Wednesday in Hawkville: Seahawks preparing for everything the 49ers can throw, and run, at them

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 19:

Michael Crabtree

FOCUS ON

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.

Offensive Line

POSITION WATCH

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.”

INJURY REPORT

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)

Full participation

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

UP NEXT

“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


Madden lays it on the line

Breno Giacomini, Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan

Right tackle Breno Giacomini (pictured left) and left tackle Russell Okung (pictured right), along with offensive guard Paul McQuistan (pictured in back)

The dominating performance of the Seahawks’ offensive line in Sunday’s victory over the Bills caught the Hall of Fame eye of John Madden, who has selected the unit for his weekly “Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award.”

“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.

The Seahawks’ line, which is coached by Tom Cable, is now in the running for the fourth annual yearly award that recognizes what Madden calls “the backbone of every NFL team.”


Game at a glance: Seahawks 30, Vikings 20

A recap of the Seahawks’ 30-20 victory over the Vikings at CenturyLink Field on Sunday:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Russell Wilson. With all due to respect to Adrian Peterson, who ran for 182 yards, Wilson wins this one 3-2 – as in touchdown passes to rushing touchdowns.

Every time Peterson scored – on 1- and 4-yard runs in the first half – Wilson answered. The Seahawks’ rookie quarterback threw TD passes of 6 yards to Golden Tate and 11 yards to Sidney Rice in the first quarter, after Peterson scored his 1-yarder. After Peterson’s 4-yarder pulled the Vikings even in the second quarter, Wilson gave the Seahawks the lead for good with his 11-yard TD pass to Tate with 44 seconds left in the first half.

“We talked about that during the week, being able to try and contain him,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said of Wilson. “That’s what happens when he scrambles, he is able to make some plays. He made some plays today when he scrambled out of the pocket.”

That Wilson did. He scrambled for 4 yards and also picked up a yard on keeper on a fourth-and-1 play in the 12-play, 80-yard drive to his third TD pass. In the third quarter, Wilson had back-to-back plays where he ran for 8 and 2 yards on the nine-play, 72-yard drive to a 3-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch. As the Seahawks were running out the clock in the fourth quarter, Wilson scrambled for 13 yards.

But his bottom-line contributions were the three TD passes, giving him nine in four home games – with no interceptions.

“Russell played really well, did a great job of handling all the situations and the different players and the thing that we did,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He fit us together nicely.”

And that makes it fitting for Wilson to get this honor, even on a day when Peterson ran wild in the first half.

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense: There was Peterson’s 74-yard run on the second play of the game, but cornerback Brandon Browner pulled him down a yard short of the goal line. So let’s go with the second TD pass from Wilson to Tate, as style points put it over the top. And speaking of over the top, that’s how Tate got the ball across the goal line – by going up and over Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson and then extending an arm.

“He made a spectacular play,” Wilson said. “He has a great desire to get into the end zone, which is pretty awesome. Luckily, the ball was across the line there before it got knocked out.”

Luckily, indeed. “I’m just glad we got the ball,” Tate said. “On the way back (to the sideline it was), ‘Congratulations.’ ‘Good job.’ ‘Make sure you’re on the ball.’ That’s one of the things we really stress in this organization – protect the ball. It’s all about the ball. Defense. Offense. Special teams. We always want to get the ball, or maintain possession of the ball. So that was very important. And I’m going to practice on a pad.”

Defense: While Browner had an interception with 5½ minutes to play to seal the deal, nickel back Marcus Trufant turned in a two-fer play when the Seahawks really needed it in the first quarter. The Vikings already had scored on the opening possession of the game, and then forced the Seahawks to punt. But on third-and-10, Trufant forced Percy Harvin to fumble and then recovered the ball. Three plays later, Wilson passed 6-yards to Tate for a game-tying TD.

“He made a nice cut, I was coming across the middle and just trying to make a tackle,” Trufant said. “I ended up getting my shoulder, hand or something on the ball. I saw it pop up and I was just trying to get on the ball before anybody else got to it.”

It was the kind of play that dominated the conversation during the week in the meetings rooms at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

“All week, it’s been about getting the ball out,” Trufant said. “So you’ve got to take the practice plays and bring them to the field.”

Special teams: Steven Hauschka’s 40-yard field goal with 6½ minutes to play. Yes, Vikings’ rookie Blair Walsh kicked a 55-yarder. And yes, the Vikings’ Kevin Williams blocked Hauschka’s PAT after Wilson’s third TD pass. But Hauschka’s late kick gave the Seahawks a 10-point lead.

