Friday in Hawkville: Larry Fitzgerald says it’s ‘surprising’ that Richard Sherman was not voted to the Pro Bowl

Richard Sherman

KO OLINA, Oahu – Hawkville has moved to Hawaii this week, as six Seahawks are preparing to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Today, we visited the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa as the NFC and AFC squads stayed “home” to practice:

FOCUS ON

Richard Sherman. What? The Seahawks’ cornerback isn’t even here. But then, that’s the point.

After intercepting a career-high eight passes during the regular season to tie for second in the NFL, Sherman was voted All-Pro, but not to the Pro Bowl – where the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman are the starters for the NFC and the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson is the third corner.

So we felt compelled to ask, “What’s up with that?”

“He had a phenomenal year. He really had a breakout year,” Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said today after the NFC’s 15-minute on-field session. “So it is surprising that he’s not here. But I know he’ll have many more moving forward.”

Fitzgerald has gotten to know Sherman quite well the past three times the NFC West rivals have met. In the 2011 season finale in Arizona, Sherman and fellow Seahawks corner Brandon Browner were so physical with Fitzgerald that he was coughing up blood on the sideline. This season, Fitzgerald caught four passes for 63 yards in the opener in the desert, with Sherman intercepting one pass and breaking up another. During the December rematch in Seattle, Sherman intercepted two passes, broke up a third and also recovered a fumble, while Fitzgerald caught one pass for 2 yards – despite being targeted 11 times.

“Hopefully, I won’t contribute to his stats as much in the future,” Fitzgerald said with a laugh.

Kick returner Leon Washington, one of the six Seahawks who are on the NFC squad, can relate to Sherman’s Pro Bowl snub.

“My first year in Seattle, I scored three touchdowns and didn’t go,” said Washington, referring to his trio of kickoff returns for scores in 2010. “It’s so weird. It works like that sometimes. But Richard is All-Pro. And that’s big. That’s almost bigger than the Pro Bowl.

“He’ll be here next year.”

MATT THOMAS HIRED TO REPLACE JOHN IDZIK

The Seahawks didn’t wait long to re-hire Dan Quinn as their defensive coordinator after Gus Bradley was named head coach of the Jaguars last week. They followed the same path after John Idzik left to become general manager of the Jets later in the week, as Matt Thomas was named today as the team’s new vice president of football administration.

“Matt is a well-respected salary cap expert and was recommended by many top-ranking NFL executives,” general manager John Schneider said. “I am excited to welcome him to our football family.”

Thomas joins the Seahawks after spending the past three seasons with the Browns in the same capacity as their salary-cap expert and chief contract negotiator. He began his NFL career in 1998 with the Dolphins and spent 12 seasons with the club, including being the vice president/general counsel & football administration in 2009.

A LITTLE ASSISTANTS, PLEASE

The NFC squad is being coached by Mike McCarthy and his Packers’ staff, which includes assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Winston Moss. He played linebacker for the Seahawks from 1995-97 and finished second on the team with 106 tackles in 1996.

Greg Knapp, the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator in 2009, is a member of John Fox’s staff with the Broncos that is coaching the AFC squad. Knapp just joined the Broncos after spending the season as offensive coordinator of the Raiders.

AN EVEN DOZEN FOR CHAMP

Speaking of the Broncos, cornerback Champ Baily is taking part in his 12th Pro Bowl. But he definitely is not taking a ho-hum, just-another-week-in-Hawaii approach.

“I had a veteran tell me a long time ago, if you are willing to stop coming, you stop coming,” Bailey said. “Any time I’m invited to do something this special, I’m coming. Unless I’m really hurt, that’s the only way I would miss this game.”

STAT DU JOUR

Russell Wilson will become the fourth Seahawks quarterback to play in the Pro Bowl, as the rookie joins Dave Krieg, Warren Moon and Matt Hasselbeck. Here’s a look at how those other QBs have done in their Pro Bowl appearances:

Player, (season)                 Att.   Comp.   Yds.   TD   Int.

Dave Krieg (1984)              10        4           32       0      0

Dave Krieg (1988)              14        3           21       0      1

Dave Krieg (1989)              23      15         148       0      0

Warren Moon (1997)          8        4            89      0      0

Matt Hasselbeck (2003)      9        4            51      0      1

Matt Hasselbeck (2005)    17      10            85     0      1

Matt Hasselbeck (2007)      9         7            78     1      0

UP NEXT

Both Pro Bowl squads will hold their final practice on Saturday morning at Aloha Stadium.

