Monday in Hawkville: Carroll is concerned only about the 49ers

A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 17:

Red Bryant

FOCUS ON

The obvious. It’s just that what’s obvious depends on who you’re talking to.

Obvious No. 1: The Seahawks are hosting the NFC West-leading 49ers on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field. After their impressive and then resilient performance in last night’s win over the Patriots in New England that pushed their record to 10-3-1, the 49ers can clinch the division title by beating the Seahawks; or the 9-5 Seahawks can keep their division-title hopes alive with a win over the 49ers.

Obvious No. 2: The Seahawks hold the No. 5 seed – or first wild-card spot – in the NFC playoff picture. But right behind them at 8-6 are the Bears, Giants, Cowboys and Vikings (The Redskins also are 8-6 but currently lead the NFC East). The Seahawks hold the tiebreaker against the Bears, Cowboys and Vikings because they beat each team this season. But the only way to insure making it to the postseason is to keep winning during the regular season.

Obvious No. 3: The Seahawks are one hot team, having won their past three games – two of them on the road – and in the past two weeks becoming the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in back-to-back games.

When each obvious item was broached during his weekly day-after Q&A session this afternoon, coach Pete Carroll smiled, and then offered his own version of the obvious.

“We ain’t done nothing yet,” he said when asked about the playoff patter. “When that happens, it happens. Every one of these games are championship matchups. Every one of them makes the statement that you’re still in it, or you’re finally in it and you get it.

“We’ve just got to go play this football game and play it really, really well. And if that’s the result, then that’s OK.  We’ve got another game after that one, too. There’s still a lot of work to be done here. I don’t think it’s a factor, really. It shouldn’t be. We’ve got to go win a football game, regardless of whether there was something hanging out there or not.”

This attitude that each game is a championship game and the goal each week is to go 1-0 has served the Seahawks beyond well as they’ve won five of their past six games. But after Sunday’s 50-17 victory over the Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, several players said that Carroll’s championship-game approach really applied to this week’s game. The 49ers beat the Seahawks 13-7 in San Francisco in Week 7, so there’s payback as well as postseason positioning on the line for the rematch.

And Carroll knows there will be no extra motivational work to be done this week.

“All we can do is really focus on this game right here. We’ll have no trouble focusing,” he said. “They’re a great team. And coming home and all that, it will be exciting to get ready.”

After this week, the Seahawks will host the St. Louis Rams on the 30th, while the 49ers will close their regular season by hosting the Cardinals.

“Coming home, with the last two games here at the stadium, it’s a great opportunity for our fans and we want to really play well in this setting,” Carroll said. “It’s an exciting way to come down, finishing in the division. And it starts with San Francisco this weekend.”

INJURY UPDATE

The ankle that defensive tackle Alan Branch sprained against the Bills is not as serious as first anticipated.

“He came out way better than we thought,” Carroll said. “We’ll rest him, probably until Friday. We’re thinking he might have a chance to make it back. So that’s very encouraging, because we thought after the game he would not be able to do that. We’ll see how that goes.”

Carroll said he also has his fingers crossed that cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant might be able to return this week. Trufant has missed the past three games and Thurmond sat out against the Bills – both with hamstring injuries.

Defensive lineman Jason Jones (sore knee) and leading receiver Sidney Rice (sore foot) also could be limited in practice this week.

PRACTICE SQUAD ROULETTE

Defensive end Monte Taylor has been signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei was released.

The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Taylor was signed by the Seahawks after the NFL Draft in April, but released in June and claimed off waivers by the Eagles.

STAT DU JOUR

Bobby Wagner had another game with double-digit tackles (12) against the Bills, his fifth of the season. In the past nine games, the rookie middle linebacker is averaging 10.3 tackles. With his first tackle in Sunday night’s game against the 49ers, Wagner will tie Keith Butler for the second-most tackles in a season by a Seahawks rookie. With 16 in the final two games, he will set a franchise record for most tackles by a rookie in a season. Here’s a look at where Wagner currently ranks:

Player (year)                                   Tackles (solo/assists)

LB Terry Beeson (1977)                   136      (110/26)

LB Keith Butler (1978)                     122      (83/39)

LB Bobby Wagner (2012)                121      (77/44)

SS Kenny Easley (1981)                    107      (79/28)

LB Lofa Tatupu (2005)                      105      (86/19)

UP NEXT

The players were “off” today for a “Victory Monday” and will have their usual “off” day on Tuesday. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for Sunday night’s game.

