Good morning, and welcome to day one of the Seahawks’ three-day mandatory minicamp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Today’s team workout is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., but before we get there, here’s a look at what’s “out there” as the club heads into the final week of their Offseason Program.
Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times identifies four key issues the Seahawks face as they gather for camp this week, including the battle for the backup tight end spot between 2013 fifth-round draft pick Luke Willson and second-year player Sean McGrath.
Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com details five players to watch during the team’s three-day workout – offensive guard John Moffitt, wide receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Tharold Simon, defensive tackle Jesse Williams, and the competition for the backup offensive tackle spot between 2013 seventh-round draft pick Michael Bowie and third-year pro Michael Person.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has his observations from the team’s nine sessions of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) that finished up last week and has a look at what to expect from this week of camp.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune previewed this week’s minicamp in his Monday Morning QB chat. You can find the transcript of yesterday’s chat here.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a look around the rest of the NFC West, as the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers also hold their mandatory minicamps this week, while the St. Louis Rams continue with OTAs.
Our Clare Farnsworth offers a recap of the club’s offseason to this point and highlights questions and concerns heading into the practice week.
Outside of minicamp news, former Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was released from the Buffalo Bills yesterday and John Boyle of the Everett Herald makes the case for bringing Jackson back to Seattle to backup entrenched starter Russell Wilson.
Lindsay Jones of USA Today has a feature on wide receiver Percy Harvin.
Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks of NFL.com breaks down who is the better cornerback – the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman or the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson – and Brooks offers the edge to Sherman, calling him “currently far superior.”
Check back later this afternoon for our coverage from day one of Seahawks minicamp.
“The best way to kick off my appearance for the season is without a shirt on. I’m in a little bit better shape, right?”
If you’re a fan of Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson’s “The Real Rob Report” then it should be a pretty easy guess as to who’s behind that lighthearted quote that helps kick off his newest episode.
If you’re not yet a fan of the show, it’s about time you get in on all of the behind-the-scenes Seahawks goodness.
Robinson’s latest chapter features a look in at Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The familiar faces of Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Winston Guy, John Moffitt, Max Unger, Josh Portis, Jermaine Kearse, and Phil Bates are all included, as well as the first “Real Rob Report” introductions with newcomers Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett.
Remember, you can stay up to date on everything from the Real Mike Rob by following his show on Twitter and subscribing to his channel on YouTube. And be sure to check out Moffitt’s venture into the apparel business at moffittmerch.com, where like he said in the video above – he’s not “lining his pockets” with the proceeds – they help feed the homeless at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
Marshawn Lynch prefers to let his actions speak for him.
And when you’ve rushed for 2,794 yards and scored 25 touchdowns the past two seasons, that’s a prolonged – not to mention productive – conversation.
Lynch generated discussions of a different kind on sports-talk radio last week by his absence when Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ voluntary offseason program began. But he’s back, and his teammates let him hear it when Lynch arrived midway through Monday’s on-field session.
“Guys are going to raze him a little bit,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after today’s workout. He then smiled before adding, “When you make a grand entrance like that, they’re going to raze you.”
But today Lynch was back where he belongs, and the team needs him: In the backfield, carrying and catching the ball. In an early drill, Lynch came out of his stance, juked around a trashcan and took a short pass from backup QB Brady Quinn. Later, Lynch took a handoff from QB Russell Wilson and darted between All-Pro center Max Unger and guard John Moffitt.
The All-Pro back punctuated each maneuver with a smile.
“He just jumped right back in there, didn’t miss a beat,” Bevell said. “It’s great to have him out there. It kind of lifts morale. Guys love to see him. He’s a great player and competitor for us, so it’s always good to have him out there.”
Fullback Michael Robinson and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White let bygones be bygones – sort of – in the latest episode of The Real Rob Report.
