Whether you spent our nation’s 237th birthday flinging off fireworks, manning the meat on your grill, stuffing yourself full of too much potato salad, or sucking down your favorite American brew, I sincerely hope that everyone had a very happy and very safe Independence Day.
But let’s be real. While yesterday did hold special meaning, it’s gone now. And all-in-all, it brought us one day closer to football season. We’re now sitting pretty at just 65 days remaining until the Seahawks kickoff the 2013 regular season on September 8 against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
So, as we do every Friday here at Seahawks.com to help us cope with life without football, here’s a detailed look at what’s going on next week, July 7-13, with your Seattle Seahawks:
Sunday, July 7:
- Cornerback Richard Sherman is set to host his celebrity softball game for charity at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium. Seahawks.com will be there bringing you video and social media coverage from the event and you can view a complete list of players and celebs attending here.
Monday, July 8:
- Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy finally makes it’s way to the state of Washington, stopping in Spokane for a two-day camp.
- Seahawks.com’s Clare Farnsworth continues his 2013 positional preview series with a look at the club’s defensive backs. You can check out past features from Farnsworth here.
Tuesday, July 9:
- The Seahawks 12 Tour officially kicks off with a visit to Anchorage, Alaska. Seahawks Vice President of Community Relations & Special Projects Mike Flood leads the charge along with kicker Steven Hauschka and long snapper Clint Gresham.
- Defensive end Greg Scruggs starts day one of his four-day youth football camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Day two of Wilson’s Passing Academy continues in Spokane, Wash.
- Farnsworth’s 2013 preview series wraps up, as he highlights the team’s special teams unit.
Wednesday, July 10:
- 12 Tour Alaska continues. From 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. our crew will take part in Camp Shriver Alaska at the Anchorage Dome – a Special Olympics Alaska event that provides sports training for high school and middle school students.
- Day two of Scruggs’ youth camp continues in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Thursday, July 11:
- A second-leg of the 12 Tour ramps up – this one in Bellingham, Wash. featuring wide receiver Doug Baldwin and defensive end Red Bryant. Baldwin and Bryant will start the day with an autograph session at 11 a.m. at the Outlet Shoppes at Burlington. At 5 p.m., the wideout-D-line duo will join Seahawks digital media host Tony Ventrella at Bellingham’s Lakeway Inn for a fan forum event.
- 12 Tour Alaska hosts a Play 60 challenge from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Alaska’s AT&T Sports Center.
- Day three of Scruggs’ youth camp continues in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Friday, July 12:
- The 12 Tour moves from Bellingham, Wash. to Vancouver, B.C., as Baldwin and Bryant are joined by Sherman north of the border. Click here for a detailed day-by-day rundown of the weekend’s events in BC.
- Scruggs’ youth camp finishes up in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Saturday, July 13:
- Running back Marshawn Lynch’s 7th annual Fam 1st Family Football Camp takes place in Oakland, Calif.
- Wilson’s Passing Academy travels west, landing at the University of Washington for Wilson’s final passing camp of the offseason.
The Seahawks partnered with the Microsoft Corporation to create a one week job shadowing program where left tackle Russell Okung, defensive end Gregg Scruggs, kicker Steven Hauschka, long snapper Clint Gresham & former Seahawk wide receiver Ben Obomanu were matched with Microsoft Finance & Research Managers
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” for today, Thursday, June 20, about your Seattle Seahawks:
ESPN.com has rolled out their NFL Future Power Rankings, an exercise measuring the confidence their site’s experts (Herm Edwards, Mel Kiper, Mike Sando, Gary Horton, Matt Williamson, Field Yates, and former NFL GM Bill Polian) has in each club as they project three seasons ahead. The ranking takes into account the quality of the team’s roster, the quality of it’s quarterback, the quality of the 2012 draft class, the ability of the team’s front office, and the capability of a team’s coaching staff. It’s an ESPN Insider feature, so a subscription is required to view the full piece, but here’s a sampling of what was said about the Seahawks, who ranked at No. 3 (up from No. 21 in last year’s Future Rankings) behind the Green Bay Packers (No. 2) and San Francisco 49ers (No. 1), “GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have very quickly drafted a contender in Seattle. The emergence of Wilson as a dynamic player and leader has exponentially improved this club. The defense loses coordinator Gus Bradley but in essence Pete’s fingerprints are all over this group anyway. And a good group it is. The addition of Cliff Avril at a low price was one of the best free-agent pickups of the year. Avril and Irvin provide an outstanding tandem of pass-rushers.” – Polian
Several contributors over at NFL.com position the Seahawks as the League’s best defense.
