Thursday in Hawkville: Carroll has a ‘lid’ on passing game right now

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Sept. 27:

FOCUS ON

No. 32. Not second-year safety Jeron Johnson, who wears that number. That’s also where the Seahawks’ passing offense ranks in the league after three games. When asked about it, coach Pete Carroll pointed the finger directly at himself.

“I really think this is me holding the lid on it right now,” Carroll said. “I’m overseeing all of that.”

The Seahawks don’t just rank last in passing offense, they are the only team in the league that is averaging more yards rushing (141.3) than passing (127.7).

“What’s more important to us is that we take care of the football,” Carroll said. “More than anything. I don’t care about the yards.”

In that phase, the Seahawks have turned the ball over only twice – on an interception by rookie QB Russell Wilson on the final play of the first half and his lost fumble on the first series of the second half, both in the season-opening loss to the Cardinals in Arizona. Only the unbeaten Falcons and Patriots have fewer turnovers that the Seahawks.

Third-down conversions? That’s another story. The Seahawks are converting 29.3 percent on the pivotal down, which is limiting their opportunities to get more plays and therefore their chances to generate more yards. Only the Buccaneers (.256) and Redskins (.275) are converting a lower percentage on third downs.

“The thing we’re concerned about, we’ve got to convert on third downs,” Carroll said. “We have to get better there.”

This lid-on situation would be no different if Matt Flynn was the quarterback, Carroll said, pointing out that Wilson has now started three games in the NFL compared to two for the Flynn – who was signed in free agency during the offseason after being the backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay the past four seasons.

“We’re just trying to grow around the style of this football team that gives us a chance to be really physical and really tough and don’t give up anything,” Carroll said. “It’s really a product of me. So if you’re going to be mad at somebody, be mad at me.”

PLAYER WATCH

(AP Photo/Jon Ferrey)

Now it’s time for Johnson, who has stepped in as the third safety in the bandit sub package with the Seahawks defense. Rookie Winston Guy opened the season in the role, but Johnson has taken over the past two games.

“Jeron has been really disciplined for us,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “The whole defense really takes pride in doing their job and doing it right and execution. We gave Jeron a chance and he fit right into the mode. He’s very detailed and the guys really trust him back there.”

Johnson made plays while subbing for strong safety Kam Chancellor during the preseason, which earned him a look in the bandit.

“I think that’s a reflection of coach Carroll,” Bradley said. “Because he always pushes us: ‘Find the guys and then give them an opportunity. You’ll be surprised.’ We always thought that Jeron was a guy who shows up more on the game field than in practice. Sure enough, he had a great preseason. He kind of turned our head then. So we gave him an opportunity and he’s been really solid.”

OPPONENT WATCH

When Jeff Fisher took over as coach of the Rams this year, he wanted better play from his cornerbacks. So Cortland Finnegan, a Pro Bowl corner while with the Titans, was signed in free agency.

In three games for the Rams, Finnegan has three interceptions and also is third on the team with 19 tackles.

“I think he recognizes things, because he’s pretty experienced,” Wilson said. “He’s also aggressive. That’s the way he plays. You have to understand that and be smart with the football in terms of throwing the ball on him and making plays on him. You have to understand that he’s a great playmaker. We have a lot of respect for him.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

OT Breno Giacomini (pectoral)

OG John Moffitt (knee)

LB Leroy Hill (calf)

DT Jason Jones (knee)

Limited participation

DT Greg Scruggs (wrist)

DT Jaye Howard (foot)

Full participation

WR Doug Baldwin (shoulder)

CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)

With Giacomini and Moffitt still out, Frank Omiyale worked at right tackle and Paul McQuistan at right guard with the No. 1 line – with James Carpenter replacing McQuistan at left guard. With Hill out, Malcolm Smith not only stepped in at weakside linebacker, he stepped up – tipping and almost intercepting one pass and taking another from the grasp of tight end Anthony McCoy.

For the Rams:

Did not practice

RB Steven Jackson (groin)

OT Rodger Saffold (knee)

DT Matt Conrath (knee)

S Matt McDaniels (hamstring)

Limited participation

DT Michael Brockers (ankle)

OT Wayne Hunter (knee)

Full participation

DE Eugene Sims (illness)

PRACTICE SQUAD SHUFFLE

With Giacomini and Moffitt missing the past two days, rookie guard Rishaw Johnson was re-signed to the practice squad. He had been released last Friday.

Also signed was running back Lonyae Miller, who had been with the Cowboys (2010-2011) and Raiders (2011-2012).

To clear spots on the eight-man squad, linebacker Korey Toomer was placed on practice squad/injured and tight end Sean McGrath was released.

STAT DU JOUR

Marshawn Lynch continues to be the NFL’s leading rusher since Week 9 of last season. But who is chasing Lynch over the past 12 games? Here’s who:

Player, team                                   Att.    Yards    Avg.   TD

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks       283    1,246     4.4     10

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars     236    1,180     5.0       6

Ray Rice, Ravens                           222     1,143     5.1    10

Reggie Bush, Saints/Dolphins     191     1,053     5.5      6

UP NEXT

“Turnover Thursday” gives away to “No Repeat Friday,” as the players will have a midday practice. The team will leave for St. Louis on Saturday following a morning walkthrough.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Some people think he’s unique. I definitely do think he’s unique. That’s what makes him so good. He’s a little different in terms of that, which is a good thing.” – Wilson when asked about Lynch’s, well, unique personality


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Game at a glance: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7

A recap of the Seahawks’ 27-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in their home opener on Sunday at CenturyLink Field:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Marshawn Lynch. There were so many candidates from this impressive performance, but the Seahawks’ Beast Mode-running back remains the metronome by which this team beats.

