Seahawks sign Will Blackmon

Will Blackmon

The Seahawks have signed kick returner and cornerback Will Blackmon, it was announced today, and there will be no need for wholesale introductions when the 28-year-old joins the team.

The 6-foot, 210-pound Blackmon was selected in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Packers, when Seahawks GM John Schneider was working in Green Bay’s front office. Blackmon returned a punt and a fumble for touchdowns in a game against the Raiders in 2007, when Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable was the line coach in Oakland. Blackmon also had punt returns for scores in both games against the Vikings in 2008, when Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell held the same position in Minnesota.

Blackmon’s career was then hampered by knee and ankle injuries, which prompted his release by the Packers (2010) and Giants (2011). He was out of the league last year, when he played for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena League.

His best season came in 2008, when he averaged 11.1 yards returning punts, 21.0 yards returning kickoffs and also produced a career-high 35 tackles.


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On this date: Tom Cable, Darrell Bevell hired

Darrell Bevell, Tom Cable

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on Jan. 18:

2011: Tom Cable (assistant head coach/offensive line), Darrell Bevell (offensive coordinator) and Todd Wash (defensive line) are added to Pete Carroll’s staff, while Kris Richard (defensive backs) and Rocky Seto (assistant defensive backs) are promoted to new posts. Also, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is relieved of his duties after one season with the team.


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Friday cyber surfing: Seahawks-Falcons previews and predictions

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today – “Seahawks Blue Friday” – January 11.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Seahawks general manager John Schneider, “As much as coach Pete Carroll has molded this team on the field, Schneider is the one responsible for picking out the raw materials, whether it’s finding a top-shelf pass rusher like Chris Clemons on the nether regions of another team’s roster or picking a potential franchise quarterback like Russell Wilson in the third round. It’s Schneider who reports to owner Paul Allen when 2010 fourth-round pick E.J. Wilson doesn’t work out and Schneider and the scouts who have steered the Seahawks to starter after starter in the draft. ‘I owe so much to John Schneider and what he’s done,’ Carroll said last week. ‘He’s been extraordinary in supporting me, and allowing me to do the things that I want to do and how we want to do it with players that complement it in always a competitive, active approach to what everyone is doing.’ “

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has a look at Russell Wilson’s competitiveness as a lead blocker, “Sometimes Wilson blocking for the Seahawks has made good sense tactically, Carroll added. Coming off a read option, the quarterback is often in a “crucial spot” during the play to make a difference. Part of it, also, is Wilson’s competitiveness. ‘Every play for him, he plays it to the end,’ said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The key? Just use your head. ‘Which I don’t have to remind him,’ Carroll said. ‘He knows. He really does have a sense for it and he’s not going to bloody his nose laying somebody out. He’s going to try and make a block though and make a difference.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Seahawks will look to improve in the red zone this week against the Falcons, “During the regular season, the Seahawks were No. 2 in red-zone efficiency (second to only Houston), finishing 51 of 54 inside the 20-yard line (94.4), including 31 touchdowns and 20 field goals. The Seahawks were one of two NFL teams not to commit a turnover in that span. However, things changed in Seattle’s first playoff game at Washington. The Seahawks finished 1 of 6 inside Washington’s 20-yard line, settling for three Steven Hauschka field goals. Marshawn Lynch also lost a fumble near Washington’s goal line, and Wilson almost threw an interception on a pass intended for Doug Baldwin. ‘We believe it’s critical every week and we didn’t do a good enough job last week in the red zone,’ Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ‘We got down there a lot, but we weren’t able to convert them into touchdowns. That’s a focal point each and every week. We need to focus that we’re turning those into seven points, which really helps our defense. If we can get teams behind, obviously any team’s defense is going to be able to play better when they’re in the lead. So we need to keep working there.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald previews the matchup between Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Falcons receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, “Football, perhaps more than any sport, can come down to a chess match between coaches; to one team exploiting another team’s weakness; to neutralizing another team’s strength. But sometimes, football at its best is a one-on-one battle where the outcome of a play, or maybe even a game, comes down to which player does his job better at a given moment. And if ever there was potential for some exciting mano-a-mano matchups, it would be in Sunday’s playoff matchup between Atlanta and Seattle when two of the NFL’s biggest, most-physical corners line up across from two of the league’s most productive receivers, who aren’t exactly known for shying away from physical play. ‘What a matchup this week is, wow,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘They’ve got great receivers. Roddy and Julio. Those guys are fantastic players. You’re going to see the biggest, longest looking guys going one-on-one out there. It’s going to be really a great matchup to watch, and our guys are going to try and play really good football — just like we always do — and not change anything. They’re so good, so it’s going to be an interesting aspect of this game.’ “

Boyle also passes along Thursday’s injury report for both the Seahawks and Falcons, noting running back Marshawn Lynch sat out practice again with a foot injury, “For the second day in a row, the Seahawks practiced without running back Marshawn Lynch, who is listed with a foot injury. Pete Carroll did not mention Lynch when asked Wednesday about injuries from Sunday’s game, so there’s a good chance the injury is not serious, but we should know a lot more Friday.”

Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing for 710Sports.com, asks which team would you rather be right now, the Seahawks or Falcons? “Which team would you rather be? The Falcons are 13-3 but lost twice in December and haven’t won a game since Dec. 22. They lost their last game of the year at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team they tried to beat by leaving their starters in for most of the game. Atlanta’s high-powered offense managed just 278 yards and didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter that day. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have put together one of the most impressive runs not only in franchise history, but NFL history. They outscored opponents 193-60 in December and, unlike the Falcons, put up some impressive numbers during that stretch.”

Brock Huard of 710Sports.com passes along his latest “Chalk Talk“, breaking down Marshawn Lynch’s 27-yard touchdown run in last Sunday’s Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press highlights the matchup between the Seahawks corners and Falcons wideouts, “Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game between Seattle and Atlanta will feature a fascinating matchup between Sherman and fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and the Falcons’ receiving duo of White and Jones. It’s the big, physical cornerbacks of the Seahawks, who because of their skills allow Seattle’s defense to be unique, against the big, physical and fast star receivers of the Falcons who make the offense go. ‘I expect our guys to try to play like they always play. They don’t need to change anything because we’re not doing anything different, we’re going to try and hang with them, and we’ll find out what happens,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘This is probably the best pair and pair that you could match up, and because of the size, and because of their physical nature in the way that they play, it’s going to be really exciting to see.’ “

ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” to talk about the divisional round game between the Seahawks and Falcons, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Thursday, “WR Julio Jones, WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez present some potential match-up problems for Seattle. Only the group of WR Miles Austin, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten seem to rival the group threat presented by the Falcons. But don’t expect the Seahawks to change how they do things defensively. Seattle has made their way by playing physical press coverage on the outsides with a speedy S Earl Thomas to cover the deep middle of the field. They intend to run their defense the same way they have all season. ‘We have to stay to our principles,’ CB Richard Sherman said. ‘They have a really intricate offense and they use their players well. They know exactly how to use everyone and get the most our of them but going away from yourself in the playoffs, you’re shooting yourself in the head. This is what got us here. We have to play our style. That’s what got us here and you live by your style, you die by your style. That’s what we’re going to do.’ “

Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along his predictions for the playoff games this weekend, “Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET: Atlanta was going to be my pick here once the Seahawks lost defensive end Chris Clemons to a season-ending knee injury. Seattle is traveling across the country in consecutive weeks. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Seahawks also drew the dreaded 10 a.m. PT kickoff. The Seahawks are the more well-rounded team, however. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are a tough combination to beat right now. Count me in for an all-NFC West championship game, but hedge your bets. It could be wishful thinking unless Wilson and the passing game are sharper this week. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20.”

