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Tuesday in Hawkville: A very happy, and also productive, birthday for Percy Harvin

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 28, when the Seahawks had an OTA session that was open to the media:

FOCUS ON

Percy Harvin. So, what do you get a player who seemingly has everything for his 25th birthday?

Percy HarvinHow about a 57-yard touchdown reception? That’s what quarterback Russell Wilson came up with during today’s OTA session, and it was just one of four receptions for Harvin during the final team period that slapped an exclamation point on the workout.

Harvin was acquired in a trade with the Vikings in March because he was proficient and productive as a receiver, returner and runner the past four seasons with the Vikings. But today, on his birthday, the spotlight was on Harvin’s receiving skills.

On the second play of the team period, Harvin got behind Brandon Browner, a 6-foot-4 cornerback who is as physical as he is tall, to take Wilson’s pass along the sideline and run it into the end zone. A few snaps later, it was Wilson to Harvin on a crossing pattern. Then, Harvin made a nice grab of a pass from backup QB Brady Quinn as he was racing across the field toward the sideline. Finally, it was Quinn to Harvin to round out the day.

Four routes, four receptions; one big reason why the Seahawks deemed Harvin worth the three draft choices they gave up to acquire him.

None of this should come as a surprise, because last year Harvin tied for first in the NFL with no dropped passes on 82 targets before being sidelined for the final seven games with a torn ligament in his ankle. In fact, according to the statistics provided by ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, the Seahawks have three players who ranked among the top 20 in that category last season: Harvin at No. 1; wide receiver Sidney Rice, another ex-Viking, who had one drop on 78 targets to rank No. 9; and tight end Zach Miller, who had one drop on 49 targets to rank No. 16.

Marshawn LynchPLAYER WATCH

Marshawn Lynch. The team’s leading rusher the past three seasons was back after missing last week’s OTAs. Today, Lynch didn’t miss a beat – or an assignment, or a hole – while displaying the explosive quickness and power that helped him rush for a career-high 1,590 yards last season.

POSITION WATCH

Linebackers. It was difficult not to watch assistant coach Ken Norton’s crew during the session was featured rain, wind and even a sun break or two along the shores of Lake Washington.

Outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Kyle Knox intercepted passes in the 7-on-7 drill, when cornerback Byron Maxwell added a third. During the final team period, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner slapped away a pass that was intended for Miller, while outside linebacker Malcolm Smith made a last-second tip of a pass that was almost in the hands of rookie tight end Luke Willson.

ANTHONY McCOY WAIVED/INJURED; JAKE BSCHERER SIGNED

In a procedural move, tight end Anthony McCoy was waived/injured today. When he clears waivers, McCoy will revert back to injured reserve. McCoy tore his right Achilles tendon during an OTA session last Monday and had surgery on Thursday.

Jake Bscherer, one of three dozen players who attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, was signed. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle played at Minnesota-Duluth.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions on Wednesday and Friday, which are not open to the media. Next week, they have OTAs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“They’re very serious. And I think they’re hungry. They’re very hungry. The way these guys work in the weight room or running inside. You can see them compete in practice. Yeah, they’re ready to go.” – Antoine Winfield, the team’s new nickel back, when asked about the other starters in the secondary: cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Browner and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor


Weighing in on the NFC West

Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.

Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.

It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:

Quarterback

Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”

Running back

Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”

Wide receivers

Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”

Tight ends

Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”

Offensive line

Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”

Defensive line

Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”

Linebackers

Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”

Safeties

Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”

Cornerbacks

Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”

Head coach

Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”


Seahawks’ special teams rank among best in NFL

Not that we needed someone to tell us this, but the Seahawks’ special teams were among the best in the NFL during the 2012 season.

The Seahawks’ units that are coordinated by Brian Schneider finished fifth in the rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. He ranks each of the 32 teams in 22 categories, awarding points on those rankings – one for the best, 32 for the worst.

In Gosselin’s rankings, the Seahawks had 302 points to finish behind the Vikings (253.5), Bengals (276), Ravens (277) and Dolphins (296) – who were the only team among the Top 5 that did not advance to the postseason.

The Seahawks’ special teams scored 24 points, to tie the Titans for most in the league. And the Seahawks’ four scores came from four different facets as Richard Sherman returned a field goal that was blocked by Red Bryant 90 yards for a touchdown in Week 16 against the 49ers; Malcolm Smith recovered a muffed punt as he was crossing the goal line for a TD in Week 14 against the Cardinals; Jeron Johnson returned a punt that was blocked by Smith for a score in Week 3 against the Cowboys; and Leon Washington returned a kickoff 98 yards for a TD in Week 12 against the Dolphins.

“We were very consistent this season,” Schneider said. “Very consistent. We had the big plays, but the thing that jumped out at me was the consistency.”

Schneider’s units also were ranked No. 3 by Football Outsiders, who factor five elements in their rankings – field goals and PATs, kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts and punt returns. The Seahawks had ranked No. 16 in 2011.

“This thing could be going on for a while,” punter Jon Ryan said. “It’s not a flash-in-the-pan type thing, where it’s just a one-year fluke that we played well on special teams. We’re going to just keep building on this and keep on working on that goal of owning the NFC West.”


