Monday cyber surfing: Week 7 revisited; New “Real Rob Report”

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, October 22.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have struggled playing against teams built in a similar style as they are, “This Seahawks team — with its run-heavy approach and rookie quarterback — figured to have trouble keeping up with the high-fliers like Green Bay and New England. The reality has been the exact opposite. It’s the low-scoring affairs against similarly conservative attacks that have highlighted the Seahawks’ offensive inadequacies. Seattle has played four teams currently ranked among the league’s top 10 defenses in terms of yards allowed. The Seahawks are 1-3 in those games. All three of those defeats have come on the road, but the sites of those games might not explain everything. The Seahawks have beaten the Packers, who led the league in scoring a year ago. They have defeated the Patriots, who are the league’s top offense this year. They held Dallas — which is No. 6 in total yards this year — without a point in the second half, and they have lost to both Arizona and St. Louis, who like Seattle rank among the league’s five worst offenses.”

O’Neil also has a look at what we learned and what we’re still trying to figure out after last Thursday’s defeat at San Francisco, “You can’t take Wilson’s passing numbers at face value.
Well, 9-for-23 passing may not get it done, but how about 14-for-23? Does that sound better? Because Wilson had some passes that couldn’t have been thrown any better and should have resulted in big gains that were flat-out dropped. Wilson played very well in the first half, and if tight end Evan Moore, receiver Golden Tate and running back Robert Turbin catch balls that hit them in the hands in the first two quarters, Seattle’s lead would have been larger than 6-3 at halftime.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks’ mini-break in their schedule after Thursday night’s game is a good chance for them to catch a mid-season breather, “Most players are using the three days off to get in a mini-vacation or reconnect with family and friends. After that matchup with the Lions, Seattle will settle into a second-half schedule that includes home games against Minnesota and the New York Jets before a bye in Week 11, the latest Seattle has had a bye week since 2000. While Seattle finishes with five of its last eight games at home, they also face a potentially more difficult schedule. Seattle’s final nine opponents have a combined record of 31-22 (58.5 percent). The Seahawks’ first seven opponents have a combined record of 21-20 (51.2 winning percentage).”

Williams also highlights linebacker and special teams co-captain Heath Farwell, who has proven to be the team’s most productive special teams player, “Through seven games, Heath Farwell leads in special-teams tackles with eight. Farwell also led the NFL in special-teams tackles last season with 21, which was more impressive because he joined the Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent last October, five games into the season. ‘I’m definitely not the fastest guy down there – that’s (Byron) Maxwell or (Chris) Maragos,’ Farwell said with a laugh. ‘But you’ve got to have instincts, too. I’ve got those guys running down in front of me, and I kind of play off of them. And they make a lot of stuff happen that allows me to make tackles.’ ”

Dave Wyman, writing for mynorthwest.com, says you shouldn’t feel too bad about the Seahawks’ 4-3 record, “How bad should a 4-3 record feel? When you’re third loss came on the road, in a short week and against a top-five team, not that bad. Going 0-3 in the division and not beating the Cardinals or Rams on the road should feel bad. But it should feel awfully good that you did beat the Cowboys, Packers and Patriots at home. The CenturyLink Field advantage is back and I’d say that if the Seahawks could win two more road games and only lose once at home, 10-6 looks pretty good. I’ll take my chances with that record at the end of the season. Too bad the Seahawks aren’t in the AFC, where just two of the 16 teams are above .500. Here’s what else to not feel bad about: Seattle’s three losses were by a total of 17 points. In 2010, Carroll’s first season as the Seahawks’ coach, they were also 4-3 after seven games. But their three losses were by a total of 64 points. That year, the Seahawks’ average margin of defeat was a league-worst 21 points.”

Brady Henderson of mynorthwest.com revisits Russell Wilson’s performance following Thursday’s game against the 49ers, “It was safe to assume Wilson wouldn’t complete as many deep throws against the 49ers as he did against the Patriots. He didn’t, but he would have had more success on such throws had it not been for some drops. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson was 20 of 35 with five touchdowns and three interceptions on passes traveling more than 15 yards downfield entering Thursday, but he went just 2 of 8 with an interception against San Francisco. Tight end Evan Moore and receiver Golden Tate each dropped a pass on one of those attempts. Tate had a second drop, while running backs Robert Turbin and Marshawn Lynch dropped passes as well. Turbin might have scored had he caught his pass.”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press notes there were other problems than Wilson’s performance and the drops by the wide receivers in last Thursday’s loss to the Niners, “Seattle’s run defense allowed an opponent to top 100 total yards rushing for the first time this season. Gore’s 131 yards were the most by an individual rusher against the Seahawks since Dallas’ DeMarco Murray ran for 139 yards in Week 9 of last season, a span of 14 games. … The fact Seattle held San Francisco to just 13 points and still felt the night was a defensive disappointment exemplifies the standard to which Carroll holds the Seahawks. ‘It was a heck of a night by our defense, but I’m still frustrated that we didn’t stop a couple of things. If we stop a couple of things, the game doesn’t go like that. Now, it still was going to be close because we didn’t score much, but we need to play better in the running game,’ Carroll said.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com says the  Seahawks have nine weeks to figure out what went wrong in their Week 7 loss to the 49ers before a Week 16 re-match in Seattle.

Amy Brachmann of ESPN The Magazine catches up with Wilson and asks the rookie quarterback a few off-beat questions, “What is the most embarrassing music you have to admit you listen to? There’s some *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys on my iPod. I listen to it if it comes up on shuffle. What is your guilty pleasure? Milk chocolate with caramel. What is your most irrational fear? Jumping out of a plane. I could never do that.”