NFL.com Around the League writer Gregg Rosenthal ranks the top 25 edge rushers in the NFL today, and second-year defensive end Bruce Irvin makes the list at No. 12. Rosenthal lists Avril as having “just missed” his top 25.
NFC West blogger Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a chart breaking down NFL quarterbacks that have produced games with a QBR of 90+ from 2010-12. Perhaps not surprisingly, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list, totaling 14 games with a 90+ QBR in 46 starts from 2010-12, but it’s Wilson who stands out on Sando’s list with five 90+ QBR games last season alone.
Dick Fain, on Sports Radio 950 KJR AM’s “Mitch in the Morning” show, chats with Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon about what he saw from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson through the team’s Offseason Program and what to expect from the club in the 2013 season. We have the podcast for you below:
Here at Seahawks.com, Clare Farnsworth talks with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn about backup players stepping up.
Punter Jon Ryan is hosting a charity golf tournament today in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Free safety Chris Maragos, tight end Sean McGrath, kicker Steven Hauschka and long snapper Clint Gresham will also be in attendance.
And by way of NFL Network’s NFL AM, NFL Chief Security Officer Jeff Miller adds some clarity to the League’s new bag rule.
Yesterday, the Seahawks announced a schedule of summer activities dedicated to the 12th Man across the Pacific Northwest.
Showcasing that summer schedule is the Seahawks 12 Tour – when wide receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive end Red Bryant, kicker Steven Hauschka, long snapper Clint Gresham and cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will make stops across the states Washington and Alaska, as well as Vancouver B.C. In conjunction with Washington Tourism Alliance, the Seahawks players will be joined by members of the Sea Gals, team mascot Blitz, and Seahawks fan development staff as they host fan forums, make community appearances and participate in area football camps for youth at each stop.
The tour’s first stop is in Anchorage, Alaska with Hauschka and Gresham (July 9-14) and from there it’s on to Bellingham, Wash. (July 11-12) and Vancouver, B.C. (July 13-15) with Baldwin and Bryant. The tour will wrap-up with the cornerback-half of the “Legion of Boom” – Browner and Sherman – traveling to Kennewick (July 18-19) and Vancouver, Wash. (July 19-21).
“I wanted to be able to do it again because I had so much fun doing it before and meeting all different kinds of people,” said Baldwin, who participated in last year’s 12 Tour. “First and foremost, you get to connect with the fans and get to see that side of the game. It’s always interesting, but it’s also inspiring because you’ve got all of these people that are cheering you on. It kind of builds us up and gives us that extra energy and extra drive.”
Baldwin has never traveled to Bellingham or Vancouver, B.C., so he’s looking forward to connecting with the local community and fans in a setting outside of CenturyLink Field.
“Seeing them outside of the football field will be a great chance to interact with them,” Baldwin said. “It was just fascinating, because as dedicated as we are to our craft, we met tons of people last year who are just as dedicated to cheering us on every Sunday. It’s an awesome experience.”
Minicamp may have wrapped yesterday and training camp is still over a month out, but Baldwin’s football fun at Virginia Mason Athletic Center isn’t over just yet. Tomorrow, he’ll take part in the Seahawks All-Pro Varsity Skills Camp with youth ages 9-14, coaching up kids who eventually hope to play ball at the high school level.
And if you’re a loyal-12 looking for some Seahawks-love outside of the Pacific Northwest, here’s a look at several other Seahawks-player-driven football camps that may be in your area:
- June 22-23: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Richmond, Va.
