Is it football season yet?

12 Tour

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Today, on a beautiful Seahawks Blue Friday in Seattle, it’s all about the number 12.

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the number of days remaining until the Seahawks kickoff the 2013 regular season on the road against the Carolina Panthers – there’s still 58 of those. Nor am I talking about the number of days remaining until the team’s first preseason game on the road against the San Diego Chargers – there’s still 27 of those. And as close as we are, I’m not even talking about the number of days remaining until the club’s first training camp practice – there’s still 13 of those.

What I am talking about is today’s date – July 12 – and how it coincides with the continuation of the Seahawks 12 Tour in Vancouver, B.C., how it falls one day after the release of our “Spirit of 12″ 12th Man-oriented section of Seahawks.com, as well as one day after Russell Wilson came in at No. 12 on ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski’s rankings of the League’s 32 quarterbacks. Really, the number 12 is everywhere, or perhaps we’re just really quick – and at times obsessively compulsive – to point it out.

All right, that’s enough 12ing (for now). Let’s get down to what’s in store for the week ahead with your Seattle Seahawks, as together we inch closer and closer to answering the all-too-often-uttered question: Is it football season yet?

Sunday, July 14:

  • 12 Tour Vancouver, B.C. rolls along with a family festival at West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Events include a Gatorade Junior Training Camp, a flag football tournament, a Q&A session with defensive end Red Bryant and wide receiver Doug Baldwin, live entertainment, and more
  • 12 Tour Yakima – a one day Gatorade Junior Training Camp event
  • Cornerback Jeremy Lane celebrates his 23rd birthday. Send your well wishes to Lane on Twitter @StayingInMyLane
  • Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy tour wraps up at the University of Washington

Monday, July 15:

  • 12 Tour Victoria, B.C. – a one day trip featuring wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who will sign autographs from 4-6 p.m. at Jersey City – Mayfair Centre and who will follow that up with an appearance at a season-preview party at 7:30 p.m. at Victoria’s Strathcona Hotel
  • ProFootballTalk.com will unveil players ranked No. 50-26 on their Top 100 Players countdown

Tuesday, July 16:

  • There’s not too many Seahawks-related activities going on, but this nugget of knowledge might come in handy for your Tuesday night trivia session: On this date in 1968, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders is born. Sanders will celebrate his 45th birthday.

Wednesday, July 17:

Thursday, July 18:

  • The 12 Tour ramps back up again, this time making it’s way to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Wash.), where cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will host a Seahawks fan forum at 6 p.m. at Kennewick’s “The Pub” on Clearwater Ave.

Friday, July 19:

Saturday, July 20:

  • 12 Tour Vancouver, WA – Cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will host a Seahawks fan forum at Vancouver’s “Big Al’s” on SE 18th St.

Wednesday in Hawkville: The continuing evolution of Richard Sherman

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 12, when the Seahawks held the second practice in the mandatory three-day minicamp that concludes the offseason program:

FOCUS ON: RICHARD SHERMAN

Richard ShermanWelcome to the continuing evolution of an on-his-game cornerback who was forced into the Seahawks’ starting lineup in 2011 because of injuries to two other players and last season developed into an All-Pro performer.

Sherman is the first cornerback in franchise history to be voted first team All-Pro, as the late Dave Brown was a second-team selection in 1984. But this offseason, Sherman has looked even better and is playing with even more confidence – if that’s possible – than the corner who intercepted eight passes and led the NFL with 24 passes defensed last season.

No one can remember Sherman giving up a completion during the team’s OTA sessions or first two practices of this week’s three-day minicamp. At least not in man-to-man coverage.

What gives? Certainly not Sherman.

“It’s just a part of the evolution,” defensive backs coach Kris Richard said after today’s practice, when Sherman had near interceptions on back-to-back plays and then recovered on another play to break up a pass.

“He’s growing and continuing to learn what he’s going to be able to get away with when he’s out there. Just trying to figure out what his limitations are, if there are any. Really, that’s what this time is for. So it’s really good to see him continue to grow and develop.”