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Honor roll from a season when Seahawks got on quite a roll

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Seahawks.com hands out its honors from the team’s 11-5 regular season and split of two games in the postseason:

MVP: Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. How can pick one over the other? How can you pick one or the other? We couldn’t, so the Beast Mode running back and steady-as-he-throws rookie QB share the honor, just as they shared the workload. There’s an entire story’s worth of thought process that went into this decision.Max Unger

Best offensive player: Max Unger. It could go to Lynch or Wilson, obviously. But this is a share-the-credit selection, since both Lynch and Wilson were always quick to credit the line for its part their accomplishments. Unger, in his second season as the starting center, anchored that line and was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl. “He’s right all the time,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said. “I think to do this the consistency thing comes into play here. You’ve got to do it running the ball and protecting your quarterback down after down, and Max has done that.”

Best defensive player: Richard Sherman. Only strong safety Kam Chancellor (.975) and free safety Earl Thomas (.958) played a higher percentage of snaps than Sherman (.948), but no one made more plays than the second-year cornerback. He led the team, and tied for second in the NFL, with eight interceptions. He also had 24 passes defensed, almost three times as many as Thomas (nine), who finished second on the team. Richard Sherman, Heath FarwellSomehow snubbed when it came to voting for the Pro Bowl, Sherman was selected to the All-Pro team. If enough people were paying attention, he also should get some consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year – an award that is expected to be a slam-dunk for the Texans’ J.J. Watt. And Sherman saved one of his best efforts for the biggest stage – Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons. “I thought he had a fantastic football game,” coach Pete Carroll said. “They went after him. They challenged him. And I thought he was incredible.”

Best special teams player: Heath Farwell. Again, this was not an easy choice. And asking special teams coordinator Brian Schneider for help didn’t help at all, because so many of his players made special contributions. From Jon Ryan, who broke his own club record for net average (40.8) and was among the league leaders with 30 punts downed inside the 20; to kicker Steven Hauschka, who was 23 of 23 from inside the 50; to Leon Washington, who was voted to the Pro Bowl and returned the eighth kickoff of his career for a TD to tie the NFL record; to Michael Robinson, who was second to Farwell in coverage tackles (10); to Malcolm Smith, who scored off a muffed punt return and blocked a punt that was returned for a score. But for Schneider, it was all about the consistency with his units and no one was more consistent than Farwell, who had 15 coverage tackles to go with the league-high 21 he produced last season.

Bobby WagnerOffensive rookie of the year: Wilson, for all the obvious reasons and even more that weren’t that obvious.

Defensive rookie of the year: Bobby Wagner. While first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin led all NFL rookies with eight sacks, Wagner led the team, and finished second among all rookies in the league, with 140 tackles during the regular season and 17 during the postseason. The second-round draft choice also produced four interceptions and two sacks from his middle linebacker spot. The best part of everything that Wagner did? His attitude. “I’m the middle linebacker,” he said. “I’m supposed to make a lot of tackles.”

Free-agent addition of the year: Zach Miller. Yes, he was signed in free agency the previous year. But his contributions this season came much closer to displaying just how versatile – and good – a tight end Miller is. He’s a rock-solid blocker and also finished third on the team with 38receptions and tied for second with three TD catches. But it was Miller’s over-the-top efforts against the Falcons that forced the turn-back-the-clock tweak in this category: eight catches for 142 yards. All after he tore the plantar fascia in his left foot on the Seahawks’ first possession. “Zach had a terrific season for us,” Carroll said. “But in this game, when he had the opportunities, boy, he cashed in on all of them.”

Chris Gray Award: Paul McQuistan. Who better to win this than this generation’s Chris Gray? Gray was a warrior of a lineman who started a club-record 121 consecutive games from 1999-2006, after being signed to fill a backup role. That’s the same path McQuistan has followed. Signed to a future contract in January of 2011, he started a career-high 10 games last season and 16 this season – nine at right guard and seven at left guard, where he also started both postseason games. “He’s kind of our glue, that’s the way I look at him,” Cable said. “Paul has been so valuable. He has played multiple positions the last two years. He never misses a beat. It’s just that his wisdom and experience are so valuable for those young guys in there. So he truly has been the glue in that room, without a doubt.”

Best trend: Going 8-0 at home. This season’s team did it, joining the 2003 and 2005 teams as the only ones in franchise history to do it. Along the way, the Seahawks dispatched the Packers and Patriots, who went on to win their divisions, as well as the playoff-bound Vikings. They also avenged road losses to each of their NFC West rivals – beating the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals by a combined 94 points in the final month of the regular season after losing to them by a combined 17 points in the first seven weeks of the season. Think how different things might have turned out if the Seahawks had been able to play at CenturyLink Field in the postseason. Carroll has. “That’s why you own your division, so you can be positioned to play at home,” he said. “That’s what’s at hand, that’s the goal of this program – it’s to win the division so that you can start the playoffs where you want to, and try to keep it there.”

