A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on June 28:
2001: Scott Fitterer is named an area scout. He was promoted to director of college scouting in 2010. In his current role, Fitterer has been involved in the NFL Drafts that have reshaped the Seahawks’ roster — beginning with the selections of All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas, Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, split end Golden Tate and strong safety Kam Chancellor in 2010; All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and linebackers K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith in 2011; and quarterback Russell Wilson, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Bruce Irvin and guard J.R. Sweezy in 2012.
A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 3, as the Seahawks kicked off the final week of their OTA sessions:
FOCUS ON: ZACH MILLER
The Seahawks’ veteran tight end does so many things well that focusing on just one could be difficult. Except that when it comes to making one-handed catches, Miller is exceptional.
He had another during today’s OTA session, as well as a finger-tip grab of a pass after he got behind Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety Kam Chancellor. Miller also had a one-hander in the end zone last Wednesday that earned five-highs from several players – defensive, as well as offensive – and coach Pete Carroll. All three passes were thrown by quarterback Russell Wilson.
“I’ve always had a knack for just being able to get the big paw on it,” Miller said through a smile after the team’s sun-drenched session along the shores of Lake Washington. “It helps that I’ve got pretty big hands.”
But making the one-handers is mental as well as physical.
“You’ve got to understand what kind of passes you can catch like that,” Miller said. “If the ball is coming to you fast, you have no chance. So you’ve kind of got to pick your times to do that.”
While those catches can be uplifting for Miller, the QB who throws the pass and the other offensive players, they can have the reverse effect on the players who are covering Miller.
“If you make a one-hander, the defenders don’t like that,” he said. “They think they’ve got you. Then you stick a big paw out and you bring it in, they’re like, ‘Really, you caught that?’ ”
With Miller, the answer is a resounding “yes,” and comes with the tagline “again.”
PLAYER WATCH: MICHAEL BROOKS
The rookie defensive tackle has now practiced with the team twice since being claimed off waivers last week. But Brooks admits to feeling like the new kid who has entered a new school at midterm.
“I’m just trying to learn my way around right now and get with this new system,” said Brooks, who was signed by the Lions after April’s NFL Draft.
Brooks did things one way at East Carolina and was learning to do them another with the Lions. Now comes the way defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and line coach Travis Fisher teach their techniques.
“I was just getting used to the way they do things in Detroit, then I get here and I’ve got to switch it all over,” he said.
In his first two practices – Friday and today – Brooks has participated in the individual drills and then been tutored while on the sideline during the team portions.
“It’s been a pretty good transition. Everybody is helping out,” he said. “I’m just watching and trying to learn from the older guys. They’ve been in the system for a while and I’m just kind of feeling my way through.”
POSITION WATCH: RIGHT TACKLE
With incumbent starter Breno Giacomini missing today’s session, rookie tackle Michael Bowie worked on the right side of the offensive line with the No. 1 unit that also included Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, veteran left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger and second-year right guard J.R. Sweezy.
Bowie also continued to work with the No. 3 line, along with left tackle Mike Person, rookie left guard Alvin Bailey and fellow seventh-round draft choices Jared Smith at center and Ryan Seymour at right guard.
The extra reps will only help Bowie as he works to earn one of the backup spots on the 53-man roster.
JOSH PORTIS CFL BOUND
Josh Portis, the quarterback released last month by the Seahawks, has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, the team has announced.
Portis was the Seahawks’ No. 3 quarterback on 2011, when he was active for one game. He was released last August on the roster cut to 53 players, signed to the practice squad and then released in November. Portis was re-signed in April.
The players will be back on the field Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as they complete the 10 OTA sessions allowed by the CBA that ended the 136-day lockout in 2011.
The Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field will kick off its grand re-opening weekend on Friday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. The ceremonial ribbon cutting will take place at 5:30, with Wilson and team president Peter McLoughlin doing the honors.
YOU DON’T SAY
“He’s ready to learn. He’s listening to everything. He’s asking questions. Which is exactly how you want your rookie to be. He’s making plays out. He’s having some good days. It’s what he’s got to do to be our second tight end. … And he has that speed that he can separate from guys pretty easily. He’s going to be a weapon for us on offense.” – Miller on Luke Willson, the tight end the Seahawks selected in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 20, as the Seahawks kicked off the OTA portion of their offseason program:
Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback made it difficult to not watch him, and coach Pete Carroll summed up the situation when asked how much farther along Wilson is this year compared to last year – when he had just been selected in the third round of the NFL Draft and still was competing for the starting job with the since-departed duo of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.