Sherman, a fifth-round draft choice in 2011 after playing cornerback for only one season at Stanford, credits this evolutionary improvement to studying video and the fact that he’s entering his third season as a member of the Legion of Boom – which also includes All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner, who played in the Pro Bowl after the 2011 season.

“It’s just confidence and a lot of film study,” Sherman said. “You go down to the nitty-gritty. If you watch film enough, if you see things enough, it’s ‘You fool me once, shame on me. If you fool me twice, you can’t fool me twice.’ ”

As for that still-developing rapport and chemistry with the other defensive backs, Sherman offered, “Sometimes we’ll be out there mid-play and Kam will tell me to jump this. I’ll jump it, because it’s just trust. I know he’s going to where he’s supposed to be if he tells me to jump this.

“We’ll call plays out halfway through the play and be moving pieces. If you saw it on film you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell what coverage we were in because it’s probably not the most technical way to run it. But it works. We’re effective and the chemistry is there.”

Whatever works, and things obviously are working extremely well for Sherman.

In addition to Sherman’s plays, the defense-dominated practice also included cornerback Jeremy Lane’s leaping deflection of Brady Quinn a pass that was intended for Stephen Williams at the goal line; rookie defensive tackle Jesse Williams deflecting a third-down pass by Jerrod Johnson; Thomas recovering a fumble; another breakup by Browner and a tipped pass by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner; and an interception by cornerback Will Blackmon.

Doug Baldwin

PLAYER WATCH: DOUG BALDWIN

The day was tinted Cardinal, as Baldwin had almost as good a day on offense as Sherman had on defense. They played together at Stanford and came to the Seahawks in the same year – Baldwin as a rookie free agent.

Today, when quarterback Russell Wilson found himself running out of time he looked for Baldwin. They hooked up for a 20-yard completion on a third-and-10 play and a 12-yard gain on second-and-10.

Like Sherman, Baldwin’s efforts today mirrored the type of spring he has had.

“Doug has done really well,” coach Pete Carroll said after Tuesday’s practice. “At this time last year, Doug was pressing a little bit. And he was coming off his great first season (when Baldwin was the team’s leading receiver). I think he came in just wanting to do so much.”

Instead, injuries limited Baldwin’s reps during training camp, he had his front teeth knocked out in the season opener and then played through a shoulder injury for much of the regular season.

Now? “You can just see how relaxed he is,” Carroll said. “He’s playing like a vet. He knows our system. He’s working great with the quarterback. And he does so many intricate things.”

RUGBY INVASION

USA Rugby SevensTeam USA’s Sevens National Team watched today’s practice. The players are in town to prepare for the World Cup in Moscow in two weeks.

The connection to the Seahawks? It’s Carroll and Waisale Serevi, the former Fijian rugby union footballer who did for his sport what Pele was able to do for soccer. Serevi is based in Seattle and Carroll has gotten to know him.

UP NEXT

The final practice in the three-day minicamp starts at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. Friday, the veterans begin their break until reporting for training camp on July 24. The rookies will continue to work out through June 26.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’ve learned that he’s probably one of the most tenacious players in the NFL. He’s a rugged, hardworking, hardnosed football player.” – Sherman on Browner


Marcus Trufant visiting Jaguars today

Marcus Trufant

Marcus Trufant played the past four seasons under Gus Bradley when Bradley was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator. Today, Trufant, an unrestricted free agent, is visiting Bradley in his new role and location – head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Trufant’s visit was reported by the Jaguars’ website.

The Jaguars rebuilt their secondary during the NFL Draft by selecting strong safety Jonathan Cyprien with the first pick in the second round and then adding cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz (third round) and Demetrius McCray (seventh) and safety Josh Evans (sixth). But Trufant, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 2003, could mentor the young secondary – just as he did for the Seahawks the past few seasons with the All-Pro tandem of free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman as well as Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner.

The Seahawks released Trufant last offseason, only to re-sign him for a 10th season. But this year, a similar move is unlikely because the team signed nickel back Antoine Winfield in free agency, drafted cornerback Tharold Simon and also has incumbent backups Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell.

