Year Two in the Brave New World of the NFL offseason begins this morning for the Seahawks.
As was the case last year, complements of the CBA that came out of the 136-day lockout in 2011, the Seahawks’ program is starting later and will be divided into three phases. Everything begins with a team meeting this morning, followed by the players taking a series of functional movement tests that were initiated last year by director of health and player performance Sam Ramsden to help determine just what it is individual players need to work on as the offseason progresses.
“I thought everything went well last year under the new guidelines,” said Chris Carlisle, the Seahawks’ head strength and conditioning coach. “We’re going to compete in everything we do, and we’re going to do it better than it’s ever been done.”
Carlisle then smiled before adding, “You’ve never heard those words come out of anyone’s mouth, have you?”
Well yes, because those are cornerstones phrases in the philosophy of coach Pete Carroll.
“We’re very excited to get started,” Carlisle said. “I look forward to seeing the guys come back and seeing where they’re at physically. And you gauge your program accordingly to where they’re at.”
During Phase 1, the players will work four times a week for two weeks with Carlisle and his staff – Jamie Yanchar and Mondray Gee. In Phase 2, which begins April 29 and runs through May 17, Carroll and his staff will get involved on a limited basis for on-field drills.
There also is a rookie minicamp May 10-12.
Phase 3, which begins May 20, will include 10 OTA workouts and conclude with a mandatory minicamp June 11-13.
“The first year, it was getting used to me – what my program was compared to what they’d done in the past,” said Carlisle, who came to the Seahawks from USC with Carroll in 2010. “The second year, we actually had nothing (during the lockout). Last year, it was getting used to the new CBA.
“This year, it should be a lot smoother.”
The offseason program might begin later than in the pre-lockout period, but the Seahawks were able to make the most of their reduced time last year – when they posted the third-best regular-season record in club history (11-5) and won the franchise’s first road playoff game since 1983.
“I kind of like the way it went,” strong safety Kam Chancellor said. “We started out with the whole team just working out together, pushing each other to get stronger, faster, quicker, smarter in the classroom. Then you just keep progressing to the minicamp. Being together in the voluntary workouts, we know how to push each other, we know our strengths and weaknesses.
“So the way it is now, with the progressive stages, it’s a better route.”
2012: The Seahawks’ Nike-produced uniform is unveiled during a function in New York City that features the new uniforms for all 32 NFL teams. But only the Seahawks got a complete makeover and the model for the new-look design is strong safety Kam Chancellor, whose birthday also happens to be April 3. “At the end, I didn’t want to take it off,” Chancellor said. “I wanted to wear it out of the locker room. It just feels like it’s me.”
Richard Sherman appeared on the NFL Network’s NFL AM this morning, and the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback had a lot to say on several topics.
Here’s a transcript of the interview:
On the San Francisco 49ers trading for wide receiver Anquan Boldin:
“That was a great move. I was really surprised they got him for a sixth-round pick. I thought the way he played in the postseason and the way he played all season he was worth a lot more than that. But that was a great move by San Francisco and they got a great player who still has a lot of football left.”
On the areas the Seahawks need to address this offseason:
“We have a pretty solid team as we stand; we have a lot of playmakers. Obviously with (Chris) Clemons going down last year with a knee injury, they’re going to probably try to secure that and get some depth there. We let Jason Jones go into free agency so I think the defensive line is where we’re going to pick up some pieces. We have great depth at linebacker and at defensive back. I’ve heard rumors of us picking up a defensive back or two, and obviously I’m always happy for more competition. My teammates are too; whatever makes us better. We just picked up a great weapon on offense but I’m sure Pete (Carroll) and John (Schneider) are going to do whatever they think is best for the team. They’ve done a great job so far.”
On if he expects the Seahawks the highest paid cornerback in the league when he becomes an unrestricted free agent:
“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m the one to comment on that. All I can do is play to the best of my abilities. We have a lot of great players on our team who are obviously going to want the same thing. We have Russell Okung, Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner – we have a lot of great players who are also going to need to make their money and to get compensated for everything they’ve done. Pete (Carroll) and John (Schneider) will do a great job making sure we all stay in Seattle, and whatever that means – if that means me being the highest paid corner – then that’s what it means. If not, then it is what it is.”
