Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today – “Seahawks Blue Friday” – January 11.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Seahawks general manager John Schneider, “As much as coach Pete Carroll has molded this team on the field, Schneider is the one responsible for picking out the raw materials, whether it’s finding a top-shelf pass rusher like Chris Clemons on the nether regions of another team’s roster or picking a potential franchise quarterback like Russell Wilson in the third round. It’s Schneider who reports to owner Paul Allen when 2010 fourth-round pick E.J. Wilson doesn’t work out and Schneider and the scouts who have steered the Seahawks to starter after starter in the draft. ‘I owe so much to John Schneider and what he’s done,’ Carroll said last week. ‘He’s been extraordinary in supporting me, and allowing me to do the things that I want to do and how we want to do it with players that complement it in always a competitive, active approach to what everyone is doing.’ ”
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has a look at Russell Wilson’s competitiveness as a lead blocker, “Sometimes Wilson blocking for the Seahawks has made good sense tactically, Carroll added. Coming off a read option, the quarterback is often in a “crucial spot” during the play to make a difference. Part of it, also, is Wilson’s competitiveness. ‘Every play for him, he plays it to the end,’ said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The key? Just use your head. ‘Which I don’t have to remind him,’ Carroll said. ‘He knows. He really does have a sense for it and he’s not going to bloody his nose laying somebody out. He’s going to try and make a block though and make a difference.’ ”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Seahawks will look to improve in the red zone this week against the Falcons, “During the regular season, the Seahawks were No. 2 in red-zone efficiency (second to only Houston), finishing 51 of 54 inside the 20-yard line (94.4), including 31 touchdowns and 20 field goals. The Seahawks were one of two NFL teams not to commit a turnover in that span. However, things changed in Seattle’s first playoff game at Washington. The Seahawks finished 1 of 6 inside Washington’s 20-yard line, settling for three Steven Hauschka field goals. Marshawn Lynch also lost a fumble near Washington’s goal line, and Wilson almost threw an interception on a pass intended for Doug Baldwin. ‘We believe it’s critical every week and we didn’t do a good enough job last week in the red zone,’ Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ‘We got down there a lot, but we weren’t able to convert them into touchdowns. That’s a focal point each and every week. We need to focus that we’re turning those into seven points, which really helps our defense. If we can get teams behind, obviously any team’s defense is going to be able to play better when they’re in the lead. So we need to keep working there.’ ”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald previews the matchup between Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Falcons receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, “Football, perhaps more than any sport, can come down to a chess match between coaches; to one team exploiting another team’s weakness; to neutralizing another team’s strength. But sometimes, football at its best is a one-on-one battle where the outcome of a play, or maybe even a game, comes down to which player does his job better at a given moment. And if ever there was potential for some exciting mano-a-mano matchups, it would be in Sunday’s playoff matchup between Atlanta and Seattle when two of the NFL’s biggest, most-physical corners line up across from two of the league’s most productive receivers, who aren’t exactly known for shying away from physical play. ‘What a matchup this week is, wow,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘They’ve got great receivers. Roddy and Julio. Those guys are fantastic players. You’re going to see the biggest, longest looking guys going one-on-one out there. It’s going to be really a great matchup to watch, and our guys are going to try and play really good football — just like we always do — and not change anything. They’re so good, so it’s going to be an interesting aspect of this game.’ ”
Boyle also passes along Thursday’s injury report for both the Seahawks and Falcons, noting running back Marshawn Lynch sat out practice again with a foot injury, “For the second day in a row, the Seahawks practiced without running back Marshawn Lynch, who is listed with a foot injury. Pete Carroll did not mention Lynch when asked Wednesday about injuries from Sunday’s game, so there’s a good chance the injury is not serious, but we should know a lot more Friday.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing for 710Sports.com, asks which team would you rather be right now, the Seahawks or Falcons? “Which team would you rather be? The Falcons are 13-3 but lost twice in December and haven’t won a game since Dec. 22. They lost their last game of the year at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team they tried to beat by leaving their starters in for most of the game. Atlanta’s high-powered offense managed just 278 yards and didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter that day. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have put together one of the most impressive runs not only in franchise history, but NFL history. They outscored opponents 193-60 in December and, unlike the Falcons, put up some impressive numbers during that stretch.”
Brock Huard of 710Sports.com passes along his latest “Chalk Talk“, breaking down Marshawn Lynch’s 27-yard touchdown run in last Sunday’s Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins.
Tim Booth of the Associated Press highlights the matchup between the Seahawks corners and Falcons wideouts, “Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game between Seattle and Atlanta will feature a fascinating matchup between Sherman and fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and the Falcons’ receiving duo of White and Jones. It’s the big, physical cornerbacks of the Seahawks, who because of their skills allow Seattle’s defense to be unique, against the big, physical and fast star receivers of the Falcons who make the offense go. ‘I expect our guys to try to play like they always play. They don’t need to change anything because we’re not doing anything different, we’re going to try and hang with them, and we’ll find out what happens,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘This is probably the best pair and pair that you could match up, and because of the size, and because of their physical nature in the way that they play, it’s going to be really exciting to see.’ ”
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” to talk about the divisional round game between the Seahawks and Falcons, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Thursday, “WR Julio Jones, WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez present some potential match-up problems for Seattle. Only the group of WR Miles Austin, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten seem to rival the group threat presented by the Falcons. But don’t expect the Seahawks to change how they do things defensively. Seattle has made their way by playing physical press coverage on the outsides with a speedy S Earl Thomas to cover the deep middle of the field. They intend to run their defense the same way they have all season. ‘We have to stay to our principles,’ CB Richard Sherman said. ‘They have a really intricate offense and they use their players well. They know exactly how to use everyone and get the most our of them but going away from yourself in the playoffs, you’re shooting yourself in the head. This is what got us here. We have to play our style. That’s what got us here and you live by your style, you die by your style. That’s what we’re going to do.’ ”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along his predictions for the playoff games this weekend, “Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET: Atlanta was going to be my pick here once the Seahawks lost defensive end Chris Clemons to a season-ending knee injury. Seattle is traveling across the country in consecutive weeks. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Seahawks also drew the dreaded 10 a.m. PT kickoff. The Seahawks are the more well-rounded team, however. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are a tough combination to beat right now. Count me in for an all-NFC West championship game, but hedge your bets. It could be wishful thinking unless Wilson and the passing game are sharper this week. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20.”
Sando also questions the strength of the Seahawks defense if the game is close late in the fourth quarter, “Those following Seattle all season know the details. Others should consider the following while analyzing a defense that nonetheless led the NFL in points allowed for 2012:
- The Detroit Lions converted three times on third down against Seattle during their drive to the winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in Week 8.
- The St. Louis Rams converted on third-and-10 and third-and-13 against Seattle while driving to a fourth-quarter field goal during a 19-13 victory in Week 4.
- The Miami Dolphins completed an 18-yard pass on third-and-7 during their drive to the tying fourth-quarter touchdown against Seattle before prevailing on a last-second field goal in Week 12.
I’ve singled out late-game collapses on third-down in these road games. Seattle was arguably a defensive stop away from winning at least two of those games.”
Peter King of SI.com has his playoff picks in, and he picks the Seahawks to top the Falcons, 17-13, “Most significant NFL Wednesday injury report line: ‘ATL – DE John Abraham (ankle), limited.’ He’d better not be limited Sunday, two weeks after what looked to be worse than the apparently nasty ankle sprain Abraham suffered in the last game of the season. Not quite sure why, with Seattle missing its best pass rusher (Chris Clemons, torn ACL on the FedEx cow pasture last week) and Abraham likely not at full health, I pick only 30 points to be scored here. I think both secondaries will play stout and smart, and the physicality of the Seattle back four (or five, or six) will have a big impact on the game.”