“There’s no way of even calculating that,” Carroll said after a crisp, spirited practice on yet another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. “His awareness and his sense for the finest details, we jumped offside today and he’s working on hard counts on the first play of team (drills).
“He didn’t know what a hard count was last year at this time.”
That might be stretching it just a tad, but saying that Wilson had a very impressive outing in the first of the team’s 10 OTA practices is not.
In that first team segment Carroll mentioned, Wilson completed passes to wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and also scrambled twice, before throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson remained almost as sharp, and aware, for the rest of the session.
“It’s really hard to equate what it is, because he’s applied himself so much that he’s taken an extraordinary amount of information and he’s processing it,” Carroll said. “He threw a couple of balls today – things that we’ve talked about over the offseason we’d like to take a shot at – and he did it today just to see what would happen. With full awareness of why he was doing it.”
Before the OTA session was over, Wilson had completed passes to 10 receivers – running back Robert Turbin; Baldwin and McCoy; Tate, running back Derrick Coleman, rookie tight end Luke Willson, Percy Harvin, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
The pass to Kearse was vintage Wilson – and that’s saying something, as well, that a second-year QB already has established trademark nuances to his game. It came on the final play, as Wilson avoided pressure and got off a pass that caught Kearse as much as Kearse caught the pass.
“Russell is the kind of players that will affect other guys,” Carroll said. “He affects everybody around him and hopefully that will help everybody play better.”
Offensive line. Right tackle Breno Giacomini participated fully, after being limited in Phase 2 of the offseason program following elbow surgery. His returned allowed the No. 1 offense to field the same line that closed last season – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger, right guard J.R. Sweezy and Giacomini.
Comprising the second unit, from left tackle to right: Mike Person, who had been working for Giacomini with the No. 1 line; Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, John Moffitt and Michael Bowie. In the third unit: Alvin Bailey, Johnson, Jared Smith, Ryan Seymour and Jordon Roussos.
Cliff Avril. And that’s what the defensive end who was signed in free agency was doing – watching, because he’s dealing with plantar fascia that he got a month ago.
But with Bruce Irvin facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season and Chris Clemons still recovering from surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee from the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in January, Avril is slated to be the starter at the Leo end spot in the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina.
“I like the fact that Cliff is here because he gave us a cushion for Clem,” Carroll said. “That now changes for the first month of the season.”
Today, Irvin continued to work at Leo end in the No. 1 nickel line, with Mike Morgan taking over with the second unit and Ty Powell going with the third unit. In the base defense, Michael Bennett was the Leo end with the No. 1 line.
Tight end Darren Fells was re-signed this morning, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.
Fells, a basketball player in college who also played professionally in Belgium, Ireland and Argentina, was released two weeks ago. But he attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Steiner had been claimed off waivers last week.
Also, running back Christine Michael, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, signed his rookie contract.
The players also have OTA sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week. Next week, they’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
YOU DON’T SAY, PLAYER EDITION
“We really don’t care. Coach said we’ve got a lot of hype, but he also said let’s make it natural. Everybody around here expects us to win, but we expect ourselves to win, too. We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose. With a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.” – Harvin, when asked how the players were handling the heightened expectations that have come from being regarded among the “favorites” in the league this offseason by the national media
YOU DON’T SAY, COACH EDITION
“It was a very, very good first day for us.” – Carroll
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 10, when the Seahawks opened their three-day rookie minicamp:
Luke Willson. Oh Canada, indeed. The Seahawks selected the tight end who found his way to Rice University from LaSalle, Ontario, in the fifth round of the NFL Draft because of what his speed might be able to deliver to any already loaded offense.
During the first practice of the team’s three-day minicamp, Willson delivered. And then some.
“He jumped out today. Luke had a very good first day for us,” coach Pete Carroll said after a two-hour practice that was held along the shores of Lake Washington and in 80-degree weather.
“That was probably the brightest spot that you could really see a guy jump out today.”
Not to mention take off, which the 6-foot-5, 252-pound Willson did after taking a pass along the sideline and outrunning defensive backs who are much smaller to the end zone.