Robinson gets an exclusive one-on-one interview with the Falcons playmaker who snagged five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks in last season’s NFC divisional playoff at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The two sit down at Fischer Sports in Phoenix, Arizona and reminisce about last year’s postseason, get White’s take on who is the best cornerback in the League (sorry, Richard Sherman), talk about the game’s top receivers, the current state of the NFC, the recent changes to player safety, and their feelings toward NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Fear not, 12th Man. This episode isn’t completely centered on the Falcons wideout. There’s a full two minutes worth of comic relief from Seahawks guard John Moffitt at the interview’s intermission.
The 2013 Men in Kilts campaign for the benefit of Ronald McDonald House charities of Western Washington and Alaska today announced they had raised $37,200 for housing seriously ill children and their families.
Offensive lineman John Moffitt donned the kilt for the Seahawks this year – his second time participating in the challenge where individuals could cast a vote for their favorite kilt-wearer. Moffitt brought home 42 votes at $25 per vote, good for $1,050 in donations to the Ronald McDonald House and 10th place out of the 12 kilt-competitors.
The 2013 “Kings of the Kilt” were announced last Sunday, as Mark Flieg, Cameron Pinard and Forrest Soderlind of the Bellevue video game developer Bungie raised the most money. Former Seattle Sounders FC forward Roger Levesque and current Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans were also participants this year, earning 169 total votes and 3rd place in the competition.
Head coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, left tackle Russell Okung, offensive guard John Moffitt, and cornerback Richard Sherman represented the Seahawks’ We Day contingent this morning at Seattle’s Key Arena.
The event, inspired by Craig and Marc Kielburger of Free the Children, motivates the power of youth to create positive change in their local and global communities. The more than 15,000 middle school and high school aged students that packed the arena earned their ticket to We Day through service, taking on local and global initiatives and reporting their progress back to Kielburger and Free The Children.
“The power to change the world is yours to own, but anything this great does not come easy,” Carroll said to the youth on hand. “It takes commitment. We Day has shown you that. It’s shown you that the power is yours, and every one of you has the power. I hope you can feel that today as you share it with your team.”
Wednesday’s gathering marked the first-ever We Day on U.S. soil and included special guests in NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former Seattle SuperSonics star Gary Payton, recording artist Jennifer Hudson, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and more.
You can watch a live stream of We Day at www.weday.com/webcast
“Individuality. Strength. Unabashed boldness in the face of conventionality. These are the standards to which a man wearing a kilt holds himself.” (Photo by Michael Clinard for Ronald McDonald House Charities)
It’s safe to say that Seahawks offensive guard John Moffitt already embraced all of these qualities prior to throwing on a kilt to benefit Ronald McDonald House, but the new garb surely enhances those attributes for the third-year pro.
Moffitt is one of 18 individuals to don the duds for the “Men In Kilts” campaign aimed at raising money for Ronald McDonald House charities of Western Washington and Alaska, who support seriously ill children and their families. For just $25, individuals can cast a vote for their favorite kilt-wearer, with the proceeds from the vote sponsoring one night of housing for a family at the Ronald McDonald House.
Some of the Seattle sports names Moffitt is up against include the pairing of former Seattle Sounders FC forward Roger Levesque and current Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans, the 950 KJR AM trio of Jerry Brewer, Ian Furness and Jason Puckett, and former player turned broadcaster Dave Henderson of the Seattle Mariners.
Voting opens today and runs through April 12, when the top vote-getter will be crowned “King of the Kilt”.
(Photo by Michael Clinard for Ronald McDonald House Charities)
HONOLULU – Hawkville moves to Paradise this week, as the Seahawks have six players preparing to participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium:
Russell Wilson. What a whirlwind week the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback has had. He didn’t find out that he was being added to the NFC Pro Bowl squad until Sunday after Falcons QB Matt Ryan injured his left shoulder during Atlanta’s loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Imagine how rushed Wilson must have been in preparing to join teammates Russell Okung, Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Earl Thomas for their flight from Seattle to Honolulu on Tuesday. Or, think again.