On what would interest him the most about the free agency process:
“You see other teams all of the time; you play against them. But you never see organizations for what they are internally. You hear about them through other players and you see them through osmosis; how they treat other players and how they deal with other players. The Seahawks have one of the best organizations and one of the best teams in the way they treat the team and the way they develop our chemistry and treat us like more of a college family atmosphere. That’s why a lot of players who are currently here enjoy playing for Pete (Carroll) and those guys because it’s such a great environment. It’s almost like you’re not in the NFL; we haven’t been exposed to that side of it as much as other players have. I’m appreciative for that and I’m kind of not looking forward to seeing that part of the game.”
INDIANAPOLIS – It happened on an almost-weekly basis during the 2012 NFL season. Ask the opposing coach what impressed him about a Seahawks defense that would end up allowing the fewest points in the league and rank No. 4 in average yards allowed and the response would be, “They’ve got a couple of giants playing cornerback.”
That would be 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner on the right side and 6-3 Richard Sherman on the left side. And at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, the talk isn’t just about how well they played, but how they were obtained.
Sherman was a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, while Browner was signed that same year – to a future contract in January, no less – after spending four seasons in the CFL.
As Pat Kirwan, a former NFL scout who is now an analyst for CBSSports.com, put it, “Every team in the NFL is trying to build what the Seattle Seahawks have created with four big secondary players who are physical and can take away the passing game in man-coverage schemes. The four corners at the top of this draft all have Seahawk size, but can they run like the guys out in the Northwest?”
The rest of the Seahawks’ secondary is comprised of 6-3 strong safety Kam Chancellor and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. Thomas (first round) and Chancellor (fifth round) were selected in the 2010 draft, the Seahawks’ first under GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
Included among those top four corners that Kirwan mentioned is Desmond Trufant, the University of Washington product and brother of Marcus Trufant, the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice in 2003 who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next month.
When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PT, Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Significance: The winner advances to the NFC Championship against the winner of Saturday night’s Packers-49ers game
Records: Falcons were 13-3 in the regular season to win the NFC South and clinch the conference’s top seed in the postseason; Seahawks were 11-5 in the regular season and beat the Redskins in last week’s W playoff round
TV: FOX (KCPQ/13 in the greater Seattle area), with Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Chris Myers and Laura Okmin
Radio: 710 ESPN and KIRO Radio 97.3, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner vs. Falcons wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones: Big on Big. Long against Long. Physical versus Physical. These four going at each other is all of that, and more. And the tandem that wins most often will go a long way in deciding which team advances to the NFC Championship game. There isn’t a bigger corner tandem in the NFL than Sherman and Browner, who combined for 11 interceptions, 30 passes defensed and five forced fumbles. There isn’t a more productive wide-out tandem in the league than White and Jones, who combined for 171 receptions, 2,549 yards and 17 touchdown catches. Usually a defense tries to stop the run and force an opponent to pass. But the Falcons use their passing game to open things up for the running game. Sherman and Browner will need to be on top of it, to prevent Jones and White from using their speed in getting over the top on them.
One to watch
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson vs. Falcons QB Matt Ryan: Wilson already has done something in his first playoff game that Ryan has been unable to accomplish – win it. That happened last week, when Wilson led the Seahawks to a 24-14 wild-card victory over the Redskins. He is stepping up a stage this week, but the Seahawks’ rookie QB has been unfazed by circumstance or game plan during the team’s six-game winning streak. Ryan, a first-round draft choice in 2008, has 56 victories during the regular season. But he’s also 0-for-3 in the postseason. Then there’s this: Ryan has thrown 11 TD passes and nine interceptions at home this season, compared to 21 TDs and five picks on the road. So the pressure is squarely on Ryan, rather than Wilson, in this one.
Fun to watch
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch vs. Falcons linebackers Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon: Lynch has been on a roll, even for a back who rolls as consistently well as Lynch. He is averaging 111.8 yards and 6.5 yards per carry during the team’s six-game winning streak. And it was Lynch who ran for the game-winning TD last week against the Redskins. It’s also his presence as one of the options in the Seahawks’ zone-read option that has made the tactic so successful down the stretch. Nicholas (116) and Weatherspoon (114) are the leading tacklers for a Falcons defense that allowed 100-yard rushing performances to the Buccaneers’ Doug Martin (142), Cardinals’ LaRod Stephens-Howling (127), Panthers’ Cam Newton (116), Redskins’ Alfred Morris (115) and Broncos’ Willis McGahee (113). Morris and Martin ranked among the Top 5 in the league in rushing, but Newton and McGahee were 24th and 26th, while Stephens-Howling was No. 30 – in the NFC.
