Wednesday in Hawkville: The continuing evolution of Richard Sherman

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

FOCUS ON: RICHARD SHERMAN

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

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

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

What gives? Certainly not Sherman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doug Baldwin

PLAYER WATCH: DOUG BALDWIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUGBY INVASION

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

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

UP NEXT

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

YOU DON’T SAY

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


Chris Maragos signs restricted free agent tender

Chris Maragos

For Chris Maragos, it wasn’t a matter of if he would sign his restricted free agent tender with the Seahawks, but when.

And when arrived today, as the backup safety and special teams standout did just that.

“Just signed my tender, inks not even dry yet, blessed to be a Seahawk and can’t wait for 2013!” Maragos tweeted earlier today.

Maragos, 26, originally signed with the Seahawks in 2011 after being released by the 49ers. He ranked second on the team with 11 coverage tackles that season and was third last season with nine. On defense, Maragos is the backup to All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and also has played in some of the defensive sub-packages.

“Chris is ready to play anywhere, anytime, anyhow,” defensive backs coach Kris Richard said last season. “He’s always well prepared. He’s very sharp. He’s very bright.”

And now, he’s back with the Seahawks.

“We’ve got to keep this thing rolling,” Maragos said in the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and snapper Clint Gresham, the team’s other restricted free agents, already had signed their tenders.


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On this date: Cortez Kennedy elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Cortez Kennedy

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 4:

1990: Dave Krieg completes 15 of 23 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 27-21. Jerry Gray, a cornerback for the Rams who would go on to coach the Seahawks’ defensive backs in 2010, is named MVP after returning an interception 51 yards for a TD and also registering seven tackles. Rufus Porter (two tackles) and Brian Blades (one reception) also represent the Seahawks in the game.

1996: Chris Warren leads the NFC with 43 rushing yards, but the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 20-13.

1998: Jim Johnson is named linebackers coach on Dennis Erickson’s staff. Johnson remains for only one season before becoming the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, but his impact on the Seahawks’ defense is apparent even after he leaves.

2010: First-year coach Pete Carroll announces his staff: Jeremy Bates (offensive coordinator), Gus Bradley (defensive coordinator), Brian Schneider (special teams coordinator), Kippy Brown (wide receivers), Luke Butkus (quality control/offensive line), Dave Canales (quality control/offense), Chris Carlisle (head strength and conditioning), Jedd Fisch (quarterbacks), Mondray Gee (assistant strength and conditioning), Alex Gibbs (offensive line), Jerry Gray (defensive backs), Kris Richard (assistant defensive backs), Rocky Seto (quality control/defense), Sherman Smith (running backs), Jeff Ulbrich (assistant special teams), Art Valero (assistant offensive line) and Jamie Yancher (assistant strength and conditioning).

2012: Cortez Kennedy, in his seventh year of eligibility and fourth year as a finalist, is elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the NFL Team of the Decade for the 1990s as a defensive tackle, Kennedy joins Steve Largent as the only career-long Seahawks player in the Hall.


On this date: Tom Cable, Darrell Bevell hired

Darrell Bevell, Tom Cable

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on Jan. 18:

2011: Tom Cable (assistant head coach/offensive line), Darrell Bevell (offensive coordinator) and Todd Wash (defensive line) are added to Pete Carroll’s staff, while Kris Richard (defensive backs) and Rocky Seto (assistant defensive backs) are promoted to new posts. Also, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is relieved of his duties after one season with the team.


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Tuesday in Hawkville: Lane handling life in the fast lane

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 18:

Jeremy Lane

FOCUS ON

Jeremy Lane. It didn’t take the Bills long to see what the rookie cornerback had during Sunday’s game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

On their second play, and first pass play, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went to wide receiver T.J. Graham – and at the Seahawks’ sixth-round draft choice. But there was Lane, not only matching Graham stride for stride as they ran up the sideline, but having a better read on the ball than the intended receiver as the pass fell incomplete.

“He did a great job,” coach Pete Carroll said. “They went after him right off the bat and tried to get him and he played a great deep ball.”

Lane, who was making his first NFL start, could be needed again in Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Carroll is keeping his fingers crossed that Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant will be able to return from the hamstring injuries that have sidelined them – Thurmond for the game against the Bills, Trufant for the past three games.