He finished with 122 yards on 26 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that slapped the exclamation point on this one. As always, it wasn’t so much that Lynch got the yards, but how he got them. He averaged 2.2 yards on 10 first-half carries, then exploded for 100 yards on 16 carries in the second half – including a 16-yard run on the first play of the half and a 36-yarder on the eight-play, 90-yard drive in the third quarter that was capped by rookie QB Russell Wilson throwing a 22-yard TD pass to tight end Anthony McCoy.

“It was very much needed, and I’m glad we got it,” Lynch said of the running game producing 182 yards and the offense getting 315 yards.

Offered Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson, “You might get pumped up to hit 24 (Lynch) in the first quarter and he might get three yards. But in that fourth quarter, you really don’t want to hit him. He gets stronger. Our offensive line gets stronger.

“When we’re rocking like that, that’s what we want to do. We want to run the ball, we want to play-action (pass) off that and give our defense a rest so they can go out there and dominate.”

UNSUNG PLAYER OF THE GAME

Frank Omiyale. Russell Okung was expected to start at left tackle, despite bruising his left knee in last week’s opener against the Cardinals. But after working out before the game, the coaches decided he couldn’t go. That put Omiyale in harm’s way – or at least in the line of the fire that Cowboys’ pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware in capable of generating.

Ware’s stat line: no sacks, one tackle for a loss, one QB hit.

“Frank is a guy who’s been around the League for an extended period of time,” Wilson said of Omiyale, who started 31 games the past three seasons for the Bears but was making his first start for the Seahawks.

“He has great knowledge of the game. He works extremely hard. The fact that we thought Russell was going to be able to play, but he couldn’t go today, so Frank stepped up and did a tremendous job. I mean an unbelievable job. He’s been doing that for years, so you kind of expect that out of him. Just the way he goes about his business, the way he approaches the game, approaches the week. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

Asked about the game plan against Ware, coach Pete Carroll said, “Our plan was to hope he didn’t kill us.”

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense: Wilson’s TD pass to McCoy, which came from a three-tight set on the right side. McCoy was in the middle, between Zach Miller (inside) and Evan Moore (outside). When they broke from the line, the cornerback had to take either McCoy or Moore.

“We kind of put the corner in a big predicament,” said McCoy, who had a team-high five receptions in addition to his first NFL touchdown catch. “He had to cover both me and Evan on the play. He chose one and left me open.”

Yes, the way the play unfolded caught McCoy by surprise.

“I’m like, ‘Man, we’re in the red zone and I’m this open?’ ” McCoy said. “I was kind of expecting someone to be there on the catch, but no one was there. It was a great play call.”

Defense: With the Seahawks holding a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, the Cowboys had driven from their 20-yard line to the Seahawks’ 24. But on a second-and-10 play, Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Browner intercepted Tony Romo’s pass that was intended for tight end Jason Witten.

“I’m kind of mad that I got caught,” said Browner, who returned the pick 35 yards. “I felt like I had a shot to go all the way, but I was a little gassed out there.”

Special teams: The Seahawks forced (Robinson) and recovered (Earl Thomas) a fumble on the opening kickoff to setup a field goal. But the next time the Cowboys got the ball, the Seahawks’ special teams scored. Second-year linebacker Malcolm Smith blocked a punt and second-year safety Jeron Johnson picked up the ball on a hop and ran three yards for a TD.

“Malcolm was inside of me and I was rushing to the outside,” Johnson said after scoring his first TD since he was a senior at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. – and playing middle linebacker. “Nobody blocked Malcolm and the ball bounced right to me.

“It was a big play. Special teams showed up big today.”

Big hit of the day: Golden Tate, come on down. The 202-pound wide receiver drilled Sean Lee, the Cowboys’ 245-pound linebacker, with a vicious block on Wilson’s 14-yard scramble in the fourth quarter.

“Now I see why Kam (Chancellor, the team’s Pro Bowl strong safety) likes defense,” said Tate, who was making his 2012 debut after sitting out the opener with a knee injury. “It felt great.

“It’s a momentum boost. All of sudden we had momentum and drove the ball all the way down the field.”

Eight plays later, Lynch scored his TD, but only after Tate caught an 8-yard pass on third-and-4 to give the Seahawks a first down at the Cowboys’ 3.

INJURY REPORT

Cornerback Byron Maxwell left the game with a hamstring injury and wide receiver Sidney Rice did not finish the game.

But Carroll said he was unaware that anything was wrong with Rice. “He looked OK in the locker room,” Carroll said. “I didn’t see anything. I don’t have any update on that. He was not on the injury list.”

WORTH NOTING

The Seahawks have won four consecutive home openers, and nine of their past 10.

The defense got their hands on seven of Tony Romo’s passes, including two each by Leo end Chris Clemons and linebacker K.J. Wright.

Chancellor had a team-high nine tackles.

Rookie rush-end Bruce Irvin got his first NFL sack. Or at least half of one, as he shared the team’s only sack with Jason Jones. Those are the two players the Seahawks added during the offseason – Irvin in the first-round of the NFL Draft, Jones in free agency – to improve their pass rush.

On the Seahawks’ 90-yard TD drive in the third quarter, they did not face a third-down situation.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I knew it was going to be electric, and it was more than I could ever imagine. The crowd is a huge, huge advantage for our football team. And when the 12th Man is that loud and that energetic, it really helps our offense, our defense, our special teams and just continues to boost us.” – Wilson, after playing his first regular-season game at CenturyLink FIeld.


Thursday cyber surfing: Rice’s return

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, August 23.