Sando also questions the strength of the Seahawks defense if the game is close late in the fourth quarter, “Those following Seattle all season know the details. Others should consider the following while analyzing a defense that nonetheless led the NFL in points allowed for 2012:

  • The Detroit Lions converted three times on third down against Seattle during their drive to the winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in Week 8.
  • The St. Louis Rams converted on third-and-10 and third-and-13 against Seattle while driving to a fourth-quarter field goal during a 19-13 victory in Week 4.
  • The Miami Dolphins completed an 18-yard pass on third-and-7 during their drive to the tying fourth-quarter touchdown against Seattle before prevailing on a last-second field goal in Week 12.

I’ve singled out late-game collapses on third-down in these road games. Seattle was arguably a defensive stop away from winning at least two of those games.”

Peter King of SI.com has his playoff picks in, and he picks the Seahawks to top the Falcons, 17-13, “Most significant NFL Wednesday injury report line: ‘ATL – DE John Abraham (ankle), limited.’ He’d better not be limited Sunday, two weeks after what looked to be worse than the apparently nasty ankle sprain Abraham suffered in the last game of the season. Not quite sure why, with Seattle missing its best pass rusher (Chris Clemons, torn ACL on the FedEx cow pasture last week) and Abraham likely not at full health, I pick only 30 points to be scored here. I think both secondaries will play stout and smart, and the physicality of the Seattle back four (or five, or six) will have a big impact on the game.”

And in the spirit of “Seahawks Blue Friday”, we leave you with a Seahawks rally that took place yesterday at King St. Bar & Oven in downtown Seattle:


Monday in Hawkville: Calf injury leaves Steven Hauschka’s status in question for Sunday’s game

A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 7:

Steven Hauschka

FOCUS ON

Steven Hauschka. The Seahawks’ kicker has a strained muscle in his lower calf, so his status for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta is in question.

“We don’t know how significant it is,” coach Pete Carroll said during his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media. “He feels better today than he did yesterday.”

Hauschka was injured during the team’s 24-14 victory over the Redskins in their wild-card playoff game at FedEx Field on Sunday. He was able to kick field goals, hitting from 32, 29 and 22 yards. But punter Jon Ryan had to handle the final three kickoffs.

“He really did a great job of kicking through it and making the plays we needed him to make,” Carroll said.

Carroll said the team will have kickers in for tryouts on Tuesday, just in case.

“There are a lot of scenarios here for us,” Carroll said. “So we’ll see what happens tomorrow and then see what happens the next day.”

Hauschka made 24 of his 27 field-goal attempts during the regular season, with one kick blocked and the two misses coming from 61 and 51 yards.

SURGERY FOR CLEMONS

Chris Clemons, who has led the team in sacks in each of his three seasons with the Seahawks, has been lost because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee. He was injured in Sunday’s game.

“He will have to have surgery,” Carroll said. “So we’ll miss him, which is a big loss for us in a lot of ways. Chris has been a great football player. He’s been just a symbol of consistency for the years we’ve had him.”

With Clemons out, first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin will step into the Leo end spot for this week’s game against the Falcons.

BRADLEY, BEVELL DRAW INTEREST

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have been linked to vacant head-coaching jobs in the league, and Carroll confirmed that interest.

“Both those guys have been contacted,” Carroll said. “I think it’s a real positive for the program when people want to talk to your guys. I’ve always felt that’s a real cool thing.”

It will not, however, be a factor in this week’s preparation for the Falcons.

“There’s a time and a place,” Carroll said. “Both guys are very aware of what we’re doing and what we’re in for here. Neither one of them is going to let this distract them or get in the way. There are very limited opportunities for any of that. They’re not going to travel and go places and run around and all that.

“In all due respect for what we’re after right now, it’s low on their list. Both these guys feel exactly the same way about it. They’re both fantastic candidates. They’re equipped. They’ve got their act together. They’re going to be head coaches, whether it’s now or in the near future. So we’ll see how it goes.”

 MORE KING-SIZED PRAISE FOR SEAHAWKS

Last week, Peter King at SI.com shared that he voted for both Russell Wilson (offense) and Bobby Wagner (defense) as NFL rookies of the year. Today, he lists all his votes for the Associated Press honors, including fullback Michael Robinson and cornerback Richard Sherman on the All-Pro team.

King also tabs GM John Schneider as NFL Executive of the Year. All of King’s selections are available here.

Don Banks at SI.com also voted Wilson the offensive rookie of the year, and his feeling vindicated after his performance against the Redskins: “It was an almost impossible choice, but I voted for Seattle’s Wilson as the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in last week’s AP balloting, and after Sunday, I’m feeling fine about that choice. Team results don’t mean everything in an individual award, of course, but Wilson and the Seahawks will play on while (Andrew) Luck’s Colts and (Robert) Griffin’s Redskins are going home for the offseason. Does anyone who calls themselves a judge of NFL talent still think Wilson is too short at 5-foot-10 or whatever he is? You can argue Wilson has a better team around him than Luck or Griffin, but all three wound up in the playoffs, and only Wilson found a way to get his team a win – on the road no less, where Seattle went 3-5 this regular season, and hadn’t won in the playoffs since 1983.”

THOMAS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND

Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas has been named to the 2012 All-Fundamentals Team, which not surprising after watching the way he tracked the ball and then displayed his closing speed in making an interception against the Redskins on Sunday.

You can view here the rest of the team, and also see and hear what they have to say about Thomas.

STAT DU JOUR

Marshawn Lynch has joined Shaun Alexander as the only backs in franchise history to have two 100-yard rushing performances in the postseason, and Lynch did it on Sunday by tying Alexander’s playoff-record total. Here’s a look at their triple-digit games, as well as the others in club history:

Player, opponent (date)                                         Yards

Marshawn Lynch, Redskins (Jan. 6, 2010)            132

Shaun Alexander, Panthers (Jan. 22, 2006)          132

Marshawn Lynch, Saints (Jan. 8, 2011)                 131

Dan Doornink, Raiders (Dec. 22, 1984)                 126

Curt Warner, Dolphins (Dec. 31, 1983)                 113

Shaun Alexander, Bears (Jan. 14, 2007)                108

UP NEXT

The players were “off” on Monday and also will be “off” on Tuesday. But they’re required to get in a workout once during the two-day period. They will return on Wednesday to begin practice for Sunday’s game in Atlanta.

In case once wasn’t enough, the NFL Network will replay Sunday’s game at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Need another reason to watch, or re-watch?  They had the loquacious Sherman wired for sound during the game.

YOU DON’T SAY

“What a matchup this weekend. Wow. They’ve got great receivers. Roddy and Julio, those guys are fantastic players. You’re going to see the biggest, longest-looking guys going one-on-one out there. It’s going to be really a great matchup to watch.” – Carroll on Sherman and fellow cornerback Brandon Browner going against Falcons wide receivers Roddy White and Juilo Jones, who combined for 171 receptions, 2,549 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches during the regular season


Thursday cyber surfing: Club lands five in Pro Bowl; Bryant named Special Teams Player of Week 16

Pro Bowl

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.

Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.

Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”

Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ “

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as

the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ “

Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his story on the club’s Pro Bowl selections and recaps the activities surrounding “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on general manager John Schneider.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.

We have coach Carroll and coach Bevell’s full video press conferences from yesterday.

Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.


Thursday cyber surfing: Similarities evident between Seahawks, 49ers

Russell Wilson

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

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times takes a look at how the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have changed since their first meeting of the season back on October 18, “In their past two games, the Seahawks have scored 108 points in wins over Arizona and Buffalo. The Seahawks haven’t changed quarterbacks like San Francisco, but they’re hoping it’s a different Russell Wilson on Sunday. In the first 49ers game, Wilson had his worst statistical performance, completing just 9 of 23 passes for 122 yards, with a key interception late in the game on a long pass intended for Braylon Edwards. But that’s another distant memory. ‘It all begins with the quarterback, obviously,’ said wide receiver Doug Baldwin. ‘Russell is playing at an extremely high level right now. It’s just the maturity and growth, and we’ve all come to grow with him. This offense as a whole has been able to rally behind the things he does well. At the beginning of the season, we were kind of searching for that.’ After the 49ers game, Wilson’s quarterback rating sat at a pedestrian 79.4. Since then, he’s completed 118 of 178 passes (66 percent) for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions for a 111.3 quarterback rating. The Seahawks are 5-2 in those games.”

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has Wednesday’s injury report from both clubs, noting several Seahawks players who sat out practice.

O’Neil also previews Sunday’s matchup with the Niners in this short video, hinting that in a game matching the NFL’s top two scoring defenses, the club’s improved offenses under the Seahawks’ Wilson and 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick might be the ones that ultimately decide the outcome.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks run defense will be critical in Sunday’s game against the Niners, and catches up with linebacker Bobby Wagner on Sunday’s matchup, “Wagner, a rookie who played at Utah State, said he thinks he has an advantage because he played against Kaepernick, a second-year player from Nevada. The linebacker had one of his best games of the season at Carolina against perhaps the best running quarterback in the league, Cam Newton. Wagner had six tackles, including 1.5 sacks and a tackle for a loss. ‘I definitely feel like that helps because I’ve seen him a lot in college,’ Wagner said. ‘He’s not the same, obviously, (as) he was in college because he’s a lot more mature. He understands the game a little better. But at the end of the day, he’s going to do what he does. He runs, and he can sling the ball.’ “

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is taking in the benefits of sticking with Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, “In his first start in place of Smith, Kaepernick threw two touchdowns and had a rating of 133.1 against the Chicago Bears. And when Smith was deemed healthy enough for a return, Harbaugh decided to stick with Kaepernick. In five starts, Kaepernick has completed 66 percent of his passes for a 101.4 rating, and also rushed for five touchdowns at 7.2 yards per carry. Not only have the 49ers won four of those five, but they also beat New England on Sunday to snap the Patriots’ 20-game home winning streak. ‘He came in playing pretty well right at the start,’ Harbaugh said when asked of Kaepernick’s improvement since he’s been a starter. ‘There’s been some improvement in all the situations that he’s experienced … in five starts he’s experienced a lot.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the youth movement at quarterback around the NFL, starting with Harbaugh and Carroll’s decisions to roll with Kaepernick and Wilson, “Both coaches chose to go young at quarterback, taking the riskier path, and both by all indications made the right choice. As Harbaugh put it, it was the best thing at that time. Not the best thing for the 49ers’ future; the best move now. When Wilson and Kaepernick face off for the first of what should be many, many meetings, they won’t be young quarterbacks developing along with a rebuilding teams, they will be key players on two of the best teams in the NFC. Welcome to the new normal in the NFL”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press eyes the Seahawks recent success as they push toward the playoffs, “If Seattle (9-5) can get a victory over the 49ers on Sunday or in the season finale against St. Louis, it would be its second playoff appearance in Carroll’s three seasons. Yet this one would be far more deserved. When the Seahawks won the NFC West in 2010, they became the first division champion with a losing record at 7-9. It took a victory over St. Louis in the finale that season for the Seahawks to win the division on a tiebreaker, but Seattle at least justified its spot in the playoffs by upsetting then-Super Bowl champion New Orleans in the wild-card round. But that playoff trips was at the infancy of Seattle’s roster remodel that Carroll and general manager John Schneider have been constructing. It was a mix of new faces and what the duo inherited that won the division in 2010. This group that’s pushing for a playoff spot has all been molded under the watch of Seattle’s decision-making duo. ‘I think we’re playing so much better in so many areas. We’re taking care of the ball the way we want to, and we’re getting after the football well now that we’re in the latter part of the season,’ Carroll said. ‘We’re running the football with consistency and we’re keeping the scores down defensively, and the kicking game is solid. These are all of the elements that make us team with not many holes right now.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recaps a conversation with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, who joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” yesterday, “Cowherd thinks the Seahawks are the NFL’s second-best team, and he had them ranked that high before they scored at least 50 points for the second consecutive week. A panel of five ESPN colleagues unanimously had the Seahawks at No. 7 in their latest power rankings. The Seahawks’ relative lack of success as a franchise hurts their credibility, Cowherd thinks. ‘If they were called the Steelers and they did as many things well as they did we’d love them. But they’re called the Seahawks, so nobody wants them to give them any credit. This team has been fantastic,’ he said.” … You can listen to Brock and Salk’s entire conversation with Cowherd here.

Brock Huard of 710Sports.com has his latest “Chalk Talk” breaking down the Seahawks’ use of the trick play toss from Wilson to running back Marshawn Lynch, who threw back to Wilson, who spiraled it 44 yards downfield to wide receiver Golden Tate in Week 15′s win over the Buffalo Bills.

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice session, “Wide receiver Sidney Rice, listed last week on the practice report with a bruised foot, sat out Wednesday with a knee injury. Running back Leon Washington was excused early due to an undisclosed illness.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com looks ahead to Sunday’s matchup with the Niners, “Getting by San Francisco is Carroll’s biggest challenge. After the last meeting, he admitted that he couldn’t get his defense adjusted in time to stop the 49ers offense from trap-blocking the Seahawks’ defense into futility. In essence, he was outcoached, and he said Wednesday that the 49ers continue to do things that are hard to comprehend. ‘They were really good last year, and continue to grow and do more things,’ Carroll said. ‘The offensive line does really complicated stuff. They do a ton of things — pulling and trapping, kick-outs, getting guys on the edge — and are very consistent with it. We wonder sometimes how they can get it all done. Obviously, it’s great coaching.’ Having played for Harbaugh at Stanford, [cornerback Richard] Sherman knows well the style. ‘He’s always been kinda crazy with their formations and shifts,’ he said. ‘They’ve been that way since I’ve known their offense — switch-on, switch-off, this tight end pulls here, this fullback goes there . . . all kind of crazy. I recognize a lot of stuff, but stopping it is another thing. You know what’s coming, but can you stop it?’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his notes from Wednesday’s session, “Head coach Pete Carroll said that with all the formations, shifts and varying personnel groups used by the 49ers, they are perhaps the most challenging team the Seahawks have had to prepare for all season. ‘Yeah, that’s kind of the topic for the day,’ Carroll said. ‘It’s a very challenging team and it’s the running element, but then there’s Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, and then there’s the big fella Randy Moss out there running. This is a very talented football team and all of those guys’ present problems.’ “

