When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Records: Seahawks 1-2, Falcons 1-2
TV: KCPQ/13, with Craig Bolerjack and John Lynch
Radio: 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: New York Giants at Arizona (1-2); Washington at St. Louis (0-3); San Francisco (2-1) at Philadelphia.
Seahawks pass defense vs. the Falcons’ big three – WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones and TE Tony Gonzalez: This isn’t just CB Marcus Trufant against White, who has averaged 93 receptions the past four seasons and already has 20 this season. It’s not just the big body and physical style of CB Brandon Browner against the big body and athletic ability of Jones, the rookie who is averaging 16.5 yards on 13 receptions. It’s not even the strong safety (Kam Chancellor or Atari Bigby) or a linebacker, or two, against Gonzalez, who has caught more passes (1,069) for more yards (12,463) and more touchdowns (88) than any tight end in the 92-year history of the NFL. It’s an all-11-players-needed task, and starts with the pass-rushers being able to generate disruptive pressure on QB Matt Ryan.
One to watch
Falcons CB Brent Grimes vs. Seahawks WR Mike Williams: Williams, the Seahawks’ leading receiver last season, went without a catch against the Cardinals last week. And that was only part of his too-short story, as Williams was only targeted once – in the first quarter. It’s a situation that can’t continue, even with the return of Sidney Rice, who had eight catches for 109 yards in his Seahawks debut. QB Tarvaris Jackson needs to stay with Williams longer – but not too long – and also realize that he does not have to be open to make the catch. When matched against the 5-foot-10 Grimes, Williams will be able to use his 6-5 frame to shield him from the ball.
Fun to watch
Seahawks OLB Leroy Hill vs. Falcons RB Michael Turner: At some point – and more likely several junctures – these two will be on a collision course. Heavy emphasis on collision. The 247-pound Turner is a bruiser of a back who was averaging 6.9 yards per carry before being held to 30 yards on 15 rushing attempts against the Buccaneers last week. Hill had a game-high 11 tackles against the Cardinals last week – one shy of his career best. His big day included a sack and a forced fumble. But when Hill is really on his game, it’s not so much the tackles he makes, but the force behind them that so impressive.
One tough task
Falcons OTs Sam Baker and Tyson Clabo vs. Seahawks DEs Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock: When the Seahawks go to their nickel and dime packages in passing situations, Brock comes in to rush the passer opposite Clemons. Ryan already has been sacked 13 times this season, compared to 23 all of last season. The quickness off the ball of Clemons and Brock is only enhanced with the din generated by the 12th Man at CenturyLink Field, which makes it even more difficult for blocker to deal with their relentlessness. Each had a sack last week, but that wasn’t a true gauge of their disruptive presence – especially in the second half.
The Falcons won 34-18 in Week 15 in Seattle last season, in a game that was tied 10-10 in the second quarter before Atlanta scored 24 unanswered points. … Ryan threw three TD passes in that game, with White catching seven passes for 65 yards and Gonzalez four for 26. … Ryan passed for a career-high 330 yards in last week’s 16-13 loss to the Bucs. … Since 2008, Turner has 40 rushing touchdowns, second most in the NFC. … Falcons DE John Abraham has 104½ career sacks, which ranks No. 2 among active players in the league. … Rice has 154 receptions in his career and 114 – or 74 percent – have produced first downs. … The Seahawks are looking for back-to-back wins, which happened once in 2010 (Weeks 6-7), once in 2009 (Weeks 12-13) and once in 2008 (Weeks 15-16). … Chancellor leads the Seahawks in tackles (22), but he is listed as doubtful because of a deep thigh bruise. Bigby will start if Chancellor can’t play. … Linebackers Curtis Lofton (37) and Sean Weatherspoon (35) are the Falcons’ leading tacklers.
Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Oct. 1:
Mike Sando at ESPN.com checks in with Matt Williams of Scouts Inc. his take on where the Seahawks stand. Says Williamson: “Their front seven is dynamite. That defensive line with Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant and that crew is good. They have a lot of pieces in place on defense. Earl Thomas is the real deal — explosive, fast. He is noted Ed Reed, but that is the comparison, a true free safety who covers a ton of ground. Kam Chancellor is almost a linebacker. He’s a playmaker, a hitter, an Adrian Wilson type. The two of them complement each other well. They have had a revolving door at linebacker with injuries and the Aaron Curry situation, but they will get that worked out. David Hawthorne is a very good player once he gets healthy. They are a No. 1 corner away on defense.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times looks at Mike Williams, who did not catch a pass in last week’s game. Offers O’Neil: “Mike Williams makes a poor diva. He lacks the necessary volume. At least he did as he nearly whispered his way through an interview earlier this week, sitting in his locker with his voice cranked down so low you had to crane your neck to hear him. And when asked about his lack of opportunities in the passing game, he did his best to douse any fumes of discontent after he didn’t have a single catch in the game last weekend. ‘I don’t want my lack of targets to be a distraction for us, especially as an offense. I feel like we’re heading into the right direction. Last week, we were kind of finding our groove, finding our personnel.’ ”
Eric Williams at the News Tribune focuses on the return of Michael Robinson, the fullback and special teams co-captain who has been out since spraining an ankle in the season opener. Says Williams: “Out for two weeks with an ankle injury, Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson got to dissect his team’s offensive attack. And what did he find out? ‘What I did learn is, first and foremost, the 12th man gets us going,’ Robinson said. ‘But we’ve got to come out early, start fast. We can’t wait until the second quarter, third quarter to get going. We’ve got to be the ones who initiate it and set the tempo. And not rely on the other team to do that.’ ”
Christian Caple at PI.com has the injury updates from coach Pete Carroll after Friday’s practice. Says Caple: “Safety Kam Chancellor didn’t practice this week and is listed as doubtful to play with a deep thigh bruise. Chancellor bruised the thigh in Sunday’s game, though still managed to make a crucial interception late in the game that helped the Seahawks seal a 13-10 win. Atari Bigby would start in Chancellor’s place if he is unable to play.”
Here at Seahawks.com, we’ve got a look at why most of the players will be wearing pink for a purpose in Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Defensive end Raheem Brock had this to say about October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month: “This is just one way to show my support, so we’ll be rockin’ all the pink.”
In our “Hawkville” report, we’ve also got an analysis of Thomas and Chancellor from John Lynch, the former nine-time Pro Bowl safety who will be the analyst for Sunday’s game on Fox. Says Lynch: “I really think at that position, you can change a game because you’re asked to do so many things. At times, you’re rushing the quarterback. At times, you’re down as another linebacker. At times, you’re covering a receiver. So you can have a huge impact. Particularly when you have two, and they don’t know which one’s doing it. And they complement each other extremely well. I’m real high on them.” There’s also Tony Ventrella’s video recap of practice.
A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:
K.J. Wright. One good start earns the opportunity for another. That’s the case for the rookie linebacker from Mississippi State, who is working at the strong-side spot with the No. 1 defense in practice and could start in Sunday’s home opener against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field.
“K.J. Wright has played very well for us, especially in that first game,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said after today’s 110-minute practice. “We just felt like we wanted to have more competition at that spot, so we’re giving K.J. a chance there.”
Wright is replacing Aaron Curry, the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft who has been a starter since his rookie season. But Bradley stressed that there remains competition at the position.
“We’ll evaluate it the whole week,” he said. “As you know, the motto here is competition. We just felt like we needed to stress that position even more. We’re getting a good look at K.J. this week.”
Wright, a fourth-round draft choice, was the team’s leading tackler during the preseason and then started the regular-season opener at middle linebacker because David Hawthorne was out with a sore knee. Wright had five tackles in the opening-day loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.
“K.J. is very instinctive. He plays very smart situational football,” Bradley said. “He’s just such a quick study. He picked up on this stuff that we taught him playing Sam linebacker.”
The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Wright also has the needed physical traits.