Head coach Pete Carroll tossed a couple of important announcements our way after practice on Wednesday – cornerback Roy Lewis will undergo knee surgery and there is no specified date for his return at this time, and wide receiver Sidney Rice is expected to see his first action of the preseason Friday night at Kansas City.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his story on Rice’s return to action, “It wasn’t until Sidney Rice got put on his butt that you knew he was back. It happened Tuesday during a passing drill at practice, when free safety Earl Thomas hit Seattle’s top wide receiver. Thomas pulled up a little bit, but the blow was enough to knock Rice off his feet. ‘It was great,’ coach Pete Carroll said. Great? Rice is coming off twin shoulder surgeries this offseason, a guy who has missed more regular-season games (17) than he has played over the previous two years and had 11 anchors installed in each shoulder this offseason. ‘He needed to feel that and know that could happen,’ Carroll said.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his story on Rice’s return, “…the sixth-year veteran has been full-go this week and has taken a couple of hard shots from Seattle’s first-team defense without suffering any ill effects. ‘We’re anxious to see him get out there,’ Carroll said. ‘He’s had a fantastic process getting back. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s practicing really, really well. And so we’ll get him a little bit of (playing time) just to break the ice on that one.’ “

Scott Garbarini of The Sports Network previews the Seahawks-Chiefs preseason matchup, “With a chance to seize a starting quarterback position that’s still up for grabs, [Russell] Wilson will draw a surprise start for the Seahawks as they head to Arrowhead Stadium for a rehearsal contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. Wilson, Seattle’s third-round choice in this past April’s draft following a stellar collegiate career at North Carolina State and Wisconsin, entered camp as the underdog in a three-man battle to be the team’s No. 1 signal-caller. The rookie has been terrific in his two preseason appearances — albeit against second-team defenses — to emerge as perhaps the favorite to be under center when the Seahawks open the regular season at Arizona on Sept. 9.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald catches up with defensive back Jeron Johnson as he battles to make the Seahawks’ roster, “Johnson was impressive during the preseason last year, too, which is how he made the roster as an undrafted rookie at the expense of, amongst others, fifth-round pick Mark LeGree. Although he was good enough to make the team last year and contribute primarily on special teams, Johnson feels like he has come a long, long ways since training camp a year ago. ‘It’s not too much different from what they asked of me last season,’ said Johnson, who like other rookies last year was behind thanks to the lockout, which eliminated offseason workouts. It’s just I had time to understand the defense more this year. The OTAs and minicamps helped tremendously. The lockout was my rookie year, so just having OTAs and minicamp helped out. … This year I’m playing a lot faster.’ “

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com says Russell Wilson deserves the start he is getting Friday night, “Wilson started 50 consecutive games and was only the fifth quarterback in college history to run for 1,000 and pass for 5,000. The guy’s a freak, and in the most flattering way. But hey, you don’t have to believe me, or even his ever-so-lightly hyperventilating coach, Pete Carroll. Listen to his teammates. ‘He’s playing at a level you don’t expect as rookie to be at right now,’ said Unger, the bearer of the foot-stool for his 5-foot-11 little buddy. ‘There are expectations for a guy you take higher in the draft — not saying third isn’t high — but you just don’t expect a guy taken in the third round to be in the running for the starting spot right away. To be in the competition this late says what he’s done in camp.” And this from wide receiver Golden Tate: ‘Russell wants to be the best. From the day I met him, he’s been the first one in and the last one out. Even when we had those five weeks off, he was coming in at 7 a.m. getting his work done, them lifting, then throwing with whatever guys were here. In meetings, he asks very good questions. Watching the game, you can see the kid is good, but he has worked so hard to get there. He’s so driven to be the guy for us.’ “

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com has his story on the Seahawks naming Wilson the starting quarterback against Kansas City, “As Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Wednesday on SIRIUS NFL Radio, the decision isn’t as much about Flynn as it is about Wilson’s compelling play with and against non-starters, and the now imperative need to see where he is against the ones. ‘He’s been going with the twos, he’s had eight drives, and scored six times: five touchdowns and one field goal,’ Schneider told Adam Schein and Rich Gannon. ‘He’s been pretty dynamic. Matt’s done a nice job and has a good feel for the system … Russell’s done so much in the second half of these two games. Pete preaches competition all the time, he’d be remiss if he didn’t put this guy with the ones and see what he could do with that group.’ “

Gil Brandt of NFL.com names offensive lineman Breno Giacomini and rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner as players who must step up if the Seahawks are to be successful in 2012, “Offense: Breno Giacomini, offensive tackle: A former Packers prospect, Giacomini made a big leap in Week 11 of 2011, when he stepped into a starting role. The one-time college tight end has long arms and excellent work habits; his athletic ability and strength seem to have finally caught up with him. He’s the kind of player offensive line coach Tom Cable loves to develop. Defense: Bobby Wagner, linebacker: The competitive second-round draft pick must figure heavily into the Seahawks’ plans; perhaps encouraged by Wagner’s play, they traded free-agent acquisition Barrett Ruud to the Saints on Monday. The long-armed Wagner will make a lot of tackles, but he can also play in space.”

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com has his NFL head coach power rankings, and he has coach Carroll ranked in the ‘Middle of the pack’ with the likes of John Harbaugh, Mike Smith, Jeff Fisher, Gary Kubiak, Lovie Smith, Marvin Lewis, and Ken Whisenhunt.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com says to keep an eye on offensive tackle Russell Okung as a potential Pro Bowl candidate in 2012, “Injuries are the main issue for this young player. When healthy he demonstrates why he was a first-round pick. If he stays on the field for 16 games, the truth will come out about this athletic pass blocking left tackle.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his story on Rice’s return, but asks what other receivers will step up, and catches up with wide receivers coach Kippy Brown on the topic, “About the only two givens at this late point in the preseason – and with the first roster cut from 89 to 75 players looming on Monday – are that Doug Baldwin will be the slot receiver and Sidney Rice will be the flanker. Baldwin won’t play against the Chiefs after having fluid extracted from a troublesome hamstring this week, and Rice will make his preseason debut at Arrowhead Stadium after spending most of the summer in a red no-contact jersey to protect his surgically repaired shoulders. But who will replace Mike Williams at split end? And who might be the fourth wide-out in the four-receiver sets? And, while we’re wondering, who fills the fifth and possibly sixth spots on the 53-man roster from the 13 wide-outs on the current roster? Kippy Brown, who coaches the position, can only wish he had the answers to those questions. ‘The competition is as open as it could be. It couldn’t be any more open,’ Brown said after Wednesday’s practice, when he continued to mix and match his receiver in trying to find the most-productive groupings. ‘It’s an interesting deal. Everybody is playing hard and trying hard. There are only so many reps. So there are going to be some difficult decisions.’ “