For a complete look around the weekend in the NFL Peter King of SI.com has his Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth uses the short player break after Thursday night to catch up with a couple former Seahawks – Dan Doornink and Jeff West.

Seahawks fan Chuck McGowan has his “12th Fan View” update after the Seahawks’ Week 6 victory over the New England Patriots.

Lastly, we leave you with fullback Michael Robinson’s latest episode of the Real Rob Report, which was shot prior to last Thursday’s game in San Francisco:


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Monday in Hawkville: Maximizing every second

A recap of the day’s events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 15:

FOCUS ON

Pete Carroll

Two games in five days. That’s what the Seahawks are facing this week, as they already have put Sunday’s last-second victory over the Patriots behind them today so the emphasis can be clearly on Thursday night’s nationally televised game against the 49ers in San Francisco.

The Seahawks went through this same condensed schedule last season, when they lost to the Redskins 23-17 on a Sunday (Nov. 27) and then beat the Eagles 31-14 on a Thursday night (Dec. 1). But both games were played at CenturyLink Field. This season, there is travel involved – even if it is the team’s shortest trip.

“We’re utilizing the same system, basically, from what we did,” coach Pete Carroll said during his weekly Q&A session with the media. “We thought we played pretty well and got done what we had to get done.”

For the players, the physical drain is obvious. For the coaches, it’s a matter of putting the game plan together and then installing it with limited practice time.

“You don’t have a whole lot of choice physically, you’ve just got to get there,” Carroll said. “So it is the learning and the acquiring of the game plan and the style of play that you’re up against in a condensed fashion.

“So it’s really important, and we talked as coaches, that we have to teach really well and present information really clearly and make sense and maximize every second that we have. And meanwhile, take care of the guys as they return to get their bodies back. A big physical challenge, there’s no question about it.”

Against a very physical opponent. The Seahawks and 49ers are 4-2 to share the NFC West lead with the Cardinals.

INJURY REPORT

Guard John Moffitt, who has missed the past three games because of a knee injury, is the only player who has been ruled out for Thursday night’s game, Carroll said. The others should be able to play, and that includes Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor, who injured an ankle in Sunday’s game.

Chancellor was not expected to particiate in today’s walkthrough, along with defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (groin) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (hamstring).

Cornerback Walter Thurmond, who has been on the physically unable to perform list, begins his three-week window where he’s allowed to practice. But Carroll admitted that because of the limited practice time this is a tough week for Thurmond to jump back in for the first time since he injured an ankle in the Week 7 game against the Browns last season.

STATS ’N STUFF

By yielding 475 yards to the Patriots, the Seahawks’ defense slipped from No. 1 to No. 4 in the league in average yards allowed (294.7) – behind the 49ers (275.8), Cowboys (285.2) and Bears (291.2). The Seahawks are second in average rushing yards allowed (70.0) to the Bears (65.8).

Despite rushing for a season-low 41 yards, Marshawn Lynch remains third in the league with 549 yards – behind the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles (591) and Texans’ Arian Foster (561). He’s also second in the NFC in total yards (619), nine fewer than the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson.

Leon Washington is second in the league in kickoff return average (31.7), while Jon Ryan is fourth in the league in net punting average (43.1) and fifth in average (50.7).

Chancellor and strongside linebacker K.J. Wright share the team lead with 43 tackles – one more than rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Heath Farwell continues to lead the team in coverage tackles with seven – one more than Chris Maragos.

STAT DU JOUR

On Sunday, Russell Wilson became only the fourth rookie quarterback to beat the Patriots’ Tom Brady. Here’s a look at that short list:

Quarterback (year)                    Result

Russell Wilson (2012)                 Seahawks, 24-23

Colt McCoy (2010)                      Browns, 34-14

Mark Sanchez (2009)                 Jets, 16-9

Ben Roethlisberger (2004)        Steelers, 34-20

UP NEXT

One very short week. The players will have a walkthrough today and practice on Tuesday, their usual off day. They’ll also practice on Wednesday before the team flies to San Francisco for Thursday night’s game.

“If you can imagine, we’re practicing on the day we’re traveling to get ready for this game,” Carroll said. “It’s a unique opportunity and we’re going to try to make the most of it and have a heckuva game down there.”

The NFL Network will show a replay of the Seahawks-Patriots game at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday as part of its “NFL Replay” series.

YOU DON’T SAY

“After his sixth NFL game Sunday, a 24-23 win over the Patriots at home, (Russell) Wilson told Tom Brady on the field, ‘I have so much respect for you as a player and a person. It’s great to play against you.’ He walked through the Seattle locker room, shaking hands with every player. He stopped to share a few moments with owner Paul Allen. In his post-game press conference, during which he deflected any praise about himself toward the team, he finished the way he finishes interviews broadcast live to Seattle fans: ‘Go Hawks!’ Good teammate. Good politician. Good guy. And a very quick study as a quarterback.” – Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback at SI.com

YOU DON’T SAY, PART II

“The crowd in Seattle. Those fans are so loud you almost have to turn the TV down.” – King from the “What I liked” section of his MMQB


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Countdown to kickoff

Cortez Kennedy

Greetings from CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks will host the New England Patriots this afternoon with both teams looking to climb to 4-2, rather than slide to 3-3.

What’s left to say about this game that we haven’t already covered this week?

The Seahawks have the No. 1-ranked defense in the league, and that fast, aggressive, disruptive unit is allowing averages of 287.2 yards and 10.8 points per game – not the 14.0 figure that has been out there, because 16 of the 70 points the Seahawks have yielded came against the special teams (nine) and offense (seven). The Patriots have the No. 1-ranked offense in the league, and that up-tempo, multi-legged and -handed unit is averaging 439.4 yards and has scored at least 30 points four times in five games. And, the Patriots are actually running the ball more this season than passing it. But then we covered all of that in this story.