But when the players begin practicing for the 49ers on Wednesday, it’s likely that Lane will be on the right side and Byron Maxwell will be the nickel back. The coaches also got a good look at Ron Parker, who was just re-signed last week, in the fourth quarter of the 50-17 rout of the Bills.

“All three guys did a good job,” Carroll said. “All of those snaps are just hugely valuable to us in bringing those guys along and getting a feel for them.”

Carroll also gave credit where credit is due – to secondary coach Kris Richard and passing game coordinator Rocky Seto, who were down to their third and fourth options with Lane stepping in for Thurmond, who had stepped in for Trufant, who were needed but unavailable because Brandon Browner is serving a four-game suspension.

“Kris Richard and Rocky Seto are doing a really good job coaching those guys,” Carroll said. “They’re playing with really good technique and again this week they stayed on top like they’re supposed to. They’re gaining confidence. We’re seeing reason to trust them more. And it’s really crucial for us that that’s happening right now.”

McGRATH ADDED TO 53-MAN ROSTER

Sean McGrath’s up-and-down season with the Seahawks spiked today when the practice-squad tight end was signed to the 53-man roster. He replaces tight end Evan Moore, who was released.

Moore was signed in September after tight end Kellen Winslow was released. But Moore caught only one pass for six yards.

McGrath, a rookie free agent from Henderson State, was signed in April after the NFL Draft. He was released on the roster cut to 53 players on Aug. 31, signed to the practice squad the next day and then released two days later. He returned to the practice squad on Sept. 8, was released again on Sept. 27 and then signed again on Oct. 2.

STATS ’N STUFF

Marshawn Lynch remains No. 2 in the league in rushing (1,379 yards). He’s the first Seahawks back to surpass 1,300 yards since Shaun Alexander led the league in rushing with 1,880 yards in 2005, and only the fourth back in franchise history it do it – joining Curt Warner, Chris Warren and Alexander. Lynch also is fourth in the league in total yards (1,542) and tied for seventh in first downs (69).

Leon Washington also remains second in the NFL in kickoff return average (30.0), while Jon Ryan is fifth in net punting average (41.6). Rookie QB Russell Wilson is eighth in passer rating (95.5).

With six interceptions, cornerback Richard Sherman is tied for fourth in the league, and defensive end Chris Clemons is tied for fifth with 11.5 sacks.

As a team, the Seahawks rank No. 3 in the league in overall defense, passing defense and rushing offense. They’re also sixth in turnover differential at plus-11.

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, even if they don’t beat the 49ers. According to the scenarios issued by the league, here’s how the Seahawks can get in:

Beat the 49ers.

Tie the 49ers and have the Giants lose and the Bears lose or tie; or the Giants lose and the Vikings lose or tie; or the Bears lose or tie and the Vikings lose or tie; or the Cowboys lose, Redskins win and Bears lose or tie; or the Cowboys lose, the Redskins lose and the Vikings lose or tie.

The Bears, Vikings and Redskins lose; the Bears and Vikings lose, the Cowboys lose or tie and the Redskins tie.

UP NEXT

The players return from having two “off” days to begin practicing for Sunday’s game on “Competition Wednesday.”

Just a reminder: Kickoff for Sunday’s game is 5:20 p.m., not 1:25 p.m., after it was flexed in the primetime spot.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Oh, I realize that the 49ers-New England matchup was supposed to be the most epic event in the history of the free world. But when you consider all the factors, beating Seattle is more paramount.” – San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy


Tuesday in Hawkville: Young corners coming up big, and when needed

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 11:

Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane

FOCUS ON

Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. The backup cornerbacks certainly have looked the part since joining the Seahawks in the draft the past two years.

Maxwell, a sixth-round pick in 2011, has the size (6 feet 1, 207 pounds), length and athletic ability that coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley covet in a corner. So does the 6-foot, 190-pound Lane, who was a sixth-round pick this year.

But how would they play the part? We finally got a look at both in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, as Lane took over as the nickel back and he and Maxwell then manned the corners for the conclusion of the 58-0 romp. Each made a tackle, while Maxwell also broke up a pass.

“I was really pleased with the play of those guys,” Carroll said. “I think I was as fired up about that as anything, as far as the challenge of new guys jumping in and all of that.”

And that definitely is saying a lot because there was so much to be fired up about on Sunday.

“Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell did really well,” Carroll said. “They both looked disciplined. They played confident. Technique-wise, they played the way we had hoped they would play. They both looked just about the same and, for their first outing, they really handled it well.

