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Countdown to kickoff

Greetings from CenturyLink Field on a gorgeous night for the Seahawks’ nationally televised preseason opener against the Titans.

And this more than “only” a preseason game, for several reasons.

For starters, there are the starting quarterbacks – a couple of guys named Matt. For the Seahawks, Matt Flynn gets his chance to take charge in the three-man competition to be the starter in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona. He got the starting reps all week, and if he plays as well tonight as he did in practice, well, he’ll be the leader in the club house at the very least. For the Titans, this is a return to Seattle for Matt Hasselbeck – the Seahawks’ QB during the most successful five-season run in franchise history, the franchise’s career and single-game record holder in most of the meaningful passing categories and the QB fans at Seahawks.com voted to the 35th Anniversary team. Hasselbeck has his own QB competition to worry about, as he’s vying with Jake Locker, the former University of Washington QB and the Titans’ first-round draft choice last year.

But the intrigue in this one goes beyond the QBs.

Fans also will get their first game-situation looks at this year’s draft class – including Bruce Irvin, a blur of a pass rusher who was the Seahawks’ first-round pick; Bobby Wagner, the second-round pick who will start at middle linebacker; Russell Wilson, the third-round pick who will take over for Flynn in the second half; and Robert Turbin, the fourth-round pick who will get a lot of carries because Marshawn Lynch is not expected to play much – if at all.

This also will be the first look at the free-agent additions – most noticeably Deuce Lutui, who will start at right guard because John Moffitt likely will have surgery to remove particles from his left elbow and be sidelined two to three weeks; and Jason Jones, who was signed to play the three-technique tackle spot in the nickel line but also will be at that spot in the base defense because Alan Branch is not expected to play. Terrell Owens, who practiced for the first time Wednesday, will not play. Barrett Ruud, who was signed to compete with Wagner for the starting middle linebacker job, likely won’t play.

One question: Will Flynn see a better defense tonight than the one he has been facing in practice?

One more thought: This isn’t just a “homecoming” for Hasselbeck. The Titans also have Steve Hutchinson, the left guard on the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team; and Jordan Babineaux, who earned the nickname “Big Play Babs” while with the Seahawks and now is starting at strong safety for Tennessee. The Titans defensive coordinator is Jerry Gray, who was the Seahawks’ defensive backs coach on Jim Mora’s staff in 2009. Then there’s Michael Roos, the Titans’ Pro Bowl left tackle who played at Eastern Washington University and is from Vancouver, Wash.

Enjoy the game, with kickoff set for 7:05 p.m.. In addition to the NFL Network, KCPQ/13 also will televise the action.  Fans may also watch online by clicking here.


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Friday in Hawkville: Surgical procedure expected for Moffitt

A recap of the activities at the Seahawks’ Bing training camp for Aug. 10:

FOCUS ON

John Moffitt. The Seahawks’ second-year right guard is expected to miss two to three weeks after having a likely surgical procedure on his left elbow.

Pete Carroll made the announcement after today’s walkthrough, the team’s final on-field session before Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Titans at CenturyLink Field. Veteran guard Deuce Lutui, who was signed in free agency this offseason, will start for Moffitt.

“John’s elbow is bothering him,” Carroll said. “He is going to probably have surgery on his elbow here. He’s got a couple loose bodies or something hanging under there that’s causing him some pain. It wasn’t really an injury; it’s just kind of a situation over time.

“It showed up this week, so we’re going to likely get him worked on and fixed as fast as possible. It looks like a two or three week turnaround, so we want to get that done immediately.”

Moffitt left practice on Thursday because of pain in the elbow and watched today’s walkthrough with his left arm in a sling.

What has Carroll seem from Lutui in the first 12 days of camp practices?

“He’s huge,” Carroll said of the 6-foot-4, 338-pound Lutui, who played for Carroll at USC and then spent his first six NFL seasons with the Cardinals. “He’s experienced. He’s a tough guy. He’s picking things up – a little different style of offense in the running game than he’s been accustomed to. But I’m anxious to see how he does.

