The Real Rob Report: Offseason workout in Hermosa Beach, California

This is what you’ve all been waiting for, right?

Fullback Michael Robinson brings an inside look at the Seahawks’ offseason workout rallied late last week by quarterback Russell Wilson at “The Yard” Fitness Center in Hermosa Beach, California.

Robinson’s latest “Real Rob Report” rendition features face time with Wilson, wide receivers Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice, and Jermaine Kearse, running back Robert Turbin, and new 6-foot-7, 281-pound former professional basketball-playing tight end Darren Fells.

With most of the club back at Virginia Mason Athletic Center this week and for the foreseeable future participating in the team’s Offseason Program, we can only expect more from the Real Mike Rob. Stay tuned.


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The Real Rob Report: The Best of Messin with Marshawn

When it comes to getting inside the mind of running back Marshawn Lynch, he’s usually content with letting his play do the talking for him.

And why not? After all, the relentless “Beast Mode” back has been the focal point of the Seahawks’ offense the last three seasons. He’s piled up 3,367 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns since joining the club in a trade with the Buffalo Bills on October 5, 2010, and over the course of 2012 when much of the media’s attention was on the impressive play of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, Lynch “quietly” put together a career-year – 1,590 rushing yards (third in the NFL, third-best total in club history) and 10 100-yard games.

“He’s a silent assassin,” Wilson said of Lynch’s play style in September of last season. “He doesn’t say too much, you can tell that he’s lasered in and focused.”

That’s just the way Lynch likes it. He’s not one to seek out the media spotlight, especially not after a notable individual effort, performance, or milestone. In fact, it’s usually after the tough days on the ground or as a team when Lynch will weigh in.

Even fullback Michael Robinson, who spends a great deal of time both on and off the field with Lynch, and whose locker sits adjacent to his at Virginia Mason Athletic Center and at CenturyLink Field, has trouble getting the Pro Bowl back to open up on his own show, “The Real Rob Report” – where Robinson himself is the one asking the questions and operating the camera. Lynch has been so reluctant to open up on “The Real Rob Report”, that Robinson has created an entire segment of the show based on the antics of their on-camera relationship, aptly titled, “Messin with Marshawn.”

In his spare time this offseason, Robinson has compiled “The Best of Messin with Marshawn” from throughout the 2012 campaign. Hopefully the video will hold you over until Seahawks players report for Phase 1 of the Offseason Program next week (April 15), when we expect Robinson will be back at VMAC with his video camera, right back in the face of the “silent assassin” Lynch – regardless of however much Lynch may or may not like it.


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End of the Brian Urlacher era in Chicago

Brian Urlacher

As most of you know, I not only get into Seahawks games free, I watch from the press box. But there are some players in the league I would pay to watch, and Brian Urlacher is one of them.

So the word out of Chicago today that the Bears and their eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker will be parting ways after 13 ridiculously productive seasons prompted, well, this blog item. There’s not much to not like about the way Urlacher plays the game, other than the fact that he’s played against the Seahawks on a far-to-regular basis in recent seasons.

For the just-how-does-he-play-the-game follow to that statement, I’ll defer to Michael Robinson, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl-caliber fullback and lead blocker for Marshawn Lynch – a job that has forced his path to veer directly into Urlacher on many occasions the past three seasons. Robinson joined the Seahawks in 2010, so he played against Urlacher twice that season (regular season and postseason, both in Chicago); again 2011 (regular season, again in Chicago); and last season (regular season, and yet again in Chicago).

“He’s a very, very difficult guy to block,” Robinson said before the Week 15 game against the Bears in 2011, with Urlacher’s then 1,556 career tackles as proof – a total that has since grown to 1,779. “He’s very, very smart. He knows where the ball carrier wants to go and he’s all about the ball. He doesn’t like dealing with lead blockers, and the guys in front of him make it difficult for you to get on him, too.”

Before there was Robinson, there was Matt Hasselbeck – the former Seahawks QB who used to engage in some memorable pre-snap games of cat and mouse with the Bears’ middle linebacker.

“Urlacher does a great job of audibling as a middle linebacker,” Hasselbeck said before that regular season game against Urlacher in 2010. “He’s a great player and he’s well-coached. He’s been playing in this scheme a long time and you’ll see when an offense checks – a quarterback checks – he’ll check. Or, if he gets the sense that you’re pretending to check, then he’ll call it off.