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com writes that the Seahawks and Niners see mirror images in each other, “…when it comes to styles and schemes — and styles make fights in football, just as they do in boxing — the teams built by these two coaches are as similar as any you’ll see in the NFL today. Both the 9-5 Seahawks and 10-3-1 49ers, who will tussle this Sunday night for control of the division, feature hallmarks that could be easily switched from franchise to franchise without too much trouble. Each team is currently sparked by a young quarterback making unexpected gains, each team is buttressed by a violent and consistent running game, and each team is truly defined by a defense that that stops opposing offenses from front to back. The two teams are tied for the NFL lead in scoring defense, allowing just 15.6 points per game each. ‘I think we are similar,’ Carroll said on Wednesday. ‘I can’t help but see that because they believe in playing big time defense as well as us, they believe in the running game, which we do, and they have a very strong emphasis on special teams, which we do. I think that’s really the three pillars of what we’re trying to put together here, that’s what I know we’re dealing with. I don’t know how they speak it or how they talk about it, but it’s certainly what’s obvious about their team and what you have to line up against. This a real matchup for us with a like approach as well.’ “

Mike Sando of ESPN.com breaks down the play of Kaepernick and Wilson against the same four opponents, “It’s looking like these quarterbacks will be matching up in the division for years to come. Wilson has more NFL playing experience. Kaepernick has an additional full season in the league. A look at how they’ve fared as starters against the same teams seems like a pretty good way to compare them so far.”

Sando shares a conversation with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. as the pair breaks down Sunday’s matchup, “Sando: Matt, let’s start off with the quarterbacks. Both already rank among the league leaders in the meaningful categories. Russell Wilson leads the NFL and Colin Kaepernick ranks third in Total QBR since Week 11, when Kaepernick became a starter. Both are top eight for the season. Who has the better QB? Williamson: Seattle. I’m really high on both. I think both are going to be legitimate starters and stars. San Francisco is a year ahead of Seattle in just about every aspect, but I feel like the opposite is true at quarterback. Wilson looks like he has started more games and is mentally further along. Fewer bad throws. So consistent. Never turns the ball over. He is way ahead of the curve. I think he is the better player, but I like both very much.”

Sando also rehashes injury situations around the NFC West, with several notes on both the Niners and Seahawks.

The analysis team over at ProFootballFocus.com has released their selections for the 2012 Pro Bowl Roster, and running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman, and return specialist Leon Washington make their list.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights Wilson and Kaepernick, and recaps the activities surrounding “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on the 49ers offense.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” with a look at the similarities between the Seahawks and Niners.

We have coach Carroll’s full video press conference available for you here, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s full video press conference available here.

And lastly, we have photos from Wednesday’s practice by team photographer Rod Mar.


Thursday cyber surfing: Embracing the next-man-up mentality

Walter Thurmond

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 6.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his story on the suspension of Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, who violated the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances, “[Walter] Thurmond will start in Browner’s place at right cornerback, with rookie Jeremy Lane expected to play when Seattle uses formations with five defensive backs. Veteran Marcus Trufant did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury that caused him to miss Sunday’s overtime road victory over Chicago. ‘The focus goes for us right to the guys who are stepping up,’ Carroll said. That was how Seattle approached the absences of linebackers K.J. Wright, who was replaced by Mike Morgan last month after suffering a concussion, and Leroy Hill, who missed Sunday’s game with a sore ankle and was replaced by Malcolm Smith. ‘It’s like (Browner) got injured, really, is what it amounts to,’ Carroll said.”

O’Neil also has his report from Wednesday’s practice session, “Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant did not practice on Wednesday, resting the sore foot that kept him out of practice all last week. But last week is an important measurement because Bryant was still able to play after sitting out the week, which bodes well for his availability this week. ‘He was better Monday than he was last Monday,’ coach Pete Carroll said, ‘so we anticipate he’s going to be OK to play. That was really a surprise. It was a big surprise that he made it back and played and played well. We limited his reps, but Red did a very, very good job in this game, helping us. We anticipate we can count on that again this week.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his story on Browner’s suspension news, and a few notes on Walter Thurmond – the next man up, “Thurmond played for the first time this season last week against Chicago, replacing an injured Marcus Trufant as Seattle’s fifth defensive back in passing situations. The University of Oregon product also has experience as a starter. A fourth-round selection by Seattle in the 2010 draft, Thurmond has started four games for the Seahawks. ‘That’s just the NFL,’ Thurmond said about his starting job. ‘If somebody goes down, you have to be able to come in and step up. It’s like that all over the league, and you just have to make the most of the opportunity when you get your chance.’ “

Williams recaps a media session with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and the club’s decision to rely on the zone-read option attack in the final drives in the road win against the Chicago Bears last Sunday, “Bevell said he planned to run some read option against Chicago last week, but mostly stayed with in the overtime because it proved so effective in getting to the edges of the Bears’ defense. ‘I told coach that was our overtime plan,’ Bevell said. ‘We did it six times in the overtime. No, it was definitely something we wanted to use going in. We started with it going into the overtime. Then I put a different a formation on it, and then when we did it, I kind of liked the matchup a little better. On the first time I think we got it on (Israel) Idonije rather than (Julius) Peppers. And a couple times early it was on Peppers, and he’s a pretty good athlete and can change directions. So then I saw that the first time, so we ran that three straight times to start the overtime (against Idonije), and it ended up being pretty good for us.’ “

Williams also brings notes from a conference call interview with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, “About the Cards’ quarterback instability: ‘I don’t think it’s really our position to be worried so much about that, we have to do our job. My job is to be able to get open against press coverage and make my plays and do my job. Our quarterbacks have to make their throws, the offensive linemen have to make their blocks, when the running backs get the opportunity to get the ball they’ve got to make guys miss. That’s what it comes down to; the game is won by individual matchups. You look last week and you saw the game they won in Chicago, it’s because of plays by Sidney Rice and the extra effort of Golden Tate and those guys on defense causing turnovers. It’s about the individual matchups and guys stepping up and making plays in key moments. We have to match that intensity and turn it up a little bit.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald reminds readers that before he got injured cornerback Walter Thurmond was ahead of fellow corner Richard Sherman on the depth chart, “While there is no arguing the importance of cornerback play in Seattle’s defense, the Seahawks do feel like they have the depth to handle Browner’s absence. Thurmond was ahead of Sherman on the depth chart last season, and briefly took over as a starter for an injured Marcus Trufant, only to break his leg in his third start of the season. Sherman didn’t just fill in admirably, he grabbed a hold of a starting job and never let go, and this year has developed into one of the league’s best shutdown corners. ‘Trufant went down and I had to step in, then I went down,’ Thurmond said. ‘We just have a lot of depth on the team.’ Thurmond won’t necessarily jump in and play at a Pro Bowl level, but he should at least give Seahawks fans some level of confidence that this regime knows how to find and develop talented defensive backs.”

Boyle also has his notes from Wednesday’s practice and media availabilities, “Pete Carroll said Wednesday that receiver Sidney Rice has been cleared to return to action after taking a nasty-looking shot to the head on the final play of Sunday’s win in Chicago. Rice wrote on Twitter that night that he was fine and had been cleared, but Carroll said the next day that Rice would go through the league’s concussion protocol as a precaution. Rice apparently got through that fine, and while Carroll said his leading receiver would be limited in practice today, he is expected to play against the Cardinals this weekend.”

Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com takes an in depth look at Russell Wilson’s recent performances and what they have meant for the Seahawks’ success, “It was a crucial road win for the Seahawks [against the Bears], who have now won three of their last four games and now have, according to Football Outsiders, an 87.4 percent chance of making the playoffs. Wilson’s improvement has been cited as the key factor in that winning streak, and that’s something worth looking at: Has Seattle’s rise coincided with a dramatic leap in Wilson’s play? Is there some particular aspect of Wilson’s performance that has driven that improvement? And is that sustainable? Is this the real new Russell Wilson?”

Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss the Seahawks’ cornerback situation in this short video.

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com says the club’s secondary depth will be put to the test in the coming weeks, but they should be able to handle it, “Another man with roots in the state of Oregon will make his first Seahawks start in more than a year. Walter Thurmond took over for and injured Trufant early last season, only to break his leg against Cleveland and have Richard Sherman step in for him. ‘Everyone on this team is pushing each other to get better,’ said Thurmond, a former Oregon Duck. ‘You have to watch your back in practice every day and can’t slack off because someone behind you is ready to play and waiting for an opportunity as well. I think the depth on the team is very great, especially the defensive back group.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recounts a conversation with ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, who joined “Brock and Salk” yesterday to discuss rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “Wilson’s numbers from inside the pocket, according to Sando, are comparable if not better than those from outside the pocket. Inside the pocket: 14 touchdowns against seven interceptions, a 95.2 passer rating and a 77.4 score (out of 100) in Total QBR, ESPN’s metric for quarterbacks. Outside the pocket: five touchdowns against one interception, a 95.1 passer rating and a 60.8 QBR. ‘To say that he is dependent on getting outside the pocket for a lot of his gains would really be inaccurate,’ Sando said. As Sando noted, it would be easy to come away with the wrong impression about Wilson having only watched him play against Chicago. He was particularly effective while outside the pocket, especially on the two late touchdown drives. He threw the game-winner to Sidney Rice while rolling to his left. As for the batted down passes, those haven’t been much of a problem for Wilson. According to Sando, he’s had just five of them this season. Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, who is 6-foot-4, is tied for the league lead with 15.”

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Despite being placed on the non-football illness list, head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday [James] Carpenter’s knee injury was the leading factor to his season coming to an end. ‘It’s still knee related and it’s just overcoming of getting back,’ Carroll said. ‘He had a real twinge and something happened this week. It’s not something that requires surgery, but it’s going to hold him out for a while and we can’t tell how long it’ll take to get him back. It is related to what happened last year and we just think he needs some time to get back and get right and it’s going to take a while to do that.’ “

Doug Kretz of ESPN.com breaks down the Seahawks’ Sunday matchup with the Cardinals. You must have an ESPN Insider subscription to view the entire article, but he likes the Seahawks by nine points, “Seahawks 19, Cardinals 10: Two solid defenses should help to keep this a low-scoring affair. Seattle’s ability to generate an offense with a solid ground game mixed in with a big-play passing game should provide the difference.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, with a few nuggets on the Seahawks, “Starting left guard James Carpenter is finished for the season. His absence requires an adjustment, but the change could produce an upgrade in the short term. Carpenter wasn’t healthy and it showed in his play. John Moffitt is a natural candidate to start. Seattle has had eight linemen start this season. That is tied for third-most in the NFL behind Philadelphia (nine) and St. Louis (nine). The Seahawks held out defensive end Red Bryant, who surprised the coaching staff by playing — and playing well — against the Bears despite a foot injury. Bryant wore a boot on his foot in the locker room after the game in Chicago. Cornerback Marcus Trufant also missed practice. He has a hamstring injury. It sounds like the team will try Jeremy Lane at nickel corner while Trufant recovers. Walter Thurmond is expected to play right corner while Brandon Browner serves a four-game suspension. It’s possible Thurmond could play inside as well. Receiver Sidney Rice does not have a concussion, according to the team, but he was listed as limited with a head injury after absorbing a hard hit while making the winning touchdown catch Sunday. Leroy Hill (ankle) was limited. Coach Pete Carroll sounded excited about Hill’s replacement, Malcolm Smith.”

Sando also adds Wilson to his latest “MVP Watch“, “Wilson has three comeback victories in fourth quarters or overtime. Seattle had zero last season, one of the main reasons the team finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Wilson, who leads the NFL in QBR after Week 5, has 14 touchdowns with two picks in his past seven games. He has a passer rating in triple digits for four games running. He’s also a team leader already and the leading reason Seattle is getting its money’s worth from Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, who lead the NFC West with seven receiving touchdowns apiece.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights Thurmond’s return to the starting lineup, and recaps “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on last year’s leading receiver Doug Baldwin, “The Seahawks host the Cardinals in a rematch at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. When asked about his memories of that first game, Baldwin didn’t have to ponder the question at all. ‘Not only do I remember, but it’s a constant reminder – my two teeth are missing,’ he said. ‘These are fake ones I have in now.’ Baldwin lost his teeth trying to make a fourth-quarter catch in the end zone in that 20-16 loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 9. The teeth might be missing, but Baldwin has returned as a major factor in the passing game after dealing with injuries that forced him to miss the entire preseason (hamstring) and then two regular-season games (shoulder and ankle). After catching eight passes in his first seven games, last year’s leading receiver has eight in the past three – and half of those came in Sunday’s big win over the Bears in Chicago.”

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” video feature rehashing the team’s latest roster moves and opportunities that have arisen in the secondary.

We bring you coach Carroll and coach Bevell’s full video press conferences from yesterday.

And our team photographer Rod Mar has 29 frames from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available for viewing here.


Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Sunday’s 23-17 overtime win at Chicago

Russell Wilson

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks one day after their 23-17 overtime victory on the road against the Chicago Bears.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times highlights the impressive play of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “The Seahawks couldn’t lose this one because Wilson was too spectacular. He completed 23 of a season-high 37 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He ran nine times for 71 yards. And he didn’t commit a turnover against the NFL’s greatest ballhawking defense. At last, the Seahawks went deep into their offensive repertoire. Wilson handled a more pass-centric attack with his usual efficiency and a little extra flair, displaying an electricity in his performance that we had only seen on occasion since the preseason. He beat the Bears with his arm, his legs and his will. And, at last, the Seahawks stopped their road woes. They entered the game with a 1-5 road record. Games away from CenturyLink Field have been full of frustration this season. Every one has come down to the final possession. The defense has saved its mistakes for the fourth quarter. And the offense has been a dropped pass or stumbling receiver away from winning.”

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his recap of yesterday’s Seahawks win, “The Seahawks had their two longest drives of the season, including a 97-yarder in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. And then — even after Seattle failed to finish off the Bears in regulation — Seattle won the coin toss to start overtime with the ball and never turned back, driving 80 yards in 12 plays for a victory that just might turn out to save the Seahawks’ season. ‘It was on the road, and it was against the Bears,’ fullback Michael Robinson said. ‘Da Bears! Playing at Soldier Field, our backs were against the wall, and we kept marching. Boom, boom, boom, boom. And all of a sudden, the crowd is silent.’ But not the Seahawks, having made a statement. They are 7-5 with three of their final four games at home.’It’s a powerful demonstration for a young bunch of guys that it can happen,’ coach Pete Carroll said. ‘This is how it does happen. It has been long in coming.’ “

O’Neil has his “Two-Minute Drill” where he names Wilson and Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who caught 10 passes for 165 yards, his players of the game.