Worst trend: The inability to hold fourth-quarter leads. As well as the defense played – and that was ranked-No. 4-in-the NFL well – it allowed the Lions, Dolphins and finally Falcons to drive to game-winning scores after the Seahawks taken fourth-quarter leads. The Bears tied the score at the end of regulation, but the offense won that game in overtime. Win a couple of those other games and the Seahawks would have captured the division and opened the postseason at home. “That’s an issue, just finishing it off on that last drive,” Carroll said. “There are four games sitting right there. That’s a big-time season. But I’m not worried about figuring that out. It’s just a snap here or there. But it happened this year and you can’t ignore that.”

Best quote: This one is actually a remark incumbent starter, and since traded, Tarvaris Jackson made last spring – way before the fact, and way before Wilson became the talk of the NFL: “Russell, he’s not like a regular rookie.”


Pete Carroll on RGIII: ‘When he’s on, he’s as good as you can get’

Robert Griffin III

In his first year in the NFL, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III threw for 3,200 yards, 20 TD, and 5 INT, good for a 102.4 passer rating. He added 815 yards and seven scores on the ground in leading the Redskins to their first NFC East title since 1999.

Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 2:00 p.m. practice and preparation for their Wild Card playoff matchup against the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedexField.

“We’ve treated every game like it is a championship game and you approach it like that so when you get there you know how to handle it,” Carroll said of his young club’s involvement in the playoffs. “We’re honored to be here and want to do something special with it now that we’re here. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”

Asked about the similarities between the Redskins and Seahawks, Carroll pointed to the two teams’ zone-blocking run game led by Washington’s Alfred Morris and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, as well as the zone-read,with the impressive play of the young rookie quarterbacks – Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.

“It’s an exciting time for the League,” said Carroll. “RGIII is real, and Alfred Morris is legit – 1,600 yards, a phenomenal season. [Griffin] has got all those commercials for a reason. He’s been good from the start. He is really special. He has extraordinary accuracy. He’s held the numbers all through the season with QB rating and such.

“When he’s on, he’s as good as you can get.”

On the injury front, Carroll said the team is very fortunate to have the majority of it’s players healthy. Linebacker Leroy Hill, who missed the regular season finale against the St. Louis Rams with a hamstring injury, will practice today.

“We’ll see how he does today and how he comes back tomorrow,” Carroll said.

Second-year pro Malcolm Smith out of USC has stepped in for the injured Hill three of the past five weeks, but Carroll said they will wait and see who gets the start at weakside linebacker this Sunday against the Redskins.

Carroll added that rookie offensive guard J.R. Sweezy remains the starter on the right side, while second-year man John Moffitt is competing for playing time.

Our Insiders Clare Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella will be back with more following today’s player availability and practice session. Until then, be sure to catch coach Carroll’s full video press conference below:


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Thursday cyber surfing: Club lands five in Pro Bowl; Bryant named Special Teams Player of Week 16

Pro Bowl

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 27.

Yesterday, five Seahawks were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl – left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters at their positions, running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are designated backups, and Leon Washington will serve as the conference’s kick returner.

Defensive end Red Bryant has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 16, according to Randall Liu, the NFC’s Director of Football Communications, who made the announcement on Twitter this morning. Bryant blocked a San Francisco 49ers field goal early in the second quarter that cornerback Richard Sherman picked up and ran back 90 yards for a touchdown.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times highlights the Seahawks’ five Pro Bowl selections and says the Seahawks are not giving up on the chance to claim the NFC West title, “So, you’re saying there’s a chance? Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game. Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his story on the Seahawks named to the Pro Bowl, “In addition to the five players named to the NFC team, the Seahawks also had eight players named Pro Bowl alternates. Cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive end Chris Clemons and fullback Michael Robinson were named first alternates; safety Kam Chancellor, punter Jon Ryan and special teamer Heath Farwell were named second alternates; quarterback Russell Wilson was named a third alternate and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was named a fourth alternate.”

Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, has a look at the Seahawks playoff scenarios heading into Week 17, “The most likely outcome of this weekend, assuming that the Seahawks take care of the Rams on Sunday, is a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Redskins can beat the Dallas Cowboys at home, we’ll be watching two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL go head to head. A Russell Wilson vs. RGIII matchup would pit two of the top Rookie-of-the-Year candidates against one another. Certainly the Redskins are a force and rank No. 9 in ESPN’s power ranking, but again I would expect the Hawks to beat them on the road.”

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice, noting the return of veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, “Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday. Trufant had missed the last four games, recovering from a hamstring injury. ‘Tru is going to go today. It will be great to have him out there,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘He’ll be jumping in at the nickel spot and see how he does there. We’ll see how he handles it, and each day will tell us a new story. We can’t project how he’s going to make it for the game. We don’t know that.’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Wednesday, “Carroll praised the play of CB Jeremy Lane and CB Byron Maxwell, who have been forced to step into bigger roles due to the suspension of CB Brandon Browner and injuries at the position. Carroll said they are playing better than even he imagined they could. ‘They really are, they have really come through well,’ Carroll said. ‘They’re athletic, so I knew that they would athletically be okay, but they have played very consistent and stayed on top on the deep balls.’ “

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com details the impressive play of rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane and offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, who have been forced into increased playing time.