“It’s one of those things where you make eye contact with him, you’re making a check, and he’s like, ‘No. No. No. Let’s just leave this one on.’ Or other times, he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, let’s check.’ And so he’s a great player.”

Urlacher, who was born in Pasco before being raised in New Mexico, has been NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2000) as well as NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2005).

In eight games against the Seahawks – two in the postseason, six in the regular season – Urlacher had 56 tackles, or an average of seven. And his consistency was uncanny, as he never had more than eight or fewer than six.

It will be strange seeing Urlacher in anything but that Bears uniform with No. 54 on it. But I have the feeling that Robinson and I will definitely see him again.


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On this date: Michael Robinson re-signed

Michael Robinson

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on March 16:

2012: Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson agrees to terms three days after becoming an unrestricted free agent. Robinson, who was signed in 2010 after being released by the 49ers, was voted a special teams co-captain for the second time last season, when he finished second in coverage tackles.

2001: Lance Lopes is named general counsel. He has since added senior vice president to his title, overseeing the construction of Virginia Mason Athletic Center and the recent upgrades at CenturyLink Field.


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‘SportsNation’ chat with Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson

Fullback Michael Robinson took a break from his scheduled programming visits at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. to sit down for a fan chat with ESPN’s Sportsnation. If you missed it, we’ve highlighted a few excerpts below and you can view the chat log in its entirety here.

Blake (Phoenix, AZ ): How do you think Russell Wilson will approach next season. And I’m a huge fan of the RealRobReport my brotha

Robinson: I talk to him all of the time. I think he’ll be the same Russell. He’ll prepare the same. He’s on a quest for greatness, which is good. It’s good he’s on our team. He’s on a quest for greatness and he’s looking just to get better every day. We expect that.

CD (Virginia): Mike, my favorite PSU QB of all time. Can you share some of the things you learned from Joe-Pa that have helped you the most?

Robinson: Taking care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves. One other thing I learned was that there are issues in life, things in life that are bigger than football. Football can not be your life, there has to be more substance to you. Learning that from Joe has helped me develop a career outside of football.

Chirs (DC): What made you decide to do a web show instead of a radio or TV show?

Robinson: Web show is free, that’s first and foremost. I didn’t have a studio that I couldn’t set up for radio. I think video would keep going. Actually going to TV, you have to have somebody pick you up. I tried to pitch the idea to some people and I wasn’t able to have the creative control that I have now. I’m able to choose the content that I put out. The Real Rob Report is not about controversy, it’s about what the players want to put out. We ask the guests what they want to talk about, because we’re about the players.

Jeff (Miami): How long does it take for you to put together one episode?

Robinson: Usually it takes me about two days to turn it around.

P.J. (Norman, Oklahoma): Hey Michael…Do you think that the diminished role and sometimes absence of a fullback in the college game has not only made the ground game suffer collegiately, but also at the professional level?

Robinson: I think some, a little bit. I don’t think the fullback position is necessarily going away, it’s just evolving. It’s going through an transition period, similar to what OLBs did in the 80s, like TEs are now. You have your traditional FBs. Guys like myself and guys like Delanie Walker, who is more like a TE, we can be used out of the backfield as well as catching balls. But we can also run the ball. That’s the role now, being more versatile.

Kyle (Denver): Is it easier to get guys to come on your show, because you’re a player just like them?

Robinson: Yes, it is easier. And they know that I’m not in it to look for a negative story. The Real Rob Report is a show that the players can get their stories out, their news out. It’s a vehicle for players to talk about certain issues.

Alex (Pittsburgh, PA): Hey Mike, big fan of yours back from the Penn State days. How do you feel about QBs like yourself that get converted to other positions? Do you still feel like you could play QB if the situation arose?

Robinson: Of course! That’s never going to go anywhere. It’s like riding a bike. It depends on what you want. If you’re like Tim Tebow or Troy Smith and QB is what I have to play, then follow your heart. You have to go through practice. I wanted to be an NFL player, not an NFL QB. You have to be a football player first. The more I could do, the more value I could add to a team. I was very lucky that SF stuck with me while I was trying to figure out what position I could play.

JohnnieV (Las Vegas): What athlete was your favorite to interview?

Robinson: Oooh….I would have to say Richard Sherman. Very candid. Honest. He doesn’t hold his tongue for anybody.

Jordan (Oakland, CA): How is it working with Beastmode at his annual Family First Football Camp?

Robinson: Oh man, it’s great. I love Oakland. I’m from Richmond, but I love Oakland. That football camp, I’m a lifer. I’ll go as long as he has that camp going. Great kids. Great competition. Great coaches around. They’re really concerned about what’s best for these kids.