O’Neil revisits his “Keys to the Game” for the Seahawks and Bears, “…3. Don’t get too conservative in crunch time. Scouting report: The Seahawks had the ball, first-and-10 at the Miami 40 on their final possession in Week 12 when coach Pete Carroll tried to grit out field-goal position with a a handoff and a screen pass. The Seahawks would have been better off putting the game in Russell Wilson’s hands there at the end, and letting him try to throw Seattle into field-goal range. Result: Wilson threw 37 passes, his most in any game this season. He was 7-for-10 passing on Seattle’s final drive of the fourth quarter, throwing for 77 yards. But Seattle ran most of the way to a victory in overtime, throwing only three passes during the 80-yard touchdown drive. Conservative? Perhaps. Effective? No doubt.”

O’Neil also takes a look at the struggles of the Seahawks fourth-quarter defense, “It was the fourth time this season the Seahawks defense lost a lead in the fourth quarter. Seattle led 16-13 with nine minutes left in the opener at Arizona only to have the Cardinals drive 80 yards for the winning touchdown. Detroit and Miami each came back from fourth-quarter deficits to beat Seattle in the Seahawks’ previous two road games. In Chicago, though, Seattle’s offense and quarterback Russell Wilson — along with the fact backup quarterback Matt Flynn won the coin toss — gave the Seahawks a victory despite the defense giving up that late lead. ‘We had our stops, but we’ve got to finish better,’ [safety Earl] Thomas said. ‘Hats go off to Russell and the offense, and all the players that were in on the key plays that ended in the result we had today.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game story from Sunday, “The Seahawks won the toss in overtime. This time, Wilson used his legs instead of his arm to move the ball down the field, running three times for 28 yards to help Seattle get into field- goal position. But Carroll didn’t want to give the Bears another chance to win the game. ‘We were trying to win the football game there,’ Carroll said. ‘We weren’t thinking about just kicking the field goal.’ So on first-and-10 from Chicago’s 13-yard line, Wilson used a play-action fake to freeze the defense, rolled to his left and hit Rice on a crossing route, with the wiry receiver plowing into the end zone for the game-winning score.

Williams also breaks down the battle that took place between the Bears’ Marshall and Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, “Seattle’s cornerback duo of Browner and Richard Sherman had held Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Carolina’s Steve Smith all under 100 yards receiving. But the two struggled to keep Marshall contained. Sherman said that he and Marshall were focused on playing football, so there wasn’t a whole lot of trash talking between the two. ‘We were just having casual conversation – there wasn’t too much bad talking,’ Sherman said. ‘It’s always fun to compete with a guy like that, who has a high motor and plays hard. Even Cutler, a great quarterback who talks a little, it makes the game fun for both sides, and we had a nice battle today.’ “

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune features Sunday’s play of Wilson in his latest column, “Three months ago, the book on the Seahawks was that if the kid QB is efficient, it will be sufficient: Give the ball to Marshawn Lynch, throw some high-percentage passes to receivers running slant routes. Otherwise? Kinda stay out of the way, R-Dub. Don’t go changing; we like you just the way you are. Except there are times – Sunday in Chicago, for instance – when a quarterback must exude more than simple efficiency. There are times when a quarterback breaks a huddle at his team’s 3-yard line, late in the game, needing to score a touchdown because a field goal won’t cut it. Wilson not only marched the Seahawks down the field during that gut-check drive, he marched them down the field after the Bears’ gut-wrenching field goal, and it’s not unreasonable to wonder: Was this the work of the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year?

Mike Salk of 710Sports.com comments on the play of Wilson and the Seahawks offense, “It seems like every time the offense performs, I rave about the read option. And why not? It is the play that best takes advantage of their skills. It allows Wilson to use his decision-making prowess by reading the defensive end and either keeping the football or allowing the running back to slide underneath the end. If he keeps, his legs have been key – to the tune of 71 yards in this one. And two of the biggest plays of the game (the third-and-10 completion to Baldwin and the final touchdown to Sidney Rice) both came off the same read-option look. Teams will likely adapt to the play; NFL coaches are too smart not to adjust. But that adjustment should come as Wilson grows more and more comfortable in the traditional passing game. What I’m saying here is what we already know: the Seahawks have their franchise guy in Wilson. The win in Chicago alone didn’t prove it, but it was another important piece of evidence.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has several notes following the Seahawks 23-17 win on Sunday, “Seattle’s receivers, inconsistent this season, had one of their better games. Tate made another sensational play to set up the Seahawks’ first touchdown, making defenders miss on a 49-yard reception up the sideline. His touchdown in the fourth quarter was even more impressive. He found his way into the end zone on a 14-yard pass, avoiding several defenders before diving across the goal line. Doug Baldwin and Rice had key receptions, including Rice’s game-winner. Baldwin had a key block on Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run. Tight end Zach Miller made a 7-yard catch on fourth-and-3 to extend the fourth-quarter touchdown drive.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com recaps the Seahawks’ Week 13 win in Chicago, and has a look at how Rice’s game-winning touchdown unfolded, “Wilson said he and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell saw the Bears overloading on the read-option again, and made a play-call adjustment at the line. ‘The staff was doing a tremendous job with the calls when needed,’ Wilson said. ‘Coach Bevell did great job recognizing what they were trying to do. I saw the same thing. So we faked the read option and Sidney Rice made a great move to come open in front of the defense.’ Rice, who fooled ace cornerback Charles Tillman into thinking he was blocking him, caught Wilson’s dart at the Chicago 4 and lunged low for the goal line. He took a massive hit to the head and shoulders, enough to knock the ball loose, but a moment after Rice crossed the plane that drew a signal of a touchdown.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “Rapid Reaction” following the Seahawks’ overtime win at Chicago, “What it means: The Seahawks strengthened their positioning in the chase for a playoff berth by finally breaking through on the road. This game showed Seattle could beat a winning team away from CenturyLink Field without getting many breaks. Quarterback Russell Wilson was again stellar as Seattle improved to 7-5 while dealing a costly defeat to the Bears. Seattle had suffered close defeats on the road recently when its defense faltered late. Wilson did not let it happen this time, leading go-ahead drives late in regulation and again in overtime.”

Sando also recounts Wilson’s Week 13 performance and has a look at how the rookie has matured to date, “Scouts from other teams were watching from the press box. I heard one of them use the word “monster” in describing the 75th player chosen in the 2012 draft. This was not a one-time thing, either. What Wilson did Sunday was consistent with what he’s been doing for a while, except it was more dramatic and there was no defensive collapse to spoil it. After a slow start to the season, Wilson entered Sunday trailing only Tom Brady in Total QBR after Week 5. He was seventh in passer rating over that span. He had beaten Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Tony Romo. He had put his team in position to beat Matthew Stafford and Ryan Tannehill as well, but both times the Seattle defense couldn’t hold fourth-quarter leads on the road. There would be no late defensive stand this time, either. Wilson made sure Seattle would not need one. ‘Everybody realizes in our locker room that the kid playing quarterback is an amazing kid,’ Carroll said.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his recap from Week 13, and names Wilson his player of the game in his “Game at a glance.”

Tony Ventrella has his game recap video feature, catching postgame reaction from Carroll, Wilson, Thomas, Tate, and Zach Miller following yesterday win at Chicago.