Center Max Under will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.

YOU DON’T SAY

“A perfect game for Russell Wilson, just the way Wilson wants to play – running a lot, playing option football, playing from the pocket. ‘Whatever we call, we know something good can happen with Russell right now,’ said coach Pete Carroll after the 50-17 rout of Buffalo in Toronto. Wilson rushed nine times for 92 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards. He completed 14 of 23 for 205 yards and a touchdown. Wilson’s been such a revelation that, week by week, it’s hard to fathom how good he’s become versus the image of what 90 percent of the NFL coaching and scouting community had of him before the draft.” – Peter King, in naming the Seahawks rookie QB as one of his offensive players of the week in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com


Tuinei back, replaces Bates

Lavasier Tuinei

Lavasier Tuinei

The Seahawks made a practice squad switch today, re-signing wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei and releasing wide receiver Phil Bates.

Both players had been with the team in training camp before being released – Bates on the roster cut to 75 players, Tuinei on the cut to 53 players. Bates was added to the practice squad on Oct. 30 and Tuinei followed a day later. But Tuinei was then released last week when wide receiver Charly Martin was dropped from the 53-man roster to clear a spot for cornerback Walter Thurmond and then signed to the practice squad.


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Wednesday cyber surfing: Wilson’s rapid rise; A Trufant family reunion

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, November 7.

There was a couple of roster moves that came late Tuesday afternoon, when the team announced the release of wide receiver Charly Martin from the active roster, and the release of wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei from the practice squad. As of this morning, no move had been made to fill either spot.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at how much better Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has become since the start of the season, “No one is calling for Matt Flynn to start for Seattle anymore. At least not loud enough to hear, and certainly not like it was in September when the Seahawks’ offense was about as potent as the Mariners’. But over the first nine games, the most important trend for Wilson has been the way he eliminates flaws in his performance. Halfway through his first season, the most important thing is to judge not how good he is, but how much better he has become. And only by looking at that process step by step, following three critical improvements, can you see how he’s reached this point of leading Seattle’s offense to 54 points in the past two games and holding the league’s 11th-best quarterback rating.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with the Trufant family, as brothers Marcus and Isaiah are set to square off against each other when the New York Jets comes to town on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, and younger brother Desmond – a senior cornerback at the University of Washington – will play against Utah on Saturday night, also at CenturyLink Field, “Lloyd Trufant said he had a jersey specifically made for the game, with a Marcus Trufant Seahawks jersey on the front and an Isaiah Trufant Jets jersey on the back. ‘We’re pretty pumped up about it,’ Lloyd Trufant said. ‘It should be pretty cool to see both of them on opposing teams. … I have all three of my boys at the same stadium on the same weekend, so that should be cool.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald notes where the Seahawks’ recent run defense struggles may be coming from, “More than anything, Carroll thinks the team’s struggles are the result of young players trying to do too much. In addition to a stout defensive line, one of the most important elements of run defense is the ability of linebackers and safeties to stay disciplined and focus on their responsibilities, not everyone else’s. With a rookie starting at middle linebacker (Bobby Wagner), a second-year strongside linebacker (K.J. Wright) and safeties who are in their third year (Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor), youthful mistakes can happen. It also didn’t help the Seahawks that Wright missed all but three plays of Sunday’s win over the Vikings because of a concussion. ‘I do think we’re over-trying a little bit,’ Carroll said. ‘I think in general guys are trying to live up to the expectations and we’re trying really hard, and at times that takes you out of your game. That’s something we’re really concerned about. We just want to play the way that we’re capable of playing. Sometimes, guys try to go beyond their responsibility to make a play and they get in a bad situation. That’s just because they want to do really well and they’re trying really hard and all of that. It’s a young bunch of guys getting together, so you can fluctuate a little bit there.’ “

Dave Grosby and Dave Wyman of 710Sports.com say the Seahawks defense is going to be OK, and they attempt to ease the fears of fans in this short video.