After practice today, Wilson took part in a roundtable with Broncos QB Peyton Manning, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher and Packers center Jeff Saturday that will air Sunday as part of NBC’s coverage of the game.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s extremely unlike me. You know me, man. Me and media, we never mix. But this is a great opportunity.” – left tackle Russell Okung on the media attention that comes with being at his first Pro Bowl


Thursday in Hawkville: Russell Wilson was ready, and prepared, for Pro Bowl call

Russell Wilson

HONOLULU – Hawkville moves to Paradise this week, as the Seahawks have six players preparing to participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium:

FOCUS ON

Russell Wilson. What a whirlwind week the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback has had. He didn’t find out that he was being added to the NFC Pro Bowl squad until Sunday after Falcons QB Matt Ryan injured his left shoulder during Atlanta’s loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

Imagine how rushed Wilson must have been in preparing to join teammates Russell Okung, Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Earl Thomas for their flight from Seattle to Honolulu on Tuesday. Or, think again.

“I got called right after the game,” Wilson, who was the third alternate at his position, said today following the NFC practice that was held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “But I was hoping that I was going to be able to go. So I was already packed and ready to go.”

The kid QB is focused, and has been since the Seahawks selected him in the third round of the NFL Draft last April. How else can you explain everything he has been able to accomplish during a rookie season that now includes a Pro Bowl berth?

“It’s obviously a blessing,” Wilson said.

BLOCKING BUDDIES

Okung and Unger are not the only Seahawks offensive linemen here this week. Okung brought right tackle Breno Giacomini and right guard John Moffitt with him.

So there are six Seahawks on the NFC squad and two more who are getting a first-hand look at just how cool it is to go to the Pro Bowl.

“That’s even better,” Okung said. “That just shows you what we’re doing as a team and where we’re trying to get. We’re going to have guys come here, hopefully, every year.”

WILSON WINS “TOP VALUE” AWARD

Wilson has been voted the Vizio Top Value Performer of the Year, which measures on-field performance against earnings.

The others finalists were Redskins running back Alfred Morris, Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley and Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts. But, according to the release announcing his selection, a record-breaking number of fans decided that Wilson provided his team with the greatest value during the 2012 season.

“It’s an honor to win this great award, and I’d like to thank the fans for voting me as the Vizio Top Value Performer,” said Wilson. “All the finalists had fantastic seasons and were certainly deserving of  this award, but I’m happy to be able to share this with my teammates and all the fans that support our team.”

STAT DU JOUR

Half the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl contingent is here for the first time – Wilson, Unger and Okung. But the other half has been here before – Thomas, Washington and Lynch, who was the NFC’s leading rusher last season and the AFC’s leading rusher in 2008 while playing with the Bills. Here’s a look at their previous Pro Bowl contributions:

Marshawn Lynch

Year         Carries   Yards   Avg.

2008             6           48      8.0

2011             8           43      5.4

(also caught one passes for 2 yards in ’08)

Leon Washington

Year            Carries    Yards    Avg.

2008               2             22      11.0

(also caught one pass for 6 yards; and returned four kickoffs for 65 yards and two punts for 2 yards)

Earl Thomas

Year          Statistics

2011         Credited with no tackles

UP NEXT

The NFC and AFC squads will practice on Friday, but the sessions have been moved to the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, where the players are staying. The practices originally were scheduled for Kapolei High School, the site of Wednesday’s practices.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s even more special for me, being from Hawaii. It’s pretty cool, man. I hope they keep the game here. It’s a pretty special environment. ” – Unger, who is from Kailua-Kona on the Big Island


Comments Off

Monday in Hawkville: Players exit by saluting 12th Man

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 14:

FOCUS ON

A warm reception. When the Seahawks were leaving the airport after their return from Atlanta, and a 30-28 loss to the Falcons in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game, their buses were greeted by a crowd of several hundred cheering fans. When they reached VMAC, several hundred more were on hands and cheering just as wildly.

It might have been a Sunday evening with temperatures below freezing, but the warm reception helped the players deal with the disappointing loss.

“Speaking for myself, I play for the 12th Man,” wide receiver Golden Tate said today when the players were cleaning out their lockers. “That’s who I play for. I love them, and I hate that it had to end.”