The Seahawks spent the week trying to simulate the tempo of the Patriots’ offense in practice, while the Patriots were attempting to replicate the crowd noise at CenturyLink. Good luck on both counts.

This will be the first time Tom Brady has played at played in Seattle, because the been-there/done-that in every other category QB was injured when the Patriots where here in 2008. We covered that in this story, which included this confident declaration from Brady: “This will be fun. It’s always nice when you take 53 guys on the road and you say, ‘This is all we’ve got and this is all we need and this is what we have to do.’ And see 70,000 fans, if you can keep them quiet or turn them on their own team. I think that’s an exciting part for road teams, is to see if you can get them booing their own players.”

And Ron Borges at the Boston Herald also is pooh-poohing the effect of the crowd noise on Brady and the Patriots’ prolific offense.

Lost in the excitement of the No. 1 vs. No. 1 angle, as well as the concern over the Seahawks’ still-growing offense being able to sustain drives against the Patriots’ defense, is the fact that the Seahawks’ special teams rank No. 2 in the league. The leader of that pack is Heath Farwell, and we took a closer look at him and his impact in this story.

There also are a couple of side attractions to today’s game.

First, Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy will have his No. 96 retired during a halftime ceremony, joining Steve Largent and Walter Jones as the only players in franchise history to be so honored. We covered that in this story, as well as in a story that appears in today’s GameDay program.

October also is Breast Cancer Awareness month in the NFL, and this is the Seahawks’ only home game this month. So there will be more pink visible at CenturyLink Field today than at a 5-year-old girl’s birthday party. We talked with one player – tight end Evan Moore – whose family has been touched by the disease in this story.

So what is left to say? How about a few more stats to tide you over until the 1:05 p.m. kickoff:

The Patriots are a league-best 33-6 in the month of October since 2003, including a 14-5 record on the road.

Wes Welker, the Patriots’ slot receiver supreme who led the NFL with 122 receptions last season, is averaging 6.4 yards after the catch this season on receptions made from the slot. The Seahawks are allowing receivers to average 4.09 yards after the catch, which ranks No. 2 in the league behind the Vikings (3.9); but that average is 3.6 for slot receivers, which ranks 12th in the league.

The Seahawks are 2-0 at home this season, and have allowed 19 points to the Cowboys and Packers in those games.

So what is left to say? Enjoy what should be an intriguing and enjoyable matchup, and remember that the game is on CBS (KIRO/7) – not Fox – because the visiting team dictates the network in inter-conference games. You also can listen to the action on 710 ESPN and KIRO Radio 97.3.


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Monday in Hawkville: Irvin coming on in a rush

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 8:

FOCUS ON

Bruce Irvin

Bruce Irvin. Skeptics scoffed when the Seahawks “reached” to select the pass-rush specialist with the No. 15 pick in April’s NFL Draft.

Where are they now? Irvin collected two sacks in Sunday’s defense-dominated 16-12 victory over the Panthers in Carolina, despite playing limited snaps, and now has 4.5 in five games to lead all rookies.

Sunday, it wasn’t just that Irvin had two sacks, but when he got them. The second came with less than a minute to play and forced QB Cam Newton to fumble. Defensive tackle Alan Branch recovered the ball at the Panthers’ 25-yard line to snuff their last gasp at possibly pulling out a victory. Irvin’s first sack came on a third-and-10 play on the Panthers’ first possession in the second quarter and resulted in a 13-yard loss. Irvin came from the left end spot and was going to his right, but looped around to drop the 245-pound Newton as he moved to the his right.

“Bruce’s addition is extremely obvious, what a factor he is already,” coach Pete Carroll said today in his weekly day-after Q&A session with the media. “He’s so fast that you get him started up field and the tackle sets, and working with the three-technique (tackle) in there, it’s just a really good aspect of what he brings.

“He can get all the way to the other side of the line of scrimmage and still be a factor.”

The flip side to Irvin – or other side of the D-line in the nickel, if you will – is Chris Clemons’ continuing assault on quarterbacks. He split a sack with rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner on Sunday and now has 5.5, which ties him for sixth in the league.

That gives the Seahawks’ duo 10 between them, and no other end combination in the league has more. That’s why Carroll went after Irvin in the first round.

Has the rookie progressed faster than even Carroll anticipated?

“He’s exactly where we thought he would be,” Carroll joked.

But he then added, “It wasn’t a major projection for us. We saw what we needed to see. He had plenty of rushes on the outside to show exactly what we were looking for.”

It’s just that everyone else is finally starting to see that, too.

STATS ’N STUFF

Marshawn Lynch

Despite rushing for 85 yards against the Panthers, Marshawn Lynch slipped to No. 2 in the league in rushing with 508 – 43 behind the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles. Lynch leads the NFC in total yards (567), which ranks third in the league behind Charles (669) and the Ravens’ Ray Rice (609).

Leon Washington is second in the league in kickoff return average (34.3), while Jon Ryan is fourth in the league in net punting average (43.1) and eighth in average (48.9).

Linebacker K.J. Wright continues to lead the team in tackles (34), while Heath Farwell continues to lead in special teams tackles (five).

STAT DU JOUR

In terms of average points allowed, the Seahawks are tied with the Texans for second in the league (14.0) behind the 49ers (13.6) – and the Texans play tonight against the Jets. But in terms of average points allowed by the defense, it’s the Seahawks who are No. 1 in the league. Here’s a look at the leaders:

Team (games)                Def. points allowed     Avg.