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com brings us his Midseason All-Underrated offensive team, and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tops the list, “San Francisco’s Alex Smith almost made this spot, but after looking at a few key numbers for both quarterbacks — efficiency in third-down, red-zone, and fourth-quarter situations — the third-round rookie from Wisconsin gets the nod. Wilson, who wasn’t expected to start this season and got all kinds of pre-draft scouting dings as a result of his 5-foot-10 5/8 stature, has become the epicenter of the Seahawks’ offense in the last few weeks. It’s an impressive feat for a team that’s been run-based and centered around Marshawn Lynch. But as head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have taken the training wheels off of late, Wilson has responded with great production. His three-touchdown performance against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday was the sixth-best of the week among quarterbacks per Football Outsiders’ efficiency rankings, and we have a feeling that the best is yet to come. Wilson has more passing touchdowns than any other rookie quarterback (yes, more than Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III), and only Griffin has a higher passer rating. Near-Misses: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers/Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his All-NFC West midseason team and defensive end Chris Clemons, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, cornerback Richard Sherman, and free safety Earl Thomas make the cut for the defense, while center Max Unger and running back Marshawn Lynch represent the offense. Linebacker Heath Farwell tops all division specialists and running back Leon Washington is named the top return man.

Sam Farmer of the LA Times highlights Seahawks team statistician Todd Nielson, “Nielson gathers and crunches numbers, studies probabilities, looks for any sliver of data concerning the Seahawks or opposing teams that could give Seattle an edge. That includes drawing up statistical reports for Coach Pete Carrolland his assistants, documenting plays and coverages during games, and even analyzing officiating crews for their specific tendencies. ‘You look at it, and eventually it’s going to pop off the paper at you,’ said Nielson, who spends much of his day at his modest cubicle, sleuthing tendencies. ‘My interaction with Coach Carroll is very limited,’ he said. ‘I go in his office when he’s not there, and I drop a piece of paper on his desk with what he calls ‘the orange stuff’ on it, which is the highlighted stuff.’ Throughout the week, Nielson fields requests from coaches — for instance, compile all the New York Jets’ runs in goal-to-go situations — then creates a written report, complete with corresponding video. ‘The stats tell you the when and the where,’ he said. ‘The video tells you the how and the why.’ “

Farmer also offers a behind-the-scenes look into the life of Carroll and his coaching staff at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, “In a sense, the 5-4 Seahawks mirror their coach. They are energetic, competitive, and have concentration issues resulting in a string of close losses on the road. The team that is 4-0 at CenturyLink Field is 1-4 away from home. Seattle has the NFL’s third-youngest roster — including rookie Russell Wilson starting at quarterback — and the second-oldest head coach, which seems like a mismatch. But few coaches are as youthful as the 61-year-old Carroll, who seldom stops moving around the sprawling facility and always looks as if he’s about to break into a jog. There’s no hint in his stride of his recent knee replacement. ‘It’s constantly surprising to see somebody who’s older than my dad have that kind of energy,’ said Carroll’s right-hand man, Ben Malcolmson, 27, who won acclaim at USC when he went from student journalist to walk-on receiver. ‘Everyone has their ups and downs, times they just want to chill and relax. With him, it’s never, ‘Hey, I’m going to take a nap for 15 minutes.’ It’s nonstop.’ “

The AP Pro32 has some comments about the Seahawks, who they rank from No. 11 to 12. You can view several of their comments here.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth touches base with the Trufant family, who as we mentioned above will have a busy weekend at CenturyLink Field.

Farnsworth has his “Tuesday in Hawkville“, with a focus on Pro Football Weekly’s Midseason All-Pro list, which features free safety Earl Thomas, running back Marshawn Lynch, and cornerback Richard Sherman.

Lastly, Farnsworth has his first look at the New York Jets, who are up next on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.


Martin, Tuinei released

Charly Martin

Charly Martin

Wide receiver Charly Martin was released by the Seahawks today, after being active for four of the team’s nine games and catching four passes for 42 yards.

Martin, who was signed to a future contract in January, had two catches for 17 yards against the Lions in Week 8 and had one each in the season opener against the Cardinals and the Week 3 game against the Packers.

The club also released rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei from the practice squad. He had been signed last Wednesday after being with the team during training camp.


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Carroll: “[Kearse] is jacked up about this opportunity”

Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 1:30 p.m. practice and preparations for their Week 9 home matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.

When asked about the team’s wide receiver situation heading into this weekend’s game, Carroll said they will take a “wait and see” approach with Braylon Edwards, who had a knee swell up prior to their Week 8 game in Detroit, and that he is expected to get work in practice this week.