Team photographer Rod Mar has a look at Sunday’s win in photos here.

We have full game highlights available for you here, and Wilson-specific highlights available for you here.

Finally, we have full video from coach Carroll’s postgame press conference here, and full video from Wilson’s postgame press conference here.


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Friday cyber surfing: Wilson proving to be a steady weapon; Hester out for Bears

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, November 30.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times takes a look at what has accounted for the club’s struggles in defending the run, “The first sign of trouble defending the run came on a Thursday night game in San Francisco in Week 7. Frank Gore rushed for 92 yards in the second half of Seattle’s loss, but that was chalked up to San Francisco’s scheme. The 49ers ran a trap play that Seattle didn’t adjust to. When Adrian Peterson gained 182 rushing yards against Seattle two weeks later, it was a testament to Peterson’s MVP-caliber season. But when Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas each averaged more than 6 yards per carry Sunday, it’s a sign of a fairly serious problem. ‘Last week wasn’t any new concepts,’ Bradley said. ‘It was just lack of trust. Some guys trying to do too much. We lost our gaps a couple of times, and then you saw some of our veteran guys try to do too much to compensate for them. Our defense is built on trust.” Now some of that trust needs to be rebuilt. ‘We’ve just got to find a way to get the job done,’ safety Earl Thomas said. ‘That’s all I can say really about that. We’ve got to win when our number is called. It’s really the little details. We just haven’t been able to get the job done.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his practice report from Thursday, noting Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant and linebacker Leroy Hill sat out for the second consecutive day. Williams also has the Bears’ injury report, who have ruled out return specialist Devin Hester for Sunday’s game with a concussion, along with former Seahawk offensive lineman Chris Spencer, who suffered a torn meniscus in the Bears matchup with the Minnesota Vikings a week ago.

Williams also recaps a media session with quarterback Russell Wilson, who celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday, “Wilson understands he’ll face a tough challenge on the road against an experienced, physical Chicago defense at Soldier Field. Wilson played at Soldier Field last season while at Wisconsin against Northern Illinois, so he’s familiar with the stadium. ‘I have so much respect for guys like (Brian) Urlacher, (Lance) Briggs, (Julius) Peppers and (Charles) Tillman – all of those guys that I’ve watched over the years,’ Wilson said. “So it’s going to be pretty awesome for me to play against them. But it’s no different. I won’t be star struck, that’s for sure. I think that you have to play smart. You have to know that they’re very, very intelligent in terms of knowing how to play the game, in terms of their coverages and everything. They do a great job of being in the right spots at the right times. So you have to trust what you see, and just play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald labels Wilson as the Seahawks most consistent weapon of late, “Wilson…has been very good since talk of his job security eight weeks ago. He has been exceptional the past three games, becoming the first rookie in NFL history to register a passer rating of 125 or better in three straight games. Since Seattle’s Week 5 win in Carolina, Wilson has 13 touchdown passes and just four interceptions, good for a passer rating of 105.3. Only Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and fellow rookie Robert Griffin III have had better ratings in that span. That’s pretty heady company, particularly for somebody who a lot of Seahawks fans wanted to see sitting on the bench not too long ago.”

Michael Rushton of The Sports Network previews Sunday’s matchup with the Chicago Bears, “Though the Seahawks have won their last two regular-season trips to Chicago, they have twice been bested at Solider Field in the divisional playoffs, including a meeting in the 2010 playoffs. That seems to indicate that Seattle struggles when Chicago’s fans are bringing the noise. A victory this weekend by Seattle would show it is a playoff-caliber team and would keep the club in the hunt for the division title, but that is easier said than done given recent road issues. ‘You don’t know how this is going to go, but we do know we need to take care of business. We don’t have many chances left, we have five games to get it done, and we can’t just lock in that we’re going to win all our home games either. It ain’t going to be that easy. But right now, it’s Chicago,’ said Carroll. The Bears are one of only two teams this season that give up fewer points per game than the Seahawks and home cooking should work in their favor this Sunday. Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bears 20, Seahawks 13″

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, recapping a conversation with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, “The Chicago Bears use running back Matt Forte on toss sweeps and screen plays very effectively, according to Bradley. They also have a larger back, Michael Bush, for the power plays. Seattle’s secondary will have its work cut out covering the Bears’ primary receiver, Brandon Marshall. Bradley said the fact Seattle has faced Calvin Johnson of the Lions and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald should help them against Marshall. The Bears’ patched-up offensive line is not asked to pass protect very long. Bradley says they run more quick plays which makes it difficult for the defense to get pressure on Jay Cutler, who can also extend plays with unusual side-arm and underhand shovel throws.”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press visits the Seahawks’ road woes, “The road problems aren’t new. Seattle’s struggles outside the Northwest are a long-standing issue that is a mix of having to travel more than any other team in the NFL and often playing what feels like a morning start when going to the Eastern or Central time zones. And those issues become more glaring because of how good the Seahawks are at home. Since Seattle opened its new stadium before the start of the 2002 season, the Seahawks are 56-29 at home, including an 8-0 mark in 2005 on their way to the Super Bowl and a 7-1 home record in 2007. On the flip side, Seattle is just 31-55 on the road during the same time span and 12-34 since 2007. In the Eastern time zone alone, Seattle is 7-20 over the last 10 years. ‘We just have to learn how to get over that hump, know that we’re a good team and finish games no matter whether home or on the road. We have to figure out how to win those games and until then we’ll just be middle of the pack,’ [Leroy] Hill said.”

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com has an interesting read on “underdog” quarterbacks winning the locker room, and ultimately, the starting job, “In March, the Seattle Seahawks signed former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn to a three-year, $19.5 million contract and penciled him in as the quarterback of the near future. They selected Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson in the third round a month later, with the idea that Wilson would learn Seattle’s offense over time. But a funny thing happened on the way to the regular season. Flynn didn’t play badly in minicamps and practices, but it was clear from Day 1 that Wilson had attributes Flynn didn’t possess. The rookie outstripped the veteran in mobility, velocity, accuracy, and the most important thing a quarterback must possess — the faith of his teammates. From the summer on, Seahawks players were telling me about Wilson’s intangibles. ‘When Russell’s in there, we just feel like something good’s going to happen,’ one player said.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a look at the Seahawks’ offensive production against NFC North opponents.

Sando also breaks down the progression of Wilson this season, whose QBR (82.4) trails only Tom Brady (85.1) since Week 5.

Doug Kretz of ESPN.com previews several key elements to watch for in Sunday’s game against the Bears. You must have an ESPN Insider subscription in order to view the entire article, but here is an interesting snippet: “Key positional battle — Seahawks’ O-line vs. Bears’ D-line: In a lot of ways, these two lines are similar in their approach to the game. Both are extremely physical and like to set the pace for their respective units. Seattle loves to dominate up front with a powerful line that opens up holes for Lynch. Chicago relies on a powerful interior and athletic ends to limit run lanes and collapse the pocket. Case for the underdog: The Seahawks need a big game from Lynch and their running game if they hope to come out ahead on the road. They have not been a great team away from the friendly confines of their home stadium and a strong ground game is the best recipe to correct the issue. Few teams can strike as quickly as Chicago with its Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall connection, and Seattle needs to do everything possible to keep these guys off the field.”