UPDATE – At 11:54 a.m. the Jaguars officially announced they had signed Trufant:


Mel Kiper Jr. ups Seahawks’ draft grade from C-minus to A

Russell Wilson

HONOLULU – Count ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. among those who’s willing to admit he erred on the grade he gave the Seahawks after they made their selections in last April’s NFL Draft.

In fact, it seems the line forms behind Kiper, who has given the Seahawks an A in his regarding of the 2012 draft after initially slapping them with a C-minus.

It’s an Insider feature at ESPN.com, so you must register and pay a fee to see Kiper’s entire regarding. But here’s what he had to say about the Seahawks:

“Give John Schneider and Pete Carroll all the credit in the world. I had major questions on value and even need with some of their picks, and in most cases, the Seahawks proved me wrong. At the time I wrote, ‘Let’s be clear: I think the Seahawks drafted guys they really wanted, and with a plan in mind for how to use them.’ Did they ever. Russell Wilson might be the defining pick of the draft, already a star and a guy Seattle got at No. 75 overall. I really liked Wilson as a prospect, and said on the set I thought he’d be ‘a great test case’ for short quarterbacks. My question of the pick also had to do with the fact that Seattle had acquired Matt Flynn. If Wilson had been 6-foot-2, I think he would have been a top-5 pick – said it then, say it now. Is that evaluation still reasonable? Has Wilson proven that short QBs can’t all be lumped together? Ultimately, evaluators will still have questions about whether short QBs can succeed because they simply have so few of them to evaluate. The sample size for guys at Wilson’s size who’ve succeeded as he has is so small that not only is Wilson almost unique, I don’t see a QB like him coming along for years. But there’s no way around the fact that he was a great pick, perhaps the best of the draft when you consider where he was taken.

“I also had questions about the value of Bobby Wagner at No. 47 overall, but he was a home run, an impact starter and a guy who will be a fixture for years to come. Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane and Greg Scruggs also look like great picks. The one pick I really questioned then and still feel the same way about is Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall. There’s no question Irvin can rush the passer, but that’s really all he can do, and I still don’t see him as a good value at that spot because he’s so one-dimensional. I wrote then, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Irvin gets 10 sacks in 2012, but that’s really his game. He’s not a three-down player yet.’ He still isn’t, and is a total liability against the run, as we saw against Atlanta in the playoffs. He finished with 8.0 sacks, but has plenty of development left if he wants to become more than a situational player. I think you want more of a complete player at that point in the draft. Still, this was an exceptional draft, a very good one in terms of immediate value and likely a defining one for the franchise based on Wilson alone.”


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Pro Bowl #AloHawks atwitter: Day 3

Twitter chatter from the third day of the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii:

Leon Washington’s wife, Charity, posted to Instagram this photo of her family vacation:


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Wednesday cyber surfing: Seahawks physical nature offers no apologies

Red Bryant

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 9.

Kicker Steven Hauschka has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a calf injury in the Seahawks’ Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins. To replace Hauschka the club has signed veteran kicker Ryan Longwell, age 38, who last kicked for the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.

Defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a torn ACL last Sunday against the Redskins, has also been placed on injured reserve. In Clemons’ place, the club has signed defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who last played in the NFL in 2007 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and spent two seasons after in the UFL, leading the league in sacks.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the Seahawks’ physical nature, “…if you’re surprised by the way Seattle is playing, well, you haven’t been paying attention to how this Seahawks team is constructed nor how it has played. Bigger and badder might as well be this team’s motto, for better and — far less frequently — for worse. Sunday, the Seahawks faced a team that Carroll said targeted specific players with the intention of provoking a reaction. ‘They go after individual guys,’ Carroll said of Washington’s approach. ‘And they have guys that are really pressing the edge, which is fine. Our guys responded and matched it up, and did the right thing. No penalties, no issues. No runs, no hits, no errors.’ And absolutely no apologies.”