INJURY REPORT

Linebacker and leading tackler K.J. Wright went out in the first quarter with a concussion and did not return. He was replaced by second-year ’backer Malcolm Smith in the base defense and veteran ’backer Leroy Hill in the nickel defense.

Center Max Unger went out with a hand injury in the third quarter, but returned on the Seahawks’ next possession. Lemuel Jeanpierre stepped in for Unger on the final five plays of the drive that ended with Lynch’s TD run.

John Moffitt, who had missed the past five games with a knee injury, started at left guard because James Carpenter was ruled out for Sunday’s game on Saturday. Carroll said that Carpenter had not been feeling well all week, and they didn’t know if it was caused by him getting a flu shot on Monday or a concussion he got in last week’s game or Wednesday’s practice.

“It’s usual the way it came about,” Carroll said. “I’m glad we held him out. We’ll figure out what it is by next week and see where we stand.”

WORTH NOTING

The Seahawks held Harvin to 73 combined yards – 24 on four carries, 10 on two receptions and a 39-yard kickoff return. He had been averaging 159.3 in his triple-threat role.

The Seahawks have scored 24 and 30 points in back-to-back games, and 24, 24 and 30 in three of their past four games. The 30 points against the Vikings were a season high.

The Seahawks held the Vikings to 3 of 10 on third-down situations, after allowing their first eight opponents to convert 43.9 percent.

The Seahawks scored touchdowns on their first four red-zone possessions, and added a field goal on their fifth. In last week’s loss to the Lions in Detroit, they had two touchdowns and a field goal in three red-zone possessions.

Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had a team-high 10 tackles to take over the club lead from Wright. Wagner also had his second sack of the season.

Safety Jeron Johnson and rookie lineman Greg Scruggs also had sacks, while Hill and rookie rush-end Bruce Irvin each had half a sack.

Because they held the ball for more than 12 minutes in the fourth quarter and nine minutes in the third quarter, the Seahawks had a hefty advantage in time of possession – 36 minutes to 24 minutes. The Seahawks also ran 18 more plays than the Vikings with a season-high 71.

YOU DON’T SAY

“There were a couple of times I said to myself, ‘Nice move, nice cut or whatever.’ He does a great job of being physical, and that’s what I’m all about. So he has my utmost respect.” – Peterson on Lynch


Friday cyber surfing: Packers preparation under way

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, September 21.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times focuses on quarterback Matt Flynn, who before the season began was expected by many to be starting under center on Monday Night Football against his former team – the Green Bay Packers, “Flynn is the other side to Seattle’s quarterback competition because he was vying for the opportunity Wilson earned. And while Flynn didn’t lose that starting job so much as Wilson won it, this must be more than a little disappointing for Flynn. On Thursday, he got to sit in his locker while half a dozen reporters tried to find a polite way to ask about the reality that he’s not the one starting against his former team. ‘It’s not my decision to make,’ Flynn said. ‘I’m proud of the way that I’ve played and I’ve picked everything up and how I’ve handled coming into a new situation. I can’t control anything. I’m just trying to make the team better and make myself better, and stay confident.’ “

O’Niel also catches up with wide receiver Golden Tate, who has confirmed he was fine $21,000 for his block of Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, and plans to appeal the fine, ” ‘I’m going to ask them that: ‘What would you suggest that I do to make sure that this doesn’t happen again?’ ‘ Tate said. ‘Because I never have intentions on injuring a player, and I always want to play within the rules. So that’s a question that is going to come up when I have my appeal.’ “