And in the spirit of “Seahawks Blue Friday”, we leave you with a Seahawks rally that took place yesterday at King St. Bar & Oven in downtown Seattle:
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
A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 7:
Steven Hauschka. The Seahawks’ kicker has a strained muscle in his lower calf, so his status for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta is in question.
“We don’t know how significant it is,” coach Pete Carroll said during his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media. “He feels better today than he did yesterday.”
Hauschka was injured during the team’s 24-14 victory over the Redskins in their wild-card playoff game at FedEx Field on Sunday. He was able to kick field goals, hitting from 32, 29 and 22 yards. But punter Jon Ryan had to handle the final three kickoffs.
“He really did a great job of kicking through it and making the plays we needed him to make,” Carroll said.
Carroll said the team will have kickers in for tryouts on Tuesday, just in case.
“There are a lot of scenarios here for us,” Carroll said. “So we’ll see what happens tomorrow and then see what happens the next day.”
Hauschka made 24 of his 27 field-goal attempts during the regular season, with one kick blocked and the two misses coming from 61 and 51 yards.
SURGERY FOR CLEMONS
Chris Clemons, who has led the team in sacks in each of his three seasons with the Seahawks, has been lost because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee. He was injured in Sunday’s game.
“He will have to have surgery,” Carroll said. “So we’ll miss him, which is a big loss for us in a lot of ways. Chris has been a great football player. He’s been just a symbol of consistency for the years we’ve had him.”
With Clemons out, first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin will step into the Leo end spot for this week’s game against the Falcons.
BRADLEY, BEVELL DRAW INTEREST
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have been linked to vacant head-coaching jobs in the league, and Carroll confirmed that interest.
“Both those guys have been contacted,” Carroll said. “I think it’s a real positive for the program when people want to talk to your guys. I’ve always felt that’s a real cool thing.”
It will not, however, be a factor in this week’s preparation for the Falcons.
“There’s a time and a place,” Carroll said. “Both guys are very aware of what we’re doing and what we’re in for here. Neither one of them is going to let this distract them or get in the way. There are very limited opportunities for any of that. They’re not going to travel and go places and run around and all that.
“In all due respect for what we’re after right now, it’s low on their list. Both these guys feel exactly the same way about it. They’re both fantastic candidates. They’re equipped. They’ve got their act together. They’re going to be head coaches, whether it’s now or in the near future. So we’ll see how it goes.”
MORE KING-SIZED PRAISE FOR SEAHAWKS
Last week, Peter King at SI.com shared that he voted for both Russell Wilson (offense) and Bobby Wagner (defense) as NFL rookies of the year. Today, he lists all his votes for the Associated Press honors, including fullback Michael Robinson and cornerback Richard Sherman on the All-Pro team.
King also tabs GM John Schneider as NFL Executive of the Year. All of King’s selections are available here.
Don Banks at SI.com also voted Wilson the offensive rookie of the year, and his feeling vindicated after his performance against the Redskins: “It was an almost impossible choice, but I voted for Seattle’s Wilson as the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in last week’s AP balloting, and after Sunday, I’m feeling fine about that choice. Team results don’t mean everything in an individual award, of course, but Wilson and the Seahawks will play on while (Andrew) Luck’s Colts and (Robert) Griffin’s Redskins are going home for the offseason. Does anyone who calls themselves a judge of NFL talent still think Wilson is too short at 5-foot-10 or whatever he is? You can argue Wilson has a better team around him than Luck or Griffin, but all three wound up in the playoffs, and only Wilson found a way to get his team a win – on the road no less, where Seattle went 3-5 this regular season, and hadn’t won in the playoffs since 1983.”
THOMAS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND
Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas has been named to the 2012 All-Fundamentals Team, which not surprising after watching the way he tracked the ball and then displayed his closing speed in making an interception against the Redskins on Sunday.
You can view here the rest of the team, and also see and hear what they have to say about Thomas.
STAT DU JOUR
Marshawn Lynch has joined Shaun Alexander as the only backs in franchise history to have two 100-yard rushing performances in the postseason, and Lynch did it on Sunday by tying Alexander’s playoff-record total. Here’s a look at their triple-digit games, as well as the others in club history:
Player, opponent (date) Yards
Marshawn Lynch, Redskins (Jan. 6, 2010) 132
Shaun Alexander, Panthers (Jan. 22, 2006) 132
Marshawn Lynch, Saints (Jan. 8, 2011) 131
Dan Doornink, Raiders (Dec. 22, 1984) 126
Curt Warner, Dolphins (Dec. 31, 1983) 113
Shaun Alexander, Bears (Jan. 14, 2007) 108
The players were “off” on Monday and also will be “off” on Tuesday. But they’re required to get in a workout once during the two-day period. They will return on Wednesday to begin practice for Sunday’s game in Atlanta.
In case once wasn’t enough, the NFL Network will replay Sunday’s game at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Need another reason to watch, or re-watch? They had the loquacious Sherman wired for sound during the game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“What a matchup this weekend. Wow. They’ve got great receivers. Roddy and Julio, those guys are fantastic players. You’re going to see the biggest, longest-looking guys going one-on-one out there. It’s going to be really a great matchup to watch.” – Carroll on Sherman and fellow cornerback Brandon Browner going against Falcons wide receivers Roddy White and Juilo Jones, who combined for 171 receptions, 2,549 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches during the regular season
A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 3:
Brandon Browner. The Seahawks’ right cornerback returned from his four-game suspension on Monday, practiced with the team for the first time in a month on Wednesday and today he fielded questions from the media at his cubicle in the locker room before practice.
“It’s really exciting,” Browner said. “I’m glad to be back out here with my team. Enjoying that.”
Browner returned to his offseason home in Southern California during his suspension for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“I couldn’t find it in myself working out here,” he said. “I wasn’t coming up here (to VMAC). So it was weird to go to some park here.”
But Browner did watch the four games he missed – a 58-0 romp over the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field; a 50-17 victory over the Bills in Toronto; a 42-13 win over the 49ers in Seattle; and last week’s 20-13 victory over the Rams, also at CenturyLink Field.
“It was fun,” he said with a smile, “because we were kicking everybody’s butt. I missed not playing with the guys, but it was awesome to watch.”
Browner has returned just in time to experience the NFL postseason for the first time, as the Seahawks are preparing for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game against the Redskins at FedExField. He was on a Grey Cup-winning team with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL in 2008. But this is different because it’s the NFL.
“It’s very exciting,” Browner said. “That’s what you play for, to get to the playoffs and eventually, hopefully, the Super Bowl.”
And his thoughts on this latest first in his career that took a radical turn last year when he was signed to a future contract by the Seahawks in January, won the starting job during training camp and ended playing in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement after leading the team with six interceptions and 23 passes defensed?
“You don’t know yet until the game comes,” Browner said of the playoffs. “But I think we have a good game plan going into this and it will be a good matchup. I’ve got confidence in my team and my ability.”
Is Browner ready after sitting out a month?
“Most definitely,” he said. “It starts in the head, and I’m mentally tough. I know I’ll be a little tired out there, but at the end of the day I’m fighting for a playoff victory. So I’ll be all right.”
To help with the physical preparation, Browner got some reps today with the scout team that works against the Seahawks’ offense, as well as working with the No. 1 defense.