“He has really good speed, and it showed up, which is cool to see that on the practice field first day out,” Carroll said.
The right side of the No. 1 offensive line. It was manned by the three linemen who were selected in the seventh round of the draft – Jared Smith at center, Ryan Seymour at guard and Michael Bowie at tackle.
Smith, remember, was a defensive lineman at New Hampshire. As they did with J.R. Sweezy last year, the Seahawks selected Smith with the intention of moving him to offense and line coach Tom Cable has Smith working at center to start with.
“We put him there right from the start to take a look and see if we can utilize his quickness,” Carroll said. “He’s really quick for the offensive side of the ball. He’s got to learn a lot anyway, so stick him in there and make him snap it. He did fine today. He did just fine today for the first time out.”
Carroll used the term “Sweezy-ratio” while referring to Cable’s latest project.
“It’s going to be one of these things where we see if he can stay up with what Sweez did,” Carroll said. “We’re excited about this, though. We’re very fortunate that we found another guy that we can kind of take forward in a similar fashion.”
If only Smith can take it forward in a similar fashion, because last season Sweezy started the final two regular-season games and both playoff games at right guard as a rookie.
FIFTEEN ROOKIES SIGNED
Before the players took to the practice field, 15 rookies signed multi-year contracts – including seven of the team’s 11 draft choices and eight players who agreed to terms after the NFL Draft.
Draft picks signed: DT Jordan Hill (third round), WR Chris Harper (fourth), DT Jesse Williams (fifth), Willson, Seymour, LB Ty Powell (seventh) and Smith.
Rookie free agents signed: WR Matt Austin, OT Alvin Bailey, DE Kenneth Boatright, LB Ramon Buchanan, LB John Lotulelei, S Ray Polk, OG Jordon Roussos and LB Craig Wilkins.
TRYING TO CATCH ON
Among the 67 players at this minicamp are 38 who are here on a tryout basis.
Quarterbacks (2): Murray State’s Casey Brockman, McMurray University’s Jake Mullin
Wide receivers (5): North Carolina State’s Owen Spencer, Idaho’s Justin Veltung, Montana’s Gerald Kemp, Mississippi State’s Arceto Clark, St. Francis’ Austin Coleman
Running backs (1): South Florida’s Darrell Scott
Tight ends (2): University of British Columbia’s Victor Marshall; former pro basketball player Darren Fells, who was released on Wednesday
Offensive linemen (6): West Virginia center/guard Josh Jenkins, Harvard guard John Collins, North Carolina State center Zach Allen, Temple guard Pat Boyle, Washington tackle Drew Schaefer, Minnesota-Duluth tackle Jake Bscherer
Defensive linemen (8): Citadel end Chris Billingslea, Bethune-Cookman tackle Harold Love, Idaho end Benson Mayowa, St. Thomas end Ayo Idowu, Oregon State tackle Andrew Seumalo, Richmond tackle Martin Parker, LSU end Chancey Aghayere, Arkansas end Dequinta Jones
Linebacker (3): North Greenville’s Jonathan Sharpe, Ball State’s Rob Eddins, Oklahoma’s Jaydan Bird
Defensive backs (8): Lincoln cornerback O’Hara Fluellen, BYU cornerback Preston Hadley, Boston College cornerback Jim Noel, Ohio State safety Donald Washington, USC safety Drew McAllister, Texas A&M safety Steve Campbell, Middle Tennessee safety JaJuan Harley, Memphis safety Akeem Davis
Kickers (2): SMU’s Matt Szymanski, Portland State’s Zach Ramirez
Snapper (1): Florida State’s Dax Dallenbach
HEY, AREN’T YOU?
Quarterback Jerrod Johnson isn’t the only player at this camp who has previous experience with an NFL team.
Also on hand: kicker Carson Wiggs, wide receiver Phil Bates, cornerback Chandler Fenner, running back Derrick Coleman, linebacker Kyle Knox, tight end Cooper Helfet, linebacker Korey Toomer and defensive tackle Myles Wade.
While Johnson has been in training camps with the Eagles and Steelers, the other eight were with the Seahawks in training camp last summer and/or spent time on the practice squad last season.
QUITE THE HALL
Cortez Kennedy, Max Unger and Sandy Gregory were inducted into the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame during a luncheon ceremony today.