Steve Kelley details the play of tackle Frank Omiyale, who stepped in for tackle Russell Okung in the team’s win over the Cowboys, and has a look at the offensive line as a whole, “They sit together along a row of lockers at the training facility, anonymous hulks who understand their roles and support each other like brothers. Guard/center Lemuel Jeanpierre calls this group his football family. ‘We don’t have starters anymore,’ starting center Max Unger said. He was kidding, but there is truth in jest. Last year, when the offensive linemen started falling, Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan and Jeanpierre filled in and the Seahawks might have gotten better. Omiyale, Giacomini, McQuistan and Jeanpierre. In a league that loves its superstars, these are the team’s silent MVPs. They are the products of offensive-line coach Tom Cable’s system. ‘Our practices are as valuable to us as the games are,’ Jeanpierre said. ‘Around here, every day you’re getting watched, everybody’s getting watched. You have to be prepared every day. I think that’s the reason Frank was able to go in there on Sunday and do his job. There’s no big heads on the O-line around here, from the starters to the practice-squad guys. We take care of each other. We push each other. We’re in competition with each other. And we’re always trying to learn something new.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune details Flynn’s adjustment to the backup quarterback role here in Seattle, “Fast forward to six months after he signed, and Flynn finds himself in the same position he was in Green Bay: backup quarterback. ‘I’m ready to go whenever I need to go,’ Flynn said Thursday as the Seahawks prepared to play his former team. ‘That’s how I’m going to look at it. I still have confidence, and I think I can get the job done if I needed to.’ Although understandably disappointed and frustrated, Flynn has handled the situation well, helping his new team prepare for his old one [the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football] by mimicking close friend Aaron Rodgers during practice. ‘I’ve been running that offense for four years,’ Flynn said with a grin. ‘So I guess if anybody can imitate him, I’m going to have a good chance of trying.’ “

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps a pair of Thursday teleconferences with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, “Both Rodgers and Packers coach Mike McCarthy used the term “fly around” to describe the Seahawks’ aggressive defense. ‘The one thing that always stands out when you watch the Seahawks play, particularly at home, is just the energy,’ McCarthy said. ‘When you talk about energy, I think it really describes their whole defense. So, it’s a very active football team. (They had a) big win last week against Dallas, and we know we’re coming into a rough environment.’ “

John Boyle of the Everett Herald offers comments from coach Carroll, as well as offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, on Flynn’s handling of the role of backup quarterback thus far, “Disappointed or not, Flynn has handled being a backup — once again — as well as can be expected according to his coaches. ‘He’s responded well,’ Carroll said. ‘I asked him just walking out if it feels different to him and he said he’s fine about it. He’s helping in every way that he can, and he’ll do his best Aaron Rodgers this week and help us in that regard. It isn’t exactly how he had dreamed it, and maybe even us.’ “

Boyle also has his report from Thursday’s practice, noting relatively clean bill of health all-around for the Seahawks, “Left tackle Russell Okung is expected to be back after missing Seattle’s last game with a bruised knee, and while Sidney Rice (knee) and Zach Miller (foot) may be limited in practice, both should be able to play again Monday. Carroll said it is too early to know the availability of cornerback Byron Maxwell (hamstring). ‘We have a pretty good health situation,’ Carroll said. ‘We think we have a chance to have most our guys ready, which is good.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press writes about the amount of attention Tate’s block of Lee has generated, “On Monday, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he believed the block was perfectly legal and would not draw a fine. By Thursday, Carroll was trying to find out from the league why the block was illegal and how to avoid the situation in the future. ‘We worked hard to understand what was going on with their evaluation of it. We worked behind the scenes and we’re still talking to the league to make sure we know because we need to teach our guys to stay within the guidelines,’ Carroll said. ‘It was a great effort by Golden to make the block that he needed it to make, but unfortunately they saw that there was a little contact to the bottom of his facemask and perhaps his chin, and that’s not OK. Why that’s important to us is that we need to understand clearly how we can avoid doing that.’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his practice notes from Thursday, and previews the Seahawks Monday Night matchup with the Packers, “The game will be a firm test for Seattle to prove they belong among the possible playoff contenders in the NFC this season. It’s a chance for the highly touted defense to show they can slow down one of the most prolific offenses in the league and a chance for the team to gain some credibility nationally. The Seahawks are 5-0 in the last five appearance on Monday Night Football with three of those games being shutouts. Seattle is 2-0 against the Packers on Monday night with a 34-24 win over Green Bay in the snow in November of 2006 during their last Monday night meeting.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com looks ahead to Monday night’s game with the Green and Gold, and cites the similarities between the Seahawks and Packers, “[Seahawks general manager John] Schneider has deployed in the soggy moss what he learned on the frozen tundra: Go young, go big, go fast. ‘John had great respect for Ted Thompson and what they had done in their whole system, and he has come through a long line to get (here),’ said coach Pete Carroll Thursday. ‘He brought the line of thinking that they were (building) a young team; always filling the roster with guys from the bottom up to make it competitive, which fit perfectly with what we wanted to do. I think in so many areas (the Packers and Seahawks) are philosophically similar. (Green Bay coach) Mike McCarthy and John are really good friends. They have talked ball for years. There are a lot of similarities in what we believe in. We’re fortunate to have that here. John came through a great system and brought his own ideas, but he had to contribute at that end as well.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth looks at the role special teams could play Monday night, with the Seahawks holding the No. 2 ranked unit and Packers wielding the No. 5 ranked unit in the League – according to Football Outsiders weekly rankings.