- June 22-23: Seahawks Family Football Fest with linebacker K.J. Wright, wide receiver Charly Martin, running back Christine Michael & tight end Luke Willson in Renton, Wash. at VMAC
- June 25-26: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
- June 27-July 23: Free Seahawks Gatorade Junior Training Camps located throughout the state of Washington
- June 28-29: Free safety Earl Thomas’ Football Camp in Orange, Texas
- June 29: Defensive end Cliff Avril’s Inaugural Youth Football Camp in Green Cove Springs, Fla.
- June 29-30: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Madison, Wis.
- July 8-9: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Spokane, Wash.
- July 9-12: Defensive end Greg Scruggs’ Pro Football Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.
- July 10-13: Wide receiver Golden Tate and former Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy’s Football Camp in Tacoma, Wash.
- July 13: Running back Marshawn Lynch’s 7th annual Fam 1st Family Football Camp in Oakland, Calif.
- July 13-14: Quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Renton, Wash. at VMAC
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 11 during the second day of the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp:
Chris Harper. When it comes to a show of hands, the Seahawks’ fourth-round draft choice is showing great hands.
It was after Friday’s first practice that coach Pete Carroll offered, “Chris caught to ball beautifully. He really has great hands.”
Harper felt he played even better in the second practice.
“It went way better today than yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday, you just kind of didn’t know what to expect and just didn’t get into the flow and the pace because this is a lot different pace than what you’re used to in college.”
Better yet, receivers coach Kippy Brown agreed with the assessments made by Carroll and Harper.
“Chris has really strong hands and for a big guy he’s very athletic,” Brown said. “It’s just a matter of him learning. We’ve thrown a lot at these guys in two days’ time. I’m sure their heads are swimming. My head was swimming when I first got here.
“But he’s studying hard and he’s getting it. As he gets more comfortable with it, he’ll play faster and that’s what we’re looking for.”
For Harper, it continues to be an exercise in working on his transition game. He was, after all, originally a quarterback at the University of Oregon before switching positions and schools (to Kansas State).
“I’ve still got a long ways to go,” he said. “I’ve only been playing wide receiver for almost three years now, so I can learn from everybody.”
If today’s practice was any indication, things are progressing nicely. The highlight of Harper’s day was his over-the-shoulder catch of a pass from Jerrod Johnson after he had gotten behind cornerback O’Hara Fluellen. But Harper also worked himself free to make other catches, and when he wasn’t open he used his 234-pound body to make himself open.
“The fact that he’s 230-something pounds is what we liked,” Carroll said.
Asked about his bulk, Harper offered, “It helps me a lot, because DBs aren’t used to seeing guys that are like 230 playing receiver. So it gives me an advantage, as far as at the point of attack when the ball is in the air. When they want to get into pushing matches, I’ll usually come out on top of those.”
TRYING TO CATCH ON
Justin Veltung. The receiver/returner from the University of Idaho and Puyallup High School is one of the three dozen players at this camp on a tryout basis. And Veltung is making the most of the opportunity.
He was one of the players the Seahawks had in for a pre-draft visit. Veltung showed enough that they invited him back for this camp.
“He’s a smart guy and he knows what to do,” Brown said. “He doesn’t make very many mistakes and so far he’s been real reliable catching the football. So we’ll see.”
Veltung began his second practice by making a nice falling catching of a pass that looked to be beyond his reach. But before it was over he also had worked his way around a defender to catch a pass on the sideline; caught another pass in traffic over the middle; and reached back while in full stride to grab yet another.
As Veltung was making that last catch, The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now?” was blaring from the speakers along the sideline. Talk about right on cue.
CALLING PETER NGUYEN
Peter Nguyen, a 5-foot-7, 179-pound running back from Bellevue High School and the University of Montana, was added to the list of tryout players today.
Another back was needed because Darrell Scott, another tryout player, injured himself in the first drill on Friday.
THE SKINNY ON SCRUGGS
Second-year defensive lineman Greg Scruggs had surgery Thursday to repair a torn ligament in his right knee. A seventh-round draft choice last year, Scruggs was injured during a workout in the veterans’ offseason program.
“He stumbled coming out of a bag drill … tried to catch himself and hyperextended his knee,” Carroll said. “It was just a drill by himself and it’s unfortunate that he hit just exactly wrong.”