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has a look at head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks following last Sunday’s win over the Niners.

Doug Farrar of YahooSports.com breaks down Russell Wilson’s scramble run with 12:56 left in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the 49ers, “…this amazing play brings a larger point home — as

the 10-5 Seahawks prepare for this Sunday’s regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, Wilson might be the one rookie quarterback nobody wants to deal with right now. Seattle has scored 150 points and allowed just 30 in its last three games. In the month of December, Wilson has a 110.1 quarterback rating — only Cam Newton and Tony Romo are better in that department for the month among signal-callers with four starts — and he’s thrown for eight touchdowns against two interceptions. Add in the three rushing touchdowns he bagged against the Buffalo Bills two Sundays ago, and it’s pretty clear that Wilson gives the Seahawks a playoff edge few other quarterbacks present at this particular point in time.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his Pro Bowl analysis on the NFC West and names rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the division MVP in his “NFC West wrap“, “Division MVP: Russell Wilson. Raise your hand if you thought the Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback would become the best quarterback in the NFC West and the No. 1 reason Seattle would challenge for the NFC West title. OK, you can put your hand down now, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. You were about the only analyst I can recall being bullish enough to go all-in for Wilson back in August. ‘I think Russell Wilson is going to be great,’ Williamson said back on Aug. 30. ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division. … Wilson puts up a ton of points at every level — N.C. State, Wisconsin, the preseason with Seattle. There is no down side to him, except he’s short. But he knows how to get around that.’ “

Sando also has a look at injury situations around the NFC West, “The Seahawks held out from practice receiver Sidney Rice (knee), tight end Anthony McCoy (back), tackle Breno Giacomini (elbow), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), linebacker Leroy Hill (hamstring), cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot). Cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Alan Branch practiced. Both have been injured recently.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his story on the club’s Pro Bowl selections and recaps the activities surrounding “Wednesday in Hawkville” with a focus on general manager John Schneider.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the team begins preparations for the final week of the regular season.

We have coach Carroll and coach Bevell’s full video press conferences from yesterday.

Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has photos from yesterday’s “Competition Wednesday” practice available here.


Carroll: Trufant set for return to practice

Marcus Trufant

Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 2:00 p.m. practice and preparation for their Week 17 matchup with the St.Louis Rams on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

Carroll said veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant will practice today, returning from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the last four games.

“We’ll see how he handles it,” Carroll said of Trufant’s return to the practice field at the nickel position. “We don’t know how it’ll affect his game status for Sunday yet.”

Third-year cornerback Walter Thurmond is still nursing a hamstring injury of his own and Carroll said he will not practice today. Thurmond has missed the club’s last two games.

On weakside linebackers Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Malcolm Smith (groin) Carroll said the pair will be dealing with their injuries they suffered in Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers throughout the week and will not practice today. If neither player is available by Sunday, second-year linebacker Mike Morgan is the expected backup at the position.

Wide receiver Sidney Rice, who was dealing with a foot bruise and knee injury heading into last week’s game, and defensive end Red Bryant, who has been managing a foot injury, will not practice today. Carroll expects the two to be fine for Sunday’s game against the Rams, but their practice time will be managed throughout the week.

Our Insiders Clare Farnsworth and Tony Ventrella will be back with more following today’s player availability and practice session. Until then, be sure to check out coach Carroll’s full video press conference below:

 


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Wednesday cyber surfing: Club continues to play with edge; Pro Bowl rosters to be announced

Red BryantGood morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 26.

The NFL notes that 2013 Pro Bowl rosters will be announced today at 7 p.m. ET on a special edition of “NFL Total Access.”

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the improvement of quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense, “Wilson’s yards per attempt — a metric that helps gauge how aggressively a team looks downfield — is up nearly 2 yards over the past three games, a significant bump. What has really exploded is Wilson’s rushing numbers, the game plan becoming focused upon accentuating Wilson’s talents. It’s not just running beyond the line of scrimmage, but moving in the pocket. He’s got license to scramble, evading defenders with maneuvers that are at times almost comical. Earlier in the season, Seattle was trying to grind out victories while grooming a rookie quarterback. Now, the Seahawks are trusting that same rookie to see how far he will take them. ‘We have a front-line, first-rate quarterback going out there in these games and you’re seeing it,’ Carroll said. ‘He’s balling. We trust him in his decision-making because he’s proven worthy of that.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune rehashes the race for offensive rookie of the year, making a case for Wilson, “Since Week 5, Wilson has thrown for 2,274 yards, completing 65 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. During that same stretch Wilson has a 106.9 passer rating, the second best in the league over that span behind only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (110.8). In the red zone, Wilson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 17 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 105.6 passer rating, which is fourth-best in the league.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes about how Carroll and the Seahawks are handling their recent success, “No longer are the Seahawks, the team playing in the NFL’s most remote outpost, the plucky little team that could. They’re quickly turning into bullies. Apparently, three wins by a combined margin of 150-30 tends to make people take notice. So is there any concern the Seahawks could lose their edge now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth and are being called the NFL’s hottest team? ‘Yeah, sure, there is always concern for that,’ Carroll said. ‘That’s what my job is, to not let that happen, so I better be concerned about that. I’m very confident about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and the language that we use and the way we talk, the way they’re talking. I love to hear their comments at this point and how they’ve dealt with the last few weeks. They’re right on point.’ “