That was part of the players’ amazement at the turnout. The Seahawks were returning from a season-ending defeat, not a victory that sent them to the NFC Championship game.

“To have the support we have from those guys, no matter what the outcome of the game, it’s awesome. I guarantee you there’s no other fan base that’s showing up at the facility in that weather after a loss with that type of support.

“The support we’ve gotten all season has been outstanding, and we appreciate it so much.”

All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman seconded that notion.

“That meant a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to have those kinds of fans and to have that kind of support in this city. It makes you want to play hard. It lets you see that all your hard work is for something.

“It’s hard to explain that kind of feeling. It’s amazing. It’s the middle of the night. It’s 20-something degrees. They care about us as players, as a team. And we care about this city. It really leaves you speechless, because they’re nothing you can say to describe the feeling of that kind of support.”

UNIT WATCH

The rookie class. The Seahawks stunned many of the “experts” with some of the players they selected in the NFL Draft last April. It started in the first round, when they took defensive end Bruce Irvin. It continued in the second round, when they drafted middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. It reached the hysterical level when they went for quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round.

Let’s see, Wilson passed for 26 touchdowns to tie the NFL rookie record set by Peyton Manning in 1998, among many other things; Wagner led the team in tackles during the regular season and postseason; and Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks during the regular season.

“We had a tremendous rookie class,” Wilson said. “Everybody said that this rookie class wouldn’t do anything and we’ve shown we can play. The goal is, we’ve got to prove it again next year.”

The NFL Network was at VMAC last week to tape this feature on the Seahawks’ rookie class which aired during its Sunday pregame show.

INJURY REPORT

Zach Miller did indeed tear the plantar fascia in his left foot, as the veteran tight end said after Sunday’s game. He was on crutches and had his foot in a protective boot today.

Defensive end Chris Clemons, who tore a ligament in his left knee in last week’s wild-card playoff game against the Redskins, has yet to have his surgery. But he was scheduled to meet with specialist Dr. James Andrews this week.

“This has been an extraordinary year in terms of that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I mentioned to the team how fortunate we were to get out of this tear with really one major rehab.”

DRAFT POSITION

The Seahawks will have the 25th selection in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, and 10 picks overall.

“We’ve got 10 picks going into this draft, which is fantastic for us,” Carroll said. “I can’t imagine all the work that John (Schneider, the GM) is going to turn out with all those opportunities.”

STAT DU JOUR

Matt Hasselbeck and Dave Krieg hold pretty much every passing record for the Seahawks. But Sunday, Wilson did something in his second postseason game that Hasselbeck (11 starts) and Krieg (seven) didn’t in their combined 18 playoff starts – pass for more than 350 yards. Here’s a look at the top postseason passing-yard games in franchise history

Player, opponent (date)                                   Att.   Comp.   Yards    TD   Int.  Rating

Russell Wilson, Falcons (Jan. 13, 2013)          36      24          385        2     1      109.1

Matt Hasselbeck, Rams (Jan. 8, 2005)            43      27          341        2     1        93.3

Matt Hasselbeck, Packers (Jan. 4, 2004)        45      25          305        0     1        67.4

Dave Krieg, Bengals (Dec. 31, 1988)                50      24         297        1      2         56.8

UP NEXT

The offseason. The players took their exit physicals, had their exit meeting with Carroll and cleaned out their lockers today. The midseason program begins in mid-April.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The thing I said to the guys afterward was that 25 seconds didn’t define our team. … This has been a great year for us.” – Carroll on the Falcons driving to their game-winning field goal by completing passes of 22 and 19 yards


Friday in Hawkville: Marcus Trufant looking to add to his playoff memories

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 11:

Marcus Trufant, Doug Baldwin

Cornerback Marcus Trufant (left) defends wide receiver Doug Baldwin (right) during practice this week.

FOCUS ON

Marcus Trufant. No one on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster has played in more postseason games (10) than the veteran nickel back. And no one grew up watching this team longer than the Tacoma-born Trufant, either.

So, as the team puts in its final preparations for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta, who better to lead us through a trip down Postseasons Past?

We asked Trufant for his favorite team memory from the six playoff teams he has been on, and his selection was the obvious.

“The (NFC) Championship game we played during our Super Bowl run (in 2005) was pretty big,” he said of the 34-14 victory over the Panthers. “To be able to do it at home, be able to do it in front of the fans, it was a pretty good feeling.”