“There were very few plays that they didn’t get graded on the positive side.”

And that will remain a plus this week, when the Seahawks travel to Toronto to play the Bills. Walter Thurmond, who stepped in at nickel back for Marcus Trufant two weeks ago, is now at right corner because Brandon Browner is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances.

“Walter Thurmond played really well,” Carroll said of his efforts against the Cardinals.

That’s what put Lane on the field as the nickel back for Thurmond. Whether Trufant is able to return this week remains to be seen. But the coaches have seen enough from Lane, and Maxwell, and Thurmond, that they’re comfortable turning things over to the young corners.

“I think that’s a really good statement about what (defensive backs coach) Kris Richard and (passing game coordinator) Rocky Seto are doing with these guys,” Carroll said. “It really is good stuff.”

STATS ’N STUFF

The Seahawks rank No. 3 in total defense, allowing an average of 301.7 yards per game. They’re No. 4 in passing defense (196.3), No. 4 in rushing offense (152.3) and No. 10 in rushing defense (105.4). The offense ranks No. 21 overall (341.2) and the passing offense is No. 29 (188.9).

After Sunday’s eight-turnover avalanche against the Cardinals, the Seahawks are plus-8 in turnover differential, which ties for eighth in the league. Only seven teams have fewer giveaways than the Seahawks (17; nine interceptions, eight fumbles).

Marshawn Lynch remains second in the NFL in rushing (a career-high 1,266 yards) to the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (1,600). Only four players in the league have more than Lynch’s nine rushing touchdowns – the Texans’ Arian Foster (14), Bucs’ Doug Martin (10), Patriots’ Stevan Ridley (10) and Peterson (10). Lynch also is sixth in total yards (1,415) and tied for ninth in first downs (64).

Rookie QB Russell Wilson is seventh in the league in passer rating (94.9), and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III is the only rookie with a higher rating (a league-leading 104.2). Wilson also is sixth in fourth-quarter passer rating (97.9), which tops all rookies.

Leon Washington is second in the NFL in kickoff return average (31.2), while Jon Ryan is seventh in net punting average (41.7) and tied for sixth for punts inside the 20 (27).

Richard Sherman is tied for third in interceptions (six).

STAT DU JOUR

Lynch’s efforts against the Cardinals were impressive: three rushing touchdowns, tying his career high; a franchise-record 11.6-yard rushing average; his seventh 100-yard rushing effort of the season (124); and surpassing his single-season career best in rushing yards (1,266), with three games to play.

What put it even more over the top was that Lynch accomplished all this on 11 carries. Here’s a look at what he did to get his 128 yards, and when he did it:

Situation               Yards     Result

First-and-10             2          Seahawks punted on first possession

Second-and-12        1          Seahawks converted on third-and-11

Second-and-6        10          First down in first TD drive

First-ansd-10            2         Seahawks converted on second-and-8

First-and-10           15          Seahawks lost the yards on penalty

First-and-10           20          Touchdown run No. 1

First-and-goal          4          Touchdown run No. 2

First-and-10           15          Seahawks eventually punted

Second-and-5        18          First down at Seahawks’ 37

First-and-10             8          Came on next play after 18-yarder

Third-and-4            33         Touchdown No. 3

“I think the thing that comes to mind is consistency,” Carroll said Monday when asked about the season Lynch is having. “He’s been very consistent with his output and his effort and his style. Everything has been there every single game.”

UP NEXT

The players return from having two “off” days to begin practicing for Sunday’s game against the Bills.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The final score in Seattle got most of the attention. There was plenty of credit to go around in Seattle. (Anthony) McCoy’s first 100-yard receiving game could be a good sign for the Seahawks. McCoy made an important catch to help beat Chicago on the road last week. His 67-yard reception against the Cardinals set up Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run for a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter. Arizona hadn’t scored more than 17 points in seven of its previous eight games.” – Mike Sando including the Seahawks’ tight end among his weekly “Risers” on his NFC West blog at ESPN.com


Thursday in Hawkville: Maxwell making progress

With Clare Farnsworth in Canton, Ohio covering Cortez Kennedy’s induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I’ll be taking over the blog through the weekend. Getting to it, here’s a recap of the activities surrounding the Seahawks’ Bing Training Camp for August 2.