Kennedy, an eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, is the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. Unger, a second-round draft choice in 2009 out of the University of Oregon, was selected the All-Pro center last season and also played in his first Pro Bowl. Gregory is the last of the Seahawks’ original employees, having joined the franchise on March 1, 1976.
The players will practice again on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and then conclude the minicamp with an 11:30 a.m. practice on Sunday.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Right now, what I’m hoping is that they try really hard and they work hard at studying and they show us kind of what their natural way is. We told them we’re looking for the competitiveness, and show us that first. They’re not going to do their assignments all right. They’re not going to be technique sound. But to show us they have real good spirit about them and goodwill about them and can be competitive on a football team, that’s most important.” – Carroll on what he’s looking for from this three-day camp
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 8:
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.”
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.
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
Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 2:00 p.m. practice and preparation for their Wild Card playoff matchup against the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedexField.
“We’ve treated every game like it is a championship game and you approach it like that so when you get there you know how to handle it,” Carroll said of his young club’s involvement in the playoffs. “We’re honored to be here and want to do something special with it now that we’re here. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”
Asked about the similarities between the Redskins and Seahawks, Carroll pointed to the two teams’ zone-blocking run game led by Washington’s Alfred Morris and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, as well as the zone-read,with the impressive play of the young rookie quarterbacks – Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.
“It’s an exciting time for the League,” said Carroll. “RGIII is real, and Alfred Morris is legit – 1,600 yards, a phenomenal season. [Griffin] has got all those commercials for a reason. He’s been good from the start. He is really special. He has extraordinary accuracy. He’s held the numbers all through the season with QB rating and such.
“When he’s on, he’s as good as you can get.”
On the injury front, Carroll said the team is very fortunate to have the majority of it’s players healthy. Linebacker Leroy Hill, who missed the regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams with a hamstring injury, will practice today.
“We’ll see how he does today and how he comes back tomorrow,” Carroll said.
Second-year pro Malcolm Smith out of USC has stepped in for the injured Hill three of the past five weeks, but Carroll said they will wait and see who gets the start at weakside linebacker this Sunday against the Redskins.
Carroll added that rookie offensive guard J.R. Sweezy remains the starter on the right side, while second-year man John Moffitt is competing for playing time.
Our Insiders Clare Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella will be back with more following today’s player availability and practice session. Until then, be sure to catch coach Carroll’s full video press conference below:
Seahawks general manager John Schneider topped a list of candidates for NFL executive of the year, edging out Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, in a vote by several staff members of ESPN.com.
Schneider received eight total votes – one more than Elway and four more than Grigson. ESPN AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky has the story here, which includes Kuharsky’s opinion as well as thoughts from several other voters.
Here’s a breakdown of the votes:
- Schneider – 8
- Elway – 7
- Grigson – 4
- Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta Falcons – 2
- Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers – 1
- Bruce Allen, Washington Redskins – 1
Kuharsky voted for Schneider, recalling a conversation he had with with fellow ESPN.com blogger Mike Sando, who covers the NFC West, “I’ve had a close view of the Colts’ transformation from a 2-14 disaster to a 10-5 team heading to the playoffs. As I broadened that view, however, I leaned on something Sando said as we discussed this: Take away the obvious moves, the moves your mom would know to make — signing Manning [Elway], drafting Luck [Grigson] — and find out who’s the choice. I voted Schneider, and so did seven others, enough for him to edge Elway.”
Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll’s 2012 draft class has produced the NFL’s rookie sack leader (Bruce Irvin, 8.0 sacks), a starting middle linebacker who is a serious candidate for defensive rookie of the year (Bobby Wagner), and of course starting quarterback Russell Wilson, who many believe can challenge Luck and Washington’s Robert Griffin III in the race for offensive rookie of the year. Not to mention the club picked up a physical running back in Robert Turbin to match the “Beastmode” attack of Marshawn Lynch, a cornerback in Jeremy Lane who has stepped up and played well in place of the suspended Pro Bowler Brandon Browner, a college defensive lineman turned starting NFL offensive guard in J.R. Sweezy, and several other contributors.
Added Sando, “I voted for Schneider because I thought the moves Seattle made required more skill and foresight. Elway and Grigson did more than simply acquire Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, of course. But without those moves, neither would factor into the discussion. Those were moves 99 percent of fantasy football general managers would have made.”