Boyle also notes a roster move from Monday, December 24, as the club released wide receiver Deon Butler from the 53-man roster to make room for the addition of rookie strong safety Winston Guy, who had been serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Jim Litke of the Associated Press tries to make sense of the sound level exhibited by the 12th Man at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, “[Sunday Night Football producer Fred] Gaudelli and his crew hatched a plan to demonstrate that by having sideline reporter Michele Tafoya speak into a microphone as the sound reverberated, then take a step back and try again. When they ran through it before the game, he had a stadium staffer simulate the crowd noise over the PA system. At the point Tafoya’s words were drowned out the system was cranked to 50 percent of volume. ‘So I asked the guy, is it really going to be that loud? He looked at me,’ Gaudelli chuckled into the phone, ‘and said, ‘Double it.’ The guy was right. That much was apparent at the start of the broadcast, when Tafoya interviewed Carroll – remember, the game hadn’t even begun – and didn’t dare stand anywhere but uncomfortably close. Uncomfortable might be the right word to describe the 49ers as well, at least in the early going, when they had to burn timeouts as relatively inexperienced quarterback Colin Kaepernick was having trouble getting the play calls from his sideline. Right about then, he probably wished the 49ers had devoted more time to mastering their silent snap counts. ‘The crowd’s explosive, it really is,’ Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ‘They love us so much, and it brings so much energy to our football team. They keep us in the game, obviously, and they keep us alert.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press has reaction from Carroll on the club’s hope to continue to play with an edge, “The blowout of the 49ers grabbed the kind of attention the Seahawks have wanted. ‘The chip on the shoulder? That’s not something we just manufactured for the sake of getting fired up. The guys in this room feel that. Almost every one of these guys has their reasons. I feel like that myself. We just kind of share in that chip and we don’t even have to pass it around,’ Carroll said. ‘We all have one. That’s just kind of how it’s been. Just look, we’re up here in the Northwest and they like talking about us after they talk about everybody else. And that’s OK. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t amount to much but sometimes it does fuel you a little to keep you going. It works for us so we’ll stay with it.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com says last Sunday’s victory over the 49ers was “extra special” for wide receiver Doug Baldwin, “As if beating his college coach in lopsided fashion wasn’t sweet enough, Baldwin had his finest game of the season in the win. He had receiving touchdowns of 4 and 6 yards, making difficult catches on each. He made a bobbling catch on a 46-yard gain that set up the Seahawks’ second touchdown. Baldwin finished with four catches for 53 yards. It was the first multi-touchdown game of his career. Then again, big games against the 49ers are nothing new for Baldwin. Four of his seven career touchdowns have come against San Francisco.”

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has updates from Carroll’s Monday presser, “Carroll said they emerged from the game fairly healthy with only a few issues. He said LB Leroy Hill has a hamstring injury that needs to be looked at. He also said Hill’s backup, LB Malcolm Smith, might have a groin issue as well. It’s something they need to check out. If neither would be available to play, LB Mike Morgan would be the backup at the weakside linebacker spot. Carroll said WR Sidney Rice and DE Red Bryant came out of the game feeling better. Rice had been dealing with a foot bruise and a knee injury heading into last week’s game. Bryant has been dealing with a plantar fascia injury in his foot. CB Marcus Trufant is expected to return to practice on Wednesday from a hamstring strain that has kept him out the last four games. Carroll said they still weren’t sure if CB Walter Thurmond would be able to practice Wednesday. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain as well.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “MVP Watch” where Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch show up on his list, “Wilson now ranks seventh in NFL passer rating (98.0) and eighth in Total QBR (70.0) for the season. He ranks third in both categories — 101.5 rating, 75.6 QBR — from Week 2 to present. Much gets made of Wilson’s success at home. He ranks among the NFL’s top five in road QBR after Week 1 (78.8). Only Ryan (85.4), Brady (81.5) and Manning (80.2) rank higher among quarterbacks with more than four road starts during that time. Ben Roethlisberger (72.8), Drew Brees (69.9), Rodgers (69.8) and Robert Griffin III (69.6) are next. Wilson needs one touchdown pass against St. Louis in Week 17 to tie Manning’s rookie record of 26, set in 1998. Manning also had 28 interceptions that season. Wilson has 10, including one on a dropped pass.”

Sando has his most recent “Stock Watch” item as well, and the Seahawks’ coach and GM – Carroll and John Schneider – along with the Seahawks’ receiver and strong safety Kam Chancellor represent three of his four units that are on the rise, “Seahawks’ receivers. Dropped passes doomed Seattle’s offense during a 13-6 defeat at San Francisco in Week 7. Outstanding catches played an important role in Seattle sprinting to a big lead against the 49ers in the rematch Sunday night. Baldwin’s juggling catch in the rain for a 43-yard gain was the longest play for either team. Baldwin added two scoring receptions. Rice made a leaping grab along the sideline. Seattle converted 11 of 12 times on third down while Wilson was in the game.”