Scruggs had two sacks among his six tackles as a rookie, when he played in 11 games.
“He’ll come back quickly from this, but it’s still a long haul for him,” Carroll said.
GIANTS ADD SOME CURRY TO THE MIX
Aaron Curry has found a new NFL home. Another new NFL home.
The former Seahawks’ linebacker and fourth pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft has signed with the Giants, and ESPNNewYork.com has the details.
Curry started 12 games as a rookie and 16 in 2010 for the Seahawks. But he lost the starting job on the strong side to K.J. Wright in 2011 and was traded to the Raiders for a seventh-round draft choice in 2012 and a fifth-round pick in 2013 – which the Seahawks used to select guard J.R. Sweezy (last year) cornerback Tharold Simon (this year).
Curry played in 11 games for the Raiders in 2011 and two games last season before being waived in November.
“We think we have a good opportunity for him to see if he can re-invent himself a little bit and bring something to our linebacking corps,” Giants GM Jerry Reese said. “If he didn’t work out well for us, we wouldn’t be fooling around with this.
“He’s the fourth pick in the draft a few years ago. Obviously, we think he has some talent. We had him graded high back then. We will see what happens.”
MT. RUSHMORE UPDATE
This camp is all about the present, and hopefully future, for the rookies in attendance. But let’s take a moment to revisit the past.
Last week, we asked you to vote on who should be the fourth “head” on a Seahawks Mt. Rushmore, joining Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones. So far, Matt Hasselbeck is leading with 28 percent of the votes, followed by Shaun Alexander (20.9), Kenny Easley (20), Mike Holmgren (15.9), Jacob Green (8.7) and Chuck Knox (6.6).
It’s not too late to cast your vote.
The rookie minicamp will conclude Sunday with a morning practice. Monday, the veterans return to begin the final week in Phase 2 of their offseason program.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s pretty similar, minus the music. I don’t think coach (Nick) Saban would like that.” – defensive tackle Jesse Williams, when asked about the pace of these practices compared to those at Alabama
Good morning, and welcome to day one of the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp.
Rookies trickled into Virginia Mason Athletic Center throughout the afternoon yesterday for team physicals, player head shots, and administrative meetings. This morning, they’ll get in a round of offensive and defensive meetings and participate in a walk-thru before hitting the fields adjacent to the shores of Lake Washington for a 1:30 p.m. practice. Saturday’s practice will start at the same time – 1:30 p.m. – and Sunday’s session is slated for an 11:30 a.m. start.
Before all that gets going, we have some morning links for you previewing what to look for this weekend:
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his minicamp primer, posing five questions surrounding this year’s rookie class and crop of undrafted rookie free agents.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his camp preview, offering five things to keep an eye on at camp over the next three days.
Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com has his list of five things we’ll be trying to find out about this year’s group of rookies.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com breaks down NFC West rosters by position as rookie camps start for all four teams in the division this weekend.
Our Clare Farnsworth highlights Seahawks quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who despite not being a rookie, will do most of the throwing for this weekend’s camp.
Farnsworth also catches up with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on what the two will be looking for, and looking at, over the next three days.
And if you missed it last night, defensive lineman Greg Scruggs underwent ACL reconstruction yesterday for an injury he suffered prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.
We’ll be back with more after today’s practice and media availabilities. Until then, please have yourself a happy Seahawks Blue Friday.
Second-year defensive end Greg Scruggs underwent arthroscopic ACL reconstruction of his right knee today, the team confirmed this evening. The surgery was performed by Dr. Ed Khalfayan at Seattle Surgery Center.
Scruggs tweeted that the injury occurred about three weeks ago, which would place it before the 2013 NFL Draft. In that draft, the Seahawks bolstered their defensive line with the selections of Jordan Hill (third-round) and Jesse Williams (fifth-round).
Scruggs, the 6-foot-3, 284-pound former seventh-round draft pick out of Louisville, saw action in 11 games during his rookie season. He finished the year with 11 total tackles, 2.0 sacks and one pass defensed. He provided the Seahawks with depth at multiple positions along the defensive line, as he saw action on the inside at tackle and at the outside end position.
