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.
And our team photographer Rod Mar has 29 frames from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available for viewing here.
Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 2:00 p.m. practice and preparation for their Week 14 home matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
With the four-game suspension announced for cornerback Brandon Browner for violating the League’s policy on performance enhancing substances, Carroll addressed the club’s situation at cornerback, starting with a reiteration of roster moves that the team announced earlier in the day.
In Browner’s place, Carroll said third-year cornerback Walter Thurmond will get the first chance to start. Thurmond was active for the first time this season in the Seahawks’ Week 13 road win over the Chicago Bears, working as the club’s nickel corner in place of the injured Marcus Trufant, who was inactive while rehabbing a hamstring injury.
On Trufant, Carroll said he will continue to rest his hamstring and they will find out more on his status at the end of the week. So with Thurmond sliding over to one of the starting cornerback spots and Trufant’s status uncertain for Week 14, Carroll said rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane will get the first crack as the club’s nickel corner. Lane has impressed this season, successfully downing punts and securing good field position in the “gunner” role on special teams.
Carroll said that second-year cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Ron Parker, who was recently signed to the active roster from the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad, and rookie cornerback DeShawn Shead, who was recently promoted from the club’s practice squad to the active roster, will be in competition for work as the team’s fourth cornerback.
Carroll discussed the move of offensive guard James Carpenter to the reserve/non-football illness list, emphasizing that the former first round draft pick will be fine in the long haul, but with lingering injuries to his knee and having suffered a concussion this year they decided to end his season. Carroll said that no surgery would be required on Carpenter’s knee.
Carroll said wide receiver Sidney Rice passed concussion evaluations and has been cleared to practice today, but will be limited.
“We’re counting on him playing,” Carroll said of Rice.
Linebacker Leroy Hill will also be limited today with an ankle injury. Carroll mentioned that second-year linebacker Malcolm Smith, who played well in place of Hill last Sunday in Chicago, has a chance to challenge Hill for the starting job.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Carroll said of the competition between Hill and Smith.
Carroll said that defensive end Red Bryant will not practice today, insisting that he needs another day of rest for a plantar fasciitis (foot) injury.
Our Insiders Clare Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella will be back with more following today’s player availability and practice session. And in case you missed it, stay tuned to Seahawks.com for Carroll’s full video press conference.
Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances, the league announced today. The suspension begins immediately and Browner will miss the team’s four remaining regular-season games.
The club has taken steps to fortify its secondary by signing cornerback Ron Parker off the Panthers’ practice squad and elevating cornerback DeShawn Shead from its own practice squad. Parker was with the Seahawks for 10 games and played in two last season, after being claimed off waivers from the Raiders. He also was with the team in training camp before being released on the cut to 75 players. Shead, a rookie free agent, was released on the roster cut to 53 players and signed to the practice squad the next day.
To fill Shead’s spot on the practice squad, running back Derrick Coleman was signed. He was with the Vikings in traning camp, but waived in August.
Walter Thurmond is the likely replacement for Browner at left cornerback, starting with Sunday’s game against the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field. Thurmond was expected to be the starter at that spot last season, before an injury sidelined him in training camp and opened the door for Browner, who ended up leading the team with six interceptions and playing in the Pro Bowl.
Thurmond began this season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, but was added to the 53-man roster on Nov. 7. He was inactive for his first two games, but replaced an injured Marcus Trufant as the nickel back in Sunday’s victory over the Bears in Chicago.
The Seahawks also have rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and second-year corner Byron Maxwell.
Browner will be able to rejoin the team on Monday, Dec. 31, the day after the Seahawks’ regular-season finale against the Rams. Browner is eligible to participate in the postseason if the Seahawks qualify.
Portis heads practice squad signees
The Seahawks have signed the following seven players to their squad:
QB Josh Portis
WR Ricardo Lockette
LB Korey Toomer
TE Sean McGrath
OL Rishaw Johnson
LB Allen Bradford
S DeShawn Shead
Portis, Lockette, Toomer, McGrath, Johnson, Bradford and Shead were waived by the Seahawks on Friday’s roster cut to 53 players.
The Seahawks’ offseason program is down to the last players standing: The rookie free agents.
The team’s 10 draft choices completed their offseason work today. Saturday, they head to Ohio for the four-day NFL Rookie Symposium, which starts on Sunday for the NFC players. Then they’re off until training camp start in late July. The veterans called it a wrap after the final practice in last week’s minicamp.
So Monday, the only group left for the final three days in the offseason program at Virginia Mason Athletic Center will be the rookies who have been added since the draft. Seven were signed just after the draft – wide receivers Phil Bates, Jermaine Kearse and Lavasier Tuinei; guard Rishaw Johnson, tight end Sean McGrath, safety DeShawn Shead and kicker Carson Wiggs. Two others were signed after tryouts in minicamps – cornerback Donny Lisowski and linebacker Kyle Knox. One – defensive end Cordarro Law – was signed between the draft in April and the rookie minicamp in May.
“It’s a learning experience in itself, just learning how to be a pro,” Bates said of watching the numbers diminish. “It’s pretty good, because I’ve learned a lot this week.”
And he has done it from the front of the line – rather than back, as was the case when the veterans were around.
“You take the stuff you learned while the vets were here and now you’re working it on by yourself and trying to master your craft,” Bates said. “I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Even with the vets gone, third-round draft choice Russell Wilson has been around to throw to Bates, Tuinei and McGrath (Kearse is sidelined with a foot injury). But Wilson is off to the symposium, so the rookie QB won’t be around next week.
“I’ve got the Jugs machine,” Bates said with a smile. “So that will help me out. I’m going to miss Russell, of course. But I’ve got the Jugs machine.”
