Friday in Hawkville: Marcus Trufant looking to add to his playoff memories

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 11:

Marcus Trufant, Doug Baldwin

Cornerback Marcus Trufant (left) defends wide receiver Doug Baldwin (right) during practice this week.

FOCUS ON

Marcus Trufant. No one on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster has played in more postseason games (10) than the veteran nickel back. And no one grew up watching this team longer than the Tacoma-born Trufant, either.

So, as the team puts in its final preparations for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta, who better to lead us through a trip down Postseasons Past?

We asked Trufant for his favorite team memory from the six playoff teams he has been on, and his selection was the obvious.

“The (NFC) Championship game we played during our Super Bowl run (in 2005) was pretty big,” he said of the 34-14 victory over the Panthers. “To be able to do it at home, be able to do it in front of the fans, it was a pretty good feeling.”

Especially for a player who followed the team as a kid growing up.

“It does kind of hit you like that,” Trufant said when asked if there was a moment in that game where it hit home that he had just helped his hometown team get to the Super Bowl. “But it’s just one of those things. It is football. And if you do right and your team is hitting on all cylinders, then the opportunity is there.”

Just as it for this season’s playoff team, which is one victory from a return to the NFC Championship game.

“For us now, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Trufant said. “We’ve just got to fight to be right. Try to do everything well and just try to practice hard and get better every day.”

We also asked Trufant for his favorite individual postseason memory, and his response was very telling for a player who has been a team-first, individual-accolades-a-distant-second warrior since the Seahawks selected the cornerback from Washington State University if the first round the 2003 NFL Draft.

“You know what? After a while a lot stuff just seems to run together,” said Trufant, who had a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown to ice a wild-card win over the Redskins in 2007.

“So I’m about being in the present. I’m just trying to help out the team to get another victory. We want to take it one step at a time and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

LONGWELL, CHUKWURAH READY

Kicker Ryan Longwell and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah just joined the team this week to replace the injured duo of Steven Hauschka and Chris Clemons. Coach Pete Carroll said after practice that both are ready for Sunday’s game.

“I thought Longwell did a good job,” Carroll said. “He hit his kicks and fit together nicely with (holder) Jon Ryan to get the timing down. … He’s a seasoned vet. He’s been through it. If anybody can handle it, he will be able to handle all the buildup to it.”

As for Chukwurah, who last played in an NFL game in 2007, Carroll said, “Pat did fine. He’s in a backup role for us. But he showed enough that he’s going to be dressing for the game.”

INJURY REPORT

The official end-of-the-week status report, as issued by the team:

Doubtful

CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)

Questionable

S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)

Probable

RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)

WR Sidney Rice (knee)

Lynch practiced on a limited basis today after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday to rest a sprained foot. “He’s fine. He’ll be alright,” Carroll said. Johnson also got his first work of the week, on a limited basis. Maxwell and Rice did not practice, but Rice is expected to be ready of the game after practicing fully on Wednesday and Thursday.

For the Falcons:

Out

CB Christopher Owens (hamstring)

Questionable

DE John Abraham (ankle)

S Charles Mitchell (calf)

Probable

S William Moore (hamstring)

CB Dunta Robinson (head)

Abraham, who leads the Falcons with 10 sacks, has been limited all week.

STAT DU JOUR

Last week, the Seahawks allowed the Redskins to drive 80 yards to a touchdown on their first possession, but managed to come back and win the game. That’s not advisable this week, because the Falcons have been almost unstoppable when they score a TD on their opening drive. Here’s a look at what the Falcons did on their opening drives during the regular season, and how that worked out for them:

Opponent, outcome                        First drive

Chiefs, W, 40-24                               Touchdown

Broncos, W, 27-21                            Touchdown

Chargers, W, 27-3                             Touchdown

Panthers, W, 30-28                           Punt

Redskins, W, 24-17                           Punt

Raiders, W, 23-20                             Interception

Eagles, W, 30-17                               Touchdown

Cowboys, W, 19-13                          Punt

Saints, L, 31-27                                  Touchdown

Cardinals, W, 23-19                          Interception

Buccaneers, W, 24-23                      Field goal

Saints, W, 23-13                                Touchdown

Panthers, L, 30-20                             Punt

Giants, W, 34-0                                  Touchdown

Lions, W, 31-18                                  Punt

Buccaneers, L, 22-17                         Punt

In the games where they’ve scored TDs on their first possession, the Falcons are 6-1 and the wins came by an average of 17 points. In their other two losses, they opened with punts. In their other seven wins, when they opened with five punts, a field goal and an interception, the average margin of victory was five points.