Farnsworth also has his ‘Wednesday in Hawkville‘ with a look at Edawn Coughman, “The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Coughman was still wearing his white No. 70 jersey, it’s just that he was working with the blue-jerseyed defensive linemen. ‘We took a little look,’ Carroll said. ‘I saw him in a little drill over here helping the offensive guys and he showed a little quickness. So we thought we’d give him a look. We put him on film rushing the passer a little bit.’ Coughman was signed in June after being released by the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He played offensive line at Shaw University, but also has played defense in the past. ‘He has very good quickness, and he’s done a really nice job growing on offense,’ Carroll said. ‘I’m not yet ready to tell you he’s a two-way performer yet, but we’re working at it.’ “

Fantasy writer Scott Engel brings us a look at the Seahawks defense/special teams unit as it relates to fantasy football in 2012, calling the opportunistic unit undervalued and effective.

Lastly, Tony Ventrella has a look at Wednesday’s happenings in his Seahawks Daily.


Monday cyber surfing: ‘Hawks top Broncos; Wilson on the rise

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, August 20.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times tells us which questions have been answered through the Seahawks first two preseason games, and which questions remain, “1. You can’t proclaim the pass rush fixed. At least, not yet. The Seahawks have one sack in each of their two exhibition games, and for all the playing time rookie Bruce Irvin got Saturday in Denver, he didn’t spend all that much time near the quarterback. He did get one clear pressure, knocking the quarterback down, and he showed his speed in chasing plays down from behind. He didn’t show much in terms of getting around blockers, though. The Seahawks didn’t play Jason Jones, the defensive tackle they’re expecting to be a big part of their nickel pass rush, and August isn’t the time teams typically put their best pass-rush plans on display. But for all the talk this offseason about improving Seattle’s pass rush, it hasn’t been exhibited so far this month.”

O’Neil also has a look at Saturday night’s game and the play of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who shined again with the second unit, “Wilson completed 10 of 17 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 33 yards before Josh Portis was summoned to play the game’s final 3 minutes. Yes, Wilson was playing against Denver’s backups. No, Flynn did not have Seattle’s full array of receivers. Still, after playing the first half in two consecutive games, Flynn has yet to lead Seattle to a touchdown while Wilson has thrown for three and run for another. ‘He’s doing really well,’ Carroll said of the first-year player from Wisconsin. ‘We’re ecstatic about it. To have a guy coming off the bench like that and play two halves back-to-back and really play football, it’s great for our team.’ “

Eric Williams at the Tacoma News Tribune takes a look at Deon Butler, claiming the fourth-year wider receiver has made the biggest impact this preseason, “Fourth-year pro Deon Butler has been working mostly at slot receiver because Doug Baldwin has been nursing a hamstring injury the past two weeks. Butler has just four receptions for 26 yards through the first two games, but three of his four catches have resulted in first downs. Quarterback Matt Flynn has looked to the Penn State product in critical stretches of the games.”

Williams has his story and notes from Saturday night’s 30-10 victory over the Denver Broncos, “While Wilson sizzled, Flynn sputtered in the first half, completing 6 of 13 passes for 31 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions in Seattle’s 30-10 win over the Denver Broncos on Saturday evening at Sports Authority Field. ‘It was really hard on him,’ Carroll said about Flynn, who was sacked once. ‘We didn’t protect him very well. We held a little bit. He couldn’t even get started, I feel. At this point it’s really hard to evaluate the quarterback, because I need to see all that happened.’ “

Williams also has a look at safety Jeron Johnson, who forced a fumble and picked off Peyton Manning Saturday night at Denver, “Johnson earned significant time with the starting defensive unit, playing in place of safety Kam Chancellor at times in the first half. And Johnson made the most of it, corralling one of two Peyton Manning interceptions. Johnson also stuffed Denver running back Lance Ball behind the line of scrimmage and stripped him of the ball, with linebacker Leroy Hill recovering the fumble. ‘That’s huge for two turnovers by a kid,’ Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. ‘But all along he’s really improved from last year. And he’s playing some good ball for us. It’s exciting to see him in there.’ “

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune calls for head coach Pete Carroll to start Russell Wilson at quarterback this week at Kansas City, “If Wilson struggles against a legitimate defense, while Flynn thrives against the temps, the conclusions you make will be difficult. But they’ll also be informed. Just know this, Pete: Russell Wilson hasn’t struggled on an athletic field since the last time he geared up to hit a fastball that arrived as a curve.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com shares the same sentiments as McGrath, calling for Wilson to start at Kansas City, “If Russell Wilson doesn’t start the Seahawks third exhibition game Friday in Kansas City, it will be an abdication of coach Pete Carroll’s strategy in camp, as well as his coaching beliefs. Wilson has earned his chance to fail. If he does fail, then we know, for now.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a look at three things from Saturday night’s matchup with the Broncos, as he revisits the Seahawks quarterback competition, the addition of Terrell Owens, and a look at Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com says it’s time for the Seahawks to make a decision at quarterback, “Seattle looks close to their decision — with Matt Flynn winning the job (for now) and rookie Russell Wilson right behind him and Tarvaris Jackson on the way out. Flynn needs as much practice time as he can get from here on out because he has only two career starts.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his story from Saturday night, and also a look at the play of safety Jeron Johnson, “Johnson definitely took advantage of the situations as they presented themselves. ‘I had an opportunity to get in early and just tried to make plays,’ he said in the locker room, flashing a smile as bright as the light on the TV camera that was focused on him. On the third play of the Broncos’ first possession in the second quarter, Johnson jarred the ball from 215-pound running back Lance Ball and linebacker Leroy Hill recovered the fumble at the Denver 46-yard line. ‘I just tried to take care of my gap and the blocker kind of fell off of me,’ Johnson said. ‘I hit the running back and when I tackled him my hand already was on the ball. I just stripped it out and the ball came loose.’ “