Robinson: Thanks for the support. Keep watching the Real Rob Report, a show by athletes for the fans. Go Seeeeeeeaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaawks!


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Michael Robinson all over ESPN today

Michael Robinson

If you’re watching one of the ESPN channels today, the chances are pretty good that you’ll see Michael Robinson at some point.

The Seahawks’ fullback and special teams co-captain is a guest at the cable network’s campus in Bristol, Conn., and scheduled to appear on SportsCenter and other ESPN shows. Robinson would like to work in broadcasting when his NFL career is over and already is carving out a niche audience with his Real Rob Report that takes viewers behind the scenes with the Seahawks.

Here is Robinson’s schedule for today (all times PST):

7-9 a.m. – First Take, ESPN2

12:30-1 p.m. – Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable, ESPN2

1-4 p.m. – Coach and Company, ESPN Radio

1-2 p.m. – NFL Live, ESPN

2-3 p.m. – NFL32, ESPN2

9-10 p.m. – Unite, ESPNU


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Doug Baldwin’s “The Fresh Files”

Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson isn’t the only one who knows his way around a video camera.

Perhaps influenced by Robinson’s accomplishments on The Real Rob Report, wide receiver Doug Baldwin has also taken to the art of video production in his spare time this offseason, generating short video blogs he dubs The Fresh Files – a complement to his Twitter display name: Dbfresh.

Like The Real Rob ReportThe Fresh Files is made by the player and for the fans, as Baldwin takes requests and comments from his newly-created Facebook page into account when creating his videos. In his most recent video (featured above) Baldwin took the time to answer fan-generated questions that users submitted to his Facebook page, including “How are you and the wide receiver core looking to improve in 2013?”, “Have you ever asked another player for an autograph?”, and “Do you take a break during the offseason, or do you continue to train?”

And although he’s just 24-years-old and heading into his third season, Baldwin has life after football in mind with his latest endeavor.

“My intention is just to diversify my resume,” Baldwin said of The Fresh Files. “I wouldn’t mind doing some analysis after football, so I’m just setting it up that way.”

The Stanford alum and Seahawks’ 2011 leading receiver says he has hopes of running The Fresh Files on a weekly basis throughout the offseason, so be sure to stay socially connected to Baldwin and keep an eye on this blog for the latest from No. 89.


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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.”


Game at a glance: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

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ATLANTA – A recap of the Seahawks’ 30-28 loss to the Falcons in their divisional playoff game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday:

PLAYER OF THE GAME  

Russell Wilson. In the end, the Seahawks came up short. But there would not have been the dramatic comeback without the resilient efforts and calm-as-they-come leadership of the rookie quarterback who was deemed by many to be “too short” to play in this league. It was so impressive that he should change the spelling of his last name to Will-son, because he did everything in his power to will his team into the NFC Championship game.

“The kid is going to be amazing,” veteran fullback Michael Robinson said. “He’s going to do nothing but get better.”

What Wilson did in this game, on this stage and after the Falcons had taken a 20-0 halftime lead, was pretty amazing, too.

He was 3 of 3 for 59 yards in the nine-play, 80-yard drive to open the second half that ended with his 29-yard TD pass to Golden Tate. He was 4 of 4 for 69 yards on the eight-play, 80-yard drive on the Seahawks’ next possession that ended with his 1-yard TD run. He was 3 of 3 for 57 yards on the four-play, 62-yard drive to was setup when All-Pro safety Earl Thomas intercepted a pass and ended with Wilson’s 3-yard TD pass to Zach Miller. He was 3 of 4 – proving that he is indeed human, on occasion – for 50 yards in the seven-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Marshawn Lynch’s 2-yard TD run and gave the Seahawks their momentary lead.

Put it all together and Wilson had a career-high 385 passing yards while completing 24 of his season-high 36 passes to finish with a passer rating of 109.1. Oh, and he also was the Seahawks’ leading rusher with 60 yards on seven carries.

“Our quarterback did a great job today leading us back,” Robinson said. “We couldn’t have done it without him.”

In the end, it wasn’t quite enough. But without the way Wilson played in the second half, there would not have been all the handwringing about the way this one ended.

“I think you saw with Russell Wilson’s development, how far he can take us,” Miller said. “Obviously he’s a franchise quarterback. He’s a guy that wins game for you. We saw that today. He should have been credited with a comeback win today.”