“It always takes a little bit of time to get back into it – the one-on-one’s, the coverage concepts,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “But he’s taking extra reps to get back on that.
“The mental part of it is all there. But the physical part, he’s getting sharp again. He’s looked pretty good.”
ANOTHER DAY IN THE SUNSHINE
The players practiced outside for the second consecutive day. It will help prepare them for the game against the Redskins, because the temperature along Lake Washington was 46 degrees and the forecast for Sunday in Landover, Md., is calling for a high of 49 and a low 39.
London Fletcher. We also featured the Redskins’ inside linebacker yesterday, but that was from the perspective of Washington coach Mike Shanahan. Today, we get Michael Robinson’s take on Fletcher, who is 37 and in his 15th NFL season.
These two ran into each other last season at CenturyLink Field, and Robinson puts Fletcher in the same class as the other great inside and middle linebackers he faced a season ago and this season – the Ravens’ Ray Lewis, 49ers’ Patrick Willis and Bears’ Brian Urlacher. And that is saying a lot.
“We spoke at the Pro Bowl last year. Good guy. Got a lot of love for him,” Robinson offered. “The old adage about London, if you don’t block him he’ll make every tackle. He’s one of those guys, he has a lot of big hogs up front and it’s hard to get on him. And he will make, literally, every single tackle if you don’t block him.
“So it’s a big, big challenge for us.”
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
CB Jeremy Lane (knee)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
An already encouraging injury report got even better today, when Lynch took part in all phases of practice after being limited on Wednesday – which has been his routine for much of the second half of the regular season. Lane was added to the list. He started the past three games for Browner.
For the Redskins:
Did not practice
CB Dominique Johnson (knee)
OG Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle)
Limited in practice
S DeJon Gomes (knee)
LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder)
DE Stephen Bowen (biceps)
QB Kirk Cousins (illness)
LB London Fletcher (ankle)
WR Pierre Garcon (foot)
QB Robert Griffin III (knee)
CB DeAngelo Hall (elbow)
LB Ryan Kerrigan (ankle)
C Will Montgomery (knee)
WR Josh Morgan (hand, foot)
S Jordan Pugh (ankle)
P Saverio Rocca (right knee)
S Madieu Williams (elbow)
Fletcher and Cousins practiced today after sitting out on Wednesday.
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks and Redskins don’t play that often, but there have been some memorable events during the series that the Redskins lead 11-4 during the regular season and the Seahawks lead 2-0 during the postseason. Here’s a look at some of the games that standout, and why:
1976: Redskins 31, Seahawks 7. First road loss in franchise history
1980: Seahawks 14, Redskins 0. Second road shutout in franchise history
1983: Redskins 27, Seahawks 17. Steve Largent catches eight passes for 130 yards and two TDs
1989: Redskins 29, Seahawks 0. Steve Largent’s final game
1992: Redskins 16, Seahawks 3. Loss No. 6 in a club-record eight-game losing streak
1994: Seahawks 28, Redskins 7. Chris Warren goes “home” and runs for 100 yards and two TDs
1995: Seahawks 27, Redskins 20. Chris Warren goes “home” again and runs for 136 yards
1998: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14. Steve Broussard returns a kickoff 90 yards for a TD
2002: Redskins 14, Seahawks 3. Bruce Smith beats Walter Jones for two sacks
2005: Redskins 20, Seahawks 17. Last loss before a club-record 11-game winning streak
2005: Seahawks 20, Redskins 10. Win in divisional playoff game sends Seahawks to NFC title game
2007: Seahawks 35, Redskins 14. Win in Wild Card game sends Seahawks to divisional round
2008: Redskins 20, Seahawks 17. Loss No. 4 in six-game losing streak
2011: Redskins 23, Seahawks 17. Only loss in a six-game stretch
The team will fly to Baltimore on Friday after the players hold a midday practice. Saturday’s walk-through will be held in the D.C. area.
Remember: Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, so the game will start at 1:30 p.m. on the West Coast.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Great football teams don’t shy away from success. We’ve been waiting on these moments our whole entire lives. I know for me, as an example, I’ve been waiting for this my whole entire life. I think with our football team, we’re determined to be successful; we’re determined to be great. And that mindset of staying focused on the positive, staying focused on the great opportunities that you have, staying focused on the now – one opportunity at a time, one play at a time; that mentality of just competing with that, I think that’s where you’re successful more times than not.” – quarterback Russell Wilson when asked if he and his team were comfortable with the level of success they’ve achieved
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 28:
Blue Sunday. The Seahawks are turning their regular-season finale against the Rams at CenturyLink Field into a fan appreciation day, and no one appreciates the team’s 12th Man following more than coach Pete Carroll.
“It’s been a great, great season here and the fans have been fantastic,” Carroll said after practice. “The response, the spirit the whole area as expressed to our crowd; the 12th Man has just continued to answer the call.
“Everybody talks about them and how big-time they are, and then we get to Sunday night football (last week) and they (the commentators) are talking about they’ve never heard anything like that.”
For Sunday’s game against the Rams, fans are encouraged to wear blue – turning the stadium into a blue wave. There also will be random selections of fans and entire sections for prizes – from Seahawks beanies to round-trip tickets anywhere in the 48 contiguous states or Canada.
As Carroll views it, the fans deserve it all, and more.
“The 12th Man is playing well right now at the end of the year,” Carroll said. “They’re doing a good job. So we’ll celebrate one more time and see if good fortunate hits and we get another shot at it. And if we do, they’ll answer the call. They’re not done yet.”
The Seahawks already have clinched a playoff spot. They can win the NFC West title, and host a first-round playoff game, if they beat the Rams and the Cardinals beat the 49ers in San Francisco.
For the second time in two weeks, wide receiver Deon Butler has been re-signed by the Seahawks.
Butler was with the team the past three seasons, but was released in August on the roster cut to 53 players. He was re-signed on Dec. 15, the day before the Week 15 game against the Bills in Toronto, but released on Monday. Butler was re-signed again this morning.
To clear a roster spot, cornerback Ron Parker was released. Parker was with the Seahawks for two games last season, but was released in August on the roster cut to 75 players. After spending time on the Panthers’ practice squad, Parker was re-signed on Dec. 5.
Steven Jackson. The battering-Ram of a back is no stranger to the Seahawks. Sunday will be the 17th time Jackson will have played against the Seahawks during the regular season. He has 33 100-yard rushing performances in his career, but none against the Seahawks – although he has come close with 93 yards in 2006, 91 in 2008 and 90 in 2007.
But this time, Jackson is chasing history. He needs 10 rushing yards to become the sixth player in league history to have eight consecutive 1,000-yar seasons. The others? Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas and LaDainian Tomlinson.
“The last four games that we’ve watched, Steven Jackson has really been taking off,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “In the Tampa game, I think that he really showed up. He’s running harder. I mean, he always runs hard. But it seems like he has stepped it up the last couple of games and is running like a different person.”
Jackson had 81 yards against the Bucs last week, and averaged 5.6 yards per carry the week before against the Vikings.
The official end-of-the-week status report, as issued by the team:
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)
LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)
DE Red Bryant (foot)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
TE Anthony McCoy (back)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
WR Golden Tate (illness)
FS Earl Thomas (ankle)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
Trufant got the most work at nickel back that he has since returning last Friday from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past four games. “Tru did well,” Carroll said. “He’s ready to play. It’s great to have him back.”
Giacomini participated in all phases of practice today after being limited on Thursday and sitting out on Wednesday. Hill was limited today after not practicing on Wednesday or Thursday. “We’re not sure if he’s full speed yet,” Carroll said of Hill.