“He’s got great length,” Bradley said. “If you’re going to play on the edge against the tight end, you need length and you need size. And he’s got both.”
Beanie Wells. In the Cardinals’ first two games, the third-year running back has had the best back-to-back games of his short NFL career with 183 yards on 32 carries.
But then he’s no stranger to the Seahawks or Hawthorne, who entered the league the year before Wells.
“He’s definitely evolved,” Hawthorne said. “I’ve played him the past two years, and seen him on film this year, and every year he seems to get better.”
This season, Wells is averaging 5.7 yards per carry – compared to 4.5 as a rookie and 3.4 last season.
“He’s a downhill, physical running back that can make all the cuts and all the reads,” said Hawthorne, the Seahawks’ leading tackler the past two seasons. “He likes to impose his will on people, especially when he gets into the secondary. You see him getting stronger as he gets through the line.
“Definitely, you want to get to him early and often.”
IN AND OUT
Defensive end Raheem Brock returned to practice after being excused on Wednesday.
Four players remained sidelined: left guard Robert Gallery, who already has been ruled out for at least a month because he needs surgery to repair a groin injury; fullback Michael Robinson (ankle), cornerback Byron Maxwell (ankle) and tackle Jarriel King (ankle).
For the Cardinals, tight end Jim Dray (pectoral) and wide receiver Chansi Stuckey (hamstring) did not practice and five players were limited: linebackers Daryl Washington (calf) and Joey Porter (knee), wide receiver DeMarco Sampson (hamstring), running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) and Wells (hamstring).
PRACTICE SQUAD ROULETTE
Safety Chris Maragos has been signed to the practice squad. Cornerback Ron Parker was released to clear a spot.
Maragos (5-10, 200) signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent last year and began the season on their practice squad. He was signed to the active roster twice. But the 49ers released him on the final roster cut this summer. He began his college career at Western Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin.
STAT DU JOUR
Cue up “We Are the Champions” by Queen, because the road to the NFC West title the past seven seasons has been a two-way street – with either the Seahawks (five times) or Cardinals (twice) winning it all:
Season Division champion (record)
2010 Seahawks (7-9)
2009 Cardinals (10-6)
2008 Cardinals (9-7)
2007 Seahawks (10-6)
2006 Seahawks (9-7)
2005 Seahawks (13-3)
2004 Seahawks (9-7)
The players will have their final full practice before Sunday’s home opener at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.
Tickets for Sunday’s game and can be purchased here.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s going to be an advantage for us. First time really playing in front of the home crowd in a regular-season game, so we want to go out and have a good showing. We’ve started off 0-2, so we want to make sure we get off on the right track at home.” – quarterback Tarvaris Jackson
Good morning from Pittsburgh. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Sept. 18:
Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at the problems presented by the Steelers’ defense, which not can blitz but also stuff the run. Offers O’Neil: “Welcome to Blitzburgh, a town where the linebackers eat meat, floss with opposing quarterbacks and the crowd’s devotion to its defense unites generations. ‘They love their team with a deep connection,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ‘They show it when they play.’ Carroll’s Seahawks will feel that Sunday when one of the league’s youngest teams continues to search for its new identity against the Steelers, an experienced heavyweight that will be looking to work out some of last week’s frustrations.”
He’s also got three keys for the Seahawks, starting with protecting QB Tarvaris Jackson.
Dave Boling at the News Tribune examines Carroll’s attempt to get his players on the proper biological clock for today’s game. Says Boling: “A study by Italian scientists found that in young adults, the athletic efficiency was at least 20 percent higher in the afternoon than the morning because of brain-wave patterns, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activity linked to the daily cycle. The Seahawks have won only once in their past 11 games in the Eastern time zone, with losses by an embarrassing average score of 30-161/2. Going back 10 seasons, they have sleepwalked to 12 losses in 20 such trips.”