“His attitude that he brings and his experience would really be nice to have on our line. We’ll see how it works out. This is a wide-open competition.”

Carroll said rookies J.R. Sweezy and Rishaw Johnson also would rotate through at right guard against the Titans.

ROOKIE WATCH

Bruce Irvin. The first-round draft choice moves fast even in a walkthrough. On several snaps during today’s session where the players did not wear helmets or pads, Irvin would take three strides to every one for many of the other players.

“He’s cranked up,” Carroll said. “He’s really ready to show that he will represent the No. 1 pick. It’s important to him and he’s been perfect through the whole process.”

Irvin’s first snaps against the Titans will come opposite Leo end Chris Clemons in the nickel defense, before Irvin takes over for Clemons at the hybrid position with the No. 2 unit.

To say Irvin is revved up for his first exposure to the 12th Man crowd at CenturyLink Field is an understatement.

“Ahhh man, I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” Irvin said. “I just want to go out there and have fun and hopefully do what they brought me in here to do. So we’ll see.”

Irvin is here because he can rush the passer – and do it in a blur. Last season, the Seahawks had 33 sacks and 11 came from Clemons.

PLAY DU JOUR

It was a walkthrough, after all, so let’s go with the Carroll Connection. The Carroll Connection? Pete lofting a pass over a couple of defenders to Nate, his son, in the back corner of the end zone. The Pete-to-Nate score came during the individual drills.

IN ’N OUT

In addition to Moffitt, Carroll said four wide receivers will not play against the Titans – Doug Baldwin, last year’s leading receiver; just-signed Terrell Owens; on-the-mend Sidney Rice; and Ricardo Lockette. Veteran linebacker Barrett Ruud did not participate in the walkthrough and Carroll said he is uncertain whether Ruud will play.

In addition to Baldwin, Lockette and Ruud, defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebackers Allen Bradford and Matt McCoy did not participate in the walkthrough. Cornerback Brandon Browner and tight end Cameron Morrah were back after sitting out Thursday.

NOW HEAR THIS

Saturday night’s game will be televised by KCPQ/13, with Curt Menefee handling the play-by-play and Warren Moon the analysis. The game also will be broadcast on 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM, with Steve Thomas subbing for Steve Raible on the play-by-play and Dave Wyman stepping in for Moon as the analyst.

UP NEXT

After the preseason opener on Saturday night, the players will get their third off day of camp on Sunday.

Only two more training camp practices are open to the public – Tuesday and Wednesday. You can register here to attend. Camp breaks after practice on Thursday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Swag. That’s the proper terminology for it. Guys are just having fun, playing to each other’s level. You don’t want to let the next guy besides you down. I think that’s one of the main things you need when you want to be a successful defense. I think we have a lot of that.” – Irvin, on the swagger being displayed by the Seahawks defense that ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL last season in average points and yards allowed


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Moffitt expected to miss 2-3 weeks

Right guard John Moffitt will be sidelined two to three weeks, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after today’s walkthrough, after likely having a surgical procedure on his left elbow.

It is not an injury, but a situation that had been bothering last year’s third-round draft choice, Carroll said. The elbow flared up in practice on Thursday and Moffitt left the field. He watched today’s walkthrough with his left arm in a sling.

“John’s elbow is bothering him,” Carroll said. “He’s got a couple loose bodies or something hanging under there that’s causing him some pain.”

With Moffitt out, veteran Deuce Lutui will start in Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Titans at CenturyLink Field. Carroll said rookies J.R. Sweezy and Rishaw Johnson also will see plenty of action at right guard on Saturday night.


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Thursday in Hawkville: Going deep on the depth chart

A recap of the activities at the Seahawks’ Bing training camp for Aug. 9:

FOCUS ON

Depth. Three starters did not participate in today’s two-hour practice, but it was difficult to tell because the backups who stepped in also stepped up.

Veteran guard Deuce Lutui, who was signed in free agency, took over at right guard for John Moffitt. Third-year cornerback Phillip Adams was at right cornerback for Brandon Browner. Veteran defensive lineman Jason Jones, another free agent addition, was the three-technique tackle spot for Alan Branch.