Especially for a player who followed the team as a kid growing up.

“It does kind of hit you like that,” Trufant said when asked if there was a moment in that game where it hit home that he had just helped his hometown team get to the Super Bowl. “But it’s just one of those things. It is football. And if you do right and your team is hitting on all cylinders, then the opportunity is there.”

Just as it for this season’s playoff team, which is one victory from a return to the NFC Championship game.

“For us now, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Trufant said. “We’ve just got to fight to be right. Try to do everything well and just try to practice hard and get better every day.”

We also asked Trufant for his favorite individual postseason memory, and his response was very telling for a player who has been a team-first, individual-accolades-a-distant-second warrior since the Seahawks selected the cornerback from Washington State University if the first round the 2003 NFL Draft.

“You know what? After a while a lot stuff just seems to run together,” said Trufant, who had a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown to ice a wild-card win over the Redskins in 2007.

“So I’m about being in the present. I’m just trying to help out the team to get another victory. We want to take it one step at a time and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

LONGWELL, CHUKWURAH READY

Kicker Ryan Longwell and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah just joined the team this week to replace the injured duo of Steven Hauschka and Chris Clemons. Coach Pete Carroll said after practice that both are ready for Sunday’s game.

“I thought Longwell did a good job,” Carroll said. “He hit his kicks and fit together nicely with (holder) Jon Ryan to get the timing down. … He’s a seasoned vet. He’s been through it. If anybody can handle it, he will be able to handle all the buildup to it.”

As for Chukwurah, who last played in an NFL game in 2007, Carroll said, “Pat did fine. He’s in a backup role for us. But he showed enough that he’s going to be dressing for the game.”

INJURY REPORT

The official end-of-the-week status report, as issued by the team:

Doubtful

CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)

Questionable

S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)

Probable

RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)

WR Sidney Rice (knee)

Lynch practiced on a limited basis today after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday to rest a sprained foot. “He’s fine. He’ll be alright,” Carroll said. Johnson also got his first work of the week, on a limited basis. Maxwell and Rice did not practice, but Rice is expected to be ready of the game after practicing fully on Wednesday and Thursday.

For the Falcons:

Out

CB Christopher Owens (hamstring)

Questionable

DE John Abraham (ankle)

S Charles Mitchell (calf)

Probable

S William Moore (hamstring)

CB Dunta Robinson (head)

Abraham, who leads the Falcons with 10 sacks, has been limited all week.

STAT DU JOUR

Last week, the Seahawks allowed the Redskins to drive 80 yards to a touchdown on their first possession, but managed to come back and win the game. That’s not advisable this week, because the Falcons have been almost unstoppable when they score a TD on their opening drive. Here’s a look at what the Falcons did on their opening drives during the regular season, and how that worked out for them:

Opponent, outcome                        First drive

Chiefs, W, 40-24                               Touchdown

Broncos, W, 27-21                            Touchdown

Chargers, W, 27-3                             Touchdown

Panthers, W, 30-28                           Punt

Redskins, W, 24-17                           Punt

Raiders, W, 23-20                             Interception

Eagles, W, 30-17                               Touchdown

Cowboys, W, 19-13                          Punt

Saints, L, 31-27                                  Touchdown

Cardinals, W, 23-19                          Interception

Buccaneers, W, 24-23                      Field goal

Saints, W, 23-13                                Touchdown

Panthers, L, 30-20                             Punt

Giants, W, 34-0                                  Touchdown

Lions, W, 31-18                                  Punt

Buccaneers, L, 22-17                         Punt

In the games where they’ve scored TDs on their first possession, the Falcons are 6-1 and the wins came by an average of 17 points. In their other two losses, they opened with punts. In their other seven wins, when they opened with five punts, a field goal and an interception, the average margin of victory was five points.

“We just don’t want to get too caught up in that,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “We want to play the whole game fast and explosive, regardless of what happens the first series. So we know we’re going to have to make some adjustments as this game goes on. But the biggest thing is to keep our poise with the crowd noise and things like that – nothing that our guys haven’t come across before.”

UP NEXT

The team flew to Atlanta following today’s practice and will hold its Saturday walkthrough there.