On Thurmond, Carroll said, “It hasn’t been as smooth as we’d like. He’s really been pushing, and just hasn’t been able to get out of the discomfort with the hamstring. You’ve got to comeback feeling nothing. You can’t be nursing it or you’re too vulnerable. So he’s still feeling it and that’s not a good sign for this week, obviously. And it’s going to be hard for him to get back next week, too, I would think.”
For the Rams:
S Craig Dahl (knee)
CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)
RB Steven Jackson (illness)
LB James Laurinaitis (back)
WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)
CB Scott Wells (knee)
STAT DU JOUR
The 2012 Seahawks are attempting to go where only two other teams in franchise history have: Finishing unbeaten at home during the regular season. Here’s a look at the Seahawks’ top home-victory teams:
Year Home record Overall record
2003 8-0 10-6
2005 8-0 13-3
2012 7-0 ?-?
1984 7-1 12-4
1986 7-1 10-6
2007 7-1 10-6
“To have a championship team you have to dominate at home,” Carroll said. “You have to. There’s no other way to get it done. Over the long haul, you have to be great at home. You have to finish great, as well, but you’ve got to be great at home.”
After holding their final full practice of the regular season outside today, the players will have a walkthrough on Saturday.
Monday, cornerback Brandon Browner is eligible to return from his four-game suspension, just in time for the playoffs.
“It’s kind of like putting the band back together next week,” Carroll said. “It will be good back there.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“I’m still here with a vengeance.” – cornerback Richard Sherman when asked if he was back with a vengeance after winning his appeal of a league-imposed four-game suspension
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 28.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times has the story on Richard Sherman’s appeal of a four-game suspension, “Sherman had just been told by his attorney that he had won the appeal of his four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. ‘I won!’ he told the players. Hoots and cheers echoed across the room. High fives were exchanged. ‘High fives, as old school as it is, is still the best way to celebrate,’ Sherman said later in the day, grinning like a kid discovering another gift under the tree. ‘There was a sigh of relief for the whole team knowing that that was done and over with and we could move on from it. Justice was served.’ ”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has the Seahawks and Rams injury reports from yesterday, noting the return of five Seahawks players to practice.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his take on Sherman coming out on top of his suspension, “For the past two seasons, Sherman’s supreme confidence has helped the Seahawks defense. Now, the cornerback’s belief in himself and in his innocence helped him restore some of his reputation, and will help the Seahawks in the 2012 playoffs.”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com comments on the improvement of the Seahawks’ offensive line, “Seattle’s offensive line has been considerably better this season, so much so that it will send two members to the Pro Bowl. Okung and center Max Unger were named starters Wednesday for the NFC team, becoming the first Seahawks offensive linemen to play in the Pro Bowl since Walter Jones following the 2008 season. It is the first Pro Bowl selection for each player.”
Henderson also passes along a short video from 710Sports.com’s Mike Salk, who discusses the impact Sherman’s availability will have on the Seahawks as they make their playoff push.
Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Linebacker Leroy Hill has a hamstring injury, while receiver Golden Tate came down with an illness. Limited in Thursday’s practice were right tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Receiver Sidney Rice was a full participant after sitting out Wednesday’s session with a sore knee. After one day out with a back problem, tight end Anthony McCoy was also full go. The St. Louis Rams are a pretty healthy team preparing for Sunday’s regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field. Running back Steven Jackson was over a Wednesday illness enough to do all the work in Thursday’s practice.”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from yesterday, “S Earl Thomas said it made his day better to know Sherman was going to be able to keep playing. ‘I came in a little shaken up just because you don’t know,’ Thomas said. ‘That’s my brother back there and it definitely feels good for him to take this journey and be on this team with us.’ ”
Tim Booth of the Associated Press writes that even with a playoff berth secured, the Seahawks will look to continue their current win streak when they face the Rams in the regular season finale on Sunday, “Seattle is drastically different from the squad that floundered through a 19-13 loss in St. Louis in Week 4, and no one more so than quarterback Russell Wilson. At that time in late September, the Seahawks were still in the infancy of learning the unique qualities of their new quarterback. That was before Wilson’s running became a true threat as a complement to running back Marshawn Lynch. And it was before Seattle’s offense became the efficient machine it’s been the past three weeks. The whopping 150 points the Seahawks have scored the last three games stole the attention. But within that points eruption was a stunning run of offensive prowess led by Wilson. ‘He’s just an athletic guy. He’s been playing very well, as a rookie, as a young guy,’ Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said. ‘You’ve got the combo of being a premier quarterback, but the athleticism of some of the best out there as well.’ ”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his best guesses for Week 17, picking the Seahawks to top the Rams, 27-13, “The Seahawks are 7-0 at home and about as hot as a team could be, having become the first team since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams to score 150 points over a three-game period. St. Louis has gone 3-0-1 in its past four road games, and 4-0-1 against the NFC West. I’m most interested in seeing how the young quarterbacks compare. The Rams’ Sam Bradford faces a tougher test behind a reshuffled offensive line. Advantage, Russell Wilson. Also, the winning coach should be coach of the year in the division, in my view. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 27, Rams 13.”
Sando takes a look at how the Rams are preparing for quarterback Russell Wilson, “Dave McGinnis, assistant head coach for the St. Louis Rams, knows the coverage might have to hold up a little longer when his team visits Seattle in Week 17. ‘The thing about him is, it’s not panic scrambles,’ McGinnis told reporters in St. Louis. ‘He’s moving and he’s improvising, but he’s doing it with a purpose. He’s always looking down field and most all of those types of plays that he makes, they’re all positive plays.’ ”
Sando also has a look at the play of a pair of young NFC West corners – Janoris Jenkins and Sherman, “Seattle’s Richard Sherman has two touchdowns over the Seahawks’ past three games, one on an interception return and the other on a blocked field-goal return. His two touchdowns against Arizona and San Francisco are more than the one touchdown the Cardinals and 49ers scored in those games.”
NFL Films previews the Seahawks’ Week 17 matchup against the Rams in this short video.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has the story on Sherman’s successful appeal, “On more than one occasion during the process that was his appeal of a four-game suspension by the NFL, it was suggested to Richard Sherman that his chances of winning were slim and none. But Sherman, the Seahawks’ second-year cornerback, hasn’t just been there before. Slim and none have been his constant companions. ‘There were always people who said the chances were slim and none,’ Sherman said on Wednesday, when he was informed by his attorney that he had indeed won his appeal. ‘I told them, ‘My chances have always been slim and none. And I’ve always found a way to win those.’ You don’t make it this far without getting through some kind of adversity. This is just another phase. And I have great teammates and great coaches who supported me through it. The great fans we have supported and had faith through the whole process, and I was appreciative of that.’ ”
Farnsworth also recaps the activities surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville” with a focus on Leon Washington and the team’s Pro Bowlers.
Finally, team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 27:
Pro Bowl glow. Five Seahawks were basking in it today, after being named to the NFC squad on Wednesday, when eight others received alternate status.
But the selection might have meant the most to Leon Washington, the kick returner whose career was supposed to be over after he severely broke his right fibula in a 2009 game while playing with the Jets. The Jets traded Washington to the Seahawks in a draft-day deal in 2010, and all he’s done this season is return his eighth kickoff for a touchdown to tie the NFL career record and rank second in the NFL with a 30.1-yard average.
“It feels great,” Washington said. “Just to know that all the hard work you put into something, it pays off – eventually. Considering my situation, where I came from with the broken-leg injury and getting traded, there are so many people to thank. My wife, first of all, because we’ve been through so much together. She was there with me when I broke my leg and has seen me comeback from that.