Seahawks (five)                        54                        10.8.

49ers (five)                                61                        12.2

Texans (four)                            49                        12.3

Bears (five)                                64                        12.8

INJURY UPDATES

Guard John Moffitt (knee) and defensive end Jay Howard (foot) missed Sunday’s game, and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (groin) was injured in the game. But Carroll had no updates on their status today.

UP NEXT

The players will have their off day on Tuesday, while the coaches compile the game plan for Sunday’s matchup against the Patriots at CenturyLink Field. The players will return on Wednesday to begin preparing for their only home game in a five-game stretch where they’ve already played at St. Louis and Carolina and will play at San Francisco and Detroit.

Wide receiver Golden Tate, who has three of the team’s five touchdown receptions, will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Bruce Irvin’s on pace for a 14.5-sack season. His speed is impossible to handle for almost any tackles in the NFL. What a smart pick – assuming Irvin can stay on the field.” – SI.com’s Peter King in ranking the Seahawks at No. 15 in the “Fine Fifteen” section of his Monday Morning Quarterback


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Tuesday in Hawkville: Quarter-season honor roll

With the players off and the coaches preparing the game plan for Sunday’s matchup against the Panthers in Carolina, we figured it was a good time to hand out some quarter-season awards:

MVP: Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks’ Beast Mode back leads the NFL in rushing (423 yards) and the NFC in total yards from scrimmage (473). But even more impressive than his yardage totals is the effort that goes into compiling them. Not surprisingly, Lynch also leads the league in yards after contact (199), according to ESPN stats and information. He definitely is the leader the offense needs to follow as it continues to find its way under rookie QB Russell Wilson.

Best defensive player: Brandon Mebane. Can you say Pro Bowl? You can if you’ve watched Mebane’s efforts in the first four games. If Lynch is the tempo-setter for the offense, than Mebane is the disruptive metronome for the league’s No. 2-ranked defense. He has been a force from the nose tackle position by stuffing running plays and also picking up a couple of sacks.

Best special teams player: Jon Ryan. Oh, Canada. The team’s Saskatchewan-born punter has picked up where he left off last season. Ryan is second in the NFL in net average (44.2) and sixth in average (50.3). He also has gotten off a 73-yarder and had six of his 18 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. His franchise records in those categories are 39.3 (net), 46.4 (average), 77 (longest punt) and 34 (punts inside the 20). Honorable mention to co-captains Heath Farwell and Michael Robinson, for their efforts covering kicks but also for their leadership on the team’s most consistent units; and Leon Washington, who has returns of 83 and 69 yards on kickoffs and a 52-yard punt return.

Best rookie: Bobby Wagner. Despite leaving the field when the defense goes to it sub packages, the always-active middle linebacker is third on the team with 22 tackles and showing that he was very much worth the second-round draft choice the club used to acquire him as a more-athletic replacement for three-time leading tackler David Hawthorne, who signed with the Saints in free agency.

Best free-agent addition: Matt Flynn. Say what? He has yet to throw a pass in the regular season after Wilson won the starting job during the preseason. But the class and professionalism Flynn has displayed through this disappointing development deserves recognition. Besides, after the win over the Packers on “Monday Night Football,” several defensive players praised Flynn’s spot-on efforts during practice in portraying Aaron Rodgers – the QB he backed up the past four seasons – as a key element in their preparation.

Joe Nash award (or what would they do without?): Paul McQuistan. He started the first three games at left guard, because James Carpenter was completing his rehab from the severe left knee injury he got during practice last November. With Carpenter back last week, McQuistan slid to right guard to replace John Moffitt, who could miss at least another week because of a knee injury. Heck, in Sunday’s game against the Rams, McQuistan played both spots as Carpenter had to leave for a few plays after tweaking his right knee. But then McQuistan did start 10 games last season – at three different positions.

Best play: Make that most-memorable play and it’s a no-brainer – Golden Tate wrestling the ball from Packers safety M.D. Jennings in the end zone on the final play to give the Seahawks’ their two-point win over Green Bay. The NFL news cycle whirled incessantly for 48 hours on this one before the lockout ending for the real officials pulled the focus in another direction.

Best performance in one quarter: Chris Clemons collecting four sacks of Rodgers in the second quarter of the Monday night game. It was a career-high total for Clemons and tied the franchise single-game record.

Best performance in one half: The Seahawks generating eight sacks of Rodgers in the first half of the Monday night game, with rookie Bruce Irvin and Mebane each getting a pair to supplement Clemons’ onslaught.

Best trend: The play of the defense, especially against the run. While the Seahawks rank No. 2 overall in average yards allowed (275.8), they are No. 2 against the run (62.8) – and also No. 2 allowing 2.99 yards per carry despite facing the Rams’ Steven Jackson, the Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray and the Packers’ Cedric Benson, who rank among the Top 12 in the NFC in rushing.

Most unsettling trend: Third downs. While the defense is allowing opponents to convert 43.1 percent of the time, the offense is converting 28 percent of the time. That’s a combination that cannot continue. By getting off the field in three downs more often (the Seahawks have forced 13 three-and-outs in 43 possessions by their opponents), the defense can give the offense some needed field position. By sustaining more drives on third downs (the Seahawks have 11 three-and-outs on their 41 possessions), the offense can give the defense a longer rest – and Lynch more chances to produce more first downs.

With all that said, Hawkville will return to its normal format tomorrow, when the players return from their off day to begin preparing for Sunday’s game against the Panthers in Carolina.