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth catches up with wide receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Richard Sherman, and special teams co-captain Heath Farwell on some of their favorite Christmas memories growing up.

We also have coach Carroll’s full video press conference from Monday available here.


Christmas Eve in Hawkville: Making the playoffs just a step in the journey

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 24:

FOCUS ON

Christmas Eve Eve. For Pete Carroll, Sunday night began with him holding his grandson, Dillon, on the sideline before the Seahawks’ game against the 49ers. It ended with the team’s third-year coach embracing a playoff berth after a beyond-convincing 42-13 victory.

But Carroll is not satisfied. Far from it.

“My goal has never been the playoffs,” he said today during his weekly day-after Q&A session with reporters. “It’s try to win the division, because that puts you in the playoffs at home. And that’s what you want. The second season starts, but you want to position yourself in the best spot that you can get it.

“So we never say around here, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get to the playoffs.’ I never thought that. That isn’t good enough.”

That’s still out there for the Seahawks, if they beat the Rams at CenturyLink Field this Sunday while the Cardinals are beating the 49ers in San Francisco. But regardless of where the Seahawks finish, they’ve made it apparent that they can make some noise in the postseason.

To say they’re are on a roll does not do justice to just what the Seahawks have done during their four-game winning streak. Starting with the fourth quarter of their overtime win against the Bears in Chicago in Week 13, the Seahawks have scored on 24 of their 32 full possessions – not counting when the clock expired at the end of the first half or they kneeled to run out the clock at the end of the second half. And that doesn’t include the four touchdowns scored by the defense and special teams.

“We have to take care of our business first,” Carroll said. “What’s most important right now is we maintain consistency, and we maintain the level of play, and the focus to the details, and the discipline it takes to practice each day with intent, and do things right. And put together another good week so we can play well again.

“We’ve been playing well for quite a while. I can feel it in the room and the guys understand it. But that doesn’t mean anything unless we go do it again.”

GUY BACK, BUTLER GONE

The Seahawks have activated rookie safety Winston Guy, who returned last week with a roster exemption after serving a four-game suspension.

Guy, a sixth-round draft choice, was inactive for eight of the first 10 games before his suspension.

To clear a roster spot, wide receiver Deon Butler was released. Butler was re-signed Dec. 15.

INJURY UPDATE

Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Malcolm Smith (groin) came out of Sunday night’s game with injuries, and the next-man-up at weakside linebacker is Mike Morgan, who started one game and played most of the second on the strongside for K.J. Wright earlier this season.

Carroll expects Marcus Trufant to practice on Wednesday after missing the past four games with a hamstring injury. But he is not sure if Walter Thurmond will be able to return by then. Thurmond has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.

PLAYER WATCH

Jermaine Kearse. Signed as a free agent in April after the NFL Draft, the rookie free agent from the University of Washington was released Aug. 31 on the roster cut to 53 players. He was then signed to the practice squad (Sept. 3), released from the practice squad (Sept. 8), re-signed to the practice squad (Sept. 11) and then signed to the 53-man roster (Oct. 30).

Sunday night, Kearse caught a 17-yard pass from Russell Wilson on a third-and-8 play to sustain a 15-play, 68-yard drive that ended with Wilson’s first TD pass to Doug Baldwin and also had two coverage tackles on special teams.

“Oh man, this is a lot of fun,” Kearse, who also went to Lakes High School, said in the locker room after the game. “Especially being in this environment, my rookie year, being with this team, in my hometown; it’s a ton of fun. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Especially because he’s playing for a coach who rewards those players who work hard. Kearse is just one example of a rookie – and a practice-squad rookie, at that – who has reaped the Carroll-bestowed chances.

“Coach has given be a great opportunity to be part of this team,” he said. “Whether it’s special teams or offense, whatever opportunity I get I’m going to run with it. I felt good about today. It was a great team win and I’m happy to be part of this organization.”

PLAYOFF PATTER

If the season ended today, which of course it doesn’t, the Seahawks would play the Redskins in Washington in the first round. That, of course, could change because the only playoff spots not settled involve the NFC West, NFC East and NFC North.

The Seahawks and 49ers are both in, with the 49ers winning the division if they beat the Cardinals on Sunday; or the Seahawks winning it if the 49ers lose and they beat the Rams. One wins the division, while the other gets the No. 5 seed.

In the East, the Cowboys play at the Redskins on Sunday with the winner taking the division and No. 4 seed. With a loss, the Redskins are the No. 6 seed, if the Vikings and Bears also lose. If the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, they’re out. Then it’s the Vikings for the No. 6 seed, if they beat the Packers; or the Bears, if they beat the Lions and the Vikings lose; or the Giants, if they beat the Eagles and Cowboys, Vikings and Bears all lose.

