The Seahawks have signed 10 players to future contracts, including eight who spent time on the practice squad this season – wide receivers Phil Bates and Bryan Walters, cornerbacks Chandler Fenner and Ron Parker, running back Derrick Coleman, tight end Cooper Helfet, linebacker Kyle Knox and defensive tackle Myles Wade.
Also signed were linebacker Korey Toomer, a fifth-round draft choice last year; and wide receiver Stephen Williams, who was with the Cardinals in training camp last summer but waived/injured in August.
These future signings can be insignificant moves. But in the past two years, players signed by the Seahawks in January included cornerback Brandon Browner, who has become a starter and played in Pro Bowl last year; guard Paul McQuistan, who started all 16 games this season and 10 last season; and wide receiver Charly Martin, who played in four games this season before being placed on injured reserve.
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
Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 2:00 p.m. practice and preparation for their Week 16 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field.
Carroll addressed yesterday’s roster moves, noting that linebacker Kyle Knox has been added to the practice squad to fill the spot left by tight end Sean McGrath, who was promoted to the active roster with the release of tight end Evan Moore. Knox had spent time with the club during training camp earlier this season.
On the promotion of McGrath to the active roster, Carroll said they need to get special teams production out of that roster spot – something Moore did not provide. According to Carroll, McGrath has a “good chance” to see play time this Sunday.
Defensive tackle Alan Branch will sit out today’s practice as he rests a sprained ankle he suffered against the Bills. Carroll said Branch will “probably” sit out Thursday’s practice as well, with the hope they have him on the field by Friday and back in time for Sunday’s game against Niners.
In Branch’s place, rookie defensive end Greg Scruggs and fourth-year defensive tackle Clinton McDonald are expected to see play time.
On the injured cornerbacks – Marcus Trufant (hamstring) and Walter Thurmond (hamstring) – Carroll said they will know more about their status later in the week. In the meantime, rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane will see work as the second starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman, with second-year player Byron Maxwell working as the nickel corner.
Our Insiders Clare Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella will be back with more following today’s player availability and practice session. Until then, check out Carroll’s full video press conference below.
The Seahawks’ offseason program is down to the last players standing: The rookie free agents.
The team’s 10 draft choices completed their offseason work today. Saturday, they head to Ohio for the four-day NFL Rookie Symposium, which starts on Sunday for the NFC players. Then they’re off until training camp start in late July. The veterans called it a wrap after the final practice in last week’s minicamp.
So Monday, the only group left for the final three days in the offseason program at Virginia Mason Athletic Center will be the rookies who have been added since the draft. Seven were signed just after the draft – wide receivers Phil Bates, Jermaine Kearse and Lavasier Tuinei; guard Rishaw Johnson, tight end Sean McGrath, safety DeShawn Shead and kicker Carson Wiggs. Two others were signed after tryouts in minicamps – cornerback Donny Lisowski and linebacker Kyle Knox. One – defensive end Cordarro Law – was signed between the draft in April and the rookie minicamp in May.
“It’s a learning experience in itself, just learning how to be a pro,” Bates said of watching the numbers diminish. “It’s pretty good, because I’ve learned a lot this week.”
And he has done it from the front of the line – rather than back, as was the case when the veterans were around.
“You take the stuff you learned while the vets were here and now you’re working it on by yourself and trying to master your craft,” Bates said. “I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying it a lot.”
Even with the vets gone, third-round draft choice Russell Wilson has been around to throw to Bates, Tuinei and McGrath (Kearse is sidelined with a foot injury). But Wilson is off to the symposium, so the rookie QB won’t be around next week.
“I’ve got the Jugs machine,” Bates said with a smile. “So that will help me out. I’m going to miss Russell, of course. But I’ve got the Jugs machine.”
After three drafts and offseasons together, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have compiled a roster where their castoffs are inviting to other NFL teams – and long before the roster cut to 53 players in September.
Case in point: The last two players released by the Seahawks have been claimed by other teams.
Monday, tight end John Nalbone was waived to clear a spot on the 90-man roster for offensive lineman Edawn Coughman. Nalbone was claimed by the Cowboys. Friday, rookie defensive end Monte Taylor was waived to clear a roster spot for linebacker Kyle Knox. Taylor was claimed by the Eagles.
When Mike Holmgren took over as coach and GM in 1999, it took five or six seasons before he began cutting players that other teams found value in.
Kyle Knox, a rookie linebacker from Fresno State, was signed by the Seahawks today after completing a tryout at the team’s three-day minicamp on Thursday.
To clear a spot on the 90-man roster, rookie defensive end Monte Taylor was released. Taylor had been signed as a free agent after the NFL Draft, but his participation in the offseason program was limited because his class had yet to graduate. He rejoined the team for the minicamp and practiced on Tuesday, but then sat out Wednesday because of an injury and was limited on Thursday.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Knox worked at outside linebacker with the No. 3 defense during the minicamp practices. He started 37 games at Fresno State, producing 55 tackles last season and 74 in 2010.