“That’s one of our key things in training camp, to develop depth,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “Look what happened last year at corner, we lose a couple guys so some younger guys have to step up. So we know those things are going to happen.”

Last year, after veteran cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond were lost to season-ending injuries, rookie Richard Sherman took over on the left side and played well enough that he remains the starter. When since-departed leading tackler David Hawthorne couldn’t play in the opener, rookie K.J. Wright started and played so well that the coaches decided he had to play more – so former first-round draft choice Aaron Curry was traded to the Raiders to open the strong-side spot for Wright.

“That’s great when younger guys can do that, and that was the case today,” Bradley said.

Bradley has been waiting to see more of Adams – and from Adams – and today it was with the starters.

“We’re putting a lot on his plate,” Bradley said. “And so far he’s handling it. We always tell the guys, ‘The more that you can do. It just makes your value go up.’ ”

ROOKIE WATCH

Korey Toomer. The fifth-round draft choice from Idaho has been toiling in the shadows of first-round pick Bruce Irvin, a blur of a pass-rusher; and second-round pick Bobby Wagner, who is pushing to be the starting middle linebacker.

But Toomer is beginning to show that he also is worth keeping an eye on in Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Titans at CenturyLink Field. Today, he flashed as a pass rusher, forcing Matt Flynn to scramble, flushing Josh Portis from the pocket and also getting to Portis for what would have been a sack. Toomer stopped rookie running back Robert Turbin after a 2-yard gain. He was all over a short completion to running back Kregg Lumpkin. He basically was a wrench in the rhythm the offense was trying to establish.

“He’s a guy that’s just learning,” Bradley said of Toomer. “He’s playing multiple positions. We’re stretching him, just to see what he can handle. You’re seeing flashes from him. Some things he does really well, some things he’s a ways away.

“But he’ll keep getting better.”

PLAYS DU JOUR

Offense: We went into practice determined to not write anything more about Terrell Owens, who has dominated camp coverage since being signed on Monday. But the future Hall of Fame wide receiver canned that plan on the final play of only his second practice with the team.

Owens went over Trufant to tip a pass from rookie QB Russell Wilson in the end zone and then controlled the ball as he was falling out of bounds against tight coverage. Touché, Terrell.

“Terrell made a great catch,” Wilson said. “He came down with the football, and that’s the main thing.”

But with Owens, it’s obviously not the only thing.

“It is kind of surreal that I get to play with Terrell Owens,” Wilson said. “Obviously he’s a very, very talented receiver and I grew up watching a lot of his games. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He comes in to work every single day and he’s doing a great job.”

Defense: Let’s go with the first two plays of practice, as Brandon Mebane – yes, 311-pound nose tackle Brandon Mebane – was all over Flynn’s screen pass to Marshawn Lynch and then veteran linebacker Leroy Hill got to Turbin several yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Bradley saluted the double-whammy by yelling, “Two-for-two, men. That’s two-for-two.”

IN ’N OUT

Tight end Kellen Winslow and linebacker Jameson Konz returned to practice. Winslow’s practice time is being monitored because of a chronic knee situation, while Konz was back after missing several days to rest a sore knee.

Sitting out, in addition to Browner, Moffitt and Branch: wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette; tight end Cameron Morrah; linebackers Matt McCoy and Allen Bradford; and offensive lineman James Carpenter and Thurmond, who remain on the physically unable to perform list.

LANE’S OLYMPIC MOMENT

Rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round draft choice from Northwestern (La.) State, has a signature move when the players move from pre-practice stretching to their first drill. He pops a flip, in shoulder pads and a helmet.

“I just like to do it to checkout my legs,” he said. “If I get real high, I feel my legs are fresh and it just starts my day.”

He started flipping out during practice last season, after a friend did it and encouraged Lane to give it a shot.

“He said, ‘You’ve got a high vertical. Just try it,” Lane said. “I trusted him. I stood there and I just flipped. I’ve been doing it ever since.”

But there’s nothing like that first time.