After the news broke, Scruggs took to Twitter to thank Seahawks fans for the support.
One thing is guaranteed that I'm going to bust my butt to get back to full strength and contribute next year. Very disappointing…—
Greg Scruggs (@G_Scruggs) May 10, 2013
But I am and will continue to be in good spirits. 12's I promise I'll be back stronger….My guarantee.—
Greg Scruggs (@G_Scruggs) May 10, 2013
A picture is worth a thousand words…or in this case, at least around 500.
Offensive tackle Breno Giacomini left Atlanta’s Georgia Dome last night in much higher spirits than when he and the Seahawks left that same stadium back in January, after the club fell 30-28 to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC divisional playoff round.
That’s because Giacomini had just witnessed his stop-at-nothing Louisville Cardinals win the 2012-13 NCAA men’s basketball National Championship, outlasting a tough, young University of Michigan squad, 82-76, to finish the year with 34 wins – including 16 in a row to end the season – to just five losses.
“The scene was unreal,” Giacomini said today of Monday’s setting in Atlanta. “I went last year, so I felt the good and the bad. This year something just felt right.”
Last year, the fourth-seeded Cardinals won the bracket’s West Region to advance to the Final Four, but fell to the eventual champion Kentucky Wildcats in the tournament’s semifinal. This year, led by senior point guard Peyton Siva, a graduate of Seattle’s Franklin High School (who quarterback Russell Wilson sends some love to below), Louisville marched into the madness with the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.
“Both schools had thousands of fans there,” Giacomini said. “We set a record for attendance. It was an unbelievable experience.”
The dome packed 74,326 fans, to be exact. A number that topped the previous NCAA tournament attendance record of 72,922 set in 2011 in Houston, Texas, and ousted the 70,366 who witnessed the Seahawks-Falcons divisional playoff. The numbers were impressive – as was the noise – but not enough to top what Giacomini has experienced here in the Emerald City.
“Let’s just say it sounded like a second down in Seattle when our ‘D’ is on the field,” he said of the crowd noise in the Georgia Dome. “I can’t say it was like third down, because no one can match that in any sport.”
A 2008 Louisville graduate, Giacomini has been living in the state of Kentucky since 2004. The rivalry between the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky runs deep, and the two are separated by just 76 miles down Interstate-64. Needless to say, Monday’s win that brought the championship from Lexington to Louisville was big.
“For the basketball team to bring it back to the ‘Ville is huge,” Giacomini said. “This is a basketball state, so the fans are diehard. It’s something that Louisville has been waiting on for a long time. The man behind it deserves all the credit – our athletic director Tom Jurich.
“Hopefully we can pull in another ‘Ship tonight with the Lady Cards.”
That’s right, Louisville’s hoop dreams aren’t over just yet. They’ve become just the third school to have both women’s and men’s basketball teams in the NCAA Title Games in the same year. The Lady Cards are set to take on the University of Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA women’s National Championship at 5:30 p.m. PT.
And you can bet Giacomini will be watching.
Fellow Louisville alum and Seahawks defensive end Greg Scruggs is also hoping the Lady Cards can bring the championship home tonight:
Following last night’s NCAA Championship, quarterback Russell Wilson had a personal message for Louisville point guard Peyton Siva:
Steve Specht, who coaxed Greg Scruggs into playing football at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, was presented the 2012 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award this morning during a ceremony in New Orleans as part of the Super Bowl festivities.
Scruggs, a defensive lineman and seventh-round draft pick by the Seahawks last April, nominated Specht for the annual award that is named after the winningest coach in NFL history. But to Scruggs, Specht is a winner with or without the national recognition.
“I’m a spitting image of what coach Specht is all about – respect, discipline, working hard, being a man, remembering where I came from, staying humble,” said Scruggs, who did not play football for Specht until his senior year. “All the characteristics you can find in me are a direct reflection of not only my family but from him. He was my first impression of football. So whatever he instilled in me, that’s all I knew and that’s what I was going to take with me.