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Friday in Hawkville: Lynch questionable for opener

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Sept. 7:

FOCUS ON

Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks’ leading rusher has been listed as questionable for Sunday’s season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona after another practice in which he was limited, but also looked effective.

He has not played since the second preseason game because of back spasms, and coach Pete Carroll said after today’s 90-minute practice that Lynch’s status remains day-to-day.

“He made it through all of the work. He looks good,” Carroll said. “But it’s still day-to-day. We’ve got to see how he responds tomorrow and it takes us all the way to game time to make sure everything is alright. But he did do well during the week.”

The designation of questionable on the injury report means there is a 50-50 chance that Lynch will play.

CALLING ALL CAPTAINS

The players have elected center Max Unger (offense), end Red Bryant (defense) and Michael Robinson and Heath Farwell (special teams) as the captains for the season. Robinson is the only holdover from last season.

Unger and Bryant accepted their honor on behalf of their linemates, and as an indication that the rest of the team recognizes that the offensive and defensive success starts up front.

“That was unexpected,” Unger said. “It’s really cool and I’m pretty happy about it. It’s definitely a line thing. We’re trying to solidify the O-line in the offense and have that a constant. So I think us representing the offense shows that.”

Offered Bryant, “It’s a huge honor. I can’t even put into words how appreciative I am for my peers to think so highly of me. But there’s no question that this is for the whole D-line. A lot of times the big guys, we don’t get a lot of recognition. So this is saying a lot that Max and I were voted on by the players, and I think we’re real good on the line on both sides of the ball.”

OPPONENT WATCH

John Skelton. The Cardinals’ fifth-round draft choice from 2010 has beaten out Kevin Kolb, last year’s high-priced, free-agent acquisition, for the starting quarterback job. And it’s not surprising. Skelton was 5-2 as the starter last season while subbing for an injured Kolb, and he is 7-4 in two seasons with the club.

“Ultimately, in evaluating all of the factors and all the different things that we looked at, we felt at this time that John gave us the best chance to win going forward, and that’s the decision we made,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week. “It was definitely a tough decision.”

The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Skelton has prompted comparisons to the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger, because of his size but also his ability to move in the pocket and make things happen. Whisenhunt, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm and offensive coordinator Mike Miller came to the Cardinals after coaching with the Steelers.

“It’s funny because we were watching that last night,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said when asked about the Big Ben/Big Skel comparisons. “On third down, some situations where he got out of the pocket and made things happen on the run, he was tough to bring down and guys were trying to swarm him.

“So we were like, ‘There he looks like (Roethlisberger). And there he looks like him.’ Like last year, when we were getting ready (for the Week 2 game against the Steelers). I think there are a lot of comparisons; a lot of things that they do that are very similar. He makes plays on the run.”

INJURY REPORT

The first Friday status report of the season, as released by the team:

Out

OG James Carpenter (knee)

DE Greg Scruggs (hamstring)

WR Golden Tate (knee)

Doubtful

CB Byron Maxwell (shoulder)

Questionable

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

Probable

QB Matt Flynn (elbow)

Flynn was limited in practice to rest the elbow on his throwing arm, but Carroll said he will be ready for the game. Maxwell did not practice and his status will be a game-day decision, Carroll said. With Tate out, Braylon Edwards will start at split end.

For the Cardinals:

Questionable

OG Adam Snyder (elbow)

CB Greg Toler (hip)

RB Beanie Wells (hamstring)

Probable

TE Rob Housler (hamstring)

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin)

S Rashad Johnson (abdomen)

LB O’Brien Schofield (knee)

WR Andre Roberts (ankle)

UP NEXT

The team will have a walkthrough on Saturday before flying to Phoenix for Sunday’s season opener.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s a big matchup right off the bat. It brings the intensity and the focus that you love about the first game. Such a huge buildup and it’s so much fun to get this season ready to go and starting, and just getting through the week of practice and preparation and seeing the players elevate. It makes it exciting.” – Carroll on opening against a division opponent


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Monday cyber surfing: Banks to attend minicamp

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 11:

Brian Banks, who had a workout with the Seahawks last Thursday, will attend the team’s minicamp this Wednesday and Thursday. Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times has the update: “Banks is a 6-foot-2, 239-pound linebacker who participated in a solo audition for the Seahawks last week, performing well enough that coach Pete Carroll invited him back to continue his tryout during Seattle’s final minicamp. Banks will do just that as soon as he gets back from Kansas City, where he will audition for the Chiefs on Tuesday. From there, Banks will head back to Seattle, his agent, Bruce Tollner, confirmed.”

Tim Booth at the Associated Press also has the word on Banks returning to Seattle: “Following the workout, (coach Pete) Carroll said he wanted to bring Banks’ back for the minicamp and see him on the field. Banks initially hesitated saying he needed to speak with his agent about his other options, causing Carroll to joke that he needed to recruit Banks yet again.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune looks at the QB situation as the team moves into its only full-squad minicamp, which remains an open competition: “(Tarvaris) Jackson also has the most experience in a group that includes Matt Flynn, who’s made two NFL starts, and rookie Russell Wilson. The 29-year-old Alabama State product has a 17-17 record in 34 NFL starts. ‘Russell and Matt both have ground to make up because they’re learning new systems,’ Carroll said. ‘And they both are doing exceedingly well at that, but they have more ground to make up. T-Jack has more familiarity after all the years he was with Bev (Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who coached Jackson while both were in Minnesota).’ ”