One tough task
Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor vs. Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll set the stage for this one by offering, “Nobody can cover him. He’s just killed everybody for a whole career.” And what a career Gonzalez has had. He has become the most productive tight end in NFL history, and his 1,242 receptions rank second only to Jerry Rice. In a passing game that features Jones and White, it was Gonzalez who led the Falcons in receptions with 93. When he caught his first NFL pass in 1997 for the Chiefs, Chancellor was 9-years old. But if there’s anybody who can contain Gonzalez, and make an impression doing it, Chancellor has the length (6-foot-4½ wingspan), coverage skills and physicality needed to pull it off.
This is the first postseason meeting between the Falcons and Seahawks. … The Falcons are looking for their first postseason victory since 2004. … They have advanced to the postseason in three consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. … Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel holds the NFL postseason record with four interception returns for touchdowns, and has seven overall in the playoffs. … This is the first time since their six-game winning streak started that the Seahawks will face a passing offense ranked higher than No. 18. The Falcons are No. 6, while the Bears were No. 29, the Cardinals No. 28, the Bills No. 25, the 49ers No. 23, the Rams No. 18 and the Redskins No. 20. … The Seahawks have scored at least 20 points in their past 10 games, after doing it only twice in their first seven games. … The Seahawks will play without sack leader Chris Clemons, who tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee during the third quarter of last week’s game against the Redskins. … Bruce Irvin, who will replace Clemons at the Leo end spot, led all NFL rookies with eight sacks during the regular season and added a ninth last week. … Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks in tackles during the regular season (140) and also against the Redskins (nine).
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.
Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.
Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”
Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”
Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ “
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ “
Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.
Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as
the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ “
Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”
Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.
Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.
Seahawks center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung have been voted starters on the NFC Pro Bowl squad, it was announced today.
Leon Washington is the kick returner, while running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves on the team.
Eight Seahawks named as alternates:
1st Alternates: DE Chris Clemons, FB Michael Robinson, CB Richard Sherman
2nd Alternates: SS Kam Chancellor, ST Heath Farwell, P Jon Ryan
3rd Alternate: QB Russell Wilson
4th Alternate: DT Brandon Mebane
Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 26.
The NFL notes that 2013 Pro Bowl rosters will be announced today at 7 p.m. ET on a special edition of “NFL Total Access.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the improvement of quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense, “Wilson’s yards per attempt — a metric that helps gauge how aggressively a team looks downfield — is up nearly 2 yards over the past three games, a significant bump. What has really exploded is Wilson’s rushing numbers, the game plan becoming focused upon accentuating Wilson’s talents. It’s not just running beyond the line of scrimmage, but moving in the pocket. He’s got license to scramble, evading defenders with maneuvers that are at times almost comical. Earlier in the season, Seattle was trying to grind out victories while grooming a rookie quarterback. Now, the Seahawks are trusting that same rookie to see how far he will take them. ‘We have a front-line, first-rate quarterback going out there in these games and you’re seeing it,’ Carroll said. ‘He’s balling. We trust him in his decision-making because he’s proven worthy of that.’ “
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune rehashes the race for offensive rookie of the year, making a case for Wilson, “Since Week 5, Wilson has thrown for 2,274 yards, completing 65 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. During that same stretch Wilson has a 106.9 passer rating, the second best in the league over that span behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (110.8). In the red zone, Wilson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating, which is fourth-best in the league.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes about how Carroll and the Seahawks are handling their recent success, “No longer are the Seahawks, the team playing in the NFL’s most remote outpost, the plucky little team that could. They’re quickly turning into bullies. Apparently, three wins by a combined margin of 150-30 tends to make people take notice. So is there any concern the Seahawks could lose their edge now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth and are being called the NFL’s hottest team? ‘Yeah, sure, there is always concern for that,’ Carroll said. ‘That’s what my job is, to not let that happen, so I better be concerned about that. I’m very confident about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and the language that we use and the way we talk, the way they’re talking. I love to hear their comments at this point and how they’ve dealt with the last few weeks. They’re right on point.’ “