Farnsworth also has a look at the events surrounding Thursday in Hawkville, and catches up with Tate on his block of Lee.

In his Seahawks Daily, Tony Ventrella catches up with players and coaches on beginning the week of practice and on their excitement toward playing on Monday night.

And finally, team photographer Rod Mar has a look at Thursday in photos.


What a day for some advanced line play

Wow. In a word, that describes the setting for Day One of Week Two of Phase 2 in the Seahawks’ offseason program. What two words? Double wow.

The players went through their 45-minute on-field session this morning under blue skies and in 60-degree weather. It was a stark contrast to the blustery conditions that accompanied the first week of Phase 2, when the coaches are allowed to be on the field with the players under the terms of the new CBA.

The veterans will work four consecutive days this week, clearing the fields for a rookie minicamp – which includes practices on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but begins Thursday with physicals for the team’s 10 draft choices, 10 free agents who were signed after the draft and another couple dozen or so players who will be in for tryouts.

Our focus today is on the offensive line, where assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable not only has more depth than a year ago but a group that is deeper into the zone-blocking scheme he installed last year – without the benefit of an offseason due to the 136-day lockout.

“The whole group now is in a different place, in terms of being trained in the system,” Cable said. “So even though this is our chance to start over, like you would every year, we’re further along because of what happened last year.

“That’s a real plus for us at this point.”

What happened last year – losing left tackle Russell Okung (pectoral), right guard John Moffitt (knee) and right tackle James Carpenter (knee) to season-ending injuries – was hardly ideal. But the play of those who stepped in – Paul McQuistan, Lemuel Jeanpierre and Breno Giacomini – has strengthened the group. So have the free-agent additions of guard Deuce Lutui and versatile lineman Frank Omiyale, former starters for the Cardinals and Bears, respectively.

Today, the No. 1 unit was comprised of – from left tackle to right – Okung, McQuistan, center Max Unger, Moffitt and Giacomini. In the No. 2 group were Omiyale, Allen Barbre, Jeanpierre, Lutui and Paul Fanaika. Carpenter remains sidelined, and farther behind in his rehab than Okung and Moffitt, because of the severity of his injury.

You could see the advanced level of their efforts that Cable mentioned as the linemen went through their individual drills.

“When you start at A, and you start working through it, they get it,” Cable said. “We’re able to get the real details going now. That’s been the most fun so far.”

Also, wide receiver Sidney Rice made his first appearance of the offseason program. But he remains sidelined while continuing his rehab from having surgical procedures on both shoulders – injuries that limited Rice to nine games and 32 receptions in his first season with the Seahawks.


Tuesday cyber surfing: Big Walt No. 1 at No. 6

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, April 17:

The best-ever No. 6 pick in the first round of the NFL Draft? It was Walter Jones, who came to the Seahawks with that selection on 1997. Says who? Elliott Harrison, in this photo essay at NFL.com: “The sixth spot in the order has produced some guys who imposed their will on games … James Lofton (1978), John Riggins (1971) and Floyd Little (1967) were all picked just outside of their respective draft’s top five. But none of them — or any sixth pick — dominated the way Jones did. The former Seahawks left tackle was a nine-time Pro Bowler and at one time was the very best in the game.”

The Seahawks receive a B for their free-agency activity from Alex Marvez at FoxSports.com: “The Seahawks did a far better job than Miami in courting Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn, who will now compete with Tarvaris Jackson for a starting spot. The re-signing of running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant insured Seattle will keep two of their best players. … The Seahawks must hope they’ve made a better talent evaluation with Flynn than Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. Both were backups from other teams that failed to cement themselves as starters when given the chance in Seattle.”