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks’ success has made Seattle relevant again in the sports world, “The Hawks’ wild-card win over Washington on Sunday was the most-watched television program on any network since NBC’s Olympic coverage. According to Nielsen Media Research, 38.1 million people watched. In the Seattle area, 76 percent of the televisions on were tuned to the game, a larger audience than last year’s Super Bowl. From KJR to the water cooler, the air is crackling with chatter about the Seahawks. From the pulpit to ESPN you hear praises sung for Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner. This team believes, truly believes, in itself. And the city believes with it. Hawks players believe in the notion of the next man up, whether it’s Frank Omiyale filling in for Russell Okung at tackle, or cornerback Jeremy Lane replacing Brandon Browner.”

John Boyle the Everett Herald says the Seahawks have truly bought in to head coach Pete Carroll’s approach, “When a team learns to actually treat every week like a championship week, consistency comes with that and those blowouts go away. That’s why two years after losing 10 times by double digits, the Seahawks’ five losses this year came by a combined 24 points. When players truly buy into the idea that it’s all about the finish, they can overcome a 13-point deficit against New England or a 14-point deficit in a road playoff game. ‘It just shows how much confidence we have in our ability and the resolve in our team to fight the whole game,’ tight end Zach Miller said by phone after his team’s comeback in Washington. ‘We know games aren’t won in the first quarter or the first half, they’re won all the way in the fourth quarter.’ “

Boyle also notes that the Seahawks are not going to take the Atlanta Falcons lightly, “…even if the Seahawks are suddenly the ‘it’ team in the NFL, they aren’t buying the talk that the Falcons are vulnerable. Yes, the pressure is on Atlanta, which is 0-3 in the postseason in the last four years, and yes, the Seahawks are playing incredibly well (warnings aside, I’m leaning towards picking Seattle), but this game no doubt represents a big challenge for the Seahawks. ‘We have tremendous respect for the Atlanta team,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘Mike Smith has done a great job with this club for a number of years. They have been on their game and on the top of the league for some time now with really good efficient play, good defense, good running game, good throwing game, highlighted players all over the place, and a real good discipline about their style of play. So it’s going to be a fantastic challenge for us.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710 Sports.com writes how defensive end Chris Clemons’ season-ending injury impacts the club’s pass rush, “…Irvin would transition from a situational pass rusher to the weakside defensive end, a every-down position in which Clemons has thrived. Less clear is which player would assume Irvin’s role. Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks, seeing most of his playing time in passing situations opposite Clemons. Fellow rookie Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round pick, is one option. Scruggs had two sacks and six tackles in 11 games. Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times and 710 ESPN Seattle discussed this issue when he joined “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday. O’Neil thinks replacing Irvin is the bigger concern. ‘I don’t think the drop-off between Clemons and Irvin is as significant as what it does to your depth,’ he said.” 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard and Mike Salk discuss the topic further in this short video.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press highlights running back Marshawn Lynch’s playoff performance, “Seattle needed all of Lynch’s 132 yards rushing, and especially his 27-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, to dispatch the Redskins. His sidestep cut that left Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall grasping at air allowed him to get to the outside on the touchdown run and was another sign of Lynch’s shiftiness, which sometimes gets lost because of his brute power. Lynch’s performance on Sunday tied the franchise record for most yards rushing in a playoff game and bettered what he did against the Saints by 1 yard. He rushed for 99 yards in the second half and overcame a costly fumble at the Washington 1 on the first drive of the second half that could have shaken others. Not Lynch. ‘You don’t ever have to worry about his mindset,’ Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said after the game. ‘He got to the sideline, he was upset about it, and he just said, `Give it to me again. Keep feeding me.’ “

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “NFC West penalty watch“, which also includes a note on the Seahawks’ divisional-round opponent – the Atlanta Falcons, “The Seahawks’ divisional-round playoff opponent, Atlanta, incurred a league-low 68 penalties this season, counting declined ones. But even the Falcons suffered more penalties for illegal contact (two) than the Seahawks incurred during the regular season.”