“It was very scary the first time,” he said, smiling. “My football career could have been over. But after I did it once I wasn’t scared anymore. I just got better and better at it.”

UP NEXT

The players will practice on Friday, their final tune-up before Saturday night’s preseason opener. After the game, they will get their third off day of camp on Sunday.

JOIN THE CROWD

A crowd of 1,812 fans watched today’s practice. Only two more practices are open to the public before camp breaks next Thursday – those next Tuesday and Wednesday. You can register here to attend.

JOHN MOFFITT, TRAFFIC REPORTER

You may have heard that state routes 520 and 167 will be closed this weekend, but you haven’t really heard until you watch this advisory from Moffitt.

Because of the closures, traffic will be heavier than usual on I-5 and I-90, so the club is asking fans heading to the game to plan accordingly.

STUFF THE BUS

Fans attending Saturday’s game are asked to bring backpacks stuffed with school supplies for the team’s annual Stuff the Bus drive to benefit Communities In Schools of Seattle. Your donations will be distributed to students at 32 schools.

EYE HAWKS

“Seahawks All Access” returns tonight on Root Sports. The weekly show that features player interviews and analysis from Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon airs at 10:30 tonight and will be replayed Saturday at 5 p.m. The first show spotlights defensive end Red Bryant and wide receiver Golden Tate.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing it. I hear so much negative stuff about me it’s kind of good to hear some positive stuff sometimes. I think that’s what separates me from a normal defensive end; I’m real fast and explosive.” – Irvin, when asked if he ever tires of hearing people gush about his speed off the edge as a pass rusher


Tuesday cyber surfing: A lot less Lutui

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Wednesday in Hawkville: Winslow catching up, catching on

A recap of the Seahawks’ OTA practice for May 30:

FOCUS ON

Kellen Winslow. Focus on? It was impossible not to watch the sure-handed Winslow today because he made play after play.

The former Pro Bowl tight end caught a half dozen passes during the two-hour practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center – in only his third practice with the Seahawks after being acquired in a trade last week with the Buccaneers.

His best play came during a two-minute drill, when he not only made a lunging grab of a Matt Flynn pass along the sideline but got out of bounds to stop the clock. The effort prompted linebackers coach Ken Norton to holler, “Helluva catch.”

Winslow later made another sideline grab on a pass from rookie Russell Wilson, as well as one over the middle on a pass from Tarvaris Jackson with a defender draped all over him.

“With Kellen coming in, he’s a difference-maker. He really makes things happen,” coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday night during a Town Hall meeting with fans at CenturyLink Field. “We’re going to use the heck out of him.”

But not at the expense of Zach Miller, another former Pro Bowl tight end who was added in free agency last year.

“Zach is a really good football player,” Carroll said. “He’s tough as nails. He does everything right. He knows his stuff. He has a variety of different things that he adds.”

Winslow and Miller might play the same position, but they don’t play it the same way.

“They’re totally different styles,” Carroll said. “Zach’s got his deal. Kellen’s got his deal. … We need to utilize them effectively to do those things. If we do that well and balance it out right, then they’ll be big factors for us.”

ROOKIE WATCH

Rishaw Johnson. During his Town Hall gathering, Carroll also sang the praises of the 6-foot-3, 313-pound guard from California (Pa.) University.

“I want you to watch Rishaw Johnson, now,” Carroll said. “This guy is an exciting football player.”

Today, Johnson was working at right guard with a No. 1 line that also included left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, center Max Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini.

How did the rookie do? “I’d say really well,” Unger said.

Johnson was at right guard with the first unit, because John Moffitt was playing center on the second and third lines. Moffitt was joined on the No. 2 line by – from left tackle to right – Alex Barron, Allen Barbre, Deuce Lutui and Paul Fanaika. The tackles on the No. 3 line were Frank Omiyale and Giacomini, while the guards were rookie J.R. Sweezy and Lemuel Jeanpierre. James Carpenter, last year’s first-round draft choice, took part in some individual drills today as he continues his rehab from the knee injury that ended his rookie season after nine games.

It’s a group of linemen that is vastly improved, not to mention a lot deeper, from Carroll’s first season in 2010.