“We just don’t want to get too caught up in that,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “We want to play the whole game fast and explosive, regardless of what happens the first series. So we know we’re going to have to make some adjustments as this game goes on. But the biggest thing is to keep our poise with the crowd noise and things like that – nothing that our guys haven’t come across before.”

UP NEXT

The team flew to Atlanta following today’s practice and will hold its Saturday walkthrough there.

The winner of Sunday’s game will meet either the 49ers or Packers in the NFC Championship game next Sunday. The Packers and 49ers play in San Francisco on Saturday night.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The big thing is having the corners that allow us to be aggressive. But the other thing is having a guy that can play the middle third that cover from redline to redline. You really need those three components.” – Bradley in discussing the virtues of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas in matching up against the Falcons’ trio of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez


Thursday in Hawkville: Sunday proved to be a very happy birthday for Clinton McDonald

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 10:

Clinton McDonald

FOCUS ON

Clinton McDonald. So, what do you get a guy who already has so much for his birthday? How about a fumble recovery to ice the team’s first road playoff victory since 1983?

That was the case for McDonald on Sunday, which just happened to be his 26th birthday, when he fell on a fumbled snap by Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III with 6½ minutes to play in the Seahawks’ 24-14 victory. And McDonald’s reaction was typical of why the nose tackle has become such a popular player in only his second season with the team.

“I told him, ‘That’s a great birthday present.’ And he said, ‘It’s a birthday present for the team,’ ” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said after practice, which was held in the indoor practice facility. “That’s really his mentality. Like a lot of our guys, it’s whatever they can do to help us play at the highest level.”

Because of the win, and McDonald’s play, the Seahawks will play at a higher level – Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta, with the winner advancing to the NFC Championship game.

And this week, McDonald will be anchoring a nickel line that won’t have sack leader Chris Clemons, who will have surgery next week to repair the knee ligament and meniscus he tore in the game last Sunday. So the rush-end opposite first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin could be rookie Greg Scruggs; or perhaps outside linebacker Mike Morgan; or even Patrick Chukwurah, who was signed to fill Clemons’ roster spot on Wednesday but hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2007; or a combination of the three.

The given is that McDonald will continue to be the leader of that group.

“He is really, I don’t know if inspirational is the right word, but the guys really rally around him,” Bradley said. “He does a great job with that group of bringing everybody together – the young guys, the older guys, he kind of meshes between them both.”

There is the risk of trying to do too much to make up for the loss of Clemons, who has had double-digit sacks in each of his three seasons with the Seahawks. So McDonald also will be into risk management this week.

“I don’t feel like there’s extra pressure,” he said. “I just feel like we’ve got a man down and guys are made to step up in this situation. So we’ve just got to show what we know.”

Just as McDonald and Irvin, who had a fourth-quarter sack of RGIII, did after Clemons went out in the third quarter against the Redskins.

“I wouldn’t say I’m worried,” McDonald said. “We know what we’re missing in Chris Clemons. But at the same time, we’ve still got a game to play. We’ve still got to take that field and go out and produce.”

Patrick Chukwurah

PLAYER WATCH

Chukwurah. The just-signed defensive end and special teams player did more today than during his first practice with the team on Wednesday. He’ll likely do even more on Friday. It’s all part of trying to get him ready for some spot action against the Falcons.

“It’s tough,” Bradley said. “He’s been lifting (weights) in gyms and riding ellipticals. This is going to be a little bit different. But some of the third-down situations, if he’s a rusher, get 15-16 reps. That’s what we’re looking at.”

As well as special teams. “He’s been very good on special teams in the past,” said Bradley, who was with the Buccaneers when Chukwurah played with them in 2007. “They’re taking a look at him there to see where he is conditioning-wise, what he can handle.”

RUSSELL WILSON UP FOR ANOTHER AWARD

Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback, is a finalist for the Vizio Top Value Performer award as someone who has performed above and beyond expectations.

“Overlooked by the majority of the league, Wilson lasted until the third round of the 2012 draft. Earning $390,000 in 2012, he completed 252 passes for 3,118 yards and 26 TDs, tying a league record for passing TDs by a rookie. Exceeding all expectations, he’s an ideal choice for the Vizio Top Value Performer award,” is what they said about Wilson in naming him a finalist.

You can vote here for Wilson.