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Game at a glance: Another dominant defensive effort

DENVER – A recap of the Seahawks’ 30-10 victory over the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday night:

PLAYERS OF THE GAME
The Seahawks defense. From backup strong safety Jeron Johnson, who had an interception and a fumble-forcing hit in the first half; to Pro Bowl strong safety Kam Chancellor, who had a game-high six tackles before giving way to Johnson in the second quarter; to the unlikely tandem of 330-pound end Red Bryant and 6-foot-4 linebacker K.J. Wright, who deflected and intercepted a Peyton Manning pass with the Broncos on the Seahawks’ 9-yard line; to rookie defensive lineman Greg Scruggs, who had a fourth-quarter sack.

The Seahawks faced Manning in his Mile High debut and stared down the future Hall of Fame QB.

Three of the Broncos’ six first-half possessions ended in turnovers and another was a three-and-out. In the second half, after Manning and the Seahawks’ No. 1 defense had called it a night, the Broncos’ first three possessions were three-and-outs and they were held to one first down and 37 yards.

You get the picture. As good as rookie QB Russell Wilson was in the second half – again – the defense was even better from start to finish.

“I thought the defense played really well in the first half,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We really were getting after the football. And in the second, our guys didn’t give up anything but one first down and really were able to keep them down in great fashion.”

PLAYS OF THE GAME
Defense: So many from which to choose. But let’s go with perhaps the most-timely of the turnovers. The Broncos had the ball at the Seahawks’ 9-yard line after blocking a punt. But Bryant got up to deflect a Manning pass and Wright made the interception and a 24-yard return. That led to the first of Steven Hauschka’s three field goals and gave the Seahawks a 3-0 lead.

Offense: Again, Wilson did so many things well. But on a third-and-17 play on the first possession of the second half, he found tight end Anthony McCoy for a 26-yard completion to the Broncos’ 35-yard line. Five plays later, Kregg Lumpkin scored on a 16-yard run and the rout was on.

Special teams: Hauschka’s hat-trick, especially when you consider that last year he kicked the game-winner in overtime here – for the Broncos.

INJURY REPORT
Carroll reported no serious injuries from the game, but several players were not in uniform while watching the game from the sideline – wide receivers Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice and Ben Obomanu, defensive lineman Jason Jones and defensive back Roy Lewis.

YOU DON’T SAY
“We were terrible in that regard. … We have to play penalty free.” – Carroll, on the Seahawks’ seven penalties for 75 yards that included unnecessary-roughness calls against offensive linemen Breno Giacomini and Deuce Lutui


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Thursday in Hawkville: Camp breaks, sort of

A recap of the activities on the final day of Bing training camp for Aug. 16:

FOCUS ON

Camp breaks. The Seahawks’ third training camp under coach Pete Carroll officially broke after this morning’s practice. It’s just that’s hard to tell, because things won’t change much even with camp over.

The players will continue to practice only once a day, under the new guidelines in the CBA that ended last year’s 136-day lockout. They will do it at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. And many of the players will continue to live in the hotel all the players called home during camp.

The grind of two-a-day practices in draining heat, living in a dorm room at Eastern Washington University and then beating a hasty retreat from Cheney on this day are just a memory – and then only for the players who have been around long enough to remember it.

“Camp is camp,” cornerback Marcus Trufant said as he was leaving the field at the conclusion of his 10th training camp. “It’s always going to be hard work. It’s been work, but this year’s camp is a little bit different.

“I don’t think the young guys are really able to appreciate it. But a guy like me, who’s seen a few training camps, it’s been a good deal for us. It really works out in the players’ favor, so I think it’s pretty big time for the young players.”

Like J.R. Sweezy, the rookie who was making the transition from college defensive tackle to NFL guard in his first NFL camp.

“I never got to be a part of the old stuff,” Sweezy said. “But this was good. We got our rest at night, came ready to go the next day and we got everything out of the day. So it was a good schedule.”

One the players basically will continue to follow even though camp has officially ended.

PLAYER WATCH

Terrell Owens. Despite having practiced with the team only six times, the 38-year-old wide receiver is scheduled to play in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Broncos in Denver.

“He’s going to play some. He’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “He had two good weeks of work and he came in great shape, so he’s going to play some. I’m not going to say how many plays that will be; we’ll see how it goes. But he’s going to play early in the game.”

Owens caught a half dozen passes today, including one where he got behind Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Browner and another where he fought his way through being jammed by rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane.

Owens is playing flanker, although Carroll has said he’d also like to look at the 6-foot-3, 224-pound Owens as a possible replacement Mike Williams at split end.

PLAYS OF THE DAYS

Offense: Rookie wide receiver Phil Bates making a falling, fingertip grab of a Tarvaris Jackson pass along the sideline despite tight coverage from cornerback Byron Maxwell.

Defense: Trufant, who was lined up as the nickel back, tipping a Josh Portis pass that was intended for wide receiver Ricardo Lockette. Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas then intercepted the deflection.

Special teams: After an uncharacteristically rough day Wednesday, Steven Hauschka hit each of his four field goals attempts in the special teams portion of practice – including a 43-yarder.

Pre-practice: While the players are stretching, several of the assistant coaches use to time to see if they can put a pass into a trash can that is roughly 25 yards away. Today, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell “canned” one. Bevell was a four-starter starter at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin.