“The first year we were here, we could not get a seventh guy on our roster,” Carroll said. “We weren’t sure who we’d put on the roster that year of the guys that were in (training) camp.

“It’s not like that anymore. It’s a viciously competitive battle in there for who’s going to make the team, who’s going to help us. We need quality depth to last. And also, it would allow us to play more guys and not just play the front five guys. So that guys can share the playtime and share the work load and they’ll last longer.”

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’m not sure if that story is true or not. He said it was for a period of time. What does that mean? I’m a vegan right now. I haven’t eaten in three hours.” – Unger, when asked about Lutui adopting a mostly vegan diet


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Thursday cyber surfing: The Seahawks world, according to Red Bryant

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

Dave Boling at the News Tribune offers some impressions from Wednesday’s 45-minute workout, which was open to the media: “Two of the new free agents, for instance, are obviously eager to make impressions. Defensive lineman Jason Jones, at 6-5, 276 pounds, is all angles and levers. If slapping your way through a series of blocking dummies in a hurry is any indication, Jones seems to be a perfect fit as an interior rusher on passing downs. And the new No. 72 is the surprisingly svelte guard Deuce Lutui, whom you may recall from the days when he was stretching out Arizona Cardinals jerseys. Lutui failed the physical last year with Cincinnati and returned to Arizona as a backup. Although said to have been topping out in the 400-pound range, he’s listed at a believable 338 now, having slimmed down by adopting some vegan concepts in his diet.”

Also at the News Tribune, Eric Williams has highlights from Red Bryant’s post-workout Q&A session: “According to Bryant, one thing he has noticed during Seattle’s offseason training is the difference from two years ago after coach Pete Carroll created more depth at every position. ‘In 2010 when I got injured we really didn’t have a person who could step up at that particular time and do what Coach Carroll envisioned for the defense,’ Bryant said. ‘But you can’t say the same thing today. If one guy goes down, I’m pretty sure the next guy will step in and it shouldn’t be a big drop off. And that’s a testament to Coach Carroll and the scouting department.’ ”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times focuses on Bryant’s newfound security, which comes with his new contract: “No doubt about his position, unlike two years ago when he switched from defensive tackle to end. No questions about his durability, after he started 16 games for the first time in his career. No uncertainty about his future, since he signed a five-year contract to remain with Seattle. ‘It’s definitely a change,’ Bryant said. ‘I’ve got more security … I know I’ll be here, and I’m a big player moving forward … I have a lot more responsibility as far as continuing to be the leader that I have become.’ ”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald looks at how Bryant is enjoying fatherhood: “This has been a big offseason for Red Bryant and his wife, Janelle. And not just because Bryant signed a sizeable contract in March in his first crack at free agency. In addition to gaining some considerable financial security, these past few months have been a lot different for the Bryants because they’ve had their hands full with one sizable baby. Fitting for the son of one defensive end and grandson of another — Janelle is the daughter of former Seahawks great Jacob Green — Joseph Brooks Bryant, who is only four months old, is already checking in at 22 pounds and 29 inches long. ‘It’s great,’ Bryant said of being a first-time parent. ‘It’s the best experience in the world. He’s starting to be a big boy.’ “

Mike Sando at ESPN.com delves deeper into Deuce Lutui’s vegan diet, that the Seahawks’ recently acquired guard credits with him being in the best offseason shape of his career: “Incorporating vegan principles into his diet has indeed helped Lutui reach his playing weight (340 pounds) months earlier than usual. But he has not stopped eating animal products entirely. Lutui, in consultation with a nutritionist, still eats fish and chicken to maximize his protein intake. Protein shakes after workouts are also allowed. Red meats and dairy products are on the do-not-eat list. ‘A lot of people wouldn’t call it vegan, but as the vegan concept goes, it is something I eat pretty much vegan throughout the week,’ Lutui said over the phone Tuesday. ‘I’ve been at this for four months, and so I’ve lost tremendous weight.’ ”