With the NFL to announce the 2012 schedule today, Mike Sando at ESPN.com has some simple requests for the Seahawks, including: “Fewer earliest possible kickoffs, please. Seattle played five games at 10 a.m. PT last season. The Seahawks actually won two of them, but teams traveling West to East have long complained about the challenges associated with playing so early. They would much rather play later no matter how well certain Western teams have fared in these games at various times.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at the start of the team’s offseason program, which began with a series of screening tests: “The Seahawks’ offseason program began Monday, but not with the pop of shoulder pads or even a tweet from coach Pete Carroll’s whistle. What the players did on their first day back after an extended break – complements of the new CBA which ended the 136-day lockout that erased the offseason last year – was complete a series of screening tests that will allow head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and his staff to personalize the weight training that will be Tuesday. ‘They say it helps them know what your body can and can’t do, and give them ways they can help improve you,” said Lemuel Jeanpierre, who started the final four games at right guard and another at center last season. ‘Different people have different needs, like maybe with your flexibility. So you go in there and try to give them your best, because we know what’s coming up this offseason.’ ”

Tony Ventrella also takes a look at the activity in this video report.

Jason Cole at YahooSports.com takes a look at the offseason to this point, including the winners and losers in free agency and the best free agents still available: “In an offseason dominated by a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Pro Bowl defensive player changing teams, not to mention a raging controversy about bounties, important issues still linger going into next week’s NFL draft. One is a premier quarterback negotiating what will likely be the biggest contract in league history. Another is a top all-around running back working out a new deal under the threat of sitting out the season.”


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Monday cyber surfing: Life after football

Good morning. Here’s what was “out there” about the Seahawks over the weekend and today, April 9:

Steve Kelley at the Seattle Times checks in with Joe Tafoya, the former defensive lineman for the Seahawks who has formed Jump It Media with other former players: “Two years ago, Tafoya, now 33 and a computer-science major from Arizona, bought an 11-year-old Redmond mobile apps distributor. Now he’s joined forces with like-minded former Seahawks (Kerry) Carter, Chike Okeafor and Omare Lowe to form Jump It Media. Tafoya calls himself ‘The World’s Largest Nerd.’ They’re building profile applications for athletes to help them increase their brands through online channels. Among their subjects are Chicago Bears defensive end Lance Briggs and Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry.”

Josh Kerns at Mynorthwest.com has the story on Ryan Asdourian, who wants to continue in his role as Blitz despite being diagnosed with MS: “For a guy who gets paid to run around in a bird suit and give high fives, Ryan tries hard not to let MS slow him down. And he’s become a huge activist, raising money through his Team Blitz with everything from pub crawls to the annual MS Walk. ‘I go out and talk to support groups, I’ll talk to lots of people at the walk,’ he said. Asdourian is also part of a support at Microsoft where he works, ‘so we kind of make sure that everyone has the resources. That they can talk to people.’ “

The Seahawks added depth and increased the competitive level at three spots on Friday by getting contract agreements with guard Deuce Lutui, linebacker Barrett Ruud and cornerback Roy Lewis. Mike Sando at ESPN.com offers his thoughts, including: “Ruud, 28, was a longtime starter in Tampa Bay before signing with Tennessee last season. He played nine games for the Titans, starting all of them. But a groin injury forced him onto injured reserve. Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was with Tampa Bay when Ruud played for the Buccaneers. Bradley coached linebackers for part of Ruud’s tenure there. That connection means the Seahawks should have a good idea what they’re getting. Ruud’s arrival comes after the Seahawks watched starting middle linebacker David Hawthorne sign with New Orleans. I would expect Seattle to address linebacker in the draft as well.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we also look at Friday’s additions: “Lutui, also 28, is the second lineman to sign with the team since the free-agency period began March 13 – joining Frank Omiyale, who started at left tackle, left guard and right tackle for the Chicago Bears and also played for Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable when both were with the Atlanta Falcons. The club also released veteran guard Robert Gallery, who then signed with the New England Patriots. In a 2½-week period last season, the Seahawks lost right guard John Moffitt (knee), right tackle James Carpenter (knee) and left tackle Russell Okung (pectoral) to injuries that required surgery. In their absence, Paul McQuistan (right guard and left tackle), Breno Giacomini (right tackle) and Lemuel Jeanpierre (right guard) stepped in and played well. Giacomini and McQuistan were free agents, but have been re-signed. Now, enter the Tongan-born Lutui.”

The NFL Draft is less than three weeks away and Chad Reuter at NFL.com takes a look at some players who weren’t invited to the Scouting Combine, including Washington State linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis (6-1, 232): “The 2011 second-team All-Pac-12 pick did not get much national exposure on a 4-8 Cougars squad. The team’s leading tackler in 2011 backed up his production, though, with a 4.54 40, 36 1/2-inch vertical and 36 bench reps at his pro day.”