“I got called right after the game,” Wilson, who was the third alternate at his position, said today following the NFC practice that was held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “But I was hoping that I was going to be able to go. So I was already packed and ready to go.”
The kid QB is focused, and has been since the Seahawks selected him in the third round of the NFL Draft last April. How else can you explain everything he has been able to accomplish during a rookie season that now includes a Pro Bowl berth?
“It’s obviously a blessing,” Wilson said.
Okung and Unger are not the only Seahawks offensive linemen here this week. Okung brought right tackle Breno Giacomini and right guard John Moffitt with him.
So there are six Seahawks on the NFC squad and two more who are getting a first-hand look at just how cool it is to go to the Pro Bowl.
“That’s even better,” Okung said. “That just shows you what we’re doing as a team and where we’re trying to get. We’re going to have guys come here, hopefully, every year.”
WILSON WINS “TOP VALUE” AWARD
Wilson has been voted the Vizio Top Value Performer of the Year, which measures on-field performance against earnings.
The others finalists were Redskins running back Alfred Morris, Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley and Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts. But, according to the release announcing his selection, a record-breaking number of fans decided that Wilson provided his team with the greatest value during the 2012 season.
“It’s an honor to win this great award, and I’d like to thank the fans for voting me as the Vizio Top Value Performer,” said Wilson. “All the finalists had fantastic seasons and were certainly deserving of this award, but I’m happy to be able to share this with my teammates and all the fans that support our team.”
STAT DU JOUR
Half the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl contingent is here for the first time – Wilson, Unger and Okung. But the other half has been here before – Thomas, Washington and Lynch, who was the NFC’s leading rusher last season and the AFC’s leading rusher in 2008 while playing with the Bills. Here’s a look at their previous Pro Bowl contributions:
Year Carries Yards Avg.
2008 6 48 8.0
2011 8 43 5.4
(also caught one passes for 2 yards in ’08)
Year Carries Yards Avg.
2008 2 22 11.0
(also caught one pass for 6 yards; and returned four kickoffs for 65 yards and two punts for 2 yards)
2011 Credited with no tackles
The NFC and AFC squads will practice on Friday, but the sessions have been moved to the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, where the players are staying. The practices originally were scheduled for Kapolei High School, the site of Wednesday’s practices.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s even more special for me, being from Hawaii. It’s pretty cool, man. I hope they keep the game here. It’s a pretty special environment. ” – Unger, who is from Kailua-Kona on the Big Island
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 8:
Brandon Browner. Pete Carroll admits he wasn’t sure what to expect from the Seahawks’ cornerback in Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game against the Redskins because Browner had just returned from serving a four-game suspension.
But the coach’s apprehension didn’t last long, as Browner was quickly back to being his physical self while helping put the clamps on the Redskins’ passing game in the 24-14 victory at FedExField.
“He slipped and fell one time, but other than that he played a very good football game,” Carroll said. “He exceeded my expectations of how he would go in this game. He took some deep balls and challenged some stuff underneath and did a great job.”
It was a promising – and needed – performance, with what the Falcons will throw at the Seahawks in their divisional-round game this Sunday in Atlanta. Or perhaps who they’ll throw at the Seahawks is a more appropriate way to put it, since the Falcons’ passing game features Roddy White and Julio Jones, who combined to catch 171 passes from QB Matt Ryan for 2,549 yards and 17 TDs.
“He’s ready to go,” Carroll said of Browner. “We needed him to comeback like he did – we didn’t know – and he pulled it off.”
Right guard. Rookie J.R. Sweezy started Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game against the Redskins, but John Moffitt also played after being inactive the previous two games. Carroll liked the way the tag-team rotation worked.
“They both played well, they did a good job. Both of those guys were solid in the game,” said Carroll, with the Seahawks’ rushing for 224 yards as Exhibit A in that assessment. “They have a little different style about them, and they both came through alright.”
Will both continue to play against the Falcons this week?