Boyle also notes a roster move from Monday, December 24, as the club released wide receiver Deon Butler from the 53-man roster to make room for the addition of rookie strong safety Winston Guy, who had been serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Jim Litke of the Associated Press tries to make sense of the sound level exhibited by the 12th Man at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, “[Sunday Night Football producer Fred] Gaudelli and his crew hatched a plan to demonstrate that by having sideline reporter Michele Tafoya speak into a microphone as the sound reverberated, then take a step back and try again. When they ran through it before the game, he had a stadium staffer simulate the crowd noise over the PA system. At the point Tafoya’s words were drowned out the system was cranked to 50 percent of volume. ‘So I asked the guy, is it really going to be that loud? He looked at me,’ Gaudelli chuckled into the phone, ‘and said, ‘Double it.’ The guy was right. That much was apparent at the start of the broadcast, when Tafoya interviewed Carroll – remember, the game hadn’t even begun – and didn’t dare stand anywhere but uncomfortably close. Uncomfortable might be the right word to describe the 49ers as well, at least in the early going, when they had to burn timeouts as relatively inexperienced quarterback Colin Kaepernick was having trouble getting the play calls from his sideline. Right about then, he probably wished the 49ers had devoted more time to mastering their silent snap counts. ‘The crowd’s explosive, it really is,’ Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ‘They love us so much, and it brings so much energy to our football team. They keep us in the game, obviously, and they keep us alert.’ “
Tim Booth of the Associated Press has reaction from Carroll on the club’s hope to continue to play with an edge, “The blowout of the 49ers grabbed the kind of attention the Seahawks have wanted. ‘The chip on the shoulder? That’s not something we just manufactured for the sake of getting fired up. The guys in this room feel that. Almost every one of these guys has their reasons. I feel like that myself. We just kind of share in that chip and we don’t even have to pass it around,’ Carroll said. ‘We all have one. That’s just kind of how it’s been. Just look, we’re up here in the Northwest and they like talking about us after they talk about everybody else. And that’s OK. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t amount to much but sometimes it does fuel you a little to keep you going. It works for us so we’ll stay with it.’ “
Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says last Sunday’s victory over the 49ers was “extra special” for wide receiver Doug Baldwin, “As if beating his college coach in lopsided fashion wasn’t sweet enough, Baldwin had his finest game of the season in the win. He had receiving touchdowns of 4 and 6 yards, making difficult catches on each. He made a bobbling catch on a 46-yard gain that set up the Seahawks’ second touchdown. Baldwin finished with four catches for 53 yards. It was the first multi-touchdown game of his career. Then again, big games against the 49ers are nothing new for Baldwin. Four of his seven career touchdowns have come against San Francisco.”
Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has updates from Carroll’s Monday presser, “Carroll said they emerged from the game fairly healthy with only a few issues. He said LB Leroy Hill has a hamstring injury that needs to be looked at. He also said Hill’s backup, LB Malcolm Smith, might have a groin issue as well. It’s something they need to check out. If neither would be available to play, LB Mike Morgan would be the backup at the weakside linebacker spot. Carroll said WR Sidney Rice and DE Red Bryant came out of the game feeling better. Rice had been dealing with a foot bruise and a knee injury heading into last week’s game. Bryant has been dealing with a plantar fascia injury in his foot. CB Marcus Trufant is expected to return to practice on Wednesday from a hamstring strain that has kept him out the last four games. Carroll said they still weren’t sure if CB Walter Thurmond would be able to practice Wednesday. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain as well.”
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “MVP Watch” where Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch show up on his list, “Wilson now ranks seventh in NFL passer rating (98.0) and eighth in Total QBR (70.0) for the season. He ranks third in both categories — 101.5 rating, 75.6 QBR — from Week 2 to present. Much gets made of Wilson’s success at home. He ranks among the NFL’s top five in road QBR after Week 1 (78.8). Only Ryan (85.4), Brady (81.5) and Manning (80.2) rank higher among quarterbacks with more than four road starts during that time. Ben Roethlisberger (72.8), Drew Brees (69.9), Rodgers (69.8) and Robert Griffin III (69.6) are next. Wilson needs one touchdown pass against St. Louis in Week 17 to tie Manning’s rookie record of 26, set in 1998. Manning also had 28 interceptions that season. Wilson has 10, including one on a dropped pass.”