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.
Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.
Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ ”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ ”
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as
the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ ”
Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.
Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 26:
John Schneider. Add another name to the list of those associated with the Seahawks that deserves consideration for honors this season. With Schneider, it’s NFL Executive of the Year.
The Seahawks’ team that will host the Rams in its regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field on Sunday is 10-5 and clinched a playoff spot with last week’s decisive victory over the NFC West-leading 49ers. And the core of this team that has become the sixth in franchise history to post double-digit victories has been constructed the past three years by Schneider, the general manager, and coach Pete Carroll.
This year’s draft class included quarterback Russell Wilson, who was selected in the third round by Schneider and is a candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year; middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a second-round pick and candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; first-round pick Bruce Irvin, who leads all rookies with eight sacks; running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick who has provided the physical presence that was missing to complement leading rusher Marshawn Lynch; cornerback Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round pick who could start his third consecutive game on Sunday; and J.R. Sweezy, a former college defensive lineman and seventh-round pick who is the likely starter at right guard against the Rams.
“We’ve just continued to grow,” Carroll said. “Our way of thinking was hindered last year when we didn’t have the offseason (because of the 136-day lockout) to get our guys ready, because we wanted our guys to play early. That was hard as it could get, to see our philosophy and our approach to playing the young guys come to life.
“This is really the culmination of the three years, and the approach showed up this year I think successfully. You can see that we had a terrific draft and we’ve utilized those guys and they’ve grown to where they’re regular football players for us now.”
While it’s been three giant steps in the right direction for Carroll and Schneider, Carroll added, “We still feel like we’re in early stages. But we have been through three drafts, and he’s done a marvelous job with the drafts and with all of the transactions we’ve done.”
And with Carroll, that means tweaking the norm, because he looks for players with unique talents, rather than those who look as if they stepped out of the NFL-specs machine.
“To me, he’s an absolute joy,” Carroll said of Schneider. “Because we can talk about everything, work through everything and understand that we have to come to an agreement using all of the strengths and the savvy that we have. And we’ve turned out a pretty good product.
“I can’t imagine anybody doing a better job general managing than John has done. He’s just done an incredible job.”
FIVE VOTED TO PRO BOWL
Left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters on the NFC Pro Bowl team today, while kick returner Leon Washington also made the squad and running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves.
To further the point Carroll made above, Okung and Thomas were the first-round draft choices in the first year Carroll and Schneider were in charge, while Washington and Lynch were acquired in trades during that first year.
For more on the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl selections, click here.
EDWARDS IMPRESSED WITH WILSON
Former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, now an analyst for ESPN, has selected his 10 most impressive players for 2012 and a certain rookie quarterback made the list.
Edwards on Wilson: “Wilson has been answering questions about his size (5-foot-11) his whole career. I think it’s time to put those to rest. The Seahawks have done a tremendous job expanding the playbook for Wilson over the course of the season, giving him only as much as they thought he could handle. He has terrific poise, is extremely accurate down the field and has led the Seahawks to road victories in Chicago and Buffalo before blowing out San Francisco on Sunday. In the red zone this year, he has 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.”
Edwards also gives cornerback Richard Sherman honorable mention, offering: “Although his status for the playoffs is uncertain, Sherman has had an excellent season. A smart player, Sherman is very physical at the line of scrimmage and has great change-of-direction and ball skills, especially with his back to the quarterback. He has selective memory, which is important as a cornerback, and doesn’t fear anyone. He has evolved into a true shutdown corner.”
Brandon Gibson. The Rams’ second-leading receiver (48 receptions) and leader in touchdown catches (five) played at Washington State University and obviously is developing into a nice complement to leading receiver Danny Amendola.
“Gibby’s done great,” Jeff Fisher, the Rams’ first-year head coach, said today during a conference-call interview. “He’s been making plays since we arrived. He’s real smart. He’s tough. He can make the tough catch.
“It’s fun to see him, not only on Sundays, but make some tremendous catches on the practice field. Most of the catches should be easy and are easy, because Sam (Bradford) is an accurate passer. But every once in a while he needs to put it someplace and Gibby can go get it. He’s one of those guys you want on your football team. He’s fun to coach and fun to be around.”