UNSUNG HERO

Miller. The Seahawks’ tight end said he felt something pop in his foot on the team’s first series of the game, and his self-diagnosis was a torn plantar fasciitis.

“I kind of knew what it was,” Miller said. “I’ve done it on my other foot before, so I know I can play with it.”

His return was listed as questionable, but return Miller did. With a vengeance. Before this one was over, he had caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. In a game that featured the Falcons’ trio of Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Julio Jones, as well as teammates Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, no one caught more balls for more yards that the sore-footed Miller.

“Zach Miller did a tremendous job today, and all season,” Wilson said. “He’s a true fighter. He makes great catches. He’s runs great routes. He’s a great blocker. He’s a tough, tough player. He’s unbelievable.”

It wasn’t just that Miller had eight receptions, it’s when he had them. It was Miller who caught Wilson’s first two completions – for 23 and 8 yards – after the Seahawks’ first two possessions resulted in a three-and-out and a lost fumble. It was Miller who opened the next possession with a 34-yarder. He later added a 20-yarder and a 9-yarder on the final series of the half, when Miller was one of most productive players in an offense that was struggling. In the second half, Miller had a 19-yarder on the drive to the first touchdown. Then there was a 26-yarder on the drive to the second touchdown. The next drive ended with his TD catch.

All from a tight who was playing on a bad foot.

REDEPMPTIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME

Matt Ryan. You might have heard, the Falcons’ QB was oh-for-his-career in the postseason. Despite winning 56 regular-season games in five seasons, it was his 0-3 record in the playoffs that was the talk of this town all week.

Ryan finally silenced it, throwing for three touchdowns while completing 24 of 35 passes for 250 yards. But when his team needed him most, with 31 seconds to play and the Seahawks up 28-27, the QB they call “Matty Ice” was just that as he passed for 22 yards to Harry Douglas and 19 yards to Tony Gonzalez to setup the Falcons’ game-winning field goal.

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense: Roddy White’s falling grab of a 47-yard pass from Ryan for the Falcons’ second touchdown. There were seven touchdown plays in this game. But this one came with style points. First, because White beat All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who broke up three other passes during the game. Then there was the effort that went into it. But also because it gave the Falcons their 20-0 halftime lead.

Defense: William Moore’s stop of Robinson on a fourth-and-1 play from the Falcons’ 11-yard line in the second quarter. Down 13-0, and after Robert Turbin had been tackled for no gain on third-and-1, the Seahawks went to Robinson – who converted 6 of 7 third-and-1 situations during the regular season to rank among the league leaders. But not this time, because of the play the Falcons’ safety was able to make.

“They did a great job,” Robinson said. “One of our staple plays. They brought extra D-linemen in; they set the safety off the edge. We didn’t have enough blockers for them.”

Honorable mention to Thomas’ interception, which stopped a Falcons drive just as it was getting started and set up the Seahawks’ third touchdown.

Special teams: When you kick the game-winner to send your team into the NFC Championship game – as hosts of the conference title game – it has to be you. So Matt Bryant it is, who hit a 49-yard field goal with eight second to play. The kick put the Falcons back up by two after the Seahawks had taken a one-point lead with 31 seconds remaining.

WORTH NOTING

The Seahawks had more yards (491-417) and more first downs (28-24) than the Falcons, but two fewer points.

The Seahawks season ended in the divisional round of the playoffs for the sixth time. It also happened in 1984, 27-20 to the Dolphins in Miami; 1988, 21-13 to the Bengals in Cincinnati; 2006, 27-24 in overtime to the Bears in Chicago; 2007, 42-20 to the Packers in Green Bay; and 2010, 34-24 to the Bears in Chicago.

Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had a game-high seven solo tackles and an interception.

Playing without sack leader Chris Clemons, the Seahawks went without a sack for only the second time this season.

Lynch averaged 6.5 yards per carry during the team’s six-game winning streak, but a Falcons defense that had allowed an average of 4.8 yards per carry during the regular season held him to 2.9 (46 yards on 16 carries).

Ryan Longwell, who just joined the team on Wednesday, kicked four PATs.