“I don’t really care if it’s one guy or two guys,” Carroll said. “We just want to get good solid play out of it, and I think it was kind of nice in (the Redskins’) game to not have J.R. under the gun. He didn’t have to play every snap in the game and we got to rest him a little bit and keep him fresh – and keep his mind clear, too. It’s a lot to intake for a young guy at that spot, and these guys were coming after us and doing all kinds of things.
“I think Tom did a great job of mixing that for those guys.”
That would be Tom Cable, the line coach and also assistant head coach. As for which one might start against the Falcons, Carroll said, “We’ll see how the week goes and let Tom call that.”
STATS ’N STUFF
The playoffs are only a week old, and only eight teams participated, but the Seahawks emergence from the Wild Card round ranked No. 1 in rushing offense and passing defense. They are No. 2 in total defense and No. 4 in total offense.
Marshawn Lynch’s 132 rushing yards rank second to the Texans’ Arian Foster (140), and he is third in total yards (141) and fourth in first downs (six). Leon Washington is second in punt-return average (9.5 yards) and fifth in kickoff-return average (23.0).
Russell Wilson’s passer rating of 92.9 ranks third behind the Ravens’ Joe Flacco (126.5) and Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (104.9), and he is second in third-down passer rating (88.9) to the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (116.7).
Free safety Earl Thomas shares the lead with his one interception.
STAT DU JOUR
The Wilson wow-factor continues to grow. His 100.0 passer rating during the regular season ranks No. 2 in the League since 2001 for a player in his first 16 starts. Here’s a look at who the Seahawks’ rookie QB trailed and, more importantly, who he ranked ahead of:
Player, team (record) Att. Comp. Yards TD Int. Rating
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (15-1) 335 219 3,133 21 9 105.2
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (11-5) 393 252 3,118 26 10 100.0
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (6-10) 536 341 4,038 28 13 93.8
Philip Rivers, Chargers (14-2) 460 284 3,388 22 9 92.0
Tom Brady, Patriots (13-3) 481 313 3,360 23 13 90.1
Jay Cutler, Broncos (7-9) 437 275 3,385 22 15 89.3
Matt Ryan, Falcons (11-5) 434 265 3,440 16 11 87.7
Cam Newton, Panthers (6-10) 517 310 4,051 21 17 84.5
Carson Palmer, Bengals (9-7) 529 332 3,683 26 20 84.0
Matt Schaub, Falcons/Texans (4-12) 474 298 3,424 16 16 81.8
Redskins’ rookie Robert Griffin III had a 102.4 rating this season, but he started 15 games.
The players return from a couple of “off” days to begin practicing on “Competition Wednesday” in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Falcons.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The bottom line is, Wilson’s amazing. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s able to see those windows and get the ball in there, even though his official height is 5-foot-10 5/8. Before the draft, people were worried that he’d have an issue with blocked passes, but on Sunday, he didn’t have a single throw knocked down. (Andrew) Luck, on the other hand, had several passes blocked. I’ll tell you what, there are going to be a whole bunch of future quarterback prospects who measure around 6-feet tall who had better send Wilson a card. His performance as a rookie will really open the NFL up to a whole new type of player.” – former Cowboys VP of player personnel Gil Brandt, assessing the play of the three rookie QBs from Sunday’s wild-card games at NFL.com
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 19:
Being prepared for everything the 49ers’ offense can throw, and run, at a defense. Even coach Pete Carroll admitted, “Really, that’s kind of the topic of the day,” as the Seahawks began practicing for Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s a very challenging team,” Carroll said today. “And it’s the running elements, but then they’ve got (leading receiver Michael) Crabtree and there’s (tight end) Vernon Davis and there’s the big fella Randy (Moss) out there running.
“This is a very talented football team and all of those guys present problems in concert. So it’s a real challenge.”
A challenge made even more challenging with Colin Kaepernick taking over at quarterback for Alex Smith. The second-year QB runs faster and has a stronger arm than Smith, and has displayed both traits during his five-game stint as the starter.