On Doug Baldwin, Carroll said he is coming along “better than we thought” from a high ankle sprain and he is challenging the trainers and coaches every day to get back on the field.

Carroll said Ben Obomanu, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve yesterday, is expected to be in a cast for six to eight weeks with a wrist injury, and that the injury would have hampered him too much if he were to try and play through it.

Of Jermaine Kearse, the former University of Washington Husky wideout who was called up from the team’s practice squad to replace the injured Obomanu yesterday, Carroll said he has impressed everybody in everything he’s done and will contribute on special teams as well.

“He’s been solid the whole time and right in the middle of it,” Carroll said. “He’s jacked up about this opportunity.”

Also of note, Carroll said that it is possible that they go into this weekend’s game with just four active wide receivers, which would presumably be Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Charly Martin, and the recently-activated Kearse.

Carroll said he is not sure if defensive tackle Jason Jones will be available this week. Jones missed last week’s game against the Lions with an ankle injury.

No decision has been made on whether or not to activate cornerback Walter Thurmond to the active roster. Thurmond is still within the three-week practice window on the team’s PUP list and the Seahawks will have until Nov. 5 to make a decision on whether or not to activate the third-year corner. Carroll did say that Thurmond will get featured work in practice this week so that he and the coaching staff can obtain a better idea of where he is at.

Our Insiders Clare Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella will be back with more following today’s player availability and practice session. And in case you missed it, stay tuned to Seahawks.com for Carroll’s full video press conference.


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Friday in Hawkville: Sweezy sees improvement at new position

A recap of the activities surrounding the Seahawks’ Bing Training Camp for August 3.

FOCUS ON

J.R. Sweezy. The first of Seattle’s two seventh round choices in this year’s draft, the former North Carolina State defensive lineman was drafted to play offensive line for Head Coach Pete Carroll, and more specifically, for Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable.

In practice today, Sweezy saw a lot of work running with the number one offensive line unit at both left and right guard. Carroll has commented that Sweezy is out there with the ones strictly to get more and more reps each day, and Sweezy is taking every chance he gets to learn a little bit more about his new position.

“I’m definitely learning more being in there with the first team,” Sweezy said. “Those guys know this offense like the back of their hand. They’ve helped me a lot. I still don’t know it as well as I should, but going with that first-team O-line helps a lot.”

The transition from the aggressive style of play a defensive lineman dictates to the more sit-back, wait-and-react approach of an offensive lineman has to be nothing short of mind-boggling for Sweezy, who admits there has been quite the learning curve.

“It was rough in OTAs to start,” Sweezy said. “I was completely confused. At first I was too aggressive. On defense my whole life I’ve been taught to play at a 45-degree angle and now I have to sit back and wait and not lunge at people. When you lunge as an offensive lineman you get beat every time, so it’s a matter of me staying back on my heels.”

“But now I’m starting to get it. It’s starting to make sense and I’m having fun.”

And it sure looked like it made sense to Sweezy today as he participated in the team’s 9-on-7 run blocking drill. With Leon Washington in the backfield, Sweezy – at left guard – sealed his man to the inside of the line before bouncing off the block and finding linebacker Heath Farwell five yards down field to spring Washington for a healthy gain.

Much of Sweezy’s improvement can be directly linked to the offensive line guru Cable, who personally worked out and talked with Sweezy prior to April’s draft.

“He’s the best,” Sweezy said of Cable’s approach to coaching the offensive line. “He’s already taught me so much. I’ve learned a ton in this past few weeks span. Every day I fill up two pages of my notebook with information that he’s teaching me and helping me with, and I’m continuing to get better every day.”

ROOKIE WATCH

A little change-up from Farnsworth’s ‘Unit Watch’ section, as we take a look at rookie Sean McGrath, the undrafted free-agent tight end out of Division II’s Henderson State (Ark.). McGrath was the only player to score in the team’s two-minute drill during Friday’s practice, which featured drives from each of the three quarterbacks – Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson, and Matt Flynn – starting at their own 35-yard line. Running with the third unit, McGrath received a 10-yard strike from Flynn with two seconds left in the drill on a slant route over the middle, falling into the end zone for a score.

“That starts up front with the offensive line first and foremost,” McGrath said. “I’m just doing what they tell me to, following the examples of the veterans, and just trying to work to get better in camp.”