FOCUS ON

Byron Maxwell. The 6-1, 207-pound cornerback is working back into practice after returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for seven games during his rookie season. Maxwell, drafted with the eighth pick in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Clemson, impressed in training camp as a rookie last season and has the prototypical size and make-up of a Pete Carroll corner. He saw action in nine games a year ago, with most of that action coming on special teams, and prior to the NFL he was dubbed one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in the ACC.

Maxwell shined in the ‘gunner’ special teams drill to start Thursday’s practice. Lining up in punt formation against second-year receiver Doug Baldwin and rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane, Maxwell broke the jam put on him by Baldwin and Lane and out-ran the wide receiver-cornerback duo up the right sideline before cutting back inside down field to meet punt returner Leon Washington as he was fielding the football.

“Special teams is about going hard,” Maxwell said of the play. “That’s all I do is go hard. It’s all about who wants it the most. I pride myself in my special teams play. That’s just the purest form of football. If you go out there and you can play special teams, you can play football.”

Maxwell clearly wanted it the most on that play.

Later in Thursday’s practice, the Clemson product wanted more, breaking up a ball in the end zone from quarterback Matt Flynn that was intended for wide receiver Golden Tate.

“We’re very satisfied with his progress,” said Seahawks secondary coach Kris Richard. “Of course, his issue is going to be conditioning now. He hasn’t had a full offseason. We are well aware of it, but we’re very satisfied with his effort. He’s a ball player. He’s always had a knack to get around the ball.”

With Seattle’s secondary featuring the likes of Pro Bowlers Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Brandon Browner, as well as impressive second-year player Richard Sherman, Maxwell knows that special teams play is an area where he must have an impact in order to stand out, but he’s not stopping there.

“Right now, special teams are a place where I feel I need to make an impact, but obviously that’s not all I want in this League,” Maxwell said. “I’m always looking to get better, get to the top, and be the best. Special teams is a role that I’ve got to do right now and one that I’ve got to do well for the team.”

And Richard knows that Maxwell is capable of more than stand out special teams play, and the NFL is a League where you’re always one play away from potentially making an impact.

“A healthy Byron at corner, in the nickel, and on special teams – a healthy Byron is a very effective Byron,” said Richard. “He’s a really good football player. We’re praying that he’s able to maintain his health, and if he is, really, the sky is the limit for him.”

UNIT WATCH

Defensive backs, and specifically the unit’s red zone defense. What can be said about this unit that hasn’t been said already? Quarterbacks Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson, and Russell Wilson could not buy a bucket – or in this case, a touchdown pass – during the team’s red zone passing drill. The long, rangy defense dominated the drill, with cornerback Brandon Browner standing out in particular. On one play that saw Wilson under center Browner had coverage of wide receiver Charly Martin down the left sideline. Wilson fired a ball at Martin who cut toward the inside, but instead of extending his hands to receive the football, Martin was forced to bat the ball to the ground because Browner had beat him to the spot. Earlier in the drill Browner intercepted a ball from Flynn that was intended for Martin.

During the same drill, Maxwell made a nice read on a ball in the flat for wide receiver Kris Durham, exploding toward the football upon the quarterback’s release and pushing Durham to the sideline for no gain.

The only offensive conversions during the red zone passing drill that saw each of the three quarterbacks take multiple reps came on a pass from Flynn to rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei, and on a toss from Jackson to rookie wide receiver Phil Bates, who made a nice grab on his back shoulder while falling to the ground.

PLAYS DU JOUR

Offense: A couple of offensive plays stood out in what was mainly a defense-dominated day. Ricardo Lockette made a nice stick on a ball from Wilson, elevating above safety Chris Maragos and cornerback Phillip Adams and tapping his toes down in the corner of the end zone for a score. During the team’s 11-on-11 session, Leon Washington had a nifty cut-back move to break free down the right sideline for a large gain. In the same session, rookie running back Robert Turbin had a similar move, as he slashed away from the scrum and scampered down the left sideline for a big gain.

Defense: In the team’s 9-on-7 drill, Earl Thomas penetrated the offensive line and found himself in the offensive backfield before running back Leon Washington, who had received the handoff, could even take a step. The speedy Thomas made the stop on Washington with an assist from defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who had won his battle along the line and cleared a lane for Thomas to dart through. Also in the 9-on-7 drill, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane let out a Street Fighter-esque ‘Hadoken!’ battle cry prior to the snap, empowering Alan Branch through the line to make a crunching stop of Washington in the backfield.

