they’ve made a better talent evaluation with Flynn than Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. Both were backups from other teams that failed to cement themselves as starters when given the chance in Seattle.”

With the NFL to announce the 2012 schedule today, Mike Sando at ESPN.com has some simple requests for the Seahawks, including: “Fewer earliest possible kickoffs, please. Seattle played five games at 10 a.m. PT last season. The Seahawks actually won two of them, but teams traveling West to East have long complained about the challenges associated with playing so early. They would much rather play later no matter how well certain Western teams have fared in these games at various times.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at the start of the team’s offseason program, which began with a series of screening tests: “The Seahawks’ offseason program began Monday, but not with the pop of shoulder pads or even a tweet from coach Pete Carroll’s whistle. What the players did on their first day back after an extended break – complements of the new CBA which ended the 136-day lockout that erased the offseason last year – was complete a series of screening tests that will allow head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and his staff to personalize the weight training that will be Tuesday. ‘They say it helps them know what your body can and can’t do, and give them ways they can help improve you,” said Lemuel Jeanpierre, who started the final four games at right guard and another at center last season. ‘Different people have different needs, like maybe with your flexibility. So you go in there and try to give them your best, because we know what’s coming up this offseason.’ ”

Tony Ventrella also takes a look at the activity in this video report.

Jason Cole at YahooSports.com takes a look at the offseason to this point, including the winners and losers in free agency and the best free agents still available: “In an offseason dominated by a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Pro Bowl defensive player changing teams, not to mention a raging controversy about bounties, important issues still linger going into next week’s NFL draft. One is a premier quarterback negotiating what will likely be the biggest contract in league history. Another is a top all-around running back working out a new deal under the threat of sitting out the season.”


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Phase 1 of offseason program begins

The Seahawks will begin their offseason program this morning, but the schedule and activities have been altered from those during coach Pete Carroll’s first two years with the team.

In 2010, the Seahawks were afforded a third minicamp under the NFL’s old offseason schedule because Carroll was a first-year coach. Last year, the 136-day lockout erased the entire offseason.

Today, Phase 1 of the revamped system created by the new CBA begins with a brief team meeting followed by the players doing testing and screening with head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and his staff. No other coaches will be allowed to work with the players during the Phase 1 period that will last two weeks.

The players will take to the practice fields for the first time on Tuesday, with sessions also scheduled for Thursday and Friday. But the on-field activities will not be practices, as the offense and defense will work out at different times.

The rest of the coaching staff will get involved in Phase 2, another two-week period which begins April 30 and also includes four sessions per week.

Phase 3 begins May 21 and includes 10 OTA sessions spread over three weeks as well as a mandatory minicamp in June.


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Friday cyber surfing: On Baldwin and Bryant

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Feb. 10:

Doug Baldwin did a live chat with the News Tribune on Thursday, and had this to say about which teammate helped him the most during his rookie season: “Mike Williams. His knowledge of the game of football is impressive. And he has helped me to understand the key to reading defenses.”

Brock Huard at 710 ESPN explains in this video report why re-signing defensive end Red Bryant should be a priority in free agent: “The Seahawks, in theory, have options at defensive end beyond Bryant. But as Brock Huard explains in Thursday’s Wrap Up video, Bryant’s familiarity with the organization should make him more attractive to the Seahawks than defensive ends with similar ability.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at the team’s new offseason schedule, the third in as many years: “The offseason program will begin in April, a month later than in 2010; there will be fewer than half as many OTA sessions, and they also begin later (May); and the team will hold only one mandatory, full-squad minicamp (June). It’s a brave new world in the NFL, as well as at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, and only the well-prepared will thrive. ‘We’ve anticipated it, so we’re prepared for it,’ head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said on Thursday.”

Mike Sando dipped into his mailbag at ESPN.com to answer a question about whether Pro Football Hall of Famers were disproportionately early draft choices: “Yes, that is definitely the case. The Hall of Fame lists them by round. I also track this information. By my count, 143 of 188 drafted Hall of Famers were chosen in the first three rounds. That is 76.1 percent. That includes 94 first-round selections, 29 second-rounders and 20 third-rounders.”