Also at ESPN.com, John Clayton touches on Bruce Irvin’s expected production this season while answering a reader’s question in his weekly mailbag: “I can see him getting 11 sacks as a rookie. I don’t think he will get many starts his rookie season, but Pete Carroll’s system is set up for him being a double-digit sacker. Carroll considered him the best pass-rusher in the draft. He figures to get Irvin on the field 60 percent of the snaps. If the strategy works, the Seahawks will have two 11-sack players – Chris Clemons and Irvin. It’ll be interesting to see whether more teams go into two-tight end sets against the Seahawks to try to minimize Irvin’s impact. Of course, if teams do that, it could take away some big-play ability from the downfield throws. It could also play into a strength of the Seahawks, who have the best young safety corps in football.”

Pete Carroll was on with “Brock and Salk” at 710 ESPN and discussed rookie QB Russell Wilson: “ ‘He can make all of the throws, and you know we’ve watched everything time and again to see it,’ Carroll told ‘Brock and Salk’ on Wednesday, a day before Wilson and the rest of the team’s rookies are scheduled to (report for) a three-day minicamp. ‘His body position does not have to be all aligned to make big throws down the field. He can move and kind of duck and dodge and come up firing and find guys crossing the field, 40 and 50 yards down the field, and put the ball on a line when he has to.’ “

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a deeper look into the team’s decision to dispatch Tom Cable to checkout J.R. Sweezy before deciding to draft the defensive tackle and move him to guard: “Tom Cable looks for certain characteristics in his offensive linemen; even when that lineman might be playing on the defensive side of the ball. That was the case when the Seahawks dispatched Cable, their assistant head coach/offensive line coach, to check out J.R. Sweezy, a defensive tackle at North Carolina State that the team was considering selecting in the NFL Draft – and moving to guard. When it came time to make the 18th pick in the seventh round on April 28, Sweezy it was – with an approving nod from Cable. ‘It was his demeanor, first and foremost,’ Cable said this week, as the veteran players continued Phase 2 of their offseason program. ‘His intelligence. His toughness. And how he played on defense.’ That’s what attracted the team. As for Cable, he offered, ’For me, what kind of pushed it all over the top was just how quick and athletic he was. That jumped out at me. You put that with those other characteristics and you’re thinking, ‘OK.’ ”

We’ve also got a look at the team’s improved pass rush, through the eyes of Bryant, as well as a recap of Bryant’s Q&A session: “Now that Bryant is back, he does not intend to stand on what he already has accomplished in his now-you-don’t-see-him/now-he’s-impossible-to-miss career. ‘I have bigger expectations than just a contract,’ he said. ‘I definitely want to be a guy when my playing days are over with and they think about the Seahawks, they think about big Red Bryant.’ ”

You can watch the Bryant interview here.


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Tuesday cyber surfing: Agreements a sign of the times

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 8:

The cyber surf is up after the Seahawks got contact agreements with eight of their 10 draft choices on Monday, including first-round pick Bruce Irvin.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times says the agreements leave the Seahawks way ahead of the game, and even offers a chart showing the length of no-shows by the team’s previous first-round picks: “Before Irvin, only two of Seattle’s past eight first-round choices signed a contract without missing a single training-camp practice: Earl Thomas in 2010 and Lawrence Jackson in 2008. None of Seattle’s first-round selections in the previous 10 years were signed by the end of June.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune has Irvin tweeting the news: “I’m just ready to work,” Irvin said via Twitter. “The money is cool. If you took the money away, I still would play this game for free!”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald includes the others who also agreed: “In addition to Irvin, the Seahawks also agree to terms with second-round pick Bobby Wagner, who projects to be the team’s starting middle linebacker; quarterback Russell Wilson (third round); linebacker Korey Toomer (fifth round); cornerback Jeremy Lane and safety Winston Guy (sixth round); and guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive end Greg Scruggs (seventh round).”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com points to Irvin’s early agreement as just the latest indication of how serious coach Pete Carroll is about improving the team’s pass rush: “The Seahawks also made improving their pass rush a top priority this offseason, signing tackle Jason Jones in free agency and drafting Irvin to assist Chris Clemons, who had 11 of their 33 sacks last season. No other Seattle player had more than four sacks in 2011. The team envisions using Irvin with Clemons on passing downs. Irvin is a candidate to succeed Clemons in the “Leo” role eventually.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with vice president of football administration and lead contract negotiator John Idzik for his thoughts on the quickened process: “What’s the deal? The new rookie salary scale that was included in the CBA that ended last year’s 136-day lockout? The eagerness of this year’s draft class to reach agreements before the start of this weekend’s rookie minicamp? Superior work by vice president of football administration John Idzik, the team’s lead negotiator? The smile that washed across Idzik’s face said it was a combination of elements that led to Monday’s rush of agreements. ‘I’d like to go with the latter,’ he cracked, before adding, ‘But there are a lot of factors at work, the primary one being the new CBA.’ It’s actually the second year of the CBA that ended the lockout, but last year everything seemed like it was done on the run – not to mention in late July and early August. ‘So this isn’t the burn in, 2011 was,’ Idzik said. ‘And a lot of the rookie deals are now structured a certain way. So there was a little bit of precedent for everyone to go off of – both from a league standpoint as well as a club standpoint.’ ”