IN ‘N OUT

Rookie wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, the former University of Washington standout and Lakewood, Wash. native, practiced for the first time today. Kearse had been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of camp.

Defensive tackle Jason Jones returned to practice after sitting out Monday and Tuesday. Tight end Kellen Winslow and linebacker Barrett Ruud also returned to practice after missing Tuesday because of knee situations.

Six players did not practice, as cornerback Ron Parker, tight end Anthony McCoy, linebacker Matt McCoy and linebacker Jameson Konz joined the two remaining players on the physically unable to perform list – offensive lineman James Carpenter and cornerback Walter Thurmond.

UP NEXT

The players have a walkthrough this afternoon and will practice at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow. Saturday’s practice will be the team’s final practice slotted for 10:15 a.m. Sunday’s practice, scheduled for 1:15 p.m., is set to feature a “mock game” between the squads.

JOIN THE CROWD

Today’s practice attracted 1,098 fans, as well as the Navy’s Blue Angels, who are in town for Seattle’s Sea Fair weekend. Fans along the berm at VMAC got an up-close-and-personal look at the Navy’s show group, whose impressive aerial acrobatics could be seen and heard – loudly – over the Seahawks three practice fields along the shores of Lake Washington.

Eight practices remain open to the public, including this weekend’s practices on Saturday and Sunday, which are the final weekend practices of camp. You can register to attend a practice session here.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Awesome. That was sick. They came in [to the VMAC] and visited us yesterday. Lieutenant David Tickle was in here yesterday and he visited with the coaching staff and I asked him, ‘Can you give us a little something-something at practice tomorrow?’ And he said, ‘OK, I’ll show you.’ So he gave us a little buzz and a little extra smoke and wiggle when he left here, so that was great.” – Head Coach Pete Carroll on the show the Blue Angels put on today over VMAC during practice.


Wednesday cyber surfing: Still talking about Irvin

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

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has some additional thoughts on Bruce Irvin in the wake of the Seahawks selecting the pass rusher from West Virginia with the 15th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft: “The Seahawks envision Irvin as a situational pass-rusher for now and the eventual successor to Chris Clemons in the “Leo” role. Clemons was a 236-pound linebacker coming out of college. He had a 4.7-second time in the 40-yard dash, went undrafted as a junior and floundered in Philadelphia. The Seahawks acquired him with a specific role in mind. Clemons ranks eighth in the NFL with 22 sacks over the last two seasons, more than Julius Peppers, James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Dwight Freeney, Trent Cole, Jason Pierre-Paul and others. Clemons now weighs 255 pounds and has become much stronger against the run. Irvin is Clemons’ height (6-foot-3) and weighs 245 pounds, but he is much faster, having run the 40 in 4.4 seconds. The plan would be for Irvin to grow into a bigger role, not to remain a situational player forever.”

Art Thiel at sportspress northwest recalls the scene in the media draft room when Irvin was selected, and also offers: “What is amusing is that most of the post-draft media analysis downgraded the Seahawks draft because Irvin was taken so high relative to the conventional wisdom. Yet it’s not as if there was documentary evidence that proves Irvin was not worth the purported value assigned the 15th pick. … (coach Pete) Carroll, who knows more about Irvin’s past anyone speculating on the draft, is betting a considerable portion of the Seahawks house that he can design a defensive role that maximizes Irvin’s biggest asset, speed, and minimizes his biggest liability, size. As to whether Irvin’s off-field actions turn him into the next Koren Robinson/Jerramy Stevens or the next Cortez Kennedy/Dave Brown, your guess is as good as anyone’s. And no one’s.”

Nick Eaton at PI.com passes along GM John Schneider’s comments on the Irvin selection from an interview with Dave Mahler on KJR: “In the NFL Draft last week, the Seahawks were clearly in the hunt for a quick and explosive defender. Their top three choices, according to General Manager John Schneider, were linebacker Luke Kuechly, safety Mark Barron and pass-rusher Bruce Irvin. Keuchly and Barron were on many draft analysts’ lists as top defensive picks. Irvin? Not so much. ‘They were, a little bit, standalone guys — not by a huge margin, but the three of them basically were up there all by themselves,’ Schneider said. “Obviously we felt strongly about Barron, we felt strongly about Kuechly as well, but we really wanted to address our pass rush. And it just fell to a spot where we said, maybe if we could move back a little bit, we could still acquire (Irvin). The only problem is, he was so quiet — people weren’t talking about him. And quite honestly that made me uncomfortable.’ ”