The winner of Sunday’s game will meet either the 49ers or Packers in the NFC Championship game next Sunday. The Packers and 49ers play in San Francisco on Saturday night.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The big thing is having the corners that allow us to be aggressive. But the other thing is having a guy that can play the middle third that cover from redline to redline. You really need those three components.” – Bradley in discussing the virtues of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas in matching up against the Falcons’ trio of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez


Thursday in Hawkville: Sunday proved to be a very happy birthday for Clinton McDonald

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 10:

Clinton McDonald

FOCUS ON

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.”

Patrick Chukwurah

PLAYER WATCH

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.

INJURY REPORT

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)

Limited participation

S William Moore (hamstring)

DE John Abraham (ankle)

S Charles Mitchell (calf)

Full participation

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

UP NEXT

“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


Wednesday in Hawkville: Ryan Longwell, Patrick Chukwurah relish joining team for playoff run

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 9:

Ryan Longwell

FOCUS ON

The new guys. That would be kicker Ryan Longwell and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who were signed today to replace the injured duo of Steven Hauschka and Chris Clemons.

That these two are joining the Seahawks as they’re preparing for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta only heightens the storybook nature of their returns to the NFL. Longwell last kicked in league in 2011 for the Vikings, while Chukwurah hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2007 with the Buccaneers.

Longwell is here because Hauschka strained a calf in the wild-card win over the Redskins on Sunday and would not have been able to kick off against the Falcons. Chukwurah was signed because Clemons will need surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus he tore in his left knee in that game. Each was signed after going through a workout on Tuesday, and Hauschka and Clemons were placed on injured reserve to clear roster spots.

For Longwell, it’s a homecoming. He was born in Seattle, grew up in Puyallup and fondly remembers going to Seahawks game at the Kingdome with his grandfather – before his family moved to Bend, Ore., when he was in the ninth grade.

“It’s an awesome opportunity and I feel really blessed to be here,” said Longwell, who also kicked for the Packers (1997-2005) before joining the Vikings in 2006. “It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching.”

What had Longwell be up to? “To be dead honest with you, my wife was probably the happiest person that I got called into work,” he said. “Because we were actually training all fall for the Disney Marathon this Sunday. Got her out of that, and got me out of it, too.”

Patrick Chukwurah

For the Nigerian-born Chukwurah, he figured a return to the NFL was out of the question after he had played two seasons in the UFL and was out of the football the past three seasons.

“It’s pretty much one of those stories you don’t think will ever happen,” said Chukwurah, who had played for the Vikings (2001-02) and Broncos (2003-06) before going to the Bucs. “I was at home, working from home, and I just got a call from my agent and he was like, ‘Hey, you want to go to Seattle and play for a couple of weeks?’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re not serious.’

“So I just came here with the mindset if this this is going to be my last shot, just to give it all I’ve got and leave it out there.”

Longwell will handle all the kicking chores against the Falcons, but coach Pete Carroll said he wasn’t sure what Chukwurah’s role would be on Sunday. In addition to playing defensive end, he’s also a special teams player.

Whatever comes his way, Chukwurah plans to be prepared as well as ready.

“To me, it’s a blessing,” he said. “I never would have thought this would happen. The fact that it’s happened, and it’s happened so fast, you’ve got to take it in stride and just be grateful that you get an opportunity and make the best of it.”

OPPONENT WATCH

Tony Gonzalez. What more can be said about the most-productive tight end in NFL history? In his 16th NFL season, and fourth with the Falcons, Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.

Falcons coach Mike Smith got his turn to sing the praises of Gonzalez today during a conference-call interview.

“Tony has beaten father time,” Smith said. “To watch this guy, at his age (36), perform how he has performed this year and the three previous years, he’s been a great mentor to all of our young guys on our team. Not just the offensive players.

“Tony has got an outstanding work ethic. Probably nobody works harder than he does in taking care of his body and working on the fine points of the skillset that it takes to play the tight end position. And I think that’s the thing that most of our guys have taken from Tony. He’s one of the first guys out there, and he’s going to make sure that he’s catching balls. And now everybody is out there catching balls early and in between drills. Defensive linemen are out there early hitting the sled. And I think a lot of that has to do with watching Tony Gonzalez and the success that he’s had.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)

RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)

CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)

That’s it. Everyone else participated in the session that was held in the indoor practice facility. And Lynch, Johnson and Maxwell sat out 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 Charles Mitchell (calf)

Limited participation

S William Moore (hamstring)

DE John Abraham (ankle)

Full participation

CB Dunta Robinson (head)

The Falcons used their bye week to self-scout practice, but also to heal up.