“Then I’m just so thankful for the opportunity – for coach (Pete) Carroll and coach (Brian) Schneider to give me the opportunity to do what I love to do. And then you think about all the guys who protect me and block for me when I return the kick. You’ve got to give a special thanks to them. Like I said yesterday, I want to give special thanks to my teammates. And the two key words in there are ‘special’ and ‘teammates’ – which means special teams. It’s definitely a team award.”
Washington also went to the Pro Bowl in 2008 while with the Jets.
Here’s what the others had to say:
Left tackle Russell Okung, on his first Pro Bowl selection – and with the disclaimer that he refuses to talk about himself: “This is about the team and what we’ve been trying to out together since Pete and John (Schneider, the GM) arrived. I hope you guys know I hate this (talking to reporters). But from a talent standpoint and the guys we got, I guess we’re pretty good.”
Center Max Unger, who also was voted to his first Pro Bowl: “What really makes it special is that it came from your peers. It’s the defensive linemen in the conference who voted for me, and that means a lot.”
Free safety Earl Thomas, who was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl: “I just try to play my part, and I appreciate that the coaches and players just respect the way I play and the way I prepare. It’s truly a blessing just to be a part of this game another year.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch, who went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season and also was voted to the AFC squad in 2008 while playing with the Bills: Sorry. The Beast Mode back doesn’t like talking about himself, either.
Last year, Thomas was the only Seahawk voted to the Pro Bowl. He was then joined by four teammates who were alternates – cornerback Brandon Browner, strong safety Kam Chancellor, fullback Michael Robinson and Lynch. This year, that many players were voted to the NFC squad.
“We’re just getting better every year,” Thomas said. “And we’re showing the world what we’re all about.”
BRYANT WINS NFC HONOR
The league didn’t have to worry about selecting this week’s NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Carroll did it for them.
After Sunday’s 42-13 victory over the 49ers, Carroll offered, “The play of the game for me was Red. Red knocking that ball down on that field goal, and then Sherman scooping and scoring on that thing for 90, that was enormous moment.
“I think the bell rang right there – we have a chance to beat these guys on this night.”
The league office heard it as well, and tabbed Bryant for the weekly honor.
Bryant’s block – his first this season, but fifth in the past two seasons – came on the third play of the second quarter and extended the Seahawks lead to 21-0. It also followed Sherman breaking up a third-down pass in the end zone.
Bryant is the second Seahawk to win Special Teams Player of the Week this season, joining Washington (Week 12); and fifth Seahawk overall to be honored, joining defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 3), Sherman (Week 10) and rookie QB Russell Wilson (Week 13).
Sherman was nominated for Defensive Player of the Week, after also making an end-zone interception; while Wilson was nominated for Offensive Player of the Week for throwing four TD passes. But the winners were Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
HONORS ‘R US
Mike Sando at ESPN.com has selected his All-NFC West team and also handed out other honors, and the Seahawks are front and center.
Wilson is the division MVP. Says Sando: “Raise your hand if you thought the Seahawks rookie would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title.”
Schneider is the division Executive of the Year. Says Sando: “Schneider gets the call over St. Louis Rams counterpart Les Snead largely because he was the driving force behind the team’s decision to draft Wilson in the third round.”
Coach of the Year? Sando is waiting until after Sunday’s game, because if the Rams upset the Seahawks it’s Jeff Fisher for going unbeaten in the division and posting the Rams’ first winning record since 2003. If it’s the Seahawks, it’s Carroll. Says Sando: “If the Seahawks close out the season with an 8-0 record at home and an 11-5 record overall, Carroll will get my vote as top coach in the division. Carroll risked public ridicule and perhaps even his job by going with Wilson, a third-round rookie, when free-agent addition Matt Flynn had recently signed a three-year deal for $19.5 million. The move was subjecting Carroll to criticism as late as Week 4, when the Rams picked off Wilson three times during a 19-13 Seahawks defeat. Carroll trusted what he knew to be true about Wilson, and he has been proved right.”
Seahawks on the All-Division team: Okung, Unger, wide receiver Sidney Rice, Lynch, Robinson and Wilson on offense; Clemons, Sherman and Thomas on defense; and Washington as the kick returner.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)
WR Golden Tate (illness)
DE Red Bryant (foot)
OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
TE Anthony McCoy (back)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
FS Earl Thomas (ankle)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
After seven players sat out on Wednesday, the list was down to two today. Malcolm Smith continued to work for Hill on the weakside, while Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse filled in for Tate.
For the Rams:
S Craig Dahl (knee)
CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)
RB Steven Jackson (illness)
LB James Laurinaitis (back)
WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)
CB Scott Wells (knee)
STAT DU JOUR, TEAM EDITION
Having already scored 173 points in December, the Seahawks need 27 against the Rams on Sunday to become the fourth team in NFL history to put up 200 in a calendar month. Here’s a look at the company the Seahawks are trying to join:
Team (month, year) Games Points
Frankford Yellow Jackets (November, 1924) 8 238
Los Angeles Rams (October, 1950) 5 220
New England Patriots (October, 2007) 5 217
Seattle Seahawks (December, 2012) 4 173
STAT DU JOUR, PLAYER EDITION
If Wilson can maintain his passer rating of 98.0, he will move into the Top 3 among rookie QBs in league history. Here’s a look at those top-rated rookies – as well as Wilson and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, who can move into the top spot:
Player, team (year) Rating
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2004) 98.1
Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983) 96.0
Greg Cook, Bengals (1969) 88.3
Matt Ryan, Falcons (2008) 87.8
Cam Newton, Panthers (2011) 84.5
With one game to go:
Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012) 104.1
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012) 98.0
“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before Sunday’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It was great news this morning to hear that. I know we’ve had our fingers crossed with the whole process. When we heard the news this morning I think everybody was pretty excited about it.” – defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Sherman having the appeal of his four-game suspension upheld
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 21.
The club made a few roster moves yesterday, sending defensive lineman Jason Jones to injured reserve and signing defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo off of the team’s practice squad. In Fangupo’s place, the team signed wide receiver Bryan Walters, a native of Kirkland, Wash., to fill out the practice squad.
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has the story on the move of Jones to injured reserve, “Defensive tackles that could see an expanded role for the Seahawks are Clinton McDonald, rookie Jaye Howard (who has been inactive most of the year) and Hebron Fangupo, a 6-foot-1, 323-pound player signed to the active roster Thursday. Rookie Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round pick out of Louisville, is also expected to see more time on the defensive line against a physical 49ers offense. ‘My biggest thing has been waiting for my opportunity and my chance, and so it’s come,’ said Scruggs, who has two sacks. ‘Now I just have to apply everything that I’ve been doing. You thrive on the opportunity to perform under pressure. One of the biggest knocks on me was I always had potential in college to be a first-round pick, but when big games came around, it was almost as if it was a slump. I’ve been fighting that my whole life and I think that this is an opportunity for me to go out and really show that I can play on the big stage and I can play under pressure.’ ”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times writes that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh share the same philosophy on football, but differ in terms of personality, “Carroll has never met an interview he can’t talk around, while Harbaugh hasn’t found a conversation he can’t make agonizingly, haltingly awkward. But someone who has played for both coaches said that as different as they were to play for, there is a common ground between the two head coaches in Sunday’s game between the top two teams in the NFC West. ‘Their personalities are completely different,’ said Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin, who played for Harbaugh in college. ‘Coaching style is completely different. But there’s a strategic way that they go about running their teams. Obviously, they both love to run the ball. Passing is not necessarily at the forefront of the offense. It’s all running, and then you build the pass off the run. That, I guess you could say is comparable. Defense as well. You’ve got to have a strong defense to back everything up.’ ”
O’Neil also has Thursday’s injury report for both the Seahawks and 49ers, noting the Seahawks got a boost with the return of defensive tackle Alan Branch to practice.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says that it’s a good weekend to be a Seattle sports fan, with the Washington Huskies squaring off against Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, and the Seahawks battling the 49ers on Sunday Night Football, “Sunday, of course, is the Almost-Game-of-the-Century between the Seahawks and San Francisco at CenturyLink Field. Games like this are why we’re sports fans. Games this good have a way of briefly galvanizing communities, which is part of why we build stadiums to house them. Sure, the Niners took some of the starch out of it with their win over New England in Foxborough last week, virtually assuring their second straight NFC West title, but this night still will have all the heat, passion and noise of a playoff game. CenturyLink will be lit up.”