“So to this day, even with the Seahawks, everybody on the staff and around the organization knows that I’m going to work my rear off and at the end of the day that will never waver, and that I’m going to be respectful and mindful of the media and coaches and friends and players and fans alike. And that’s a direct reflection of my first impressions of ever being exposed to it, and that was with Steve Specht.”
With the award comes $10,000 for Specht and another $15,000 for the football program at Xavier. It makes it even sweeter because Specht never got into high school coaching for the monetary rewards.
“You work at this profession, at this level, you’re hoping that you’re helping to turn boys into men,” Specht said. “Everything that we preach, everything we talk about, you sometimes wonder if it’s gotten through to the kids. Then something like this happens. So you look back and you say, ‘We did it. We made an impact,’ because Greg Scruggs cared enough to give back.”
HONOLULU – Count ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. among those who’s willing to admit he erred on the grade he gave the Seahawks after they made their selections in last April’s NFL Draft.
In fact, it seems the line forms behind Kiper, who has given the Seahawks an A in his regarding of the 2012 draft after initially slapping them with a C-minus.
It’s an Insider feature at ESPN.com, so you must register and pay a fee to see Kiper’s entire regarding. But here’s what he had to say about the Seahawks:
“Give John Schneider and Pete Carroll all the credit in the world. I had major questions on value and even need with some of their picks, and in most cases, the Seahawks proved me wrong. At the time I wrote, ‘Let’s be clear: I think the Seahawks drafted guys they really wanted, and with a plan in mind for how to use them.’ Did they ever. Russell Wilson might be the defining pick of the draft, already a star and a guy Seattle got at No. 75 overall. I really liked Wilson as a prospect, and said on the set I thought he’d be ‘a great test case’ for short quarterbacks. My question of the pick also had to do with the fact that Seattle had acquired Matt Flynn. If Wilson had been 6-foot-2, I think he would have been a top-5 pick – said it then, say it now. Is that evaluation still reasonable? Has Wilson proven that short QBs can’t all be lumped together? Ultimately, evaluators will still have questions about whether short QBs can succeed because they simply have so few of them to evaluate. The sample size for guys at Wilson’s size who’ve succeeded as he has is so small that not only is Wilson almost unique, I don’t see a QB like him coming along for years. But there’s no way around the fact that he was a great pick, perhaps the best of the draft when you consider where he was taken.
“I also had questions about the value of Bobby Wagner at No. 47 overall, but he was a home run, an impact starter and a guy who will be a fixture for years to come. Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane and Greg Scruggs also look like great picks. The one pick I really questioned then and still feel the same way about is Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall. There’s no question Irvin can rush the passer, but that’s really all he can do, and I still don’t see him as a good value at that spot because he’s so one-dimensional. I wrote then, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Irvin gets 10 sacks in 2012, but that’s really his game. He’s not a three-down player yet.’ He still isn’t, and is a total liability against the run, as we saw against Atlanta in the playoffs. He finished with 8.0 sacks, but has plenty of development left if he wants to become more than a situational player. I think you want more of a complete player at that point in the draft. Still, this was an exceptional draft, a very good one in terms of immediate value and likely a defining one for the franchise based on Wilson alone.”
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 10:
Clinton McDonald. So, what do you get a guy who already has so much for his birthday? How about a fumble recovery to ice the team’s first road playoff victory since 1983?
That was the case for McDonald on Sunday, which just happened to be his 26th birthday, when he fell on a fumbled snap by Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III with 6½ minutes to play in the Seahawks’ 24-14 victory. And McDonald’s reaction was typical of why the nose tackle has become such a popular player in only his second season with the team.
“I told him, ‘That’s a great birthday present.’ And he said, ‘It’s a birthday present for the team,’ ” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said after practice, which was held in the indoor practice facility. “That’s really his mentality. Like a lot of our guys, it’s whatever they can do to help us play at the highest level.”
Because of the win, and McDonald’s play, the Seahawks will play at a higher level – Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta, with the winner advancing to the NFC Championship game.