A humble answer from a hard-working individual.

Earlier in the same drill, Flynn lured the defense offside and took a shot for McGrath 20 yards down field, who made the grab on his knees. McGrath has stood out with his hustle and work ethic during camp thus far, and it seems to be paying dividends.

“It’s just a privilege and an honor to play football and do what I love to do for a living,” McGrath said. “I’m just going to keep on having fun doing what I love doing. Playing here with coach Carroll and the whole staff, the Pacific Northwest is a great place to be.”

PLAYS DU JOUR

Offense: Today’s practice featured a little more offensive prowess than Thursday’s defensive-dominated session. The offensive play of the day came on a ball from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who received the majority of the first-team reps today. Wilson tossed a beauty of a deep ball down the left sideline for a streaking Golden Tate who was on a straight-go pattern against cornerback Brandon Browner. Running at full speed the entire way, Tate slowed down just enough to adjust his body to the ball from Wilson, who dropped it right in Tate’s breadbasket over the top of the 6-4 Pro Bowl corner Browner. In the one-on-one receiver drills, it was more Tate, as he cut inside to beat cornerback Ron Parker to the middle of the field on a ball from quarterback Matt Flynn, then, upon receiving the football, spun back to his outside shoulder and headed toward the sideline for a healthy amount of yards after the catch. In the team’s 11-on-11 drill rookie wide receiver Phil Bates took a reverse handoff up the right sideline for a big gain with the help of some quality down-field blocking by fellow rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei.

Defense: In the team’s 9-on-7 run defense drill left tackle Russell Okung sealed his man to the inside in a play that appeared to have freed running back Leon Washington loose from the backfield, but Earl Thomas’ instincts took over to disrupt the play, as the lightning-quick Pro Bowl safety met Washington right at the hole in the line of scrimmage to stuff the play for no gain. Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin showed some very impressive get-off during one-on-one lineman drills, beating offensive lineman Alex Barron to the quarterback in what was a battle of first-round draft picks. Defensive tackle Jason Jones showed some surprising get-up for a 6-5, 276 pound defensive tackle, leaping in the air and extending his long arm to swat down a Tarvaris Jackson pass at the line of scrimmage in the team’s 11-on-11 session toward the end of practice.

IN ‘N OUT

Cornerback Ron Parker returned to practice after sitting out Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday’s practices. Parker had last saw the practice field on Sunday, July 29.

Eight players players did not practice – wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Antonio Bryant, tight end Anthony McCoy, linebackers Bobby Wagner, Matt McCoy, and Jameson Konz, offensive lineman James Carpenter, and cornerback Walter Thurmond. Carpenter and Thurmond remain on the physically unable to perform list.

UP NEXT

The players have a walkthrough and meetings this afternoon and will practice at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow, which is the final practice slotted for 10:15 a.m. of the entire camp. Sunday’s practice moves to 1:15 p.m. and is set to feature a “mock game” between the squads.

JOIN THE CROWD

Today’s practice attracted more than 1,000 fans, as well as another fly by from the Navy’s Blue Angels, who are in town for Seattle’s Sea Fair weekend.

Also seen at today’s practice – a C-17 cargo plane rumbled over the Seahawks three practice fields at VMAC prior to the booming Blue Angels. Mother Nature was not shy to show her face as well, as a lone deer frolicked along the western bank of Lake Washington, while a bald eagle circled the nearby shores.

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

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’d probably try to be like [U.S. Olympic athlete and all-around gymnastics gold medalist] Gabby [Douglas], and practice that. I’d try to do some flips or something like that. I wouldn’t be very good at it, but I’d train myself. Not the outfit, though. The outfit wouldn’t fit me.” – Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson when asked what sport he would compete in if he were to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games.


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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.


Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Williams’ release

Good morning, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 16.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times gives us his reaction to the Seahawks release of wide receiver Mike Williams, noting  the move did not come as a total surprise, but rather a disappointment given Williams’ career revival with Seattle in 2010. “Williams’ release is disappointing, however,” said O’Neil. “His 2010 comeback was nothing short of remarkable as the former first-round pick — who had been out of the league entirely for two years — caught 65 passes to lead the team. He was never going to be mistaken for a track star, but he had size, great hands and an engaging personality. The man is very likeable. He had an ability to cut to the quick and speak honestly. On the subject of the NFL’s comeback player of the year in 2010, he pointed out that Leon Washington was much more deserving considering the severity of the broken leg Washington had to recover from. All Williams did, he said, was recover from being out of shape and sitting on his couch.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his own take on the release of Williams, as he designates health issues and a lack of production a season ago as factors in the team’s decision, and comments on how the move affects the Seahawks’ competition at wide receiver heading into training camp, “The release of Williams opens up competition for the starting split end spot opposite Sidney Rice, with veterans Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler battling with youngsters Golden Tate, Kris Durham and Ricardo Lockette for the starting job.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald presents his take on the release of Williams, and also takes a look at how the move affects the Seahawks wideout group heading into camp, “With or without Williams, the battle for roster spots and playing time already figured to be one of the most intriguing position battles aside from Seattle’s three-man quarterback competition. While Sidney Rice is a lock to start, assuming he is healthy, the battle for the other starting job is wide open. Doug Baldwin should remain the Seahawks’ slot receiver, a role in which he thrived as a rookie in 2011. Golden Tate is now likely the front runner to be Seattle’s other starting receiver, but a number of other players could push him for that spot. The Seahawks will have a battle for both playing time and roster spots beyond Rice, Tate and Baldwin, one that will include Ben Obomanu, Kris Durham, Deon Butler, Ricardo Lockette and perhaps a couple of undrafted rookies such as Lavasier Tuinei and Phil Bates.”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press gives us this story on the release of Williams, suggesting that the signing of tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. may have played a role in the team’s decision to let Williams go, “With Winslow and Zach Miller, the Seahawks are likely to use more two tight end sets and limit the need for a second taller receiver on the outside.”

Over at MyNorthwest.com Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of the “Bob and Groz” show provide their own assessment of the Seahawks decision to release Williams, and discuss what’s next for the team at the wide receiver position, and for Williams, in this video.

Rounding out the reaction to Williams’ release is Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM, who shares this piece and predicts what the team might do to replace Williams, “The team could look to bring in another veteran receiver or two to help add security to the position. WR Antonio Bryant had a tryout during mini-camp in June, but the team wanted him to get in better shape before making a decision on whether to sign him to the roster. He could be an option entering camp.”

The guys at ProFootballTalk.com are incrementally releasing their preseason power rankings and the Seahawks have landed at No. 22 on their list. Evan Silva breaks down the ranking in this Seahawks preview, analyzing the team’s strengths, weaknesses, changes the team has undergone, upcoming training camp battles and has provided an outlook heading into 2012, “The Seahawks seem to be a team on the rise, but they’ve yet to exceed seven regular-season wins through two years of the Carroll/Schneider regime. In order to instill confidence in the minds of observers, Seattle needs to take a significant step forward in on-the-field performance. Seattle’s 2012 schedule includes a brutal stretch from Weeks Two through Eight. They’ll square off with four returning playoff teams — the Packers, Patriots, 49ers, and Lions. During the seven-game run, the Seahawks also face the explosive offenses of Dallas and Carolina. We’ll have a very good feel for what kind of team the 2012 Seahawks are following that tough run. Ultimately, we ranked Seattle as the second best team in the NFC West. We like them better than the Cardinals and Rams, but much less than the Niners. The Seahawks are a club that certainly could surprise, especially if they emerge from the aforementioned seven-game stretch with four solid wins.”

Eric Edholm of ProFootballWeekly.com picks out three teams that may not necessarily be division favorites heading into 2012, but could have the potential to surprise and challenge for the division. Among Edholm’s short list are the Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks. Edholm had this to say on the Seahawks, “The Seahawks are fascinating. They have a young, ballhawking defense, some real talent at receiver and a confident head coach in Pete Carroll with a chip on his shoulder. All they need now is to settle on a quarterback. It should be easy, right? They signed Matt Flynn in the offseason, gave him $10 million guaranteed. That should be our sign he’s the starter. But an interesting thing is happening here, with Tarvaris Jackson getting the first-team reps to start training camp and white-hot (and intriguing) rookie Russell Wilson throwing bolts and determined to win the job from Day One.”

At NFL.com Kurt Warner, Warren Sapp and guest-analyst and former-teammate of Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings each give their two cents on the Seahawks quarterback competition heading into training camp in this short video.