Sando has his most recent “Stock Watch” item as well, and the Seahawks’ coach and GM – Carroll and John Schneider – along with the Seahawks’ receiver and strong safety Kam Chancellor represent three of his four units that are on the rise, “Seahawks’ receivers. Dropped passes doomed Seattle’s offense during a 13-6 defeat at San Francisco in Week 7. Outstanding catches played an important role in Seattle sprinting to a big lead against the 49ers in the rematch Sunday night. Baldwin’s juggling catch in the rain for a 43-yard gain was the longest play for either team. Baldwin added two scoring receptions. Rice made a leaping grab along the sideline. Seattle converted 11 of 12 times on third down while Wilson was in the game.”
Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth catches up with wide receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Richard Sherman, and special teams co-captain Heath Farwell on some of their favorite Christmas memories growing up.
We also have coach Carroll’s full video press conference from Monday available here.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 20:
Rookies of the Year. There’s no question that quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner have been the Seahawks’ offensive and defensive rookies of the year.
You would have to consider their production heading into Sunday night’s bigger-than-big rematch with the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field as beyond impressive for seasoned vets. Wilson has passed for 21 touchdowns, run for 402 yards and three scores and taken the offense to unprecedented heights. Wagner leads the league’s No. 3-ranked defense with 121 tackles and has developed into a productive every-down player, as evidenced by his three interceptions and two sacks.
Not surprisingly, Wilson, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft, and Wagner, a second-round pick, have played their way into contention for the league rookie honors as well. And each definitely has noticed the contributions of the other to the Seahawks’ 9-5 record.
Wilson on Wagner: “Bobby Wagner has done a tremendous job. He’s one of our leaders on our defense, for him to be able to play at such a high level. He can run around. He can make all the plays. He’s come up with several interceptions already. What he’s doing as a rookie and how he approaches the game, in terms of just getting here early and doing what he needs to do to be successful on Sunday and lead, is really exceptional.”
Wagner on Wilson: “I think Russell should win it. I feel like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin, they were kind of deemed rookie of the year before they even set foot on the field or even proved themselves. The stuff Russell has been doing, going out there and performing every week, I feel like he has the numbers. So you can’t be biased just because the hype before those other guys got here. For me it’s like, the first-round guys, you expect them to do that. You didn’t expect Russell to come in and do what he’s done.”
But this stumping for Wilson and Wagner transcends VMAC. In his weekly rookie rankings at ESPN.com, Matt Williamson has elevated Wilson into the top spot (up from No. 3 last week) and lists Wagner at No. 10 – and as the third defensive player behind Packers cornerback Casey Hayward (No. 6) and Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (No. 9).
Williamson on Wilson: “Led by Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and an extremely talented and opportunistic defense, the Seahawks are simply on fire right now. Wilson’s Seahawks have amazingly scored 108 points over the past two weeks, after dismantling the Bills in Toronto. Wilson was his usual efficient self throwing the ball, but he also ran for 92 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries. Wilson must be strongly considered for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors – and he is now quarterbacking the best team of any of this year’s rookie signal-callers.”
Williamson on Wagner: “Wagner has been on and off the Top 10 all season, and he is an excellent candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. What Seattle’s defense has done of late is nothing short of remarkable, and Wagner is a key component to that great success. Against Buffalo, Wagner had 12 tackles, 10 of them solo. He is an exceptionally productive every-down linebacker on one of the elite defenses in the NFL.”
The fans balloting for the Pro Bowl concluded on Monday, and the Seahawks players and coaches cast their votes today. Each segment counts one-third toward selecting the NFC squad for the NFL all-star game on Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
After the fan voting, Marshawn Lynch is second among the NFC running backs (534,073 votes) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (828,225). Richard Sherman is third among the cornerbacks (169,404) to the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings (312,595) and Charles Tillman (221,364). Leon Washington is third among the kick returners (68,151) behind the Packers’ Randall Cobb (131,626) and Bears’ Devin Hester (102,688).
Kam Chancellor is fourth among the strong safeties (83,310). Jon Ryan is fourth (81,208) among the punters. Max Unger is fifth (116,135) among the centers. Chris Clemons is fifth (159,088) among the defensive ends. Earl Thomas is fifth among the free safeties (63,585).
Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the top vote-getter in fan balloting with 993,045.
The NFC and AFC squads will be announced next Wednesday on the NFL Network.