Tom Cable was on 710 ESPN with Bob and Groz and Brady Henderson has the highlights from the interview with the team’s offensive line coach at mynorthwest.com: “ ‘I’m personally disappointed in how we protected the quarterback, and we’ve made that a big emphasis to clean it up,’ Cable said.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has three under-the-radar moves for the Seahawks this offseason, including re-signing their own players: “Seattle spent the previous two offseasons adding “name” players from elsewhere. Sidney Rice, Robert Gallery and Zach Miller were examples in 2011. Keeping your own guys doesn’t always feel like progress, but it’s part of the building process. (Red) Bryant and Marshawn Lynch were the big re-signings. Paul McQuistan, Michael Robinson, Leroy Hill, Matt McCoy and Heath Farwell re-signed as unrestricted free agents. Bringing back Marcus Trufant could factor into the equation as well. Might the long-time starter be reborn as a nickel corner?”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at rookies Bobby Wagner and Robert Turbin, teammates at Utah State and once again with the Seahawks: “Bobby Wagner and Robert Turbin were walking out of a class at Utah State last fall when the conversation turned to the inevitable: Their imminent NFL careers. And who could blame them. Wagner was the leading tackler for the Aggies, while Turbin was in the process of fashioning a 1,517-yard, 23-touchdown season. The NFL wasn’t just calling this productive duo, it was screaming. ‘We talked for like an hour about what we were going to do when we got to the NFL,’ Wagner recalled this week, cracking the slightest of smiles. ‘We didn’t know we’d end up here together. I just knew that no matter which team he went to I was going to root for him, and he was going to root for me.’ As it turned out, these two would end up sharing more than a first name and an alma mater. The Seahawks selected Wagner in the second round of the NFL Draft to compete for the starting middle linebacker spot that open when three-time leading tackler David Hawthorne signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. The club then added Turbin in the fourth round, to supply the physicality required in the running game on those occasions when leading-rusher Marshawn Lynch needs a breather or can’t play. ‘We’ve talked about that, too; just how crazy it is that we ended up in the same spot,’ Wagner said. ‘We’re going to try and put Utah State on the map. I don’t think we could have asked for it to turn out any better.’ ”

For a look at the rest of the league, there’s Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com, which includes this note on the Seahawks: “I think I can’t get too fired up about the Seahawks losing two June practices because of contact during sessions that were supposed to be non-contact. As former player and now media maven Ross Tucker said: ‘It reminds me of recruiting violations against a college football power. Pretty much everybody does it to some extent and the only question is which college powerhouse, or in this case NFL team, gets this year’s slap on the wrist. The only way NFL teams get caught is if a player turns the team in to the NFLPA or there is something as egregious as a couple of injuries and a fight breaks out that the media is there to report on, which is what happened in Seattle. Plus, live contact during OTAs is inevitable. As long as the cameras are on, the coaches are evaluating and forming opinions. If coaches are forming opinions, players will continue to increase their intensity so that they look good until it escalates to an unacceptable level per the CBA rules.’ ”


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Thursday cyber surfing: Thomas No. 66, and still more on Wilson

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 17:

Earl Thomas cracked the NFL Networks’ Top 100 players, as the Seahawks Pro Bowl free safety checked in at No. 66. You can watch the video here.

Mike Sando at ESPN.com dips into his mailbag to answer several questions of rookie QB Russell Wilson, including one about his ability to “throw receivers open”: “That term reflects a quarterback’s ability to complete passes to covered receivers by leading them to spots where the reception can be made. Quarterbacks with the ability to anticipate where a receiver might come open have advantages over those more comfortable throwing to receivers only after they’ve gotten open.”

Also from Sando, a look at some former second-round draft choices in the NFC West, including the Seahawks’ Golden Tate: “Tate started five games and dropped no passes last season. The Seahawks think Tate might be turning a corner after a rough start to his career. This is a pivotal season for Tate.”

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com also looks at Wilson while reviewing the Seahawks’ draft at CBSSports.com: “I attended the Seahawks’ rookie mini-camp last weekend. Wilson was every bit the poised, accurate passer I expected. Following the conclusion of the mini-camp, Carroll acknowledged Wilson’s impressive performance by announcing that the rookie would be competing with newly signed free agent addition Matt Flynn and incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson to lead the Seahawks next season. The announcement may have been a surprise to the national media but it wasn’t to the scouts or spectators who watched Wilson throughout the weekend. It might be too much to expect Wilson to wrestle away the starting job immediately. Don’t be surprised at all though when he plays very well in the preseason.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune takes a closer look at Donny Lisowski, who was added to the 90-man roster after his impressive efforts as a tryout player at the rookie minicamp: “He wasn’t even a regular starter during his final season at the University of Montana. But blessed with elite speed and a good work ethic, Donny Lisowski showed Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll enough during the team’s rookie minicamp last week as one of 34 invited tryout players to earn a three-year contract. ‘It’s something I always dreamed of,’ said the Seattle native and former O’Dea High star about the chance to play at CenturyLink Field. ‘There’s nothing like playing in your hometown in front everyone you grew up with. I like Coach Carroll. I like his philosophy and the whole coaching staff. I feel like it’s a really good fit for me. I like the players, too.’ ”

Brady Henderson passes along highlights from Matt Flynn’s interview on 710 ESPN, including his thoughts on Marshawn Lynch: “Flynn called Lynch a “pretty fun guy” and said they’ve spent some time together at the facility in recent weeks. Flynn was asked whether he’s had any unusual encounters with his new teammate. ‘No. He calls me Antonio, though, for some reason,’ Flynn said. Antonio? ‘I don’t know. I’m in the locker room and I’ll hear him yell from across the way, he just yells ‘Antonio!’ So, I don’t know,’ Flynn said, sounding equally puzzled and amused. ‘I guess I’m Antonio to him.’ Why does Lynch do that? Good question. Flynn asked him, and he still isn’t sure. ‘I did, and he didn’t really have a good explanation,’ Flynn said. ‘He just said I look like an Antonio to him. Next time (he’s) on you’ve got to try to get an explanation for me.’ ”