POWERING UP, PART DEUX
Monday, we mentioned that the Seahawks had jumped to No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com and to No. 6 in the Power Rankings at ESPN.com. Today, they continued their ascent in some other Power Rankings.
No. 2 in Bryan McIntyre’s Power Rankings at YahooSports.com: “The Seahawks showed that they’re for real with a 42-13 blowout of the 49ers at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night. From an advanced metrics standpoint, the Seahawks are the No. 1 team in the NFL, ranking in the Top 5 in Football Outsiders’ offensive, defensive and special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). With a win over the Rams and losses by the 49ers and Packers, the Seahawks will get a first-round bye in the playoffs.”
No. 5 in Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings at CBSSports.com: “They are building something special up there for the long haul.”
No. 5 in Don Banks’ Power Ratings at SI.com: “As I said last week, let the Seahawks hang up a stupid number against the stout 49ers defense, and a legitimate case of Super Bowl Fever will break out in the Pacific Northwest. All systems go on that front. Seattle’s only fear might be peaking before the playoffs arrive.”
O-LINE “MADDEN-ED” AGAIN
For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks’ offensive line has been selected as the winner of the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award.
“With great balance on offense behind the steady play of offensive line and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are now poised to make a playoff run,” Hall of Fame coach John Madden said in the release announcing the selection of the Seahawks’ line.
The starting unit is comprised by – from left tackle to right – Okung, Paul McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy and Breno Giacomini. And because of the lopsidedness of the 42-13 win over the 49ers, backups Frank Omiyale and Lemuel Jeanpierre played in the second half.
Wilson threw for a career-high four touchdowns, while Lynch ran for 111 yards and scored twice.
The Seahawks’ line joins the 49ers (three times), Texans (twice), Giants (twice) and Vikings (twice) as multiple winners of the weekly Madden honor. But the Seahawks are the first unit to win it in back-to-back weeks.
Tight end Cooper Helfet has been signed to the practice squad. Defensive end Monte Taylor was released to clear a spot. Helfet was signed in May as a rookie agent, but was waived/injured on the roster cut to 53 players in August.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
DE Red Bryant (foot)
OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)
LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
TE Anthony McCoy (back)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
FS Earl Thomas (ankle)
With Giacomini sidelined, Omiyale worked at right tackle. Greg Scruggs filled in at defensive end Red Bryant. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse got snaps at split end for Rice. Washington and Turbin shared the reps at running back with Lynch out.
For the Rams:
Did not practice
CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)
RB Steven Jackson (illness)
LB James Laurinaitis (back)
CB Scott Wells (knee)
Limited in practice
S Craig Dahl (knee)
WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)
STAT DU JOUR
Among the Seahawks’ 10 victories are wins over three other teams that have won double digit games, which ties for the most in the league. Here’s a look at the league-leaders in that category, as well as a look at how many of those wins the teams that have won more than 10 or more games have:
Most wins vs. teams with 10-plus wins
Team Wins Teams
Seahawks 3 Packers, Patriots 49ers
Texans 3 Broncos, Ravens, Colts
Patriots 3 Broncos, Colts, Texans
49ers 3 Seahawks, Packers, Patriots
Rams 2 Seahawks, 49ers
Giants 2 49ers, Packers
Vikings 2 49ers, Texans
Teams with 10-plus wins vs. other teams with 10-plus wins
Team (record) Wins Opponents
Seahawks (10-5) 3 Packers, Patriots, 49ers
Patriots (11-4) 3 Broncos, Colts, Texans
Texans (12-3) 3 Broncos, Ravens, Colts
49ers (10-4-1) 3 Seahawks, Packers, Patriots
Falcons (13-2) 1 Broncos
Ravens (10-5) 1 Patriots
Packers (11-4) 1 Texans
Colts (10-5) 1 Packers
Broncos (12-3) 1 Ravens
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Rams.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Watching @DangeRussWilson this weekend really took me back. He has to be this season’s #NFL Rookie of Year. @Seahawks.” – a tweet from former Vikings and Giants QB Fran Tarkenton, who Wilson has been compared to this season and especially during NBC’s telecast of Sunday night’s game against the 49ers
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 19:
Being prepared for everything the 49ers’ offense can throw, and run, at a defense. Even coach Pete Carroll admitted, “Really, that’s kind of the topic of the day,” as the Seahawks began practicing for Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s a very challenging team,” Carroll said today. “And it’s the running elements, but then they’ve got (leading receiver Michael) Crabtree and there’s (tight end) Vernon Davis and there’s the big fella Randy (Moss) out there running.