As for those running elements, there’s Frank Gore, who is having another 1,000-yard rushing season – his sixth in the past seven seasons – and ran for 131 yards in the 49ers’ victory over the Seahawks in Week 7. There’s also LaMichael James, who has taken over for the injured Kendall Hunter. Now there’s Kaepernick, who is averaging 7.2 yards per carry and has a 50-yarder among his five touchdown runs.
The offensive line. Make that the finally-gaining-some-notoriety-offensive line, as the unit was selected for the “Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award” this week by Hall of Fame coach John Madden.
“Seattle has done a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage on a consistent basis,” Madden, who coached the Raiders before becoming an iconic broadcast analyst for NFL games, said in the release announcing the selection.
Left tackle Russell Okung, left guard John Moffitt, center Max Unger, right guard Paul McQuistan and right tackle Breno Giacomini paved the way for the Seahawks to score on their first five possessions – including three rushing touchdowns by quarterback Russell Wilson – in the 50-17 rout of the Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Marshawn Lynch added a fourth rushing touchdown in the third quarter as the Seahawks ran for 270 yards – including 55 in the fourth quarter, when backup linemen Frank Omiyale, J.R. Sweezy and Lemuel Jeanpierre were on the field.
“It’s cool, but I don’t know what that means,” Unger said of the honor. “I thought we played well. We gave up a sack that first play, then we kind of kept Russell (Wilson) pretty clean after that. There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. But it’s pretty cool that Mr. Madden thinks that we played a good game.”
The official report, as released by team:
Did not participate
DT Alan Branch (ankle)
DT Jason Jones (knee)
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
RB/KR Leon Washington (illness)
Limited in practice
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
Carroll said that Branch likely will sit out practice on Thursday as well to rest the ankle he sprained against the Bills, adding that he is hoping the team’s three-technique tackle will be able to practice on Friday. Clinton McDonald filled in for Branch today.
As for Trufant and Thurmond, Carroll said he’ll find out about their possible status as the week progresses. Trufant has missed the past three games and Thurmond did not play against the Bills. In their absence, rookie Jeremy Lane continued to work at right cornerback.
For the 49ers:
Did not participate
LB Clark Haggans (shoulder)
DT Justin Smith (elbow)
Limited in practice
LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder)
CB Tarell Brown (shoulder)
LB Tavares Gooden (ribs)
WR Mario Manningham (shoulder)
RB Bruce Miller (shoulder)
LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)
DT Will Tukuafu (concussion)
K David Akers (pelvis)
OG Alex Boone (knee)
LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder)
RB Frank Gore (wrist)
OG Mike Iupati (shoulder)
CB Carlos Rogers (knee)
LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
GUY, KNOX RETURN
Rookie safety Winston Guy practiced with the team for the first time since serving a four-game suspension. The Seahawks have a roster exemption for Guy. Also, linebacker Kyle Knox was signed to the practice squad. He was with the team in training camp until being released on roster cut to 53 players.
STAT DU JOUR
When Wilson threw his 21st touchdown pass of the season against the Bills last week, he moved into a tie with Cam Newton for third place on the all-time list for rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. Here’s a look at who Wilson is chasing with two games to play:
Player, team (year) No.
Peyton Manning, Colts (1998) 26
Charlie Conerly, Giants (1948) 22
Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012) 21
Cam Newton, Panthers (2011) 21
Andrew Luck, Colts (2012) 20
Andy Dalton, Bengals (2011) 20
Dan Marino, Dolphins (1983) 20
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to practice for Sunday night’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“No, you don’t bring up the playoffs until the playoffs get here. You’re still in the regular season, so that’s what we’re playing. We’re playing trying to win the rest of these ball games and see where the chips fall.” – cornerback Richard Sherman, when asked if the players were mentioning the P-word this week knowing that a win over the 49ers will clinch a spot in the postseason