We also take a look at Robert Turbin, the running back who was drafted in the fourth round, through the eyes of Sherman Smith, the team’s original running back who now coaches the position: “So, what is that Smith likes – no, loves – so much about Turbin? ‘Let me tell you, in the 18 years of doing interviews (at the NFL Scouting Combine), this kid is the best interview I’ve ever had,’ Smith said the other day after one of the workouts in the team’s offseason program. ‘Very impressive.’ While players can be coached-up by their agents prior to the process, you can’t force sincerity – especially the kind Turbin displayed in that Combine session with Smith, and his Q&A sessions with reporters in Indianapolis and after he was selected by the Seahawks. ‘You can’t fake that stuff,’ Smith said. ‘It’s genuine, what he’s all about.’ ”

We’ve also got the word on Deuce Lutui, the Seahawks’ recently-acquired 340-pound guard, becoming a vegan: “ ‘It’s true,’ said Lutui, a veteran offensive lineman who signed with the Seahawks in free agency last month. “And coming into the offseason, this is the best shape I’ve ever been in. I credit that vegan diet.’ As proof, Lutui not only pointed to his weight, he pulled up his shirt and offered, “I can finally see a six-pack there.” Lutui said he’s already at his game weight (340 pounds), a process that usually takes him much longer.”

Brady Henderson of 710 ESPN passes along highlights from an interview with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley at mynorthwest.com: “ ‘Some guys have said, ‘Well, they went to the Pro Bowl, and how is that going to affect them?’ Bradley said. ‘I know I got a text from Earl Thomas the other night, on Tuesday about 9:45 at night. He was trying to get the code for the DB room, to (watch) film. So right there that shows you their mentality. They’ll sneak in here to try to get on the JUGS machine in the indoor practice facility at night. They’re just driven that way. I think that’s why we’re so excited about this group.’ ”


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Meet Deuce Lutui, vegan

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the coach Pete Carroll dropped a bit of a dietary bombshell on Friday by proclaiming that Deuce Lutui had become a vegan.

You’ve probably also heard the skepticism that statement created. As in, “Really, a 340-pound vegan?” Mike Sando at ESPN.com was among those not biting.

“I followed up with Carroll twice in an effort to make sure the coach wasn’t joking,” Sando wrote on his NFC West blog. “He stuck with his story, but conceivably could have been kidding.”

Carroll was not kidding. How do we know? We went to the source today and got the word from Lutui’s vegan-consuming mouth.

“It’s true,” said Lutui, a veteran offensive lineman who signed with the Seahawks in free agency last month. “And coming into the offseason, this is the best shape I’ve ever been in. I credit that vegan diet.”

As proof, Lutui not only pointed to his weight, he pulled up his shirt and offered, “I can finally see a six-pack there.” Lutui said he’s already at his game weight (340 pounds), a process that usually takes him much longer.

