Just call it the NFC Best?

Is the NFC West the best division in the NFL?

Heath Evans played for the Seahawks, while Warren Sapp played against them during his Hall of Fame career. They debate that question during this video feature at NFL.com.

Evans, a fullback who was the Seahawks’ third-round draft choice in 2001, agrees that the NFC West is the league’s best division. He points to the physical style of the Seahawks and 49ers, as well as the way they finished the 2012 season – the 49ers advancing to the Super Bowl and the Seahawks coming within a two-point loss to the Falcons of playing the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.

But Sapp, a seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle during his career with the Buccaneers and Raiders, opts for the NFC North because that division features the best quarterback (the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers), best running back (the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson) and best receiver (the Lions’ Calvin Johnson) in the league.


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Wednesday in Hawkville: Will Lynch play this week?

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Sept. 5:

FOCUS ON

Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Leave it to Lynch to take the most direct route to the most-asked question of the day: Will the Seahawks’ leading rusher play in Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona?

“The goal is to (play),” Lynch said as he sat in his cubicle in the locker room shuffling a deck of cards. “But if I do, I do. And if I don’t, I don’t.”

Lynch, who has not practiced since experiencing back spasms after the second preseason game on Aug. 18, participated in the walkthrough this morning. But he did not take part in the two-hour practice this afternoon.

If Lynch can’t play against the Cardinals, the bulk of the carries will go to Turbin, the fourth-round draft choice who has been working with the No. 1 offense in Lynch’s absence. Turbin ran for 93 yards in the third game against the Chiefs in Kansas City and finished with a team-leading 165 yards in the preseason. The Seahawks also have incumbent backup Leon Washington and Kregg Lumpkin, who ran for 150 yards during the preseason.

Lynch is confident that the Seahawks can continue to run the ball even if he’s not the one carrying it.

“I think with any back we put in there, that we’re going to be able to be successful, regardless,” Lynch said. “That’s a big accomplishment for our offensive linemen.”

Despite Lynch getting only five carries in the preseason, the Seahawks averaged a league-best 178.3 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. And Lynch likes the sum of those numbers.

“For me, it gives me a feeling that we’re that much closer to reaching our goal – which is to win the (NFC) West,” Lynch said. “Just to see all these young guys come in and make the impact that they’re making, if my situation was to where I was unable to play that I would be pleased with what we have as far as Rob (Turbin), Lump (Lumpkin) and Leon toting the pill.”

Will that be the case this week?

“We really won’t know until the end of the week,” coach Pete Carroll said. “The process that he’s gone through, he’s aerobically in good shape. We need to get him back to his football legs and get him enough reps to do that.

“You can’t cancel Marshawn out now. It’s too early to know that.”

POSITION WATCH

Right guard. Monday, it appeared that rookie J.R. Sweezy would be the starter in the opener, as he was in the final three preseason games. Today, Carroll made it official. The former defensive tackle who was selected in the seventh round of April’s NFL Draft will indeed start at right guard against the Cardinals.

“J.R.’s earned it,” Carroll said. “He did it just the old-fashioned way of hard, tough, day-after-day ball. We saw glimpses right from the beginning, and couldn’t believe he would learn as he did. But he did.”

OPPONENT WATCH

Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals’ first-round draft choice last year set a league record as a rookie by producing four punt returns for 80-plus yards. Peterson also plays a pretty mean corner on defense when he’s not racing up and down the field with punts.

None of this is surprising to Carroll, who first saw Peterson as a 17-year old at a football camp.

“We never saw a guy better at his position in all those years,” Carroll said. “Because he was so strong and so explosive. And, he had tremendous timing and all-around general athleticism. He’s a great performer. And he’s just getting warmed up.”

INJURY REPORT

The first official injury report of the season, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

WR Golden Tate (knee)

DL Greg Scruggs (hamstring)

Limited in practice

OG James Carpenter (knee)

With Lynch and Tate still out, Turbin filled in for Lynch and veteran Braylon Edwards was at split end for Tate.

For the Cardinals:

Did not practice

WR Early Doucet (not injury related)

Limited in practice

S Rashad Johnson (abdomen)

LB O’Brien Schofield (knee)

OG Adam Snyder (elbow)

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin)

CB Greg Toler (hip)

Full participation

TE Rob Housler (hamstring)

UP NEXT

The players will practice on Thursday afternoon, following a morning walkthrough.

THE NEXT VOICE YOU HEAR

Former Seahawks fullback Heath Evans will be the analyst for Fox’s telecast of Sunday’s game. Evans, a third-round draft choice in 2001, will team with play-by-play man Sam Rosen and sideline reporter Heidi Androl.

With the preseason over, the radio team for the broadcast on 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM will feature the usual suspects: Steve Raible (play-by-play), Warren Moon (commentary) and Jen Mueller (sideline reporter).

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK

Dylan Judson of Monroe has been selected as the first CenturyLink High School Athlete of the Week. The senior will be recognized during the Seahawks’ home opener on Sept. 16 against the Cowboys.

Judson is getting it done on and off the field. He has a 3.7 grade point average and is enrolled in multiple honors courses, including pre-calculus. Judson also volunteers at “Painting a Better Tomorrow,” helping paint houses for low-income families, and helps coach a baseball team which gives disabled children the opportunity to learn and play the game of baseball.

On the field, Judson was selected as a 2011 4A WESCO North first-team all-conference tight end after catching 10 passes for 196 yards and four touchdowns last season. He also had 56 tackles, six sacks, two fumble recoveries and a safety on defense.

YOU DON’T SAY

“With our defense playing the way that they’ve been playing, we don’t even need our offense.” – Lynch


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