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with Fangupo after the move of Jones to injured reserve, “Fangupo is stout against the run, and could help plug up the middle of the defense against San Francisco’s potent running attack. ‘I’m just excited, man,’ Fangupo said. ‘I know what I can do, I’ve just been waiting. On game days it’s hard to watch, so I just try and sit back and wait for my opportunity to play. The best way to do that is by practicing, working my butt off to get the offensive line ready. And now that I have my shot, I’ve got to do the best I can.’ ”
Williams also has a look at the increasing popularity of the read-option offense, “The option puts defenses at a disadvantage. Stack the box to stop a bruising runner like Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch or Washington’s Alfred Morris, and the quarterback pulls the ball out and takes off untouched down the sideline. Spread out to protect the perimeter, and the big back gashes you inside. ‘It just becomes a numbers game,’ San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ‘Your typical run, the quarterback hands off and it’s now their 10 against your 11. Now, when he’s a potential runner, it’s their 11 against your 11 and they’re not even blocking one of the guys at the point of attack, so it actually becomes 11 against 10 if they do it right. So, the numbers are flipped.’ ”
Michael Rushton of The Sports Network previews Sunday’s matchup with the Niners, “Seattle has much more on the line than San Francisco, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Kaepernick, who is looking to perfect his game heading into the postseason. He even refused to classify his win over New England as any kind of statement. ‘It really isn’t going to mean too much if we don’t come out and win this week. So, that’s what we’re focused on right now,’ he said. Even Seattle’s perfect home record might not save it as San Francisco is 11-4 on the road under Harbaugh since 2011. Sports Network Predicted Outcome: 49ers 20, Seahawks 13”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald dissects what Jones’ move to injured reserve means for the rest of the defensive line, “Rookie Greg Scruggs is the likely candidate to take over Jones’ pass-rushing role, but things would get more complicated in the event that Branch were to be out or even limited by his ankle injury. Clinton McDonald, who normally plays in pass-rushing situations, could take over for Branch in the base defense, or Scruggs could see some time in that role. The Seahawks could also work rookie Jaye Howard into that rotation, or even undrafted rookie Hebron Fangupo, who was signed off the practice squad to fill Jones’ roster spot. ‘We get a chance to take a look at some of the younger guys now,’ said Seattle’s ever-optimistic defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. ‘Some of those guys may have an opportunity now.’ ”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, offers a look at running back Marshawn Lynch, whose production has received less attention than normal – just the way Lynch likes it – because of the success of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “The last time I remember hearing from Lynch was after the Miami game, a loss in which he only rushed for 46 yards. There was no scowling or harsh answer during the interview and he was gracious with both his time and himself. He’s much more likely to talk to the media after a game like that than after a victory in which he runs for over 100 yards. He’s not there for that. He just wants to win and is willing to pick his teammates up after a loss. He reminds me of Lofa Tatupu in that way. It was well known in the media that if you want one- or two-word answers, ask Tatupu about himself. If you want sentences that turn into paragraphs, ask him about his coaches and teammates. Like Tatupu, Lynch has a level of selflessness that plays well with his teammates … and ex-linebackers.”
Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “There was some positive injury news Thursday. Defensive tackle Alan Branch (ankle) was a full participant. With Seattle placing defensive lineman Jason Jones (knee) on injured reserve, the team is taking a closer look at young backups. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said rookies Greg Scruggs and Jaye Howard are both getting lots of work and could be in the rotation along with veteran Clinton McDonald. I spoke with Scruggs before practice and he assured me he is ready for this prime-time, nationally televised game. Scruggs believes he didn’t step up his game in college and it cost him a chance to be a first-round draft pick. He has practiced at all four defensive line positions for Seattle.”
Jim Moore of 710Sports.com previews the Seahawks-Niners matchup, “The 49ers have the slightly better team, but I said it last week, and I’ll say it again: if I’m going to blather on and on about the Seahawks being Super Bowl contenders, I have to ride them to the finish, and you’ve gotta love ’em at home. Prediction: Seahawks 27, 49ers 21”
Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” discuss why they believe Sunday night’s contest will be decided by which coaching staff outsmarts the other in this short video.
Curtis Crabtree, writing for the Associated Press, says this Sunday the Seahawks will try to overcome several missed chances that plagued them in their first matchup with the Niners back on October 18, “Wilson was just 9 of 23 for 122 yards and an interception against the 49ers. His 38.7 passer rating against San Francisco is his lowest mark this season. Yet Wilson doesn’t see the point of dwelling on a missed opportunity. ‘There’s times where you’re like, ‘Oh man I wish he caught it’ … You have emotions but the key is staying even-keeled as possible, I think,’ Wilson said. ‘I let the receivers know I’m coming right back to them. You don’t think that they’re not going to catch the next one, so you’ve got to keep playing.’ Seattle’s offense has greatly improved since the initial meeting in October. Wilson has a passer rating of 111.3 over the seven games following the loss to the 49ers. Wilson has thrown 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions and Seattle is 5-2 since then.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com notes several similarities between the Seahawks and 49ers on a statistical level:
- Each team has scored 25 red zone touchdowns on 47 chances.
- Each team has converted about 36 percent of its third-down opportunities.
- Each team averages 6.8 yards per pass play.
- The teams are within 30 yards of one another in total rushing yards: 2,280 for the 49ers and 2,250 for the Seahawks.
- The teams are within one total touchdown of one another: 40 for the 49ers, 41 for the Seahawks.
- The teams have committed about the same number of penalties, 99 for San Francisco and 95 for Seattle.
Sando also offers up his prediction for the Sunday night matchup between the two clubs, “Here we go. The main event. My feeling going into Week 15 was that San Francisco would go 1-1 against the Patriots and Seahawks. I didn’t have the guts to pick the 49ers at New England, unfortunately. The slate is clean this week. If the 49ers win prime-time road games on opposite coasts against two of the NFL’s best teams in an eight-day period, they’re even better than I realized when ranking them No. 1 on my latest power rankings ballot. Should be a great game either way. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 23, 49ers 21.”
Doug Kretz of ESPN.com details “What to watch” in Sunday night’s matchup between the Seahawks and Niners. You must be an ESPN Insider to view this piece, but here is a small sample, “Key positional battle — Seahawks’ O-Line vs. 49ers’ D-Line: Seattle’s offensive line has been dominating up front the past couple of games and has been creating huge run lanes for Lynch and the ground game. These blockers are great road-graders who fight for everything they get and refuse to back down. San Francisco’s defensive linemen are also powerful and are great fighters. They are the league’s third-ranked run defense and hold opponents to 3.61 yards per carry….These are two evenly matched teams, and the position advantage could go either way at multiple spots. The ’12th Man’ advantage should provide the difference as Seattle pulls this one out.” Kretz likes the Seahawks by a score of 20-17.