At SI.com, Peter King looks at the haves and have nots at the top of the draft in his “Monday Morning Quarterback”: “Teams with the most 2012 draft choices in the top 85 overall picks: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, New England, St. Louis (four). Teams with the least 2012 draft choices in the top 85 overall picks: New Orleans, Oakland (zero). … The Rams have five of the first 96 picks overall (6, 33, 39, 65, 96), and Jeff Fisher told me St. Louis would like to trade down from six for the right price. If not, Justin Blackmon would fit a major need at six.”


Thursday in Hawkville

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 29:

FOCUS ON

The rush continues. How is it that the Seahawks have been able to run for 100-plus yards in six of their past seven games, while losing three starting linemen during this stretch?

The linemen point to Tom Cable, while the team’s first-year assistant head coach/offensive line coach points to his system – and his approach to those who make the blocks that have helped Marshawn Lynch rush for a league-high 855 yards in the past eight games.

Breno Giacomini (for right tackle James Carpenter), Paul McQuistan (first for right guard John Moffitt and now for left tackle Russell Okung) and Lemuel Jeanpierre (for Moffitt) have been able to step in with the running game missing nary a beat because they’ve been treated like starters since training camp opened in late July.

“It’s the teaching, the coaching,” Giacomini said when asked the key to unlocking the continued success in the running game. “Every guy in the room prepares like they’re the starter, especially seeing all this change.”

Giacomini said his “moment” with Cable came during the second week of the season, when the Seahawks were not running the ball well but Cable stuck to his plan.

“That’s when I was like, ‘OK, I’m really going to listen to everything this guy says – every sentence; every “i” he dots and every “t” he crosses,” Giacomini said. “It’s been gradual, but you could see it pretty quick.”

It’s just the way Cable always has coached the position, and always will. And that starts with always treating all the linemen the same.

“I never have liked, or understood, how you can make this guy ‘all that,’ or this guy ‘all that,’ ” Cable said. “It’s B.S. to me. They’re all just tough guys who work hard, and want to get a job, and play professional football. So I think they ought to be treated that way.

“In our room, there’s no one bigger or greater than anyone else.”

With the possible exception of Cable, who has proved to be one the Seahawks’ best “gets” in a year where they’ve made 231 transactions.

ON THE FIELD

The players practiced for 105 minutes in the indoor practice facility as they continued to prepare for Sunday’s season finale against the Cardinals in Arizona. Linebacker Leroy Hill, rookie cornerback Byron Maxwell, practice-squad corner Coye Francies and cornerback Brandon Browner came up with interceptions on the final Turnover Thursday of the season. Browner made his in the end zone, while Maxwell’s came off a ball that was tipped by defensive end Chris Clemons.

IN ’N OUT

Leading tackler David Hawthorne and starting split end Ben Obomanu sat out practice for the second day, and were joined this afternoon by Giacomini and defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove.

With Giacomini out, Allen Barbre and Jarriel King got work at right tackle with the No. 1 line. K.J. Wright and Heath Farwell continued to replace Hawthorne at middle linebacker.

Obomanu ran sprints as well as routes on the side under the supervision of assistant trainer Donald Rich.

Here’s the official injury report:

Did not practice

MLB David Hawthorne (knee)

WR Ben Obomanu (knee)

OT Breno Giacomini (abdominal)

DT Anthony Hargrove (calf)

Full participation

CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)

QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral)

DT Clinton McDonald (concussion)

LB Malcolm Smith (concussion)

For the Cardinals:

Did not practice

OT Brandon Keith (ankle)

CB Patrick Peterson (Achilles)

Limited participation

S Rashad Johnson (knee)

QB Kevin Kolb (head)

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring)

RB Chris Wells (knee)

S Kerry Rhodes (ankle)

Full participation

CB Michael Adams (shoulder)

S Sean Considine (foot)

Rhodes got some work today after being sidelined on Wednesday, and it’s looking like John Skelton will get the nod over Kolb because the Cardinals’ starting QB continues to be bothered by concussion-like symptoms.