YOU DON’T SAY

“We felt like this was our year. And next year we’re going to feel like next year is our year. That’s one thing about a Pete Carroll-coached team, we’re not going to lack in confidence and we’re going to come to fight for 60 minutes.” – Robinson


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Thursday cyber surfing: Bruce Irvin ready for first NFL start

Bruce Irvin

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

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times rehashes defensive end Bruce Irvin’s path to the NFL – a path that has led him into the starting lineup this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons, “Irvin didn’t start this season, but was more than a backup. He was a situational pass-rusher on the field for about half of Seattle’s defensive snaps. He had eight sacks this season, more than any other rookie in the NFL. Sunday in Washington, after Clemons was injured, Irvin had a sack of quarterback Robert Griffin III that demonstrated just how fast Irvin is. ‘It’s his great asset,’ Carroll said. That quickness has carried him all the way to the NFL. And now, 10 years after he was headed toward a dead end in Georgia, Irvin is returning to the town where he grew up — for the first starting assignment in a career that is just beginning. ‘He can be a double-digit sack guy for a long time once he gets going,’ Carroll said.”

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says that for everything Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has accomplished in four seasons in the NFL, he has still yet to win a game in the playoffs, “This year, Ryan has received MVP chatter for leading the Falcons to the best record in the NFC. His coach, Mike Smith, said Wednesday that ‘individually, it’s been his best year in terms of most of the markers you look for in a quarterback.’ Except one, and therein lies the paradox. In three playoff games over the previous four seasons, Ryan has yet to produce a victory. He has thrown for less than 200 yards in all three of those games, and has more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). His playoff QB rating of 71.2 pales in comparison to his regular-season mark of 90.9. It’s getting dangerously close to being a legacy-killer for the quarterback selected third overall out of Boston College in the 2008 draft (15 spots ahead of Joe Flacco, who already has six playoff wins with the Ravens). But rectify that omission to his resume, and Ryan will be celebrated both as the man who led the Falcons out of the wilderness of a 4-12 record the season before he arrived, and the one who can take them to the next level.”

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says head coach Pete Carroll’s decision making as a head coach has improved, “It’s not that the coach is arrogant. He often gambles within games because he’s too hopeful. Carroll is the ultimate optimist. And during his USC tenure, that optimism often resulted in dramatic success. ‘I got going for nine years straight of going for it every single chance you get — forever,’ Carroll said. But he is learning that, in the NFL, being conservative is both a virtue and a life-saver. ‘I think we’ve cleaned things up,” Carroll said. “We’ve got a good formula for doing it. It’s interesting: It hasn’t come up as much. We haven’t had that many dramatic opportunities to go for it or not.” You get the feeling that, if the Seahawks advance far enough in the playoffs, Carroll will have to make some tough choices under great scrutiny. Will he continue to play it safe? Or will the riverboat gambler in him sneak out?”RM2_6589

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times checks in with newly-signed kicker Ryan Longwell, “Longwell beat out three other kickers who were invited to try out Tuesday, heading into Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Atlanta. ‘It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching,’ he said. Changing kickers at this point of the season is “a big deal to us,” coach Pete Carroll said, but Longwell’s experience — winning a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1998 — helped earn him the job, not to mention a 55-yard field goal in Tuesday’s workout. ‘When you look at Ryan’s background, the great experience he’s had, the time he’s had in playoff situations and all of that, to make this transition for a younger guy might be more of an issue, and we think he can handle that,’ Carroll said.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has a look at the signing of defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, “The 33-year-old Chukwurah, who most recently played two seasons in the UFL before that league folded, hasn’t played organized football of any sorts for more than a year. Yet he was impressive enough in a tryout Tuesday that the Seahawks signed him over other better-known defensive ends, a result that even he had a hard time believing. ‘Honestly, no,’ Chukwurah said when asked if he still thought an NFL comeback was realistic. ‘I was really set on moving on and starting the next chapter, so it’s definitely a blessing.’ “

Boyle also writes that the Seahawks are not letting the playoff pressure get to them, “Any player you ask will tell you a Super Bowl title is the team’s goal. But it has been clear the last two weeks that this young team, which has gotten better faster than most expected, isn’t tensing up now as the stakes become higher. ‘This team is in a real good place,’ said veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant. ‘It’s good for us that we can focus and just kind of take the challenges as they come, and not get too high or too low. We’re just trying to stay the course, and that’s been good for us.’ Seattle’s levelheadedness has led to pretty consistent play all season — the Seahawks have not lost a game by more than seven points all year — and keeping things the same in the postseason has helped a young team from succumbing to the pressure of the playoffs. ‘It’s very important to just maintain the same routine,’ said fullback Michael Robinson. ‘(Head coach) Pete (Carroll) does a great job of keeping practice the same.’ “