NFL Films previews our Week 16 Sunday night matchup with the Niners in this short video.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights rookie tight end Sean McGrath, who was recently promoted to the active roster from the practice squad earlier this week after the release of tight end Evan Moore, and recaps the activities surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville“, with a focus on the play of the rookies Wilson and Bobby Wagner.
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” with reaction from the club as they look forward to a challenging weekend against the Niners.
Finally, our team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 20:
Rookies of the Year. There’s no question that quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner have been the Seahawks’ offensive and defensive rookies of the year.
You would have to consider their production heading into Sunday night’s bigger-than-big rematch with the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field as beyond impressive for seasoned vets. Wilson has passed for 21 touchdowns, run for 402 yards and three scores and taken the offense to unprecedented heights. Wagner leads the league’s No. 3-ranked defense with 121 tackles and has developed into a productive every-down player, as evidenced by his three interceptions and two sacks.
Not surprisingly, Wilson, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft, and Wagner, a second-round pick, have played their way into contention for the league rookie honors as well. And each definitely has noticed the contributions of the other to the Seahawks’ 9-5 record.
Wilson on Wagner: “Bobby Wagner has done a tremendous job. He’s one of our leaders on our defense, for him to be able to play at such a high level. He can run around. He can make all the plays. He’s come up with several interceptions already. What he’s doing as a rookie and how he approaches the game, in terms of just getting here early and doing what he needs to do to be successful on Sunday and lead, is really exceptional.”
Wagner on Wilson: “I think Russell should win it. I feel like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin, they were kind of deemed rookie of the year before they even set foot on the field or even proved themselves. The stuff Russell has been doing, going out there and performing every week, I feel like he has the numbers. So you can’t be biased just because the hype before those other guys got here. For me it’s like, the first-round guys, you expect them to do that. You didn’t expect Russell to come in and do what he’s done.”
But this stumping for Wilson and Wagner transcends VMAC. In his weekly rookie rankings at ESPN.com, Matt Williamson has elevated Wilson into the top spot (up from No. 3 last week) and lists Wagner at No. 10 – and as the third defensive player behind Packers cornerback Casey Hayward (No. 6) and Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 9).
Williamson on Wilson: “Led by Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and an extremely talented and opportunistic defense, the Seahawks are simply on fire right now. Wilson’s Seahawks have amazingly scored 108 points over the past two weeks, after dismantling the Bills in Toronto. Wilson was his usual efficient self throwing the ball, but he also ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries. Wilson must be strongly considered for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors – and he is now quarterbacking the best team of any of this year’s rookie signal-callers.”
Williamson on Wagner: “Wagner has been on and off the Top 10 all season, and he is an excellent candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. What Seattle’s defense has done of late is nothing short of remarkable, and Wagner is a key component to that great success. Against Buffalo, Wagner had 12 tackles, 10 of them solo. He is an exceptionally productive every-down linebacker on one of the elite defenses in the NFL.”
The fans balloting for the Pro Bowl concluded on Monday, and the Seahawks players and coaches cast their votes today. Each segment counts one-third toward selecting the NFC squad for the NFL all-star game on Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
After the fan voting, Marshawn Lynch is second among the NFC running backs (534,073 votes) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (828,225). Richard Sherman is third among the cornerbacks (169,404) to the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings (312,595) and Charles Tillman (221,364). Leon Washington is third among the kick returners (68,151) behind the Packers’ Randall Cobb (131,626) and Bears’ Devin Hester (102,688).
Kam Chancellor is fourth among the strong safeties (83,310). Jon Ryan is fourth (81,208) among the punters. Max Unger is fifth (116,135) among the centers. Chris Clemons is fifth (159,088) among the defensive ends. Earl Thomas is fifth among the free safeties (63,585).
Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the top vote-getter in fan balloting with 993,045.
The NFC and AFC squads will be announced next Wednesday on the NFL Network.
LYNCH, OKUNG HONORED
Lynch and left tackle Russell Okung have been selected by their teammates as the Seahawks’ NFLPA Pulse Award winners.
The NFL Players Association recognizes players each year for their community service. From the field of team winners, five finalists will be selected and from that group will come the recipient of the Byron Whizzer White Award – the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow on a player. The White Award winner will be announced during a press conference at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Also among the team winners are four former Seahawks: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (Titans), wide receiver Nate Burleson (Lions), defensive lineman Cory Redding (Colts) and linebacker Aaron Curry (Raiders).
JONES OUT, FANGUPO UP, WALTERS IN
With defensive lineman Jason Jones being placed on injured reserve earlier today, it opened a spot on the 53-man roster for practice-squad lineman Hebron Fangupo, which opened a spot on the practice squad for wide receiver Bryan Walters.
“He’s really strong inside,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of the 6-foot-1, 293-pound Fangupo. “It will be exciting to see, if he has a chance to play.”
Walters, who went to Juanita High School in Kirkland, played in four games for the Chargers last year and was with the Vikings in training camp this summer before being released.
“It’s pretty fun to be able to just be a part of the team you grew up watching and rooting for,” Walters said. “Even when I was on other teams, I was looking at the scoreboard to see the Seahawks’ score.”
The official report, as released by team:
Did not practice
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
CB Richard Sherman (not injury related)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
Limited in practice
S Jeron Johnson (groin)
RB Robert Turbin (illness)
DT Alan Branch (ankle)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
RB Leon Washington (illness)
With Trufant and Thurmond still out and Sherman excused from practice, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell worked at the corners with the No. 1 defense and Ron Parker joined them as the third corner in the nickel.
Branch and Washington returned after not practicing on Wednesday, while Lynch took part in all phases of practice after being limited on Wednesday.
For the 49ers:
Did not practice
LB Clark Haggans (shoulder)
DT Justin Smith (elbow)
Limited in practice
LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder)
CB Tarell Brown (shoulder)
LB Tavares Gooden (ribs)
WR Mario Manningham (shoulder)
RB Bruce Miller (shoulder)
LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)
DT Will Tukuafu (concussion)
K David Akers (pelvis)
OG Alex Boone (knee)
LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder)
S Dashon Goldson (foot)
RB Frank Gore (wrist)
OG Mike Iupati (shoulder)
CB Carlos Rogers (knee)
LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
Justin Smith did not practice for the second consecutive day because of the elbow he injured in Sunday night’s win over the Patriots in New England.
STAT DU JOUR
Among Wilson’s mounting accomplishments has been his impressive performance in the red zone. The Seahawks’ rookie QB has the NFC’s fifth-best passer rating inside the oppositions’ 20-yard line. Here’s a look at his numbers, and those who rank ahead of him:
Player, team Att. Comp. Pct. Yds. TD Int. Rating
Aaron Rodgers, Packers 52 33 63.5 216 18 0 111.9
Drew Brees, Saints 81 50 61.7 359 25 0 111.6
Jay Cutler, Bears 39 22 56.4 160 10 0 105.8
Robert Griffin III, Redskins 38 23 60.5 100 9 0 104.6
Russell Wilson, Seahawks 51 27 52.9 198 13 0 102.0
“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before Sunday night’s game. And don’t forget, the kickoff against the 49ers is 5:20 p.m., not the originally scheduled 1:25 p.m., after the game was flexed into the primetime spot on NBC.