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks’ defense heads into Sunday’s season finale with a chance to do something only five other defenses in franchise history have accomplished: Finish in the Top 10 in the league in average yards allowed. If they pull it off, it will be the first time since 1997 it has happened. The Seahawks currently rank No. 9, allowing an average of 328.5 yards – only 2 yards fewer than the 10th-ranked Browns and 6.6 fewer than the 11th-ranked Chargers. The Cardinals are averaging 354.2 yards, so …

Here’s a look at how this year’s unit stacks up against the other Seahawk defenses that ranked in the Top 10:

Year    Rank; average yards allowed

1984    No. 6; 310.2

1990    No. 9; 288.1

1991    No. 8; 293.9

1992    No. 10; 286.4

1997    No. 8; 303.1

2011    No. 9; 328.5

UP NEXT

The final Friday of the regular season. The players will have a walk-through, practice and meetings in their final full day of preparation for Sunday’s season finale.

YOU DON’T SAY

“ ‘Lock’ came a long way. He was kind of a deer in headlights when he first got here; just running real fast.  Like Forrest Gump, just running. Just running. He’s gotten better throughout the season. He’s come out here and worked real hard every day. You see every day; he’s making a great catch or outrunning somebody. That shows his ability. But he’s building on it and working on the mental aspects of it. He’s come a long way since Day One of training camp. He’s got a long ways to go. But he can definitely do it.” – QB Tarvaris Jackson on rookie free agent wide receiver Ricardo Lockette


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Cyber surfing: Monday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 26:

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at the Seahawks’ problems winning at home this season: “ ‘That’s something we’ve got to get better at,’ (quarterback Tarvaris) Jackson said. In each of Seattle’s four home losses this season, the Seahawks have had the ball in the final four minutes while trailing by eight points or fewer. In two of those losses, Seattle had the ball twice in that situation. And on those six drives, Seattle never advanced the ball beyond the opponent’s 43-yard line.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune says the Seahawks are learning valuable lessons in their close losses: “Asked what he gleaned from his team’s disappointing 19-17 loss to San Francisco on Saturday, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Red Bryant had a simple response. ‘If I learned anything from them, it’s just being focused and making the plays that need to be made, and we could easily be in the situation they’re in,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to give them a lot of credit because they were able to do what they’ve been doing all year – make a play when it needed to be made.’ ”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has his “Rapid Reaction” to the Christmas Eve loss to the 49ers: “Both teams were ready for a hard-nosed, physical fight. Periodic skirmishes interrupted play and neither team was backing down. The offenses fared better than anticipated in the running game. That helped the 49ers get into third-and-short situations frequently. Seattle deserves lots of credit for getting its ground game going against the NFL’s top run defense while playing with a line featuring three backups, including journeyman guard Paul McQuistan at left tackle and the little-known Lemuel Jeanpierre at right guard. Niners quarterback Alex Smith recovered from a rough first half to lead San Francisco on a fourth-quarter drive to the winning field goal, keyed by a 41-yard strike to Michael Crabtree. And the 49ers’ defense, though unusually vulnerable throughout this game, provided the clinching turnover when Tarvaris Jackson held the ball too long, inviting a fumble-forcing tackle. The 49ers weathered a rough first half without wavering. They opened the second half with a touchdown drive featuring two clutch sideline receptions by tight end Vernon Davis. Smith scrambled effectively. David Akers made 4 of 5 field goals for the 49ers, setting a single-season NFL record for made field goals.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we’ve got a look at how Golden Tate and Breno Giacomini got more than they gave on a holidays visit to cancer patients at the University of Washington Medical Center: ‘ ‘I’ve done stuff in the community before, and I liked doing it,’ Giacomini said. ‘I’d never done anything like that before, but I’ll do it again. After meeting Susan and the other patients, I’ll probably do it for the rest of my career because they were just so happy to see us. It was incredible. That was a real life-changing moment right there.’ ”

We’ve also got recaps of Saturday’s game in words, pictures and video. And then there’s a look at Thom Fermstad, who has been with the club since Day One but is retiring after this week’s game against the Cardinals: “Three owners. Three practice facilities. Three home fields. Eight head coaches. Roughly 775 players. Seven division titles. One conference championship. Nineteen playoff games. One trip to the Super Bowl. Connect the dots between these numbers and it creates a picture of the Seahawks’ first 36 seasons, and Thom Fermstad has seen it all – through the lens of his cameras. But his career will fade to black after next week’s season finale against the Cardinals in Arizona because Fermstad, one of the original members of the Seahawks family, is retiring as the team’s director of video. Today marks his final home game as the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers. ‘It’s been great,’ he said. ‘It absolutely has. I’m sure I’ll miss it.’ ”

For a look at the rest of the league, there’s John Clayton’s “Last Call” at ESPN.com; Clark Judge’s “Judgements” at CBSSports.com; and Don Banks’ “Snap Judgments” at SI.com.