Also at the News Tribune, Eric Williams looks at the Steeler mystique through the eyes of tight end Zach Miller. Says Miller, who played here while with the Raiders: “Well obviously it’s a loud stadium and the crowd gets into it, so they’ve got a good home advantage there. There’s a little bit of that Steelers mystique, where obviously they have a tradition and all of that of playing physical football. But you can win there. You’ve just got to play good football and not turn the ball over. And match their intensity that they come out with. Because they are going to come out hyped; they’re going to come out ready to go. And you have to match that, and then get into your game as the game goes on.”
John Boyle of the Everett Herald writes that this Seahawks team is not the same one that lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL. Says Boyle: “While that game may not feel like ancient history, a lot has changed in Seattle since then, in particular the Seahawks roster. Just two players, cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker Leroy Hill, remain from Seattle’s only Super Bowl team. The Seahawks also have changed head coaches twice since the 2005 season and brought in a new general manager. ‘It is kind of weird,’ said Trufant, Seattle’s longest tenured player. ‘It seems like it happened so fast, too. I remember back in my first couple of years when I was one of the younger guys on the team, and now I’m one of the older guys and I’ve been here the longest, so it is a little bit different.’ ”
There’s also an Associated Press story out of Pittsburgh on the impact Carroll had on Steelers safety Troy Polamalu when they were at USC. Says Polamalu: “He gave me a lot of freedom. He taught me a lot about defenses, taught me how to find freedom within certain responsibilities. He taught me a lot about the safety position in general. I had a great coach before him in Dennis Thurman and (Carroll) continued to add to that and I’m very thankful.”
Christian Caple at PI.com has five things to watch in today’s game. No. 3 involves Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: “When facing Ben Roethlisberger, pressuring the quarterback is only half the battle. Actually getting the dude on the ground is a different story. ‘If you can hit him when he’s not looking,’ defensive end Raheem Brock said, asked the best way to take down the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Steelers quarterback. ‘You know how to hit the big guys. You’ve got to get them off their feet. If you don’t take him down right away, he’s just going to toss you aside. You’ve got to hit him.’ ”
Here at Seahawks.com, we’ve got a look at challenges awaiting the Seahawks today, starting with the opponent: “This is a great matchup for us – a fantastic team,” Carroll said. “We know them very well, just because everybody knows the Pittsburgh Steelers.” We also preview the game in words and video.
Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Sept. 10:
At the Everett Herald, Scott Johnson continues his “The Game of My Life” series with a look at Kenny Easley’s performance in the upset of the Dolphins in 1983 that got the Seahawks to the AFC Championship game. Says Easley: “It wasn’t a memorable game in that I did anything particularly special in it. In fact, looking at film, I didn’t play particularly well. But the win over the Miami Dolphins in an AFC divisional playoff game was the most memorable game of my career.”
Also at the Herald, John Boyle wraps up his four-part series previewing the 2011 season with a look at the NFC West. Boyle on the Seahawks: “This looks like a team with a bright future, but it could be a challenge for the Seahawks to play well right away. A tough schedule early will only make the growing pains more difficult for a young offensive line and new quarterback. But if the Seahawks can be near .500 at the halfway point of the season, they could contend for a second straight division title in what should again be a down NFC West.”
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has the injury rundown, with wide receiver Sidney Rice and left guard Robert Gallery listed as doubtful for Sunday’s opener against the 49ers. With Gallery not likely to play, the young offensive line only gets younger. Says coach Pete Carroll: “We’re just young. That’s what it is. I’m thrilled about that. In one way to look at it, if these guys can go out there and play NFL football this early and if we can hold up and start growing, we’re going to get way better.”
Eric Williams of the News Tribune also looks at the line shuffle with Gallery hobbled, which has right tackle James Carpenter moving to left guard and Breno Giacomini stepping in at right tackle. Says Williams: “The more things change, the more things stay the same for the Seattle Seahawks. For the fourth consecutive year, the Seahawks will open the season with a different starting offensive line than the projected unit they had penciled in at the beginning of training camp.”