POWERING UP

The Seahawks have made a pre-Christmas move in two of the power rankings that have surfaced early in this Christmas week. Here’s a look at where they rank, and what they’re saying:

No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com: “A tour de force victory Sunday night over the big, bad wolf of the NFC West that stamped the Seahawks as a real Super Bowl contender. No team has a bigger home-field advantage than the Seahawks (7-0 at CenturyLink this year). Too bad the ‘Hawks will likely have to win three straight on the road to get to the Super Bowl.”

No. 6 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings: “The Seahawks are on a 100-13 scoring run at home and have put up 150 over the past three weeks.”

STATS ’N STUFF

After rushing for 176 yards against a 49ers defense that was allowing an average of 91.1, the Seahawks rank No. 2 in the league in rushing offense. They have spiked their per-game average (161.7) by averaging 226.5 in their four-game winning streak.

The Seahawks also are plus-12 in turnover differential, which ties for sixth in the league.

Marshawn Lynch remains second in the league in rushing (1,490) and is tied for fourth among non-kickers with 72 points. He’s also fifth in total yards (1,672) and first downs (75).

Richard Sherman is tied for second in the league with a career-high seven interceptions, one behind league-leader Tim Jennings of the Bears; while Chris Clemons is tied for seventh in sacks (11.5).

Wilson’s passer rating of 98.0 is seventh in the league, and second among rookie QBs behind the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III. Wilson’s 101.5 passer rating in the fourth quarter is seventh in the league and his 92.4 rating on third downs in eighth. With 25 TD passes, he is ninth in the league, tops among rookie QBs and one shy of Peyton Manning’s league record for a rookie QB.

Leon Washington remains second in the league in kickoff return average (30.1), while Jon Ryan is sixth in the league in net punting average (41.6) and tied for 10th in punts inside the 20 (28).

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the team with 130 tackles, which is six shy of the single-season club record for a rookie set by Terry Beeson on 1977. Special teams co-captains Heath Farwell (15) and Michael Robinson (10) lead the team in coverage tackles.

STAT DU JOUR

Calvin Johnson surpassed Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL record for receiving yards on Saturday night, which only makes the job the Seahawks did against the Lions’ Megatron wide-out in Week 8 that much more impressive. Here’s a look that game, and what Johnson has done since then:

Opponent                Rec.  Yards

Seahawks                  3         46

Jaguars                      7       129

Vikings                     12      207

Packers                      5      143

Texans                       8      140

Colts                         13      171

Packers                    10      118

Cardinals                 10      121

Falcons                    11      225

UP NEXT

Christmas Day, of course. And this year it just happens to fall on the players’ usually day off. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for this week’s game against the Rams at CenturyLink Field.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The amazing thing Sunday night was, that was no Jacksonville or Kansas City they beat up 42-13. That was the San Francisco 49ers, who’d entered the game first in the NFL in scoring defense. Russell Wilson had the first four-touchdown-pass day of his exploding career, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards, and the Seahawks, with a crowd so loud that NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya had to scream into Pete Carroll’s ear to be heard before the game, continued on the NFL’s best three-game offensive run since 1950.” – King in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com


Friday cyber surfing: Malcolm Smith earning his way

Malcolm Smith

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 14.

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks plan to continue featuring running back Marshawn Lynch, who will face his former team this Sunday, “Lynch, who signed a four-year, $31 million deal in March, has seven 100-yard rushing games this season, second-best in the NFL. He has reached the milestone in five of the past seven games, including a dominant performance last week versus Arizona with 128 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns on just 11 carries. ‘He’s been very consistent with his output and his effort and his style,’ Carroll said of Lynch. ‘Everything has been there every single game.’ Added quarterback Russell Wilson: “He’s the best running back in the NFL — one of the best, for sure — and he does a great job of just being a workhorse. … I think the biggest thing is you have to keep feeding him.’ “

Mayers also has the Seahawks and Buffalo Bills injury reports from yesterday, noting that wide receiver Sidney Rice (foot) and cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) did not participate in practice.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with linebacker Malcolm Smith, who has seen increased playing time lately while veteran linebacker Leroy Hill recovers from a sprained ankle, “During his first season in Seattle, Smith had trouble staying healthy. Smith missed two games because of a hamstring injury, and two games with a concussion. But this season, Smith has been active for all 13 games. And he’s been a key special teams contributor, with five tackles and a blocked punt. ‘The speed on special teams is even more than defense,’ Smith said. ‘So being able to do that has helped a lot for sure. That was the plan when I came here. They said you have to earn your way. And that’s my way of showing up.’ “

Williams also chats with Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, who regularly covers the Buffalo Bills, and asks him five questions leading up to Sunday’s game, “Q: C.J. Spiller was one of the most explosive players in the 2010 draft. He’s on the verge of rushing for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, and has an impressive 6.6 per carry average. However, he’s still had to split carries with Fred Jackson, who was recently placed on the injured reserve list with a knee issue. Do you feel Spiller has been used effectively? A: Gaughan: He has been used effectively but not enough. He needs to get the ball more. There are some understandable reasons why he hasn’t gotten the ball in this situation or that situation. But the bottom line is he’s their best offensive weapon and he hasn’t gotten it enough. The offense was on the field 58 plays vs. St. Louis and he got eight touches. They lost by three.”