SNAP DECISION

Former USC center Kris O’Dowd was signed after being given a tryout yesterday and was on the field for today’s practice. The club needs another center because right guard John Moffitt, who has been working as the backup center, and incumbent backup Lemuel Jeanpierre are sidelined with elbow and groin injuries.

Rookie Rishaw Johnson will backup starter Max Unger against the Broncos on Saturday night.

“Kris is a good, smart, tough football player,” Carroll said. “When you work a guy out, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t know. But about this guy in particular, he played as a freshman for us, so I know everything there is to know about the kid. So we’ll see if he fits.

“Right now, he’s an emergency guy for us.”

O’Dowd signed with the Cardinals last year but was released in September. He spent time with the Jets this spring before being released in May.

To clear a spot on the 90-man roster for O’Dowd, rookie kicker Carson Wiggs was released for the second time this camp.

IN ’N OUT

Wide receiver Golden Tate, tight end Anthony McCoy and defensive end Pierre Allen returned to practice today, but defensive linemen Jason Jones and Pep Levingston and wide receiver Ben Obomanu did not practice.

Still sidelined: Tight end Zach Miller, who got a concussion in the preseason opener; tight end Cameron Morrah, defensive end Cordarro Law, linebackers Matt McCoy, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan, cornerbacks Ron Parker and Walter Thurmond, and offensive lineman James Carpenter, as well as Moffitt and Jeanpierre.

ANYBODY KNOW THE DOMINGUEZ HIGH FIGHT SONG?

The second-year duo of cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Jeron Johnson also were teammates at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif. It’s just that Johnson wasn’t playing the same position he is now.

“He played middle linebacker for us,” Sherman said.

The 5-10, now 212-pound Johnson playing middle linebacker? No he didn’t.

“Yes he did,” Sherman said. “Our whole back seven was the same size. We were all about 6-1, 6-2; 175. We were just fast and played nothing but man coverage.”

UP NEXT

The players will practice tomorrow morning before the team flies to Denver for Saturday night’s preseason game. The players will be off on Sunday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I think I like ‘Legion of Boom.’ Because they play that ‘Here Comes the Boom’ song in the stadium, and we always act like they’re talking to us.” – Sherman, when asked which of the nicknames that have been hung on the secondary he likes best


Monday in Hawkville: Mebane struts his ample stuff

A recap of the activities at the Seahawks’ Bing training camp for July 30:

FOCUS ON

Brandon Mebane. The pads came on for the first time in camp, and the team’s nose tackle came out smokin’.

The 311-pound Mebane was dominating in the 9-on-7 run drill, starting with the first play when he put some extra “ex” in explosive by blowing through a gap between the center and guard to get to the running back well behind the line. Mebane then provided replays of his disruptive quickness on back-to-back plays and also recovered a muffed exchange between the center and quarterback.

In another drill, when rookie quarterback Russell Wilson dropped an unexpected shotgun snap – after a defensive player had jumped offside – Mebane was there again to fall on the loose ball.

Despite his obvious physical prowess in the first padded practice, Mebane said the impressive performance was more about the improved mental aspects of his ample game.

“The older I get the more knowledge I gain,” he said. “It’s about experience, playing with the guys and learning other things from (defensive line coach Todd) Wash. I learned things from pretty much all my position coaches I’ve had in the past.”

It’s strange to hear the 27-year-old Mebane talk about his age and experience, but on this defense only linebacker Leroy Hill has played more games for the Seahawks among the current starters. Since being a third-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Mebane has played for three head coaches and three position coaches – Mike Holmgren and Dwaine Board (2007-08), Jim Mora and Dan Quinn (2009) and now Pete Carroll and Wash.

“I’ve taken something from each of them,” Mebane said of his position coaches. “Knowledge is power and just picking up little things from each of them has helped me. I’m trying to just keep going to the next step, next step.”

Mebane definitely stepped up last season, when he was moved to the nose fulltime, by posting a career-high 56 tackles to lead all interior linemen in the NFC.

If today’s performance was any indication, Mebane is ready to pick up not only where he left off but take his game that is as much as about disruptive quickness as it is power to an even higher level.

UNIT WATCH

The defense. Mebane’s early efforts proved to be the metronome for two hours of big plays – and even bigger pops.

Second-year linebacker K.J. Wright dropped rookie running back Robert Turbin with a solid shot. Rookie safety Winston Guy put a lick on Turbin after he caught a pass that forced a fumble. Wright put veteran wide receiver Antonio Bryant on his derriere with another shot on one of the last plays of practice.

“It was good,” rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said when asked about putting on the pads for the first time. “Now we get to hit, and I enjoy it.”

The session even included a matchup that Wagner used to get asked about when he and Turbin were at Utah State.

“It’s funny, because I never really got a chance to hit Turbin – ever,” Wagner said with a smile. “It was kind of funny when I tackled him to see who it was.

“At school, everybody always used to ask what would happen. I guess they’re finding out now.”

PLAYS DU JOUR

Offense: Ricardo Lockette had one catch that produced the wow-factor, as he tipped a pass from Matt Flynn and then controlled the carom as he was falling into the end zone. But the better effort for a second-year receiver who is working on honing his route-running and pass-catching skills came when Lockette made a fingertip grab – in stride and between cornerback Phillip Adams and safety DeShawn Shead – of another Flynn pass for another touchdown.

Defense: Safety Jeron Johnson’s interception of a Josh Portis pass that was tipped first by safety Chris Maragos and Adams.

Special teams: Steven Hauschka using that smooth stroke of his to convert a 55-yard field goal. He also hit a 53-yarder.

IN ‘N OUT

Ten players did not practice, as tight end Anthony McCoy, defensive linemen Jason Jones, defensive backs Ron Parker and Donny Lisowski and linebacker Matt McCoy joined the five players who also sat out Sunday – defensive tackle Alan Branch and defensive end Jameson Konz; and offensive lineman James Carpenter, cornerback Walter Thurmond and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who are on the physically unable to perform list.