And this week, McDonald will be anchoring a nickel line that won’t have sack leader Chris Clemons, who will have surgery next week to repair the knee ligament and meniscus he tore in the game last Sunday. So the rush-end opposite first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin could be rookie Greg Scruggs; or perhaps outside linebacker Mike Morgan; or even Patrick Chukwurah, who was signed to fill Clemons’ roster spot on Wednesday but hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2007; or a combination of the three.
The given is that McDonald will continue to be the leader of that group.
“He is really, I don’t know if inspirational is the right word, but the guys really rally around him,” Bradley said. “He does a great job with that group of bringing everybody together – the young guys, the older guys, he kind of meshes between them both.”
There is the risk of trying to do too much to make up for the loss of Clemons, who has had double-digit sacks in each of his three seasons with the Seahawks. So McDonald also will be into risk management this week.
“I don’t feel like there’s extra pressure,” he said. “I just feel like we’ve got a man down and guys are made to step up in this situation. So we’ve just got to show what we know.”
Just as McDonald and Irvin, who had a fourth-quarter sack of RGIII, did after Clemons went out in the third quarter against the Redskins.
“I wouldn’t say I’m worried,” McDonald said. “We know what we’re missing in Chris Clemons. But at the same time, we’ve still got a game to play. We’ve still got to take that field and go out and produce.”
Chukwurah. The just-signed defensive end and special teams player did more today than during his first practice with the team on Wednesday. He’ll likely do even more on Friday. It’s all part of trying to get him ready for some spot action against the Falcons.
“It’s tough,” Bradley said. “He’s been lifting (weights) in gyms and riding ellipticals. This is going to be a little bit different. But some of the third-down situations, if he’s a rusher, get 15-16 reps. That’s what we’re looking at.”
As well as special teams. “He’s been very good on special teams in the past,” said Bradley, who was with the Buccaneers when Chukwurah played with them in 2007. “They’re taking a look at him there to see where he is conditioning-wise, what he can handle.”
RUSSELL WILSON UP FOR ANOTHER AWARD
Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback, is a finalist for the Vizio Top Value Performer award as someone who has performed above and beyond expectations.
“Overlooked by the majority of the league, Wilson lasted until the third round of the 2012 draft. Earning $390,000 in 2012, he completed 252 passes for 3,118 yards and 26 TDs, tying a league record for passing TDs by a rookie. Exceeding all expectations, he’s an ideal choice for the Vizio Top Value Performer award,” is what they said about Wilson in naming him a finalist.
You can vote here for Wilson.
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)
CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)
No change for the Seahawks, as Lynch, Johnson and Maxwell sat out for a second consecutive day to rest injuries that have sidelined them at times during practice in previous weeks.
For the Falcons:
Did not practice
CB Christopher Owens (hamstring)
S William Moore (hamstring)
DE John Abraham (ankle)
S Charles Mitchell (calf)
CB Dunta Robinson (head)
The only change for the Falcons was Mitchell being limited after sitting out on Wednesday.
STAT DU JOUR
Lynch rushed for 99 yards in the second half of Sunday’s win over the Redskins, after having 33 in the first half. It was just the sixth time in 17 games this season, and the first in the current six-game winning streak, that Lynch has had more yards in the second half than the first. Here’s a look at his half-and-half performances, starting with the season opener against the Cardinals:
First half Second half
Opponent No.-Yards No.-Yards
Cardinals 10-40 11-45
Cowboys 10-22 16-100
Packers 16-71 9-27
Rams 10-62 10-56
Panthers 7-28 14-57
Patriots 9-26 6-15
49ers 9-55 10-48
Lions 7-80 5-25
Vikings 11-55 15-69
Jets 14-39 13-85
Dolphins 9-12 10-34
Bears 7-51 12-36
Cardinals 8-69 3-59
Bills 9-100 1-3
49ers 12-64 14-47
Rams 8-66 10-34
Redskins 8-33 12-99
“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the team will hold its final full practice before flying to Atlanta for Sunday’s game. The Saturday walkthrough will be held in the Atlanta area.
Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas got into the Thursday theme by picking off two passes, while cornerback Richard Sherman also had an interception.
YOU DON’T SAY
“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.” – Peter King in predicting a 17-13 Seahawks victory at SI.com