Christian Caple at PI.com also has the injury report, including this on Rice: “Then there’s Rice, who did some running at practice but also is a long-shot for Sunday. ‘He’s doubtful going into the game as well,’ Carroll said. ‘He ran around, caught balls and all that stuff. We need to protect him, take care of him, so likely he won’t play.’ ”
And speaking of injuries, Mike Sando at ESPN.com has a list of the players each team cannot afford to lose. His choices for the Seahawks: Red Bryant, Russell Okung and Chris Clemons. Sando on Bryant: “Opposing coaches tend to take special notice of Bryant’s massive frame when discussing the Seahawks’ defense. ‘He weighs around 330 and looks every bit of it,’ 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said this week. It’s an exaggeration to say the Seahawks go from very strong against the run to utterly helpless when Bryant isn’t available. It’s only a slight exaggeration, however. Bryant combines surprising quickness over short distances with sheer size to make running against Seattle difficult. The run defense collapsed without him in 2010.”
Sando also has “The Final Word” on the division heading into the opening weekend. One is a look at “The world’s tallest cornerback”: “Seahawks coach Pete Carroll emerged from the laboratory this offseason with something I cannot recall seeing at any level of football: a 6-foot-4 cornerback. Brandon Browner, late of the CFL, is expected to make his first NFL start against San Francisco. Seeing him lined up at corner takes some getting used to. Early in camp, teammates initially thought he was a safety and Carroll was testing out some weird new scheme. ‘When they said he was a corner, I thought maybe now they wanted to go with a ‘created’ player,’ receiver Ben Obomanu said. ‘I have a little cousin who plays NCAA and Madden football. He always creates these 6-7, 6-6 corners. I was like, ‘Well, coach Carroll is trying something new.’ But when I saw him play, I could see he has been playing corner a long time.’ Browner is a player to watch in Week 1.”
Here at Seahawks.com, we remember 9/11 through the memories of Raheem Brock, Marcus Trufant, David Hawthorne and Carl Smith. Says Brock, who was a student at Temple University on that day which lives in infamy: “It looked crazy, like you’d never think you’d see anything like that. It was a tough time.” We’ve also got Friday’s practice covered in words and video, and yes, there’s plenty of info about the injured players and who likely will replace them.
A recap of the morning walk-thru at Seahawks training camp on Monday:
Russell Okung. On Thursday night, the team’s left tackle was taken to the locker room at Qualcomm Stadium on a cart after spraining his left ankle during the first series of the preseason opener. Today, Okung was back on the practice field.
Sort of. His handful of snaps came in the earliest portion of the 1 hour, 45 minute session that was held in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Rather than a helmet, Okung was wearing a Seahawks hat – backwards. Rather than full pads, he had no pads.
But the significance of his presence can’t be underestimated in his quest to get back in the lineup ASAP – but not so quickly that jeopardizes Okung staying in the lineup. He was able to jog to the drill. He even pulled and moved to his right on a couple of snaps.
When the walk-thru moved to the full-team drills, Tyler Polumbus took over at left tackle. He will start against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night in the preseason home opener at CenturyLink Field, and stay there until Okung returns.
But after what Okung showed today, that should be sooner, rather than later.
Offensive line. The team put a lot of resources into upgrading this unit during the offseason. The top two draft choices were used to select tackle James Carpenter and guard John Moffitt, who are starting on the right side. Veteran left guard was signed in free agency to provide leadership and stability between Okung and center Max Unger. Tom Cable, the former Raiders head coach, was hired to oversee the line.
But how does the line look to the back who will benefit most from this makeover?
“My impression of them is they’re big,” Marshawn Lynch said after the walk-thru.
That they are, from the 6-8, 300-pound Polumbus; to the 6-7, 325-pound Gallery; to the 6-5, 305-pound Unger; to the 6-4, 319-pound Moffitt; to the 6-5, 321-pound Carpenter.
“But going against our (defense) you really can’t get the look that you’re going to see in a game,” Lynch said. “So it’s something I’m waiting to see how that forms up and jells together. But as of right now, I like what I see.”
PLAYS OF THE DAY
In a walk-thru? There were a few worthy efforts, and two tuned in by the defense stood out.