“This is a very talented football team and all of those guys present problems in concert. So it’s a real challenge.”
A challenge made even more challenging with Colin Kaepernick taking over at quarterback for Alex Smith. The second-year QB runs faster and has a stronger arm than Smith, and has displayed both traits during his five-game stint as the starter.
As for those running elements, there’s Frank Gore, who is having another 1,000-yard rushing season – his sixth in the past seven seasons – and ran for 131 yards in the 49ers’ victory over the Seahawks in Week 7. There’s also LaMichael James, who has taken over for the injured Kendall Hunter. Now there’s Kaepernick, who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry and has a 50-yarder among his five touchdown runs.
The offensive line. Make that the finally-gaining-some-notoriety-offensive line, as the unit was selected for the “Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award” this week by Hall of Fame coach John Madden.
“Seattle has done a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis,” Madden, who coached the Raiders before becoming an iconic broadcast analyst for NFL games, said in the release announcing the selection.
Left tackle Russell Okung, left guard John Moffitt, center Max Unger, right guard Paul McQuistan and right tackle Breno Giacomini paved the way for the Seahawks to score on their first five possessions – including three rushing touchdowns by quarterback Russell Wilson – in the 50-17 rout of the Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Marshawn Lynch added a fourth rushing touchdown in the third quarter as the Seahawks ran for 270 yards – including 55 in the fourth quarter, when backup linemen Frank Omiyale, J.R. Sweezy and Lemuel Jeanpierre were on the field.
“It’s cool, but I don’t know what that means,” Unger said of the honor. “I thought we played well. We gave up a sack that first play, then we kind of kept Russell (Wilson) pretty clean after that. There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. But it’s pretty cool that Mr. Madden thinks that we played a good game.”
The official report, as released by team:
Did not participate
DT Alan Branch (ankle)
DT Jason Jones (knee)
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
RB/KR Leon Washington (illness)
Limited in practice
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
Carroll said that Branch likely will sit out practice on Thursday as well to rest the ankle he sprained against the Bills, adding that he is hoping the team’s three-technique tackle will be able to practice on Friday. Clinton McDonald filled in for Branch today.
As for Trufant and Thurmond, Carroll said he’ll find out about their possible status as the week progresses. Trufant has missed the past three games and Thurmond did not play against the Bills. In their absence, rookie Jeremy Lane continued to work at right cornerback.
For the 49ers:
Did not participate
LB Clark Haggans (shoulder)
DT Justin Smith (elbow)
Limited in practice
LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder)
CB Tarell Brown (shoulder)
LB Tavares Gooden (ribs)
WR Mario Manningham (shoulder)
RB Bruce Miller (shoulder)
LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)
DT Will Tukuafu (concussion)
K David Akers (pelvis)
OG Alex Boone (knee)
LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder)
RB Frank Gore (wrist)
OG Mike Iupati (shoulder)
CB Carlos Rogers (knee)
LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
GUY, KNOX RETURN
Rookie safety Winston Guy practiced with the team for the first time since serving a four-game suspension. The Seahawks have a roster exemption for Guy. Also, linebacker Kyle Knox was signed to the practice squad. He was with the team in training camp until being released on roster cut to 53 players.
STAT DU JOUR
When Wilson threw his 21st touchdown pass of the season against the Bills last week, he moved into a tie with Cam Newton for third place on the all-time list for rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. Here’s a look at who Wilson is chasing with two games to play:
Player, team (year) No.
Peyton Manning, Colts (1998) 26
Charlie Conerly, Giants (1948) 22
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012) 21
Cam Newton, Panthers (2011) 21
Andrew Luck, Colts (2012) 20
Andy Dalton, Bengals (2011) 20
Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983) 20
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to practice for Sunday night’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“No, you don’t bring up the playoffs until the playoffs get here. You’re still in the regular season, so that’s what we’re playing. We’re playing trying to win the rest of these ball games and see where the chips fall.” – cornerback Richard Sherman, when asked if the players were mentioning the P-word this week knowing that a win over the 49ers will clinch a spot in the postseason