LYNCH, OKUNG HONORED
Lynch and left tackle Russell Okung have been selected by their teammates as the Seahawks’ NFLPA Pulse Award winners.
The NFL Players Association recognizes players each year for their community service. From the field of team winners, five finalists will be selected and from that group will come the recipient of the Byron Whizzer White Award – the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow on a player. The White Award winner will be announced during a press conference at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Also among the team winners are four former Seahawks: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (Titans), wide receiver Nate Burleson (Lions), defensive lineman Cory Redding (Colts) and linebacker Aaron Curry (Raiders).
JONES OUT, FANGUPO UP, WALTERS IN
With defensive lineman Jason Jones being placed on injured reserve earlier today, it opened a spot on the 53-man roster for practice-squad lineman Hebron Fangupo, which opened a spot on the practice squad for wide receiver Bryan Walters.
“He’s really strong inside,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of the 6-foot-1, 293-pound Fangupo. “It will be exciting to see, if he has a chance to play.”
Walters, who went to Juanita High School in Kirkland, played in four games for the Chargers last year and was with the Vikings in training camp this summer before being released.
“It’s pretty fun to be able to just be a part of the team you grew up watching and rooting for,” Walters said. “Even when I was on other teams, I was looking at the scoreboard to see the Seahawks’ score.”
The official report, as released by team:
Did not practice
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
CB Richard Sherman (not injury related)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
Limited in practice
S Jeron Johnson (groin)
RB Robert Turbin (illness)
DT Alan Branch (ankle)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
RB Leon Washington (illness)
With Trufant and Thurmond still out and Sherman excused from practice, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell worked at the corners with the No. 1 defense and Ron Parker joined them as the third corner in the nickel.
Branch and Washington returned after not practicing on Wednesday, while Lynch took part in all phases of practice after being limited on Wednesday.
For the 49ers:
Did not practice
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)
S Dashon Goldson (foot)
RB Frank Gore (wrist)
OG Mike Iupati (shoulder)
CB Carlos Rogers (knee)
LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
Justin Smith did not practice for the second consecutive day because of the elbow he injured in Sunday night’s win over the Patriots in New England.
STAT DU JOUR
Among Wilson’s mounting accomplishments has been his impressive performance in the red zone. The Seahawks’ rookie QB has the NFC’s fifth-best passer rating inside the oppositions’ 20-yard line. Here’s a look at his numbers, and those who rank ahead of him:
Player, team Att. Comp. Pct. Yds. TD Int. Rating
Aaron Rodgers, Packers 52 33 63.5 216 18 0 111.9
Drew Brees, Saints 81 50 61.7 359 25 0 111.6
Jay Cutler, Bears 39 22 56.4 160 10 0 105.8
Robert Griffin III, Redskins 38 23 60.5 100 9 0 104.6
Russell Wilson, Seahawks 51 27 52.9 198 13 0 102.0
“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will hold their final full practice before Sunday night’s game. And don’t forget, the kickoff against the 49ers is 5:20 p.m., not the originally scheduled 1:25 p.m., after the game was flexed into the primetime spot on NBC.
YOU DON’T SAY, LOCAL EDITION
“It’s going to be a blast. And we know it’s going to be a battle all the way to the very end of the game. We’re excited about that opportunity.” – Wilson on Sunday night’s game
YOU DON’T SAY, NATIONAL EDITION
“The Seahawks are playing fast-break football in December, and they don’t seem to know they’re not supposed to be hanging a Hawaii 5-0 on opponents. But this week is the ultimate test. If Seattle can put up a stupid number against the 49ers’ stout defense (kind of the way the Patriots did in the second half), then a case of legitimate Super Bowl fever may break out in the Pacific Northwest.” – Don Banks in listing the Seahawks at No. 7 in his weekly NFL power rankings at SI.com
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 14:
Next man up. Again. With Walter Thurmond being ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bills in Toronto, Byron Maxwell and rookie Jeremy Lane will take over at right cornerback.
Thurmond stepped in two weeks ago to replace Marcus Trufant as the nickel back, and then slid to the right side last week after Brandon Browner was suspended four games for violating the league’s performance enhancement policy – with Lane moving in as the nickel back. But Thurmond injured a hamstring in practice on Wednesday. Trufant will miss his third consecutive game, also because of a hamstring injury.