Offensive lineman Allen Barbre returned after missing the first two days of camp because of a family situation.

UP NEXT

The players have a walkthrough this afternoon and will practice at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow. They will have their first off day on Wednesday.

JOIN THE CROWD

It’s tempting to say that “only” 915 fans attended practice, until you consider that it was a cloudy and unseasonably cool Monday morning following a weekend when more than 4,400 packed the berm adjacent to the fields for two practices. Ten more practices are open to the public and you can register here to attend – including the final weekend practices of camp this Saturday and Sunday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Nobody knows who I am. No coaches. No fans. They draft guys, so they have an idea who you are and they have an idea of what you can become. With Marshawn, his whole thing is, ‘Man, you’ve got to show people who you are.’ And that’s kind of how he plays. He doesn’t like to talk, and I don’t really like to talk much, either. But he’s a guy that just likes to show who he is by how he plays. That’s what he tells me.” – Turbin, when asked what advice he has gotten from leading rusher Marshawn Lynch


Wednesday cyber surfing: Fourth of July edition

Good morning, and happy Fourth of July. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks on this holiday.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com explores how travel disparity may affect NFL teams. He specifically references the Seahawks and the NFC West division, noting that their distance traveled each season outpaces the rest, “The Steelers played 15 of their 16 games in the Eastern time zone, with a lone trip to the Central time zone waiting for them against the Titans in Week 16. Part of that is a lucky out-of-division schedule, but the Steelers also benefit by playing in a division with three opponents who each reside within 260 miles or so of Pittsburgh. Seattle, meanwhile, plays in a ‘West’ division that places its teams in three different time zones. Pittsburgh accrues about 1,122 miles in traveling to and from its divisional rivals, while Seattle’s round-trips to their NFC West brethren clock in at a whopping 7,024 miles.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com takes a look at some recent stadium rule changes that should ensure home teams enjoy a more formidable advantage. The Wall Street Journal reported, “Stadiums will now be free to rile up crowds with video displays, and public-address announcers will no longer be restrained from inciting racket when the opposing offense faces a crucial third down.” Sando points out how these changes might benefit Seattle’s already boisterous 12th Man crowd, “It’s unclear how much louder CenturyLink Field can become, but a few well-timed highlights featuring knockout hits from Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor should help us find out. Likewise, shots of Tony Romo’s infamous botched hold against Seattle in the playoffs years ago should come in handy when Romo is breaking the huddle at CenturyLink for the Seahawks’ home opener this year.”

Sando also continues with his pre-camp analysis – this time with the Seahawks defense and special teams – breaking down who he feels are the safest bets, leading contenders and those who face longer odds to earn roster spots come the end of training camp. On the Seahawks secondary, Sando had this to say, “Three of the four starters went to the Pro Bowl last season; [Richard] Sherman arguably should have gone. [Marcus] Trufant’s conversion to a nickel role has the potential to upgrade Seattle’s coverage. Injuries sidelined Trufant and [Walter] Thurmond last season. Both can contribute at a reasonably high level if healthy. It’s tough to bank on either one, however. Don’t forget about [Byron] Maxwell. He impressed in camp as a rookie, only to fade from the picture after suffering an ankle injury. Seattle likes its depth at corner. [Jeron] Johnson should be ready to take a step forward at safety. The Seahawks like what they’ve seen from [Winston] Guy as well.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we continue with our Rookie Spotlight segment as Seahawks General Manager John Schneider takes a couple of minutes to talk with Tony Ventrella about Seahawks second round draft pick LB Bobby Wagner out of Utah State.

Finally, in the spirit of the holiday, NFL.com asked their staff the question, ‘Which 2012 NFL game should become a national holiday?’ The question sparked some interesting responses, but the unanimous choice was the New England Patriots October 7 game with the Denver Broncos, or as many will see it – Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. “This is an easy one,” said NFL Network’s Ian Rapport. “On Oct. 7, the New England Patriots play the Denver Broncos in a game the entire country should be forced to sit down and watch. The NFL was robbed last year of the its 13th meeting of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, but not this year. Sure, sure, Manning is playing for Denver now, but the key elements of the NFL’s best quarterback rivalry are still there. Brady and Manning will still be matching right arms in a battle to reach 40 points, with this contest taking place at Gillette Stadium. If history is any indicator, it’ll go down to the wire.”


Cyber surfing: Tuesday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Sept. 6:

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times says that despite another busy cut-down weekend for the Seahawks, don’t expect the constant roster turnover of a year ago – when the club made 284 transactions. Offers O’Neil: “And while this week’s moves may feel similar to last season, that is where the comparison to 2010 will end, according to coach Pete Carroll. ‘I feel very confident that there won’t be a lot of moves from this point forward,’ Carroll said. ‘We’re strongly committed to the guys that we’ve chosen.’ ”

Eric Williams of the News Tribune was among the reporters gathered around Mike Williams after practice on Monday, and the team’s leading receiver from last season defended his new QB. Says Williams (Mike, not Eric): “It’s kind of unbelievable. If it’s overwhelming for a teammate, then it has to be enough for him. I just kind of want to tell everybody, ‘Back the hell up.’ Let him play. Let him have his shot to work and go out here and do his thing.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald focuses on rookie James Carpenter getting work at left guard in practice, with Robert Gallery sidelined by a sprained knee. Says Boyle: “If Gallery can’t play, one of the options to replace him is apparently first-round pick James Carpenter, who up until Monday has strictly worked at right tackle, where he is projected as a starter. Carpenter saw action at guard, a position he played some in college, as well as his usually tackle spot Monday. The Seahawks also have Paul McQuistan and Lemuel Jeanpierre as options at guard.”