How is it that a large lineman who obviously likes to eat – and needs to eat to maintain his size and strength – found his way to veganism?

“My whole family is vegan,” he said of his wife, Puanani, and their four children. Lutui then cracked the slightest of smiles before adding, “It’s a little different from the Tonga traditional cuisine. But it’s a lot of education, really, that has kind of opened that insight for me.

“If you were to go to my house and open up the fridge, you’d see all-vegan, all-natural products. I’m glad I’ve educated myself about what’s going in my mouth. I’ve educated myself, and that’s what’s causing my fitness and how I’ve really taken care of myself physically. And it’s also taken a toll on me mentally, just to really be disciplined.”

Carroll also coached Lutui at USC, before the Tongan-born lineman was selected in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Cardinals.

“Deuce Lutui, he is a joy to have out here,” Carroll said. “He has got such a great spirit. He always did. We looked at opportunities to get him on this club just because of that. He looks good. His weight is down – I mean, way down from where he can be. He’s a vegan, too, now, so he has really made a big turn, if you can imagine, yes.”

Added Lutui, “It’s beautiful, and it’s true. I’ve gone vegan.”


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Mock around the clock

Yes, we just waded into the sea of mock drafts available in cyberspace yesterday. But it’s a new day, and there are new mocks – and even some new selections for the Seahawks with the 12th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 26.

So let’s take a look:

Clark Judge, CBSSports.com (today): Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. “The loss of David Hawthrone only accentuates the need for an inside linebacker, and Kuechly is the best.”

Rob Rang, of NFLDraftScout.com at CBSSports.com (yesterday): Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. “Adding free agent LB Barrett Ruud and OG Deuce Lutui filled two of Seattle’s primary areas of concern with starting-caliber veterans. Those additions should allow the team to draft the best available player. The most talented player available is certainly Coples, who dominated the Senior Bowl and could provide the team with the headlining pass rusher it has lacked for years. Coples is widely viewed as a boom or bust pick due to his inconsistency but Pete Carroll is a master motivator.”

Dane Brugler, of NFLDraftScout.com at CBSSports.com (yesterday): Nick Perry, DE, USC. “The Seahawks ranked in the bottom half of the NFL last season with 33.0 sacks and Seattle’s front office has yet to answer their pass rush need during the offseason. Nick Perry, who was recruited to Southern Cal four years ago (by Pete Carroll), brings an intriguing blend of strength and speed off the edge. He isn’t the most flexible athlete, but he blew up the Combine in February with a 4.58 40-yard dash, 38.5-inch vertical leap, 10’4″ broad jump and 35 reps of 225-pounds on the bench press.”

Pat Kirwan, CBSSports.com (today): Kuechly. “The Seahawks could go in a few directions at this spot, but Kuechly makes the most sense to me to QB Pete Carroll’s defense. As Carroll said to me last week, linebackers in free agency moved off the board slowly because there are some very interesting linebackers in the draft.”

Will Brinson, CBSSports.com (today): Kuechly. “Pete Carroll would love to see Quinton Coples slip all the way down to 12, but that’s a pretty deep drop for the Tar Heel. And while Carroll and Co. might not like to pay for linebackers, Kuechly is a star who would be drafted much higher if he didn’t play an undervalued position. Five years from now, people will do re-drafts and he’ll be a top-five guy.”

John McClain, Houston Chronicle (yesterday) and this one has photos to go with it: Kuechly. “No team in the league needs linebackers like the Seahawks. They might be willing to trade up to get the best inside prospect.”

Albert Breer, NFL.com (yesterday): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State. “The defensive tackle spot is muddled at the top. My guess is John Schneider goes for the guy with the best tape, which is Cox.”

Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com (today): Coples. “I loved the Seahawks’ quiet re-signing of Red Bryant, one of the most underrated producers in the game, and picking up Jason Jones for one year was a no-lose move. Coples had a monster 2011 season and a solid combine workout. He could play defensive end or rush the passer from the OLB spot. A lot of draftniks have him going in the top 10. He could be a steal at No. 12 for the pass-rush-hungry Seahawks.”


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