“I think it was good for our guys,” quarterback Matt Ryan said during a conference-call interview. “Every team has guys that are nicked up at this point of the year. For us to get a chance to get those guys some rest and to get them a little bit healthier is good for us. I think one of the good things that Coach Smith does, that he did this past week, was we were in here the entire week. We were working and staying in that rhythm and I think that’s helped us.”

PARCTICE SQUAD MOVE

Defensive tackle Myles Wade was signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga was released.

The 6-foot-1, 300-pound Wade, a rookie from Portland State, was with the Buccaneers during training camp.

 

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks already have faced four players who finished among the Top 5 in the NFL in receptions. Now comes the Falcons’ trio of Gonzalez (No. 9) and wide receivers Roddy White (tied for 10th) and Julio Jones (tied for 18th). Here’s a look at how the other top-ranked receivers did against the Seahawks, their season totals and their averages against the rest of the league:

Calvin Johnson, Lions

                                             No.   Yards

Season                               122    1,964

Vs. Seahawks                        3          46

Avg. vs. rest of NFL           7.9    127.9

Brandon Marshall, Bears

                                             No.   Yards

Season                               118    1,508

Vs. Seahawks                      10       165

Avg. vs. rest of NFL           7.2      89.5

Wes Welker, Patriots

                                              No.    Yards

Season                                118     1,354

Vs. Seahawks                       10        138

Avg. vs. rest of NFL            7.2        81.1

Jason Witten, Cowboys

                                               No.   Yards

Season                                  110   1,039

Vs. Seahawks                           4         58

Avg. vs. rest of NFL              7.1      65.4

UP NEXT

“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

YOU DON’T SAY

“He’s playing his style. Has he crossed the line? I don’t think so. He’s hanging on that line at times. But that’s who he is. Our guys respect Richard Sherman. They know whatever he might put out there he can back up. And he’s done that.” – Carroll when asked about the second-year cornerback “crossing the line” with his physical style of play


Tuesday in Hawkville: Brandon Browner up to the challenge

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 8:

Brandon Browner

FOCUS ON

Brandon Browner. Pete Carroll admits he wasn’t sure what to expect from the Seahawks’ cornerback in Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game against the Redskins because Browner had just returned from serving a four-game suspension.

But the coach’s apprehension didn’t last long, as Browner was quickly back to being his physical self while helping put the clamps on the Redskins’ passing game in the 24-14 victory at FedExField.

“He slipped and fell one time, but other than that he played a very good football game,” Carroll said. “He exceeded my expectations of how he would go in this game. He took some deep balls and challenged some stuff underneath and did a great job.”

It was a promising – and needed – performance, with what the Falcons will throw at the Seahawks in their divisional-round game this Sunday in Atlanta. Or perhaps who they’ll throw at the Seahawks is a more appropriate way to put it, since the Falcons’ passing game features Roddy White and Julio Jones, who combined to catch 171 passes from QB Matt Ryan for 2,549 yards and 17 TDs.

“He’s ready to go,” Carroll said of Browner. “We needed him to comeback like he did – we didn’t know – and he pulled it off.”

POSITION WATCH

Right guard. Rookie J.R. Sweezy started Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game against the Redskins, but John Moffitt also played after being inactive the previous two games. Carroll liked the way the tag-team rotation worked.

“They both played well, they did a good job. Both of those guys were solid in the game,” said Carroll, with the Seahawks’ rushing for 224 yards as Exhibit A in that assessment. “They have a little different style about them, and they both came through alright.”

Will both continue to play against the Falcons this week?

“I don’t really care if it’s one guy or two guys,” Carroll said. “We just want to get good solid play out of it, and I think it was kind of nice in (the Redskins’) game to not have J.R. under the gun. He didn’t have to play every snap in the game and we got to rest him a little bit and keep him fresh – and keep his mind clear, too. It’s a lot to intake for a young guy at that spot, and these guys were coming after us and doing all kinds of things.

“I think Tom did a great job of mixing that for those guys.”

That would be Tom Cable, the line coach and also assistant head coach. As for which one might start against the Falcons, Carroll said, “We’ll see how the week goes and let Tom call that.”

STATS ’N STUFF

The playoffs are only a week old, and only eight teams participated, but the Seahawks emergence from the Wild Card round ranked No. 1 in rushing offense and passing defense. They are No. 2 in total defense and No. 4 in total offense.