NFL Films previews Sunday’s matchup with the Bears in this short video.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth recaps “Thursday in Hawkville” with a focus on offensive lineman Frank Omiyale, the former Chicago Bear who signed with Seattle this past offseason, “The veteran offensive lineman played the past three seasons with the Bears, starting 31 games at left guard, left tackle and right tackle. With the injury problems the Bears are having on their line, there’s a pretty good chance he’d be starting this week against the Seahawks. Except that Omiyale signed with the Seahawks in free agency in March. ‘It’s not a big deal, but I’m excited to see some of the guys,’ he said today of returning to Soldier Field as a member of the visiting team. ‘Other than that, we’re trying to win a game. So that’s what this week is all about.’ “

Farnsworth also highlights quarterback Russell Wilson as he prepares to face the Bears, and rehashes the rookie’s numbers over the past three games, “Wilson’s three-game totals are worth a second look: 70 percent completions (49 of 70) for 585 yards, with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 128.6 rating. This November to remember got Wilson nominated for NFC Rookie of the Month. Even though the honor went to Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III, it doesn’t diminish what Wilson accomplished. ‘The surprise, I guess, is it’s so hard for a rookie to demonstrate that kind of consistency,’ coach Pete Carroll said. ‘We’ve seen him grow. We’ve seen him emerge. Now we’re able to watch him show a consistency of performance where each game looks like an extension of the next one. That’s really powerful. I think that’s the surprise – he’s done something that nobody’s ever done before in those three (games). We wouldn’t have anticipated that.”

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” emphasizing ball security this week against a Bears defense that has forced the most turnovers (33) in the NFL.

We have Wilson’s full video press conference from Thursday available here, and coach Bradley’s full video press conference available here.

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


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Thursday cyber surfing: Run ‘D’ seeks improvement; Okung voted Seahawks Man of the Year

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

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune revisits his assessment of the Seahawks defense – a unit that has suffered a couple late-game setbacks, “Perhaps the most relevant numbers are these: Last year, the Seahawks held opponents to 3.8 yards per rush. This season, the average is 4.6. The inability to stop the run changes almost everything about how the defensive scheme can operate. ‘The (defense against) the running game has not been as effective consistently,’ coach Pete Carroll said. ‘We’ve found our way into making enough errors on runs that we’ve allowed for explosive plays.’ A couple of explanations. As it turns out, defensive end Red Bryant, the most stout component in the run-stop plan, has been playing with a foot injury that might cause him to miss Sunday’s game. Bryant has been solid in most games this season, but his overall impact is not what it was last season when he blocked three field goals and a PAT, and had two interceptions in addition to being an immovable object at the line of scrimmage. Another issue against the rush on occasion is when linebackers fail to fill the correct gaps. For as many plays as young linebackers like Bobby Wagner and Wright make, they’ve also failed to get off blocks on plays that turned into big runs by opponents. Wright and Hill appeared to be out of position or just physically out-run on certain pass coverages against Miami, and veteran nickel back Marcus Trufant has also looked a step slow at times.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps a Wednesday media session with Darrell Bevell, in which the Seahawks offensive coordinator addressed some of the club’s decisions on offense, “Bevell did say that he likes how Wilson is moving within the pocket, and feels like he’s developed a better pocket presence over the course of the season. ‘I think Russ just gets better each and every time he’s out there,’ Bevell said. ‘He grows with situations. It usually only has to happen once to him, and he learns from it. And the next time you see him make an improvement on it. He’s leaving the pocket with merit. For example, when the free safety (against Miami) ran right through the gap, he flipped out to his left side and threw it down to Sid –what a great play. But then there’s been other times when we’ve said – just sit there. You don’t have to go anywhere. Your guy might not be open, but there’s still a pocket there, and the guys are working it, so work the pocket. And he’s been able to do that.”

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has the Seahawks and Bears injury reports from yesterday available here.

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has a look at Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks corners and Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, “The Bears make no secret they want to throw the ball to the 28-year-old Marshall. He’s already been targeted more than 120 times in 11 games. Marshall hopes the Seahawks play their normal man-press coverage on him Sunday. ‘I love one on-one-coverage, so if they’re going to do that then it’s going to be fun out there,’ he said. ‘This is what the NFL is about, man-on-man. If they are going to stick to their plan, that one-on-one coverage, then I have a ton of respect for that.’ Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is anxious to face Marshall in single coverage as well. ‘It’s one of those classic battles of a big corner against a big receiver,’ Sherman said. ‘He has a classic ‘dead leg’, where he kind of stutters, comes up, and then he gets going again. It’s a game within a game to figure out all the tricks he has. The way Cutler looks for him, it’s going to be a lot of fun.’ “

Bob Stelton and former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman of 710Sports.com discuss the errors the Seahawks run defense is committing in this short video.

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a look at NFC West injury situations, including a few notes on the Seahawks, “Defensive end Red Bryant (foot) and linebacker Leroy Hill (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Bryant’s injury situation was newly revealed. It could explain some of the Seahawks’ troubles in run defense recently. He hasn’t been as active or effective as in the past. The Seahawks otherwise appear quite healthy. Running back Marshawn Lynch (back) and defensive end Greg Scruggs (oblique) were limited. Lynch appears on the injury report regularly and plays in the games anyway. Seattle welcomed back guard James Carpenter from a concussion last week. He has played in 15 of 27 games since Seattle made him a first-round draft choice in 2011.”

Sando also has his updated “MVP Watch“, where Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has dropped four spots to No. 9 out of 10 on his list, “The Seahawks had a hard time getting Lynch established against Miami and that played a leading role in the team’s inability to drive for the go-ahead field goal late in the game. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s continuing emergence should give this run-oriented team greater flexibility. Will Lynch get going against the Bears at Soldier Field in Week 13? The Dolphins ended his streak of four consecutive 100-yard games.”

Left tackle Russell Okung announced on Twitter yesterday that he was voted the 2012 Seahawks Man of the Year, which is the award given annually to the player who represents stellar performance both on the field and in the community. Each player who has won has a photo hanging in one of the hallways at VMAC.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on defensive end Red Bryant, who sat out yesterday’s practice, but said he is optimistic that he’ll be ready for the weekend road matchup in Chicago, ” ‘You know me,’ Bryant said. ‘I’m going to find a way to be out there.’ “

Farnsworth also highlights the play of the Bears’ Brandon Marshall, who the Seahawks will meet this Sunday, “The numbers Marshall is producing after being reunited with quarterback Jay Cutler and QB coach Jeremy Bates are impressive: 81 catches for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns. But they’re staggering when you consider that 42 percent of the Bears’ completed passes, 46 percent of their 2,203 passing yards and 57 percent of their TD catches have come from Marshall. And he also leads the league with 27 third-down receptions. But perhaps the most off-the-charts stat is that in the Bears’ 8-3 start Marshall has been targeted 124 times, or 38 percent of their pass attempts. Not surprisingly, the teams that have been able to limit Marshall are the teams that have beaten the Bears. He had two catches for 24 yards, on five targets, in a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He had two catches for 21 yards, on four targets, in a Week 11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.”

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily“, talking with coach Carroll, linebacker Bobby Wagner, and wide receiver Golden Tate as the team looks forward to their matchup with the Chicago Bears.

We have coach Carroll’s full Wednesday press conference available here, and you can watch and listen to coach Bevell here.

Lastly, team photographer Rod Mar has a look at “Competition Wednesday” in photos here.


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