Nate Davis at USA Today passes out offseason grades for the NFC West and gives the Seahawks a B-minus: “They seemed to answer their question under center by signing QB Matt Flynn. Yet by taking Russell Wilson in Round 3 of the draft and hanging onto Tarvaris Jackson, Pete Carroll and Co. have created a three-way race at the position. From an outsider’s point of view, that could breed chaos, but Seattle brass preaches competition on every level of the roster. The draft also brought West Virginia pass rusher Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick, one the Seahawks clearly love even as draftniks accuse GM John Schneider of overreaching. Second-round LB Bobby Wagner could start right away while RB Robert Turbin looks like a jackhammer that could prevent Marshawn Lynch from wearing down. Speaking of Lynch and massive DE Red Bryant, Schneider did prevent two key players from escaping during free agency while adding some useful parts with DT Jason Jones, LB Barrett Ruud and G Deuce Lutui. The O-line could be shaky with G Robert Gallery released while LT Russell Okung, RT James Carpenter and RG John Moffitt all try to come back from season-ending injuries. WRs Sidney Rice and Mike Williams must get healthy and step up their performance.”

Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders offers post-draft needs for the NFC West teams at ESPN.com. This Outsiders’ offering is an Insiders’ feature, so it requires registration and a fee. But here’s what he has to say about the Seahawks: “The Seahawks, like the Rams, worked hard on addressing their issues this offseason. Pass rush was a problem behind Chris Clemons, so Seattle brought in West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin with their first-round pick. The Tarvaris Jackson/Charlie Whitehurst combo held the Seahawks’ offense back in 2011, but general manager John Schneider brought in a pair of solutions to remedy that. Green Bay backup Matt Flynn will presumably keep the seat warm, and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, who had such an amazing Lewin Career Forecast projection that we had to mention him with an asterisk, will be groomed for the long-term role. To make the jump to an elite offense, though, the Seahawks will need some better blocking from their offensive line. They have a quartet of highly drafted players slated to start in Russell Okung, Max Unger, James Carpenter and John Moffitt. Despite that, they finished 24th in Adjusted Sack Rate and 19th in Adjusted Line Yards. There were certainly high points on the line, but as a whole it was still a bit inconsistent. Carpenter, in particular, did not show enough in the eyes of our offensive line guru, Ben Muth. Additionally, they released Robert Gallery this offseason, and the left guard spot is currently slated to be a competition between career backup Paul McQuistan, Bears castoff Frank Omiyale and Cardinals washout Deuce Lutui. The Seahawks have done much to make themselves a threat to San Francisco this offseason, but just how far they’ll ultimately go this year probably depends solely on what they get out of their offensive line.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at just how special Heath Farwell was on special teams last season: “But as Farwell as shown in his career, it takes more than just speed to be successful on special teams. He came to the Seahawks at midseason last year after five seasons in Minnesota, where he had 113 coverage tackles to tie for fourth on the Vikings’ all-time list. He led the Vikings in special teams tackles in 2010 (19), 2009 (24), 2007 (32) and 2006 (25), and was voted to the Pro Bowl as the NFC special teams player in 2009. ‘It’s the want to make the plays and the want to make the tackles. It’s the effort,’ a reluctant Farwell offered when asked the secret to his success. ‘I don’t know, it’s just something I work at. And I pride myself on it, and outworking everybody and making sure I put more time in than everybody else.’ ”

We also take a look at how Jeremy Lane’s opportunistic efforts at the most opportune times led to the cornerback from Northwestern State being selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft: “On one of the first snaps in the Seahawks’ weekend rookie minicamp, Jeremy Lane read the play, broke on the ball and tipped the pass. A few plays later, he got his hand on another pass and almost intercepted it. Right on cue for the cornerback from Northwestern State in Louisiana, who has worked his way into the NFL by seizing the opportunity at the most opportune times. The 6-foot, 190-pound Lane was available to the Seahawks in the sixth round of the NFL Draft – and with the 172nd pick overall – because he was only a one-year starter for the school of less than 10,000 students in Natchitoches. But to understand why the Seahawks, among other teams, were interested it helps to look at how Lane has performed on his largest stages. Like in the Demons’ game against eventual national runner-up LSU last September, when Lane had nine tackles, a sack and an interception in the 49-3 loss. ‘I was very motivated,’ Lane recalled. ‘That was my chance to show the world that I could hang with the big boys. I knew that was my chance to take a shot and show everybody what I could do. When the time came, I believe I stepped up and did it.’ ”


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Special attention

SPECIAL IS AS SPECIAL DOES
Heath Farwell made tackles on special teams in only eight games for the Seahawks last season after being signed at midseason, but he made enough to lead the NFL with 21. Here’s a look at his special contributions in his first season in Seattle:Browns: 1 tackle on a kickoff return.

Bengals: 3 tackles, all on kickoff returns.

Ravens: 2 tackles, including one after a 5-yard gain on a punt return.

Rams: 2 tackles, on punt returns after 6- and 9-yard gains.

Eagles: 3 tackles, all on kickoff returns.

Rams: 4 tackles, all on kickoff returns.

Bears: 3 tackles, including one after a 9-yard gain on a kickoff return; and he also downed a punt at the 3-yard line.