A recap of the activities on the first day of the Seahawks’ three-day Bing minicamp:
The one and only full-squad minicamp. It has been a long time coming, and won’t last all that long. So coach Pete Carroll plans to make the best of every rep.
“It’s good to get back to practice and great to be out here again and see these guys,” Carroll said. “They know this is the last shot they have before (training) camp. So this is very important.”
The emphasis of today’s almost two-hour practice was on reviewing everything that has been installed this offseason.
“So it’s kind of like a test each day,” Carroll said. “We’ll give them a lot situational work and try to make them have to think about where they are on the field, and the time on the clock, and all those kinds of things; as well as their assignments and their techniques.
“So it’s a big camp for communications. It’s a big camp for us to see how we can execute at this time. And really, it’s our last shot to take a look at these guys before we take our big break and get a sense for where the players are and where we are as far as teaching our offense and defense.”
Among the honor campers today: safeties Earl Thomas and DeShawn Shead, who had interceptions; rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin, who used his speed for what would have been a sack on a third-and-15 play; quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who threaded a pass to tight end Zach Miller; fullback Michael Robinson, who turned a short pass into a 13-yard gain; and kickers Steven Hauschka and Carson Wiggs, who were a combined 6-for-6 on field goal attempts.
Winston Guy. The safety from Kentucky continues to wear a red jersey, but the sixth-round draft choice would stand out even without the non-contact apparel.
“He’s doing a really cool job. I really like this player,” Carroll said. “He brings more than we had hoped, maybe, at this early time.”
The plan when the Seahawks drafted Guy was to use him as a third safety in the “big nickel” defense, which would allow either Thomas or strong safety Kam Chancellor to play closer to the line.
“His speed is very good. His instincts are excellent,” Carroll said of Guy. “He’s got a lot to learn. But he’s going to play for us and be a part of what we’re doing.”
Quarterback, of course. The three-man competition for the starting job continues. Jackson, the incumbent starter, was up first today, followed by free-agent addition Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson.
“We’ll just keep that rotation alive. It’s worked well so far,” Carroll said. “Tarvaris is doing very well. He looks really healthy and strong and very confident in what we’re doing. He’s making it hard on these guys, and he’s going to make it real hard on them.
“Which is great, because Matt’s going to be chasing it and Russell as well. But we will even out the snaps, if we can do it right. And today we hit it again.”
How is Jackson handling the competitive situation?
“You take it day by day, as far as coming out and trying to get better,” he said. “But I also look at the big picture. I’ve been in this league long enough to know how things go. So I’m just coming out here competing every day, just trying to do my best and let coach make a decision on what they feel is best for the team.”
In the team drill that concluded practice, Flynn completed five of six passes in leading a drive that ended with a 50-yard field goal by Hauschka, while Jackson was five of five on a drive that led to a 31-yard field goal by Wiggs.
THE BUCS STOP HERE
First, the Seahawks signed former Buccaneers middle linebacker Barrett Ruud in free agency. Then, they traded for former Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. Now, former Bucs wide receiver Antonio Bryant is being given a tryout during this minicamp.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen him and it’s been a while since he’s played,” Carroll said. “He has not had a chance to work with anybody much. So we’re going to give it a few days and see what we can see. We know that he was a fantastic athlete at one time and there was a lot of potential. So we’ll see where he fits.”
Bryant, 31, has not played in the league since 2009. But the 6-foot-1, 211-pound Bryant caught 83 passes for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns in 2008. A second-round draft choice by the Cowboys in 2002, Bryant also has played for the Browns (2004-05) and caught 69 passes for 1,009 yards in 2005. He signed with the Bengals last year, but a knee injury prevented him from playing during the 2011 season. In eight NFL seasons, Bryant has 372 receptions for 5,685 yards (15.3-yard average) and 30 TDs.
Also in for a tryout is former Texans wide receiver David Anderson, a seventh-round draft choice in 2006 who was released during the season last year and signed with the Redskins. The 5-10, 193-pound Anderson has caught 88 passes for 965 yards in seven NFL seasons.
The tryout list also includes tight end Cooper Helfet, who was the rookie minicamp last month; and linebackers Brian Banks and Kyle Knox. Banks who had a tryout last Thursday was working out for the Chiefs today but is scheduled to join the Seahawks’ minicamp tomorrow.
CARROLL ON CLEMONS
Chris Clemons, who has led the team with 11 sacks in each of his first two seasons with the Seahawks, was not at practice and is not expected to attend the mandatory minicamp. The situation involving the veteran defensive end caught Carroll by surprise.
“I thought he was coming, so this is kind of a late development,” Carroll said.
The club continues to work on an extension for Clemons, who is in the final year of his contract.
“We’ve had open communications with the agent and with Chris and feel like everything is on the up-and-up and very amicable,” Carroll said. “It continues to be one of our priorities and we’d love to get him back.
“It’s something we’ve had our eye on for something with him. He’s done a very good job for us in the first couple years and we’re real pleased with his play and work habits.”
In Clemons’ absence, Irvin, this year’s first-round draft choice, continues to get all the reps with the No. 1 defense at the “Leo” end spot.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I don’t know. The farthest I’ve ever thrown it is 80 yards. But I was a baby then. I was 18-, 19-years old. I’ve still got at least about 75. I still probably can get it out about 80. I don’t know. (The 80) was when I was a freshman in college. I haven’t tried it since. I don’t really like to do it. But one of the other quarterbacks actually wanted to see if he could throw longer than me. He forced me to do it. I smashed him. I killed him.” – Jackson, when asked how far he could throw a football