Marshawn Lynch’s 132 rushing yards rank second to the Texans’ Arian Foster (140), and he is third in total yards (141) and fourth in first downs (six). Leon Washington is second in punt-return average (9.5 yards) and fifth in kickoff-return average (23.0).

Russell Wilson’s passer rating of 92.9 ranks third behind the Ravens’ Joe Flacco (126.5) and Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (104.9), and he is second in third-down passer rating (88.9) to the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (116.7).

Free safety Earl Thomas shares the lead with his one interception.

STAT DU JOUR

The Wilson wow-factor continues to grow. His 100.0 passer rating during the regular season ranks No. 2 in the League since 2001 for a player in his first 16 starts. Here’s a look at who the Seahawks’ rookie QB trailed and, more importantly, who he ranked ahead of:

Player, team (record)                               Att.  Comp.  Yards    TD   Int.   Rating

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (15-1)      335     219     3,133     21     9     105.2

Russell Wilson, Seahawks (11-5)           393     252     3,118     26   10     100.0

Aaron Rodgers, Packers (6-10)               536    341     4,038     28    13      93.8

Philip Rivers, Chargers (14-2)                 460     284     3,388     22      9      92.0

Tom Brady, Patriots (13-3)                      481     313     3,360      23    13     90.1

Jay Cutler, Broncos (7-9)                          437     275    3,385      22    15     89.3

Matt Ryan, Falcons (11-5)                        434    265     3,440      16    11     87.7

Cam Newton, Panthers (6-10)                 517    310     4,051      21    17     84.5

Carson Palmer, Bengals (9-7)                   529    332     3,683      26    20     84.0

Matt Schaub, Falcons/Texans (4-12)       474    298     3,424      16   16      81.8

Redskins’ rookie Robert Griffin III had a 102.4 rating this season, but he started 15 games.

UP NEXT

The players return from a couple of “off” days to begin practicing on “Competition Wednesday” in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The bottom line is, Wilson’s amazing. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s able to see those windows and get the ball in there, even though his official height is 5-foot-10 5/8. Before the draft, people were worried that he’d have an issue with blocked passes, but on Sunday, he didn’t have a single throw knocked down. (Andrew) Luck, on the other hand, had several passes blocked. I’ll tell you what, there are going to be a whole bunch of future quarterback prospects who measure around 6-feet tall who had better send Wilson a card. His performance as a rookie will really open the NFL up to a whole new type of player.” – former Cowboys VP of player personnel Gil Brandt, assessing the play of the three rookie QBs from Sunday’s wild-card games at NFL.com


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

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

Steven Hauschka

FOCUS ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SURGERY FOR CLEMONS

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

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

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

BRADLEY, BEVELL DRAW INTEREST

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

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

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

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

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

 MORE KING-SIZED PRAISE FOR SEAHAWKS

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

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

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

THOMAS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND

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

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

STAT DU JOUR

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

Player, opponent (date)                                         Yards

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

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

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

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

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

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

UP NEXT

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

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

YOU DON’T SAY

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


Friday in Hawkville: Steve Largent Award is one honor that Russell Wilson embraces

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 4:

Russell Wilson

FOCUS ON

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ rookie quarterback is not into individual honors. He either pooh-poohs them, or uses them as an excuse to share the credit with his linemen, and his backs, and his receivers, and his coaches.

That was the case on Thursday, when he was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for December; and also earlier this season, when he was selected NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

But Wilson also has been voted the Steve Largent Award winner by his teammates. He got the trophy that goes with the award before last week’s regular-season finale against the Rams at CenturyLink Field. He had not discussed what winning the award that has been presented annually to the player or coach who “best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks” means to him until this week – when the Seahawks have been preparing for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Redskins at FedExField.

“To be voted the Steve Largent Award is an amazing award,” Wilson said. “Obviously Steve Largent is one of the best, if not the best, Seahawk players to play all-time and is a tremendous human being. So for the players and the organization to vote me the Steve Largent Award is pretty unbelievable to me and it’s very, very exciting.

“It’s a tribute to my faith, I believe, and also to my parents and just my teammates I have around me.”

He is the first rookie to win the honor, and his first-year status went into the thought process of those who voted for him.