Pete Prisco at CBSSports.com ranks his Top 50 free agents and sitting at No. 10 is Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant: “He had eight starts in his first three seasons, but started 16 in 2011 and was a force on the Seattle defense. He is a perfect 3-4 end, which is where he played last season. He is this year’s Ray McDonald. He turns 28 in April.” At No. 42 is running back Marshawn Lynch: “He has rejuvenated his career in Seattle after being a disappointment in Buffalo in his last two seasons. He ran for 1,204 yards last season for the Seahawks and he only turns 26 in March.”

As for the give-us-this-day-our-daily-Peyton-Manning item, Michael Lombardi at NFL.com douses all the talk about which team might sign the Colts’ iconic QB if/when he is released: “I think it’s unrealistic to assume (he can return). He can’t throw the ball. I’ve talked to people who’ve caught the ball for him. He can’t throw the ball to his left. He can’t throw the ball across his body, because he doesn’t feel it. People who catch the ball for him say he doesn’t really have velocity on the ball yet.”

But that doesn’t stop Ryan Fowler of WhatIfSports.com from playing the what-if game regarding Manning in this piece at FoxSports.com: “Peyton Manning’s last offensive drive included passes to Jacob Tamme and Blair White with a dash of Joseph Addai on the ground. That 2010 Wild Card game against the Jets seems like eons ago, not only for Colts fans, but your casual NFL fan, too. His last drive is a microcosm of what the elder Manning brought to the line every single down. He possesses the innate ability to raise the game of those around him. From Tamme to White to Austin Collie to Pierre Garcon, Manning has made an art out of creating chicken soup from chicken droppings. Up until now, all 13 professional seasons, this maestro’s magic hat featured a horseshoe emblazoned on the side.”


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Cyber surfing: Monday

Good afternoon. Here’s what was “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 23, and also over the weekend:

Eric Williams of the New Tribune checks in with strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, whose domain has been very quiet this offseason. Says Carlisle, “I hate not being around the athletes and not being able to work with them. But instead, I’ve spent time reading, researching and figuring out how to do it better at this level than it’s been done before. And that kind of carries on what Pete (Carroll) talks about.”

ESPN’s John Clayton lists the Seahawks re-signing QB Matt Hasselbeck among the Top 10 biggest deals that need to get done once the work stoppage is over. Clayton has the Hasselbeck-back-to-the-Seahawks move at No. 3, offering, “Hasselbeck is aging but managed to get Pete Carroll a playoff win last season, and the Seahawks are more than a quarterback away from 10 wins. Giving up draft picks in a trade for a signal-caller would rob Carroll of the chance to draft key players for the long term, so bringing Hasselbeck back is the best option for Seattle.”

Even with Carroll and GM John Schneider determined to get younger as they move into their second season together, it’s difficult to disagree that re-signing Hasselbeck is the right move.

Mike Sando, also at ESPN.com, also weighs in on the Seahawks’ QB situation, with only backup Charlie Whitehurst under contract. Sando explains why Whitehurst didn’t get a longer look in his first season with the team and also points out that the dynamic has changed for this season with the additions of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and line coach Tom Cable. Says Sando: “Seattle wants to develop its identity around the running game, taking pressure off the quarterback.”

Sando also has delusional storylines for each NFC West team from the 2010 season. For the Seahawks, he offers: “Alex Gibbs’ addition as offensive line coach will help Seattle build an identity through the running game.” That never happened, of course, because Gibbs retired the weekend before the season opener and injuries again decimated the line.

Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News Today looks at the cornerbacks who will be available once free agency begins, as well as the in-needed teams. He links the Seahawks with the Steelers’ Ike Taylor, who is 6 feet 2, but also 31. Offers Iyer: “They are sorely lacking physicality and speed, and should consider going after Taylor.”

Iyer also points out that the Seahawks used fifth- and sixth-round picks in the recent NFL Draft to select two corners – Stanford’s Richard Sherman and Clemson’s Byron Maxwell. But he forgot last year’s fourth-round pick: Walter Thurmond. The former University of Oregon corner has the size (5-11, 190) and speed Carroll wants to feature in the secondary, and will challenge for a starting job.

Peter King doesn’t have anything Seahawks in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com, but it’s a good read anyway – as always.

And with the lockout entering its 69th day, here’s your daily dose of rhetoric: The players likening the league to a “cartel” in their latest court filing. You can read about it in this report from the Associated Press that was carried on several websites.

The owners, meanwhile, are gathering today in Indianapolis for their annual spring meeting. Player safety is on the agenda, in addition to you-know-what.


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