Michael Rushton of The Sports Network previews the Week 15 matchup between the Seahawks and Bills, “Working against Seattle is the fact that it has been a much better team at home than on the road. Had it faced off against Buffalo during the early string of this Toronto series, it might have been even ground. However, [Bills coach Chan] Gailey feels his team is starting to get a following a little further up north. ‘Last year it really felt like a home game. The first year it was a little bit more of a neutral site, but last year it felt like a home game. That is what you hope to create and continue to develop where that becomes like a game right here (in Buffalo). If we can get that, that would be great,’ he said. Gailey better hope Toronto’s allegiance isn’t riding on this game as Seattle has too much momentum and talent on the defensive side of things for the Bills’ struggling offense to overcome. Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 17, Bills 14″

John Boyle of the Everett Herald highlights the recent play of the linebacker Smith, “It’s way too early to say if Smith will join the long list of Seahawks defenders who have gone from draft-day afterthoughts to key contributors to a very good defense, but he’s done nothing to hurt the perception that Carroll and general manager John Schneider have a real knack for finding and developing talent on the third day of the draft. ‘It’s really fun to see the maturity of Malcolm,’ linebackers coach Ken Norton said. ‘I couldn’t be more pleased with Malcolm.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has a look at where the Seahawks pass rush stands after investing in a first round draft pick and free agent acquisition along the defensive line, “Irvin. The 15th overall pick leads all rookies in sacks with eight. He picked one up late in last week’s blowout win over Arizona to avoid going a third straight game without a sack. The Seahawks raved about Irvin’s explosiveness when they drafted him. [Defensive line coach Todd] Wash said he recently fell back into a habit of not coming off the ball as quickly as he could. ‘Timid’ was the word Wash used. Wash also said Irvin is developing a nice spin move. Jones. The Seahawks hoped Jones would improve their interior pass rush when they gave the versatile lineman a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Jones has 2.5 sacks and has missed two games with an ankle injury.

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said both young defensive backs Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell played well against the Cardinals. They are preparing to play either outside or at nickel. Bradley is concerned the defense is no longer allowed to have padded practices under terms of the NFL collective bargaining agreement. Statistics showed the Seahawks gave up one more yard per carry last season after a non-pads practice week.”

Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss cornerback Richard Sherman’s mentality in this short video.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press details the play of the Seahawks rookie class, “The most notable has been giving the Seahawks a key player in Wilson, the starting quarterback coming out of training camp. He’s on pace to challenge the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes and is the first rookie quarterback since 1970 to win his first six home games. At the same time that Wilson was named the starter, the Seahawks also decided Wagner would be capable of taking over as the organizer of the defense at middle linebacker. Wagner currently ranks third among all NFL rookies with 109 tackles. Irvin, the Seahawks’ first-round pick, currently leads all NFL rookies with eight sacks, and Turbin is coming off the first 100-yard rushing game of his career and looks like a suitable backup to spell Marshawn Lynch at running back without the Seahawks losing their punishing style of running. Carroll said he noticed near midseason that Wagner and Irvin both went through the typical rookie swoon of getting used to playing so many games. That wasn’t the case with Wilson. ‘With those other kids there was a time about eight, nine games in, they had already played 12 to 13 games, and it was hard on those guys,’ Carroll said. ‘Russell did not fall into that category; he just continued to progress the whole time. Why he has is because of the way he’s prepared himself. He’s just worked so hard and he will not back off. He continues to push, but not only does he continue to push and try hard, he’s getting better.’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Thurmond appeared on the injury report Wednesday with a hamstring injury that forced him to have his workload reduced. A day later, Thurmond wasn’t able to practice. If Thurmond can’t play, the Seahawks would turn to CB Byron Maxwell and CB Jeremy Lane to step up into more prominent roles. Both saw time last week against the Arizona Cardinals but have not seen extensive action as part of the defense.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his NFC West offense and defense ranks thru Week 14, and offers a prediction for the Seahawks game against the Bills, “The Bills’ defensive front is playing better recently. Seattle has potential manpower concerns at cornerback and wide receiver, depending on Sidney Rice’s status. Still, if the Seahawks are a legit playoff team, they have to win this game, right? Marshawn Lynch is getting much of the attention heading into this game against his former team, but I’m thinking Russell Wilson will be the story, one way or another. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 23, Bills 17.”

NFL Films previews our Week 15 game against the Bills in this short video.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights Bills return man Leodis McKelvin, who is the only returner in the NFL to rank among the Top 5 in both punt return and kick return categories, and also recaps the events surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville“, with a focus on the play of the Seahawks rookie class.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the Seahawks hope to keep the momentum up after an overtime road win in Chicago against the Bears in Week 13 and a 58-0 victory at home against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.

We have quarterback Russell Wilson’s full video press conference from yesterday available for you here, and you can watch defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s full video press conference from yesterday here.

Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos here.