Also at ESPN.com, Sando provides a nice rundown on the Seahawks’ wide receiver situation while responding to the question about signing a veteran wide-out in his mailbag: “I’d stick with the current group. Drafting a receiver would have made sense if that receiver were a special player. There was no sense in drafting another receiver indistinguishable from the group. There would likewise be no advantage to signing a veteran stopgap in free agency. We might revisit that stance if Sidney Rice doesn’t rebound from the two shoulder surgeries he underwent this offseason. But with Rice back and the team also expecting more in the receiving game from tight end Zach Miller, I’d be inclined to give the younger players a shot. Golden Tate finished strong last season. He had no dropped passes. He has a chance to take a big step forward now that he’s been in the offense for a year. Doug Baldwin is already a good slot receiver and top option on third down. Ricardo Lockette flashed ability late last season and has a chance to become a dynamic threat down the field (two catches for 105 yards in the final two games last season). Kris Durham is back from injury and projects as a potential replacement for Mike Williams. He’s a big receiver. Ben Obomanu is still an option. Deon Butler will get another chance. I’d rather give snaps to some of the younger prospects than lean on a stopgap veteran unnecessarily.”

Peter King at SI.com lists Russell Wilson at No. 6 on his list of rookie quarterbacks who could have an impact this season: “How about GM John Schneider telling me Wilson was one of the three best players he scouted in 2011? That, plus the fact that neither Matt Flynn nor Tarvaris Jackson have a stranglehold on the starting job, tells me Wilson will have a fair chance to win the job at some point this season.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with Brandon Browner, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season in his first NFL season: “A year ago, Brandon Browner’s NFL career included zero regular-season games played and two training-camp stints with the Denver Broncos. And that was in 2005 and 2006. After one season with the Seahawks, check this resume for the extra-large cornerback who had spent the previous four seasons with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL: Sixteen starts, with Browner and Marcus Trufant the only cornerbacks in the past five seasons to do that for the Seahawks; One Pro Bowl berth, making him the fourth corner in franchise history to play in the NFL all-star game – along with the late Dave Brown (1984), Shawn Springs (1998) and Trufant (2007); Five of his team-high six interceptions coming in the final six games, making him only the fifth player in franchise history to lead the team in his first season – along with Brown (1976), Autry Beamon (1977), Darryl Williams (1996) and Earl Thomas (2010); Two franchise records – one for the longest interception return, 94 yards for a touchdown that iced the Week 5 upset of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and broke a 33-year-old record; the other for most interception return yards in a season, 220 to break the record set by Brown in ‘84 (179); Two franchise records tied – one for returning two picks for scores, the other for intercepting a pass in four consecutive games. All this after signing a future contract last January and then winning the starting spot on the right side in training camp while Walter Thurmond was sidelined with a high ankle sprain. ‘It is absolutely remarkable what Brandon was able to accomplish last year,’ Kris Richard, a former cornerback for the Seahawks who now coaches the position, said while shaking his head. ‘From where he came, to where he was able to go in one season, it’s very good stuff.’ ”

Yesterday, it was the Top 30 players in NEXT year’s NFL Draft at NFL.com. Today, it’s a mock draft for 2013, complements of Andrew Perloff at SI.com. Here’s who he has the Seahawks selecting: “Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Barkley has been compared to Andrew Luck for staying at USC even though he could have been a high selection in 2012, but he may get picked apart in a way Luck did not. Some people wonder if Barkley is big enough, and how much his outstanding receivers and the system at USC help him look good. Trojans QBs have not done well in the NFL lately, but if anyone can overlook that it’s Pete Carroll.”

And just when you thought it was safe to resume surfing, there’s also a 2013 mock draft at FoxSports.com. But Peter Schrager has Barkley going No. 1 overall to the Raiders. So that leaves the Seahawks with … “Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas. Jackson’s father Jim Jeffcoat was a longtime NFL defensive lineman. Jackson hasn’t quite lived up to expectations yet, but should have a big season in 2012. Matt Flynn plays well in his first full year as a starter, but the Seahawks fall short of the playoffs.”


Inside out

The Seahawks’ offseason program didn’t just move to another level today, the players and coaches moved outside on Day 2 of Phase 2.