“Just being around him and seeing what type of person he is, how strong he is in his religion,” wide receiver Golden Tate said. “He is a rookie quarterback, and you know how hard it is with all the criticism that comes with being not only a quarterback but a rookie quarterback. So for him to still find a way to show up every day with a positive attitude and become a leader so quickly, and lead this team to an 11-5 record and into the playoffs, how can you deny that?”

Space Needle

BLUE FRIDAY

Not boo-hoo Blue, but woo-hoo Blue. Hawkville was expanded today to include the top of the Space Needle and even the skies over the Seattle area as the Seahawks were given the royal-blue treatment as a sendoff for Sunday’s game.

A huge 12th Man flag was run up the flag pole atop the Space Needle this morning by a rockin’ contingent that included Jason Finn of Presidents of the United States of America, Nick Harmer and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Macklemore, Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire Shabazz Palaces and Scott Mercado of Candlebox. Seattle mayor Mike McGinn also was on hand.

Another 12th Man flag was towed behind a plane along the I-405 corridor from 2-3 p.m.

“I’m sure (the fans) are jacked up,” coach Pete Carroll said today after practice. “We’ve shared so much excitement in the years we’ve been here already. I’m sure everybody is pumped up about it. … It should be a lot of excitement. Hopefully we can deliver for them. I’d love to bring it back home with a win behind us and we’re ready to go to the next level.”

INJURY REPORT

The official end-of-the-week status report, as issued by the team:

Probable

CB Jeremy Lane (knee)

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

The Seahawks couldn’t be much healthier heading into their playoff opener, with Lane practicing today on a limited basis after sitting out Thursday because of a sore knee. “We’re very, very fortunate,” Carroll said. “You’re going to look at, I think, the same 11 on both sides that started the season. I can’t remember that happening.”

Leroy Hill is ready to go, Carroll said, and will split time at weakside linebacker with Malcolm Smith. Also back is cornerback Brandon Browner, who returned Monday from his four-game suspension. He will start on the right side against the Redskins.

For the Redskins:

Out

CB Dominique Johnson (knee) was placed on IR

Questionable

OG Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle)

S DeJon Gomes (knee)

Probable

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)

STAT DU JOUR

Wilson and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III put up numbers during the regular season that where impressive for any quarterback, and exceptional for rookie QBs – not to mention eerily similar in some categories. Here’s a comparison:

Category                                     Wilson      Griffin

Victories                                        11                9

Attempts                                    393             393

Completions                              252             258

Completion percentage         .641             .656

Passing yards                         3,118           3,200

300-yard passing games              0                  3

Touchdown passes                     26                20

Interceptions                               10                  5

Passer rating                          100.0           102.4

Rushing yards                           489               815

Rushing average                       5.2                 6.8

Rushing touchdowns                   4                    7

UP NEXT

The team flew to Baltimore on Friday following the players’ midday practice. They will hold their Saturday walkthrough in the D.C. area.

The winner of Sunday’s game will advance to the divisional round of the playoffs next weekend.

YOU DON’T SAY, NATIONAL EDITION

“One of the most anticipated Wild Card games I can remember. How stunning it is to see two rookie quarterbacks ranked 3-4 in quarterback rating (ahead of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger), meeting in the postseason in their rookie years, piloting non-playoff teams from last year with a combined 21 wins? I pick Seattle because of quarterback health and defensive secondary. Each team has a bruising running back who could take over the game and rush for 150. Each team has enough front-seven weapons to make it hot for the rookie QBs. But Russell Wilson will be more evasive, if recent play stands up, because Robert Griffin III is slightly slowed from his Dec. 9 knee sprain against Baltimore. And with Brandon Browner returning to pair with the non-suspended Richard Sherman, the Seattle secondary is back at full strength just in time.” – Peter King at SI.com, who’s obviously “All In” in picking a 24-22 Seahawks victory on Sunday

YOU DON’T SAY, LOCAL EDITION

“Wasn’t that when Ronald Reagan was President? Really. Come on now. None of these guys even had a clue. They don’t know who Ronald Reagan is. So that should shed some light on how much that factors in.” – Carroll, when asked about the Seahawks not having won a playoff game on the road since 1983


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Thursday in Hawkville: Brandon Browner excited to be back and heading to the playoffs

A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 3:

Brandon Browner

FOCUS ON

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.

OPPONENT WATCH

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.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

CB Jeremy Lane (knee)

Full participation

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)

Full participation

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

UP NEXT

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