First, strong safety Kam Chancellor appeared with the suddenness of a jack-in-the-box – all 6 feet, 3 inches of him with his long arms fully extended – to make a leaping interception of a Charlie Whitehurst that was intended for wide receiver Isaiah Stanback.
Later, defensive end Raheem Brock reached up to grab a screen pass that Tarvaris Jackson was lofting to Lynch.
IN AND OUT
Tight end John Carlson continues to be sidelined and eight other players did not participate this morning: cornerbacks Kelly Jennings, Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell; wide receivers Kris Durham and Doug Baldwin; defensive linemen Jameson Konz and Pierre Allen; and offensive lineman Caz Piurowski.
Still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, as they have yet to be cleared to practice: cornerback Roy Lewis, wide receiver Deon Butler, nose tackle Colin Cole and tight end Cameron Morrah.
Back after sitting out Sunday were defensive linemen Ryan Sims and Jay Alford.
The players have meetings this afternoon and then are off tonight, as well as tomorrow. The next practice is Wednesday at 3 p.m. and it’s the final session of training camp that will be open to the public. You can register to attend here.
YOU DON’T SAY
“That was last year. That’s over with.” – Lynch, when asked about the running game ranking 31st in the league last season
With Clare Farnsworth on vacation for the weekend, we offer you these clips of what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Aug. 5:
Meanwhile, here at Seahawks.com:
Camp Carroll: Day 8
Today will be like no other Father’s Day for Lofa Tatupu.
That’s because the Seahawks’ middle linebacker is a father for the first time, as his son – Kai – was born in February. It’s also because Tatupu’s father, Mosi, died last February. He was 54.
Lofa discussed the loss of his father with Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times in August, saying, “It has been tough. Not to be able to call him during camp. I might tear up. I’m sorry.”
Tatupu was still coping with the loss of his father just after the birth of his son.
“I still think about him every day – every day,” Tatupu said during an interview with Seahawks.com that was done before the lockout began in March. “And now that I have a son of my own, I realize what our relationship meant to him.”
Tatupu is one of four Seahawks whose father also played in the NFL.
Don Hasselbeck, the father of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, played tight end for the New England Patriots (1977-83), Los Angeles Raiders (1983), Minnesota Vikings (1984) and New York Giants (1985). Hasselbeck was a member of the Raiders team that beat the Seahawks in the ’83 AFC Championship game, and he caught a touchdown pass in the second regular-season meeting with the Seahawks that season.
David Whitehurst, the father of quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, played the same position for the Green Bay Packers (1977-83) and Kansas City Chiefs (1984). Charlie discussed that dynamic with Seahawks.com during training camp last summer, offering, “He taught me how to play football. When I went to high school, I was so much more prepared than everybody out there. In college, I was ahead of the game.”
Zach Dixon, the father of defensive end Raheem Brock, not only played in the NFL; he did it for the Seahawks (1983-84). Dixon attended the Seahawks’ regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field in January, and Brock treated him to a 2½-sack performance. “It felt great to play in front of my dad,” Brock told Seahawks.com in this story. “For my dad and my whole family to see this atmosphere and the 12th Man, and for us to go out there and play like we did, it’s a great feeling.”
There’s even an extended-family connection, as Ring of Honor defensive end Jacob Green is the father-in-law of Red Bryant – who is playing the same position and wearing the same number (79) as Green. They discussed their relationship in this story. Said Bryant, “Mr. Green is really excited. He’s really proud, and I’m proud that I’m making him proud.” Yes, Bryant refers to his father-in-law as Mr. Green.
With all that said, Happy Father’s Day.
The Seahawks entered Sunday’s wild-card playoff game as vast underdogs to the visiting Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, but Matt Hasselbeck, Marshawn Lynch and the 12th Man led the way to a victory and a trip to Chicago.
Seattle got back on the winning track against Carolina at Qwest Field, on a day the team officially retired the jersey of famed offensive lineman Walter Jones. A 31-14 over the Panthers moved the Seahawks back into a tie for first place in the NFC West.