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

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

Russell Wilson

FOCUS ON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Space Needle

BLUE FRIDAY

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

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

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

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

INJURY REPORT

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

Probable

CB Jeremy Lane (knee)

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

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

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

For the Redskins:

Out

CB Dominique Johnson (knee) was placed on IR

Questionable

OG Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle)

S DeJon Gomes (knee)

Probable

LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder)

DE Stephen Bowen (biceps)

QB Kirk Cousins (illness)

LB London Fletcher (ankle)

WR Pierre Garcon (foot)

QB Robert Griffin III (knee)

CB DeAngelo Hall (elbow)

LB Ryan Kerrigan (ankle)

C Will Montgomery (knee)

WR Josh Morgan (hand, foot)

S Jordan Pugh (ankle)

P Saverio Rocca (right knee)

S Madieu Williams (elbow)

STAT DU JOUR

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

Category                                     Wilson      Griffin

Victories                                        11                9

Attempts                                    393             393

Completions                              252             258

Completion percentage         .641             .656

Passing yards                         3,118           3,200

300-yard passing games              0                  3

Touchdown passes                     26                20

Interceptions                               10                  5

Passer rating                          100.0           102.4

Rushing yards                           489               815

Rushing average                       5.2                 6.8

Rushing touchdowns                   4                    7

UP NEXT

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

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

YOU DON’T SAY, NATIONAL EDITION

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

YOU DON’T SAY, LOCAL EDITION

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


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

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

Brandon Browner

FOCUS ON

Brandon Browner. The Seahawks’ right cornerback returned from his four-game suspension on Monday, practiced with the team for the first time in a month on Wednesday and today he fielded questions from the media at his cubicle in the locker room before practice.

“It’s really exciting,” Browner said. “I’m glad to be back out here with my team. Enjoying that.”

Browner returned to his offseason home in Southern California during his suspension for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances.

“I couldn’t find it in myself working out here,” he said. “I wasn’t coming up here (to VMAC). So it was weird to go to some park here.”

But Browner did watch the four games he missed – a 58-0 romp over the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field; a 50-17 victory over the Bills in Toronto; a 42-13 win over the 49ers in Seattle; and last week’s 20-13 victory over the Rams, also at CenturyLink Field.

“It was fun,” he said with a smile, “because we were kicking everybody’s butt. I missed not playing with the guys, but it was awesome to watch.”

Browner has returned just in time to experience the NFL postseason for the first time, as the Seahawks are preparing for Sunday’s NFC Wild Card game against the Redskins at FedExField. He was on a Grey Cup-winning team with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL in 2008. But this is different because it’s the NFL.

“It’s very exciting,” Browner said. “That’s what you play for, to get to the playoffs and eventually, hopefully, the Super Bowl.”

And his thoughts on this latest first in his career that took a radical turn last year when he was signed to a future contract by the Seahawks in January, won the starting job during training camp and ended playing in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement after leading the team with six interceptions and 23 passes defensed?

“You don’t know yet until the game comes,” Browner said of the playoffs. “But I think we have a good game plan going into this and it will be a good matchup. I’ve got confidence in my team and my ability.”

Is Browner ready after sitting out a month?

“Most definitely,” he said. “It starts in the head, and I’m mentally tough. I know I’ll be a little tired out there, but at the end of the day I’m fighting for a playoff victory. So I’ll be all right.”

To help with the physical preparation, Browner got some reps today with the scout team that works against the Seahawks’ offense, as well as working with the No. 1 defense.

“It always takes a little bit of time to get back into it – the one-on-one’s, the coverage concepts,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “But he’s taking extra reps to get back on that.

“The mental part of it is all there. But the physical part, he’s getting sharp again. He’s looked pretty good.”

ANOTHER DAY IN THE SUNSHINE

The players practiced outside for the second consecutive day. It will help prepare them for the game against the Redskins, because the temperature along Lake Washington was 46 degrees and the forecast for Sunday in Landover, Md., is calling for a high of 49 and a low 39.

OPPONENT WATCH

London Fletcher. We also featured the Redskins’ inside linebacker yesterday, but that was from the perspective of Washington coach Mike Shanahan. Today, we get Michael Robinson’s take on Fletcher, who is 37 and in his 15th NFL season.

These two ran into each other last season at CenturyLink Field, and Robinson puts Fletcher in the same class as the other great inside and middle linebackers he faced a season ago and this season – the Ravens’ Ray Lewis, 49ers’ Patrick Willis and Bears’ Brian Urlacher. And that is saying a lot.