“He’s not going to make it. Unfortunately he’s not going to be there,” coach Pete Carroll said after today’s practice when asked about Thurmond. “We’ll play those guys in rotation – that would be Jeremy Lane and Bryon.”
Both will play a lot, because the one who is not at right corner will be the third corner in the nickel defense.
Maxwell, a sixth-round draft choice last year, is ready – because he has to be; and prepared – because he got a lot of snaps in the second half of last week’s 58-0 win over the Cardinals.
“It was great just to get out there and help the team,” said Maxwell, who got time at cornerback in one game last season and his first game this season against the Cardinals. “We were up by so much that they took Sherm (left cornerback Richard Sherman) out and it was just the young guys in there – me and J-Lane – getting some experience under our belts.”
It allowed Maxwell to get into the flow of the game, which was important because in most games his contributions are limited to the one snap dash-and-bash that is playing special teams.
“Which is important,” Maxwell said. “There’s nothing like game-time experience.”
Outside? Inside? Does Maxwell have a preference?
“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I just want to be on the field.”
MARTIN TO IR
Wide receiver Charly Martin has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season after pulling a calf in practice on Thursday.
Scott Chandler. Stevie Johnson leads the Bills with 61 receptions, but it’s Chandler who has caught a team-high six touchdown passes – on 37 catches. And the production by the sixth-year tight end has not escaped Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
“It’s another real threat, especially in third-down situations,” Bradley said. “He’s one of the top receiving threats on third down. It’s a matchup that we’ve got to take a look at and see the threat he is. You’ll see Chandler with a lot of special routes or a lot of deep-developing routes. So they obviously feel pretty good about him getting away from defensive backs and linebackers.
“The NFL is such a matchup league, and offenses are looking for matchups. So we’ve always got to be aware of that.”
The 6-foot-7, 263-pound Chandler also is averaging 13.2 yards, tops on the team among receivers with more than five receptions.
The official end-of-the-week status report, as issued by the team:
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
DE Red Bryant (foot)
SS Kam Chancellor (groin)
WR Sidney Rice (foot)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
Rice, Bryant and Chancellor practiced today for the first time this week and Carroll said he expected all the play against the Bills.
Linebacker Leroy Hill will return to the starting lineup after missing the past two games because of a sprained ankle, but Malcolm Smith also will play, Carroll said. Smith started the past two games on the weakside for Hill.
For the Bills:
RB Fred Jackson (knee)
C Eric Wood (knee)
LB Nick Barnett (knee)
S Jairus Byrd (shin)
DE Marcell Dareus (shoulder)
DT Spencer Johnson (knee)
CB Leodis McKelvin (groin)
DE Mark Anderson (knee)
OG Andy Levitre (knee)
CB Justin Rogers (foot)
WR Donald Jones (calf)
DT Kyle Williams (ankle)
DB Ron Brooks (hip)
TE Scott Chandler (groin)
OG Kraig Urbik (knee)
LB Chris White (thumb)
S Da’Norris Searcy (hand)
RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder)
CB Aaron Williams (knee)
DE Mario Williams (wrist)
STAT DU JOUR
Bobby Wagner, as we wrote last Friday, is putting up numbers worthy of NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Seahawks’ middle linebacker is third among rookies in the league in tackles and tied for third in interceptions – the only player among the Top 3 in both categories:
Player, team No.
LB Luke Kuechly, Panthers 130
LB Lavonte David, Buccaneers 117
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks 108
Player, team No.
CB Casey Hayward, Packers 5
S Tavon Wilson, Patriots 4
LB Bobby Wagner, Seahawks 3
CB Alfonzo Dennard, Patriots 3
CB Janoris Jenkins, Rams 3
CB Leonard Jackson, Buccaneers 3
S Harrison Smith, Vikings 3
The team flew to Toronto after the players had a midday practice. Saturday’s walkthrough will be in Canada’s largest city.
YOU DON’T SAY
“They’re very explosive. There’s a little bit of an emphasis that we’re going to see (C.J.) Spiller more. If you look at his numbers, you can see why they would do that. He’s got great numbers in the running game and the passing game. That doesn’t help us any. So we have to really tune in to him. He’s the factor that can really change them. The perimeter stuff that he does is very dangerous. He has extraordinary speed and it shows up on the field. That’s a big deal for us.” – Carroll on Spiller becoming the feature back for the Bill with Fred Jackson out