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Cyber surfing: Wednesday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 14:

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times takes a look at three things we learned in Monday night’s win over the Rams, including this one: “Rookie receiver Doug Baldwin might have an “S” on that chest. Not only has he caught 45 passes – third-most among all rookies – but in the first five minutes of Monday’s game he returned the opening kickoff 37 yards, downed a punt at the St. Louis 6 and blocked a punt that fullback Michael Robinson returned 17 yards for a touchdown. Baldwin is not going to break the franchise’s record for receptions by a rookie, set by Joey Galloway with 67, but Baldwin has been the biggest boon to Seattle’s offense this season.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune looks at Golden Tate, and how the second-year receiver is taking advantage of the opportunities that are coming his way: “Tate got his chance when Sidney Rice was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list three weeks ago because of a concussion. Since then, Tate has started two games and has had seven catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in those games – including three catches for 39 yards against St. Louis, along with a 14-yard run.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald is your guide for a tour of what has to happen for the surging Seahawks to make the playoffs: “If the playoffs started today, these six NFC teams would be in: 1. Green Bay (13-0, NFC North champ), 2. San Francisco (10-3, NFC West champ), 3. New Orleans (10-3, NFC South champ), 4. New York Giants (7-6, NFC East champ), 5. Atlanta (8-5, wild card), 6. Detroit (8-5, wild card). These four would be on the outside looking in: Chicago (7-6), Dallas (7-6), Seattle (6-7), Arizona (6-7). So now the question is what needs to happen in the final three weeks of the season for Seattle to move into that top six. Obviously with Atlanta and Detroit already sitting on eight wins, it will be nearly impossible for Seattle to make it at 8-8, so first thing’s first: The Seahawks must win out. So for the purpose of this story, we’ll assume the Seahawks win the rest of their games and finish with a 9-7 overall record and 8-4 conference mark.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has his weekly “Stock Watch” in the NFC West, and Baldwin is an obvious choice for one of the “risers” spots: “The undrafted rookie opened the game with a 37-yard kickoff return. He blocked one punt, downed another at the St. Louis 6-yard line and added a 29-yard touchdown reception. Baldwin was one of several young Seattle players making a positive impact. Rookie linebacker K.J. Wright finished the game with eight total tackles, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, one sack and one pass defensed.”

Sando also looks at the YAC impact of the receivers in the division: “Baldwin gained 73 of his 93 yards after the catch Monday night, a season-high for a Seattle player.”

Here at Seahawks.com, “Monday metatarsal musings” morphs into “Tuesday metatarsal musings” because of the Monday night game, and we look at the ability of the running game to keep producing despite the loss of three starters on the offensive line: “ ‘We’re just kind of filling in,’ said Max Unger, who has been a rock at center in the sea of seemingly endless change on either side of him. ‘It’s still the same group that we’ve had for the most part since (training) camp.’ It’s just that the line has reached the bottom of the depth they entered the season with, and still are getting the job done. The players give ample credit to Tom Cable, the offensive line coach. ‘Coach Cable and our offensive coaches prepare us like we could be in there at any time,’ right guard Lemuel Jeanpierre said. ‘Coach Cable always talks about being a professional, and being a professional is not only practicing hard in our individual drills, it’s preparing in the playbook and everything like that. You watch us in practice; we’ve still got the same tempo we had in camp. Coach Cable’s motto is, ‘You take the hill.’ So you just take the hill and try to get better every day.’ ”

We’ve also got a look at just how productive Marshawn Lynch has been running behind that line in “Tuesday in Hawkville,” as well as a look at the Chicago Bears in “Up next.” And there’s also a look back at the win over the Rams in Rod Mar’s photo blog and Tony Ventrella’s video review.

Chris Burke at SI.com takes a look at the Bears’ Marion Barber, who’s subbing for injured back Matt Forte, and it’s not a pretty picture: “How unexpected was Barber’s fumble? Well, it was his first fumble since Week 13 of the 2009 season, a stretch of 277 carries. The turnover wouldn’t have been possible, though, if not for Barber’s mental block in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. … when Barber bounced to his left in an effort to get outside and allowed himself to be knocked out of bounds. The Broncos then got the ball back with 56 seconds on the clock.”


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