“We spoke at the Pro Bowl last year. Good guy. Got a lot of love for him,” Robinson offered. “The old adage about London, if you don’t block him he’ll make every tackle. He’s one of those guys, he has a lot of big hogs up front and it’s hard to get on him. And he will make, literally, every single tackle if you don’t block him.

“So it’s a big, big challenge for us.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

CB Jeremy Lane (knee)

Full participation

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

An already encouraging injury report got even better today, when Lynch took part in all phases of practice after being limited on Wednesday – which has been his routine for much of the second half of the regular season. Lane was added to the list. He started the past three games for Browner.

For the Redskins:

Did not practice

CB Dominique Johnson (knee)

OG Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle)

Limited in practice

S DeJon Gomes (knee)

Full participation

LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder)

DE Stephen Bowen (biceps)

QB Kirk Cousins (illness)

LB London Fletcher (ankle)

WR Pierre Garcon (foot)

QB Robert Griffin III (knee)

CB DeAngelo Hall (elbow)

LB Ryan Kerrigan (ankle)

C Will Montgomery (knee)

WR Josh Morgan (hand, foot)

S Jordan Pugh (ankle)

P Saverio Rocca (right knee)

S Madieu Williams (elbow)

Fletcher and Cousins practiced today after sitting out on Wednesday.

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks and Redskins don’t play that often, but there have been some memorable events during the series that the Redskins lead 11-4 during the regular season and the Seahawks lead 2-0 during the postseason. Here’s a look at some of the games that standout, and why:

1976: Redskins 31, Seahawks 7. First road loss in franchise history

1980: Seahawks 14, Redskins 0. Second road shutout in franchise history

1983: Redskins 27, Seahawks 17. Steve Largent catches eight passes for 130 yards and two TDs

1989: Redskins 29, Seahawks 0. Steve Largent’s final game

1992: Redskins 16, Seahawks 3. Loss No. 6 in a club-record eight-game losing streak

1994: Seahawks 28, Redskins 7. Chris Warren goes “home” and runs for 100 yards and two TDs

1995: Seahawks 27, Redskins 20. Chris Warren goes “home” again and runs for 136 yards

1998: Seahawks 24, Redskins 14. Steve Broussard returns a kickoff 90 yards for a TD

2002: Redskins 14, Seahawks 3. Bruce Smith beats Walter Jones for two sacks

2005: Redskins 20, Seahawks 17. Last loss before a club-record 11-game winning streak

2005: Seahawks 20, Redskins 10. Win in divisional playoff game sends Seahawks to NFC title game

2007: Seahawks 35, Redskins 14. Win in Wild Card game sends Seahawks to divisional round

2008: Redskins 20, Seahawks 17. Loss No. 4 in six-game losing streak

2011: Redskins 23, Seahawks 17. Only loss in a six-game stretch

UP NEXT

The team will fly to Baltimore on Friday after the players hold a midday practice. Saturday’s walk-through will be held in the D.C. area.

Remember: Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, so the game will start at 1:30 p.m. on the West Coast.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Great football teams don’t shy away from success. We’ve been waiting on these moments our whole entire lives. I know for me, as an example, I’ve been waiting for this my whole entire life. I think with our football team, we’re determined to be successful; we’re determined to be great. And that mindset of staying focused on the positive, staying focused on the great opportunities that you have, staying focused on the now – one opportunity at a time, one play at a time; that mentality of just competing with that, I think that’s where you’re successful more times than not.” – quarterback Russell Wilson when asked if he and his team were comfortable with the level of success they’ve achieved


ESPN panel votes John Schneider NFL executive of 2012

John Schneider

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.”


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Thursday cyber surfing: Club lands five in Pro Bowl; Bryant named Special Teams Player of Week 16

Pro Bowl

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.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his story on the club’s Pro Bowl selections and recaps the activities surrounding “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on general manager John Schneider.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.

We have coach Carroll and coach Bevell’s full video press conferences from yesterday.

Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.