Finally, here at Seahawks.com registration is now open for 2012 Bing Training Camp, which is set to begin at the end of the month. For more information, including how to register, click here.


Tuesday cyber surfing: Positional breakdowns

Good morning, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 10.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times takes a look at the Seahawks wide receiver position, and the competition that will come with it come training camp. O’Neil considers three wide receivers to be “locks” for the Seahawks 53-man roster – Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate. Beyond those three, it gets a little complicated according to O’Neil, “There are veterans Ben Obomanu, [Deon] Butler and [Mike] Williams. There are promising second-year players like Kris Durham — a fourth-round pick in 2011 — and Ricardo Lockette, who flashed his big-play potential at the end of the season. And don’t forget the crew of undrafted free agents and offseason additions: Lavasier Tuinei, Charly Martin, Jermaine Kearse, Cameron Kenney and Phil Bates. So how many can you expect Seattle to keep? Well, 5.4 says history, and before you start wondering how to get 40 percent of one wide receiver, that’s simply the average number of receivers the Seahawks have kept when they reduced the roster to 53 players from 2002 through last season.”

Like O’Neil, here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has a positional analysis of his own, as he takes a look at the Seahawks secondary heading into 2012. Farnsworth points to more experience and better depth as reasons to see improvement in the Seahawks secondary in 2012, as the unit hopes to build off the success they enjoyed a season ago, “No other team in the league had three defensive backs play in the Pro Bowl last season [Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor & Brandon Browner]. No other team in the league had three defensive backs ranked among the Top 10 cornerbacks and safeties in the league by the Sporting News this offseason.”

Over at NFL.com Gregg Rosenthal piggy-backs off of O’Neil’s wide receiver discussion and offers his own thoughts on Mike Williams, “Seattle Seahawks wideout Mike Williams could go from one of the best stories in the NFL to out of the league in the span of just two years. Somehow, that’s the most NFL story of all. Coach Pete Carroll resurrected his former USC star from the ashes in 2010. After being out of the NFL two years, Williams led the Seahawks with 65 catches and 751 yards. He was a legitimate Comeback Player of the Year candidate. He was the No. 1 receiver on a team that won a playoff game. But the NFL is an unforgiving place to work. Williams fell off the map during an injury-plagued 2011, putting up only 236 yards in 12 games. He’s coming off a broken leg and is no longer a lock to make the Seahawks’ roster.”

Also at NFL.com, Matt Smith gives us his fantasy dream team – the “perfect” draft – as he calls it, and lo and behold, there are a couple Seahawks mentions on his list. Smith hopes to pick up running back Marshawn Lynch in Round 3, offering this on Seattle’s bruising back, “I don’t buy last season being a fantasy miracle year for Lynch, Pete Carroll simply realized where his production was going to come from and kept it going, riding momentum of a great defense and running game to a solid close of the season. With the “dink and dunk” Matt Flynn, or the inconsistent Tavaris Jackson, or rookie Russell Wilson, the running game is going to have to be solid again for the Seahawks to succeed. And with their defense looking even better this season, they’re likely to lean on that run game even more.” Then, several rounds later, Smith has his eyes set on the Seahawks defense, “I love getting the defense right in Fantasy. It could be the difference between a win or a loss when you have one that’s dominant in point production. You need a defense that attacks, that goes after the quarterback and places a value on the ball above all else. The Bears have made a fantasy career of it, but these days they’re getting a little bit old to keep doing what they have been. Seattle closed strong, and all season long was solid. Seven weeks of double-digit production is just lunacy to leave on the board.”

Dan Arkush at ProFootballWeekly.com talked to a daily observer of Seahawks team activities, who told him Seahawks first round draft pick DE Bruce Irvin has impressed in the early-goings of Seahawks OTAs and minicamps, “One particularly striking example in a late-May OTA was the eye-popping countermove the sleek Irvin put on Breno Giacomini that literally floored the massive tackle. ‘It was really something to see; it made an instant impression,’ the observer said. But it was hardly enough to suddenly thrust Irvin into consideration for a starting role, with the game plan calling for him to hopefully wreak havoc along with [Chris] Clemons in specific nickel pass-rush situations the same way Aldon Smith did as a first-round rookie for the Niners last season. ‘Irvin has gotten all the starting reps up to now, but he has talked about how much he’d like to be learning from Clemons,’ the observer said.”


And then there were 10

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.”