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)

RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)

CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)

No change for the Seahawks, as Lynch, Johnson and Maxwell sat out for a second consecutive day to rest injuries that have sidelined them at times during practice in previous weeks.

For the Falcons:

Did not practice

CB Christopher Owens (hamstring)

Limited participation

S William Moore (hamstring)

DE John Abraham (ankle)

S Charles Mitchell (calf)

Full participation

CB Dunta Robinson (head)

The only change for the Falcons was Mitchell being limited after sitting out on Wednesday.

STAT DU JOUR

Lynch rushed for 99 yards in the second half of Sunday’s win over the Redskins, after having 33 in the first half. It was just the sixth time in 17 games this season, and the first in the current six-game winning streak, that Lynch has had more yards in the second half than the first. Here’s a look at his half-and-half performances, starting with the season opener against the Cardinals:

                                    First half       Second half

Opponent                  No.-Yards     No.-Yards

Cardinals                     10-40            11-45

Cowboys                     10-22            16-100

Packers                        16-71               9-27

Rams                            10-62            10-56

Panthers                        7-28            14-57

Patriots                          9-26              6-15

49ers                              9-55            10-48

Lions                               7-80              5-25

Vikings                          11-55           15-69

Jets                                14-39           13-85

Dolphins                          9-12           10-34

Bears                                7-51           12-36

Cardinals                          8-69             3-59

Bills                                    9-100           1-3

49ers                                12-64          14-47

Rams                                   8-66          10-34

Redskins                              8-33         12-99

UP NEXT

“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the team will hold its final full practice before flying to Atlanta for Sunday’s game. The Saturday walkthrough will be held in the Atlanta area.

Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas got into the Thursday theme by picking off two passes, while cornerback Richard Sherman also had an interception.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Most significant NFL Wednesday injury report line: “ATL – DE John Abraham (ankle), limited.” He’d better not be limited Sunday, two weeks after what looked to be worse than the apparently nasty ankle sprain Abraham suffered in the last game of the season. Not quite sure why, with Seattle missing its best pass rusher (Chris Clemons, torn ACL on the FedEx cow pasture last week) and Abraham likely not at full health, I pick only 30 points to be scored here. I think both secondaries will play stout and smart, and the physicality of the Seattle back four (or five, or six) will have a big impact on the game.” – Peter King in predicting a 17-13 Seahawks victory at SI.com


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.”


Wednesday in Hawkville: Ryan Longwell, Patrick Chukwurah relish joining team for playoff run

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 9:

Ryan Longwell

FOCUS ON

The new guys. That would be kicker Ryan Longwell and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who were signed today to replace the injured duo of Steven Hauschka and Chris Clemons.

That these two are joining the Seahawks as they’re preparing for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta only heightens the storybook nature of their returns to the NFL. Longwell last kicked in league in 2011 for the Vikings, while Chukwurah hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2007 with the Buccaneers.

Longwell is here because Hauschka strained a calf in the wild-card win over the Redskins on Sunday and would not have been able to kick off against the Falcons. Chukwurah was signed because Clemons will need surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus he tore in his left knee in that game. Each was signed after going through a workout on Tuesday, and Hauschka and Clemons were placed on injured reserve to clear roster spots.

For Longwell, it’s a homecoming. He was born in Seattle, grew up in Puyallup and fondly remembers going to Seahawks game at the Kingdome with his grandfather – before his family moved to Bend, Ore., when he was in the ninth grade.

“It’s an awesome opportunity and I feel really blessed to be here,” said Longwell, who also kicked for the Packers (1997-2005) before joining the Vikings in 2006. “It’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching.”

What had Longwell be up to? “To be dead honest with you, my wife was probably the happiest person that I got called into work,” he said. “Because we were actually training all fall for the Disney Marathon this Sunday. Got her out of that, and got me out of it, too.”

Patrick Chukwurah

For the Nigerian-born Chukwurah, he figured a return to the NFL was out of the question after he had played two seasons in the UFL and was out of the football the past three seasons.

“It’s pretty much one of those stories you don’t think will ever happen,” said Chukwurah, who had played for the Vikings (2001-02) and Broncos (2003-06) before going to the Bucs. “I was at home, working from home, and I just got a call from my agent and he was like, ‘Hey, you want to go to Seattle and play for a couple of weeks?’ I’m like, ‘No, you’re not serious.’

“So I just came here with the mindset if this this is going to be my last shot, just to give it all I’ve got and leave it out there.”

Longwell will handle all the kicking chores against the Falcons, but coach Pete Carroll said he wasn’t sure what Chukwurah’s role would be on Sunday. In addition to playing defensive end, he’s also a special teams player.