Also at the Everett Herald, former beat writer Scott Johnson is doing a series of features on Seahawks looking back at the “The Game of My Life.” It starts with defensive end Jacob Green, who picks a game against the Raiders on Dec. 22, 1984. Says Green: “My father had died that week, and I dedicated that game to him. I wasn’t in town for practice, and the coaches didn’t know if I was going to play. I didn’t even know if was I was going to play. But I played, and we beat the Raiders 13-7. I had 2½ sacks. I was out there for my father, and I played like I was possessed for that particular reason. I was really playing. We had Kenny Easley on defense and all these other people playing well: Jeff Bryant, Joe Nash, all those guys. But that was my day.”  

Mike Sando at ESPN.com, prompted by a reader’s question, “defends” the NFC West. Says Sando: “Having a division winner with a losing record cannot overcome a one-game upset. The NFC South went 13-3 against the NFC West last season. I won’t be surprised if the Dallas Cowboys exceed expectations this season in part because they’re paired against this division. The NFC West needs to win non-division games more regularly to change perceptions. This division should improve in 2011.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we’ve got a bodacious recap of Monday’s practice, as well as a feature on what a weekend it was for rookie free agent safety Jeron Johnson and new kicker Steve Hauschka. There’s also Tony Ventrella’s video report and Rod Mar’s photos from practice. And because it was Monday, there’s also the Monday metatarsal musings.

 Michael Lombardi at NFL.com compiles his own “dream team,” with a salary cap. There are no Seahawks on it, but it’s an interesting premise and project nonetheless. Says Lombardi: “Watching all the teams this weekend make cuts and set their 53-man rosters gave me the itch to build a team of my own. With players from all 32 teams serving as my candidate pool and working under the constraints of the $121 million salary cap, I put together my own 53-man roster. I used the base salaries of the players for the 2011 season and not their cap number, which gave me a little more flexibility in assembling my team. My point of emphasis for building this team was to make sure I had top players at what I believe to be four critical positions: 1. Quarterback; 2. Left tackle; 3. Defensive end; 4. Cover corner.”


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Cyber surfing: Friday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Sept. 2:

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times takes a look at the bubble players as the Seahawks prepare to play their preseason finale tonight against the Raiders at CenturyLink Field and then cut their 80-man roster to 53 players on Saturday. Offers O’Neil: “Safety Jeron Johnson packed for an entire season. Receiver Doug Baldwin brought enough clothes for about three days. Johnson has at least 20 pairs of sneakers in his hotel room. Baldwin has all of one jacket. While they packed differently, the two undrafted rookies share an objective: earning one of the 53 roster spots available when the Seahawks’ season opens. Friday’s exhibition game against Oakland at 7:30 p.m. is their chance to make a closing statement.”

Eric Williams at the New Tribune checks in with second-year wide receiver Golden Tate, who has been outplayed by Baldwin in the preseason. Says Williams: “Tate, a second-year receiver out of Notre Dame, certainly has had his share of struggles during exhibition play, including a pair of costly drops – one that turned into an interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota. But coach Pete Carroll lauded Tate before training camp started as one of the players he had high expectations for this season, and he doesn’t appear ready to give up on the team’s second-round pick from last year. Carroll expects Tate to play a lot in the league’s final exhibition game tonight against Oakland.”

Dave Boling at the News Tribune has a blog item asking about the Seahawks’ best catch ever, and prompted by the one rookie free agent Ricardo Lockette made in practice on Wednesday. Says Boling: “Ricardo Lockette may not even make this team or ever play in an NFL game. He has some amazing physical talents, though. But for one afternoon, the guy made some jaws drop with the best catch I’ve ever seen.”

Christian Caple at PI.com offers five things to watch in tonight’s game, including right tackle – where first-round draft choice James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini have been splitting time practice this week and likely will share the duties tonight. Says Caple: “James Carpenter has nothing to worry about when it comes to making the team. That’s obvious. But what the rookie right tackle still must prove is that he belongs in the starting lineup, as well. Carpenter, the team’s first-round draft pick this year, was dubbed the starting right tackle the day he was selected. But poor play against Denver last week and some struggles in practice have led to some questions about whether he’s ready to battle first-team defenses in the NFL just yet. That’s why Breno Giacomini has been splitting reps with the first-team offense at right tackle.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has five things to know about the Seahawks, including this one: “4. Leroy Hill lives: A year or two ago, it would have been unthinkable to hold up Hill as the Seattle linebacker whose future with the team appeared brighter than the futures of (Lofa) Tatupu or Aaron Curry. Tatupu had been to three Pro Bowls. Curry was the fourth player chosen in the 2009 draft. Hill was coming off a serious injury and multiple off-field incidents. Tatupu is gone. A restructuring for Curry chopped off two years from his rookie deal and made 2011 quite possibly his final one with the team. Hill, meanwhile, has recaptured the aggressive, borderline violent form that made him a potential rising star a few years ago.”

Pat Kirwan at NFL.com takes a look at the NFC West, including the tough schedule awaiting each of the four teams: “All four teams have to face the NFC East and the AFC North. Of the eight teams in those two stacked divisions, the only one that had a losing record in non-conference games last season was the Bengals. Every NFC West team will now face the Steelers, Ravens, Eagles and Giants, who had a combined record of 44-20 last year.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at the rookie free agent class that had GM John Schneider excited from the day the team signed them and those left who continue to impress coach Pete Carroll. Says Carroll: “It has been a really good group of guys. We’ve been excited about the quarterback, for sure, in Josh; and Baldwin’s had a great camp; Ricardo Lockette’s done stuff consistently for us; Mike Morgan has played well for us on the defensive side. There have been a number of guys. It’s really added to the draft class and made it a very competitive group. And it’s been exciting from the beginning.”

There’s a look at Thursday’s practice in words and video, as well, and Tony Ventrella also has his video preview of tonight’s game.