Tim Booth of the Associated Press says defensive end Bruce Irvin is ready to step in for the injured Chris Clemons, “For most of his rookie season, Irvin has thrived being used on passing downs as a rush end opposite Clemons. Getting pressure from both sides on quarterbacks has worked well for Seattle with Clemons getting 11 1/2 sacks and Irvin having another eight in the regular season to set a franchise rookie record. Now that Clemons is out, Irvin will be called on not only to pressure the quarterback, but also be stout in the run game. ‘I’m still depressed that (Clemons) is down. He’s like an older brother to me. He showed me a lot, man,’ Irvin said. ‘Next year, I’ll be in this same role, me and (Clemons) rotating and whatever. I’m not looking to come in here and ball out and take over (Clemons’) spot. I’m not looking for that. My time will come and when it’s that time it will all handle itself.’ “

Liz Matthews of 710Sports.com has her report from Wednesday’s practice – a practice running back Marshawn Lynch sat out with a foot injury, “Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not participate in practice. Unlike most weeks when he is given a rest day for his balky back, Lynch was listed on Wednesday’ practice report with a foot injury.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com passes along a conversation with NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes, who believes that if the Seahawks can secure an early lead over the Falcons on Sunday, “it’s over”, “The Falcons, Seattle’s divisional-round opponent, have one of the league’s better passing attacks, ranking sixth in passing yards and fifth in touchdown passes during the regular season. Despite that, NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes doubts their ability to come back if they were to fall behind to the Seahawks. ‘If they get up early, it’s over. Have a nice day, Atlanta Falcons,’ Dukes told “Bob and Groz” on Wednesday. ‘The Falcons’ line is not built to handle that pressure.’ ” Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” share their thoughts in this short video.

The staff at SportsPressNW.com passes along several notes from Atlanta head coach Mike Smith’s Wednesday press conference.RM2_6350

Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along QBR ranks from Wild Card weekend, “Wilson made positive contributions, impressing those who have watched mostly from afar to this point. The visuals were all there: Wilson flipping a touchdown pass to fullback Michael Robinson, Wilson running interference downfield so his running back could gain additional yardage, Wilson firing downfield strikes to Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice. If tight end Anthony McCoy hadn’t dropped a pass deep in Redskins territory, Seattle might have fared better than its 1-of-6 showing in the red zone. On the whole, however, this performance from Wilson was hardly consistent with the ones that separated him from Robert Griffin III and made him second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR from Week 8 through regular season’s end.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson joined ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike”, and you can listen to the full audio podcast here.

ESPN The Magazine has a look into Wilson’s past as a professional baseball player, sharing conversations with the scouting supervisor of the Colorado Rockies, Wilson’s baseball coach at North Carolina State, the editor of Baseball America, and more.

Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com says Russell Wilson may be the best young quarterback in the League, “If Russell Wilson is too short, give me short! Facing Baltimore, first overall selection Andrew Luck wilted under a steady blitz. Experienced quarterbacks want to be blitzed — if Baltimore tries the same at Denver, Peyton Manning will eat the Ravens’ lunch. But Luck is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Facing Seattle, second overall selection Robert Griffin twisted his knee late in the first quarter, lost his amazing quickness, then lost the game. RG III throws himself at a defense, taking big hits. Experienced quarterbacks avoid big hits. But Griffin is just a rookie, and looked like one during his first-round exit. Then there was Wilson. Washington blitzed him hard, and by the fourth quarter, he wanted to be blitzed, because he was beating this tactic like a veteran — see more below. Wilson ran for 67 yards, including the game’s longest rush, but whenever a defender had him in his sights, he stepped out of bounds, slid or threw the ball away. Wilson played like a seasoned veteran. One reason is that he had the most college starts of the young-gun quarterbacks. Wilson started 50 games in college, versus 40 for Griffin and 38 for Luck. Add another dozen starts to RG III and he will avoid big hits. Add another dozen starts to Luck and he’ll be looking forward to the blitz. Wilson already has these skills.”

And Chris Burke of SI.com offers an X’s and O’s break down Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and Falcons, “Will Seattle continue to use Irvin off the left edge this coming Sunday? Carroll said only that Irvin will start at the “Leo” spot — a position in Carroll’s defense reserved for a fast rusher, almost like a 3-4 outside linebacker. Irvin, as mentioned, has done a lot of his work from left end, but will the Seahawks try to play the matchups? Playing Irvin on the left means he’ll deal with Clabo; on the right is Baker. Neither is a slouch, but Clabo, a 2010 Pro Bowler, may be the stiffer test of the two.”