Taking advantage of the dry weather, the workout took place on the immaculately maintained practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center after the players kicked off Phase 2 of the program on Monday by working in the weight room and indoor practice facility.

It was all unit work, with the defense on the field closer to the berm and the offense on the field closer to the lake – and the various groups within each unit on both ends of the fields, as well as in the middle.

The setting might have changed, but the focus remained the same.

“This is a real teaching-emphasis, teaching-pace process for us,” defensive backs coach Kris Richard said. “Today, we were able to get them on the field and get them to the techniques of a particular drop, of our particular coverages.

“That’s it – it’s technical-emphasis drill work.”

But it’s a quantum leap from a year ago, when the 136-day lockout erased the entire offseason.

As defensive coordinator Gus Bradley put it on Monday, “We’re getting closer to football. We’re still a ways away, but it’s getting closer.”

The players are off Wednesday, but Phase 2 continues Thursday and Friday, as well as the next two weeks. Phase 3 begins on May 21, and includes 10 OTA sessions and the only mandatory minicamp in mid-June.


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Tuesday cyber surfing: Heading to the Combine

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Feb. 21, and was over the long weekend:

With the Seahawks scouts and coaches heading to Indianapolis this week for the Scouting Combine to examine draft-eligible players, Pat Kirwan at CBSSports.com has a mock draft that includes this pick for the Seahawks: “Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC: The Seahawks may be moving around in the first round if quarterback is still an issue. If they settle it in free agency with the likes of Matt Flynn they can stay put and take a versatile pass rusher like Perry. Pete Carroll knows him well and his measurable at the combine will shoot him up draft boards.”

Also at CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco has the Seahawks addressing the other side of the ball in his mock: “Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: “Marshawn Lynch is a free agent, and this explosive back would be a nice replacement.”

Tom Pauline at SI.com provides his Top 50 players entering the combine, you-know-who is No. 1: “(Stanford QB Andrew) Luck has been the top NFL prospect in the nation for almost two years and nothing has changed. He’ll be the first player selected in the draft and the Indianapolis Colts will barely notice the bump in the road as they transition from the Peyton Manning era.”

Monday was the first day teams could designate franchise players, and Jason La Canfora at NFL.com looks the possible candidates around the league, including the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch: “The Seahawks are deep in talks with running back Marshawn Lynch on a long-term deal, which could well be completed before the March 5 deadline. If that somehow falls apart, the Seahawks are prepared to tag Lynch, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com provides some notes on teams wanting/needing to use their franchise tag: “Teams have until July 16 to sign their franchise players to long-term contracts. The date is usually July 15, but it is the 16th this year because the 15th falls on a Sunday. Past that date, teams can sign their franchise players only to one-year deals. They cannot reach extensions until after their final regular-season games.”

Phillip Daniels, who led the Seahawks in sacks in 1999, has been named director of player development for the Washington Redskins. The team’s website has the story: “I’m really looking forward to helping our players and team win, on and off the field,” Daniels said.

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with Walter Thurmond, the third-year cornerback who is rehabbing from his second surgery in a 25-month period: “To play cornerback in the NFL, it is necessary to have a short memory. Because dwelling on just being beaten on one play will only increase the chances that you also get beat on the next play. This indispensable trait has served Walter Thurmond well, off the field as well as on. ‘You hear the old adage about the DB with a short memory, Walter carries that consistently to other aspects of his life, obviously,’ said Kris Richard, the Seahawks’ former cornerback who now coaches the defensive backs on Pete Carroll’s staff. ‘He’s not going to allow a negative outlook to impede his rehabilitation, which is a really good sign. That’s kind of what makes him a special person and a special player.’ “

John Czarnecki at FoxSports.com has his 10 biggest offseason moves to this point, and checking in at No. 1 is the total makeover by the Rams: “St. Louis landed the most qualified free-agent head coach, Jeff Fisher, who didn’t want to wait another year to see if a job in Chicago or Washington would open. Fisher reached the playoffs six of his last 12 seasons with the Tennessee/Houston franchise. He also has major clout on the competition committee and league-wide respect among his peers. Fisher drew interest from the Colts and Chargers, but he believes quarterback Sam Bradford can be great. Fisher has assembled an all-star coaching staff that includes Dave McGinnis, Gregg Williams, Paul Boudreau and Brian Schottenheimer.”


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