Whatever comes his way, Chukwurah plans to be prepared as well as ready.

“To me, it’s a blessing,” he said. “I never would have thought this would happen. The fact that it’s happened, and it’s happened so fast, you’ve got to take it in stride and just be grateful that you get an opportunity and make the best of it.”

OPPONENT WATCH

Tony Gonzalez. What more can be said about the most-productive tight end in NFL history? In his 16th NFL season, and fourth with the Falcons, Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns.

Falcons coach Mike Smith got his turn to sing the praises of Gonzalez today during a conference-call interview.

“Tony has beaten father time,” Smith said. “To watch this guy, at his age (36), perform how he has performed this year and the three previous years, he’s been a great mentor to all of our young guys on our team. Not just the offensive players.

“Tony has got an outstanding work ethic. Probably nobody works harder than he does in taking care of his body and working on the fine points of the skillset that it takes to play the tight end position. And I think that’s the thing that most of our guys have taken from Tony. He’s one of the first guys out there, and he’s going to make sure that he’s catching balls. And now everybody is out there catching balls early and in between drills. Defensive linemen are out there early hitting the sled. And I think a lot of that has to do with watching Tony Gonzalez and the success that he’s had.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)

RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)

CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)

That’s it. Everyone else participated in the session that was held in the indoor practice facility. And Lynch, Johnson and Maxwell sat out to rest injuries that have sidelined them at times during practice in previous weeks.

For the Falcons:

Did not practice

CB Christopher Owens (hamstring)

S Charles Mitchell (calf)

Limited participation

S William Moore (hamstring)

DE John Abraham (ankle)

Full participation

CB Dunta Robinson (head)

The Falcons used their bye week to self-scout practice, but also to heal up.

“I think it was good for our guys,” quarterback Matt Ryan said during a conference-call interview. “Every team has guys that are nicked up at this point of the year. For us to get a chance to get those guys some rest and to get them a little bit healthier is good for us. I think one of the good things that Coach Smith does, that he did this past week, was we were in here the entire week. We were working and staying in that rhythm and I think that’s helped us.”

PARCTICE SQUAD MOVE

Defensive tackle Myles Wade was signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga was released.

The 6-foot-1, 300-pound Wade, a rookie from Portland State, was with the Buccaneers during training camp.

 

STAT DU JOUR

The Seahawks already have faced four players who finished among the Top 5 in the NFL in receptions. Now comes the Falcons’ trio of Gonzalez (No. 9) and wide receivers Roddy White (tied for 10th) and Julio Jones (tied for 18th). Here’s a look at how the other top-ranked receivers did against the Seahawks, their season totals and their averages against the rest of the league:

Calvin Johnson, Lions

                                             No.   Yards

Season                               122    1,964

Vs. Seahawks                        3          46

Avg. vs. rest of NFL           7.9    127.9

Brandon Marshall, Bears

                                             No.   Yards

Season                               118    1,508

Vs. Seahawks                      10       165

Avg. vs. rest of NFL           7.2      89.5

Wes Welker, Patriots

                                              No.    Yards

Season                                118     1,354

Vs. Seahawks                       10        138

Avg. vs. rest of NFL            7.2        81.1

Jason Witten, Cowboys

                                               No.   Yards

Season                                  110   1,039

Vs. Seahawks                           4         58

Avg. vs. rest of NFL              7.1      65.4

UP NEXT

“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

YOU DON’T SAY

“He’s playing his style. Has he crossed the line? I don’t think so. He’s hanging on that line at times. But that’s who he is. Our guys respect Richard Sherman. They know whatever he might put out there he can back up. And he’s done that.” – Carroll when asked about the second-year cornerback “crossing the line” with his physical style of play


Wednesday cyber surfing: Seahawks physical nature offers no apologies

Red Bryant

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 9.

Kicker Steven Hauschka has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a calf injury in the Seahawks’ Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins. To replace Hauschka the club has signed veteran kicker Ryan Longwell, age 38, who last kicked for the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.