49ers: 0 tackles, but he blocked a punt in the Week 16 game that setup a 4-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch – making Lynch the first player to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers last season.

Cardinals: 3 tackles, including one after a 4-yard gain on a punt return.

Note: Opponents averaged 11.5 yards on punt returns against the Seahawks last season, but 6.2 yards on the five where Farwell made the tackle; and 26.0 yards on kickoff returns, but 23.3 yards on the 16 where Farwell was in on the tackle.

The coaches are limited to 45 minutes on the practice field with the players during Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program. But each session includes, and ends with, a special teams period.

“It’s pretty cool,” said linebacker Heath Farwell, who led not only the Seahawks but the entire league with 21 coverage tackles last season. “We’re out here working hard. Guys just want to get better, that’s the thing. We’ve got one goal in mind, and that’s to win.”

It’s a sign of just how much emphasis coach Pete Carroll puts on the too-often overlooked last third of the three-part equation to playing winning football. And the special teams were just that for the Seahawks last season. Red Bryant set franchise records by blocking two field goals in a game and four kicks during the season. Jon Ryan led the NFL and tied a club record with 34 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, broke his club single-season records for average (46.6 yards) and net average (39.3) and also got off the longest punt (77 yards) in franchise history. Steven Hauschka tied club records by kicking five field goals in the upset victory over the Ravens and converting at least one three-pointer in 12 consecutive games. Doug Baldwin blocked a punt that Michael Robinson returned for a touchdown, while Farwell also had a blocked punt to set up a TD. The Seahawks ranked 10th in the league in kickoff (24.8) and punt return (11.0) average, thanks to Leon Washington (25.2 and 11.3).

The special teams, under the direction of coordinator Brian Schneider and first-year assistant Marquand Manuel, should only be better – or faster, at the very least – with the infusion of speed from this year’s draft class.

“The two young linebackers look fast and athletic,” Farwell said of second-round pick Bobby Wagner and fifth-rounder Korey Toomer – who have run the 40-yard dash in 4.47 and 4.54 seconds. “That’s going to be a big part of special teams.”

There’s also first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin (4.50 seconds) and sixth-rounders Jeremy Lane (4.48) and Winston Guy (4.53).

But as Farwell as shown in his career, it takes more than just speed to be successful on special teams. He came to the Seahawks at midseason last year after five seasons in Minnesota, where he had 113 coverage tackles to tie for fourth on the Vikings’ all-time list. He led the Vikings in special teams tackles in 2010 (19), 2009 (24), 2007 (32) and 2006 (25), and was voted to the Pro Bowl as the NFC special teams player in 2009.

“It’s the want to make the plays and the want to make the tackles. It’s the effort,” a reluctant Farwell offered when asked the secret to his success. “I don’t know, it’s just something I work at. And I pride myself on it, and outworking everybody and making sure I put more time in than everybody else.”

The players were off today, but return Thursday and Friday to complete Phase 2 of the offseason program.


Special attention

Day Two of the Seahawks’ offseason program included some agility drills, a lot of lifted weights and one large smile from Jon Ryan.

Why is the team’s record-setting punter so happy? Take a look at the club’s transactions in free agency, and look beyond the additions of quarterback Matt Flynn and middle linebacker Barrett Rudd and re-signings of leading rusher Marshawn Lynch and run-stuffing defensive end Red Bryant.

In the past few weeks, the Seahawks also have retained the players who were voted special teams captains the past two seasons – fullback Michael Robinson last season and cornerback Roy Lewis in 2010; and the linebackers who have led the units in coverage tackles – Heath Farwell, who had a league-high 21 in only 11 games last season, and Matt McCoy, who had 19 in 2010.

“When you have a special teams unit and those are your four core guys, most teams would love to have one of those guys,” Ryan said today as he sat in front of his cubicle in the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “We have all four and each one of them is a potential Pro Bowl special teams player.”

The combined efforts of Farwell, McCoy, Lewis and Robinson, among others, are very important to Ryan. The Canadian-born punter led the league in punts downed inside the 20-yard line last season with 34, and already has broken – and re-broken – the franchise records for career average (45.0 yards), single-season average (46.6 last season), single-season net average (39.3 last season) and longest punt (77 last season) in his first four seasons with the Seahawks.

As easy as Ryan has made it look, players like Farwell, McCoy, Lewis and Robinson definitely make his job easier.

“The guys we got back are big-time guys,” Ryan said. “They’re not going to be on the ticker on ESPN, but they’re big-time to us – especially on special teams.”

The Seahawks’ special teams got off to a rough start last season, when the 49ers’ Ted Ginn returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the final four minutes of the opener to turn a two-point game into a 16-point victory for San Francisco. They also gave up a punt return for a touchdown in a Week 8 loss to the Bengals. But as the season progressed, the special teams got better and better.

“That game in San Francisco put us behind the eight-ball from the start with those two returns,” Ryan said. “After that, we kind of hit our stride and we were a pretty solid special teams unit. So with these guys coming back, we can continue on. Rather than starting over, we can pick up where we left off.”

For Farwell and McCoy, that would be racing down the field to drop those trying to return Ryan’s punts and the kickoffs of Steven Hauschka.

“They bring a lot,” Ryan said. “They bring an attitude to our special teams. Other teams, when they watch us on tape, those guys really jump off the tape. They’re guys you have to be careful with, because they can really hurt you.”

One last question: Now that Robinson is a Pro Bowl fullback, does he beg off his special teams duties?

“No,” Ryan said before the question could be completed. “We won’t let him.”

After getting Wednesday off, the players will continue Phase 1 of the offseason program Thursday and Friday, and then follow the same schedule next week.


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