YOU DON’T SAY, LOCAL EDITION
“It’s going to be a blast. And we know it’s going to be a battle all the way to the very end of the game. We’re excited about that opportunity.” – Wilson on Sunday night’s game
YOU DON’T SAY, NATIONAL EDITION
“The Seahawks are playing fast-break football in December, and they don’t seem to know they’re not supposed to be hanging a Hawaii 5-0 on opponents. But this week is the ultimate test. If Seattle can put up a stupid number against the 49ers’ stout defense (kind of the way the Patriots did in the second half), then a case of legitimate Super Bowl fever may break out in the Pacific Northwest.” – Don Banks in listing the Seahawks at No. 7 in his weekly NFL power rankings at SI.com
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 14.
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks plan to continue featuring running back Marshawn Lynch, who will face his former team this Sunday, “Lynch, who signed a four-year, $31 million deal in March, has seven 100-yard rushing games this season, second-best in the NFL. He has reached the milestone in five of the past seven games, including a dominant performance last week versus Arizona with 128 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns on just 11 carries. ‘He’s been very consistent with his output and his effort and his style,’ Carroll said of Lynch. ‘Everything has been there every single game.’ Added quarterback Russell Wilson: “He’s the best running back in the NFL — one of the best, for sure — and he does a great job of just being a workhorse. … I think the biggest thing is you have to keep feeding him.’ ”
Mayers also has the Seahawks and Buffalo Bills injury reports from yesterday, noting that wide receiver Sidney Rice (foot) and cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) did not participate in practice.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with linebacker Malcolm Smith, who has seen increased playing time lately while veteran linebacker Leroy Hill recovers from a sprained ankle, “During his first season in Seattle, Smith had trouble staying healthy. Smith missed two games because of a hamstring injury, and two games with a concussion. But this season, Smith has been active for all 13 games. And he’s been a key special teams contributor, with five tackles and a blocked punt. ‘The speed on special teams is even more than defense,’ Smith said. ‘So being able to do that has helped a lot for sure. That was the plan when I came here. They said you have to earn your way. And that’s my way of showing up.’ ”
Williams also chats with Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, who regularly covers the Buffalo Bills, and asks him five questions leading up to Sunday’s game, “Q: C.J. Spiller was one of the most explosive players in the 2010 draft. He’s on the verge of rushing for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, and has an impressive 6.6 per carry average. However, he’s still had to split carries with Fred Jackson, who was recently placed on the injured reserve list with a knee issue. Do you feel Spiller has been used effectively? A: Gaughan: He has been used effectively but not enough. He needs to get the ball more. There are some understandable reasons why he hasn’t gotten the ball in this situation or that situation. But the bottom line is he’s their best offensive weapon and he hasn’t gotten it enough. The offense was on the field 58 plays vs. St. Louis and he got eight touches. They lost by three.”
Michael Rushton of The Sports Network previews the Week 15 matchup between the Seahawks and Bills, “Working against Seattle is the fact that it has been a much better team at home than on the road. Had it faced off against Buffalo during the early string of this Toronto series, it might have been even ground. However, [Bills coach Chan] Gailey feels his team is starting to get a following a little further up north. ‘Last year it really felt like a home game. The first year it was a little bit more of a neutral site, but last year it felt like a home game. That is what you hope to create and continue to develop where that becomes like a game right here (in Buffalo). If we can get that, that would be great,’ he said. Gailey better hope Toronto’s allegiance isn’t riding on this game as Seattle has too much momentum and talent on the defensive side of things for the Bills’ struggling offense to overcome. Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 17, Bills 14”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald highlights the recent play of the linebacker Smith, “It’s way too early to say if Smith will join the long list of Seahawks defenders who have gone from draft-day afterthoughts to key contributors to a very good defense, but he’s done nothing to hurt the perception that Carroll and general manager John Schneider have a real knack for finding and developing talent on the third day of the draft. ‘It’s really fun to see the maturity of Malcolm,’ linebackers coach Ken Norton said. ‘I couldn’t be more pleased with Malcolm.’ ”
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has a look at where the Seahawks pass rush stands after investing in a first round draft pick and free agent acquisition along the defensive line, “Irvin. The 15th overall pick leads all rookies in sacks with eight. He picked one up late in last week’s blowout win over Arizona to avoid going a third straight game without a sack. The Seahawks raved about Irvin’s explosiveness when they drafted him. [Defensive line coach Todd] Wash said he recently fell back into a habit of not coming off the ball as quickly as he could. ‘Timid’ was the word Wash used. Wash also said Irvin is developing a nice spin move. Jones. The Seahawks hoped Jones would improve their interior pass rush when they gave the versatile lineman a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Jones has 2.5 sacks and has missed two games with an ankle injury.
Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said both young defensive backs Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell played well against the Cardinals. They are preparing to play either outside or at nickel. Bradley is concerned the defense is no longer allowed to have padded practices under terms of the NFL collective bargaining agreement. Statistics showed the Seahawks gave up one more yard per carry last season after a non-pads practice week.”
Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss cornerback Richard Sherman’s mentality in this short video.
Tim Booth of the Associated Press details the play of the Seahawks rookie class, “The most notable has been giving the Seahawks a key player in Wilson, the starting quarterback coming out of training camp. He’s on pace to challenge the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes and is the first rookie quarterback since 1970 to win his first six home games. At the same time that Wilson was named the starter, the Seahawks also decided Wagner would be capable of taking over as the organizer of the defense at middle linebacker. Wagner currently ranks third among all NFL rookies with 109 tackles. Irvin, the Seahawks’ first-round pick, currently leads all NFL rookies with eight sacks, and Turbin is coming off the first 100-yard rushing game of his career and looks like a suitable backup to spell Marshawn Lynch at running back without the Seahawks losing their punishing style of running. Carroll said he noticed near midseason that Wagner and Irvin both went through the typical rookie swoon of getting used to playing so many games. That wasn’t the case with Wilson. ‘With those other kids there was a time about eight, nine games in, they had already played 12 to 13 games, and it was hard on those guys,’ Carroll said. ‘Russell did not fall into that category; he just continued to progress the whole time. Why he has is because of the way he’s prepared himself. He’s just worked so hard and he will not back off. He continues to push, but not only does he continue to push and try hard, he’s getting better.’ ”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Thurmond appeared on the injury report Wednesday with a hamstring injury that forced him to have his workload reduced. A day later, Thurmond wasn’t able to practice. If Thurmond can’t play, the Seahawks would turn to CB Byron Maxwell and CB Jeremy Lane to step up into more prominent roles. Both saw time last week against the Arizona Cardinals but have not seen extensive action as part of the defense.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his NFC West offense and defense ranks thru Week 14, and offers a prediction for the Seahawks game against the Bills, “The Bills’ defensive front is playing better recently. Seattle has potential manpower concerns at cornerback and wide receiver, depending on Sidney Rice’s status. Still, if the Seahawks are a legit playoff team, they have to win this game, right? Marshawn Lynch is getting much of the attention heading into this game against his former team, but I’m thinking Russell Wilson will be the story, one way or another. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 23, Bills 17.”
NFL Films previews our Week 15 game against the Bills in this short video.
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights Bills return man Leodis McKelvin, who is the only returner in the NFL to rank among the Top 5 in both punt return and kick return categories, and also recaps the events surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville“, with a focus on the play of the Seahawks rookie class.
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the Seahawks hope to keep the momentum up after an overtime road win in Chicago against the Bears in Week 13 and a 58-0 victory at home against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.
We have quarterback Russell Wilson’s full video press conference from yesterday available for you here, and you can watch defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s full video press conference from yesterday here.
Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos here.