Defensive end Chris Clemons, who suffered a torn ACL last Sunday against the Redskins, has also been placed on injured reserve. In Clemons’ place, the club has signed defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who last played in the NFL in 2007 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and spent two seasons after in the UFL, leading the league in sacks.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has a look at the Seahawks’ physical nature, “…if you’re surprised by the way Seattle is playing, well, you haven’t been paying attention to how this Seahawks team is constructed nor how it has played. Bigger and badder might as well be this team’s motto, for better and — far less frequently — for worse. Sunday, the Seahawks faced a team that Carroll said targeted specific players with the intention of provoking a reaction. ‘They go after individual guys,’ Carroll said of Washington’s approach. ‘And they have guys that are really pressing the edge, which is fine. Our guys responded and matched it up, and did the right thing. No penalties, no issues. No runs, no hits, no errors.’ And absolutely no apologies.”

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks’ success has made Seattle relevant again in the sports world, “The Hawks’ wild-card win over Washington on Sunday was the most-watched television program on any network since NBC’s Olympic coverage. According to Nielsen Media Research, 38.1 million people watched. In the Seattle area, 76 percent of the televisions on were tuned to the game, a larger audience than last year’s Super Bowl. From KJR to the water cooler, the air is crackling with chatter about the Seahawks. From the pulpit to ESPN you hear praises sung for Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner. This team believes, truly believes, in itself. And the city believes with it. Hawks players believe in the notion of the next man up, whether it’s Frank Omiyale filling in for Russell Okung at tackle, or cornerback Jeremy Lane replacing Brandon Browner.”

John Boyle the Everett Herald says the Seahawks have truly bought in to head coach Pete Carroll’s approach, “When a team learns to actually treat every week like a championship week, consistency comes with that and those blowouts go away. That’s why two years after losing 10 times by double digits, the Seahawks’ five losses this year came by a combined 24 points. When players truly buy into the idea that it’s all about the finish, they can overcome a 13-point deficit against New England or a 14-point deficit in a road playoff game. ‘It just shows how much confidence we have in our ability and the resolve in our team to fight the whole game,’ tight end Zach Miller said by phone after his team’s comeback in Washington. ‘We know games aren’t won in the first quarter or the first half, they’re won all the way in the fourth quarter.’ “

Boyle also notes that the Seahawks are not going to take the Atlanta Falcons lightly, “…even if the Seahawks are suddenly the ‘it’ team in the NFL, they aren’t buying the talk that the Falcons are vulnerable. Yes, the pressure is on Atlanta, which is 0-3 in the postseason in the last four years, and yes, the Seahawks are playing incredibly well (warnings aside, I’m leaning towards picking Seattle), but this game no doubt represents a big challenge for the Seahawks. ‘We have tremendous respect for the Atlanta team,’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. ‘Mike Smith has done a great job with this club for a number of years. They have been on their game and on the top of the league for some time now with really good efficient play, good defense, good running game, good throwing game, highlighted players all over the place, and a real good discipline about their style of play. So it’s going to be a fantastic challenge for us.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710 Sports.com writes how defensive end Chris Clemons’ season-ending injury impacts the club’s pass rush, “…Irvin would transition from a situational pass rusher to the weakside defensive end, a every-down position in which Clemons has thrived. Less clear is which player would assume Irvin’s role. Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks, seeing most of his playing time in passing situations opposite Clemons. Fellow rookie Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round pick, is one option. Scruggs had two sacks and six tackles in 11 games. Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times and 710 ESPN Seattle discussed this issue when he joined “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday. O’Neil thinks replacing Irvin is the bigger concern. ‘I don’t think the drop-off between Clemons and Irvin is as significant as what it does to your depth,’ he said.” 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard and Mike Salk discuss the topic further in this short video.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press highlights running back Marshawn Lynch’s playoff performance, “Seattle needed all of Lynch’s 132 yards rushing, and especially his 27-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, to dispatch the Redskins. His sidestep cut that left Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall grasping at air allowed him to get to the outside on the touchdown run and was another sign of Lynch’s shiftiness, which sometimes gets lost because of his brute power. Lynch’s performance on Sunday tied the franchise record for most yards rushing in a playoff game and bettered what he did against the Saints by 1 yard. He rushed for 99 yards in the second half and overcame a costly fumble at the Washington 1 on the first drive of the second half that could have shaken others. Not Lynch. ‘You don’t ever have to worry about his mindset,’ Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said after the game. ‘He got to the sideline, he was upset about it, and he just said, `Give it to me again. Keep feeding me.’ “

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his latest “NFC West penalty watch“, which also includes a note on the Seahawks’ divisional-round opponent – the Atlanta Falcons, “The Seahawks’ divisional-round playoff opponent, Atlanta, incurred a league-low 68 penalties this season, counting declined ones. But even the Falcons suffered more penalties for illegal contact (two) than the Seahawks incurred during the regular season.”