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

Pro Bowl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Carroll: Trufant set for return to practice

Marcus Trufant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Sunday’s 50-17 win over the Bills

Russell Wilson

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 17 – one day after the Seahawks’ 50-17 road win against the Buffalo Bills.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps Sunday’s rout, “The Seahawks are 9-5, guaranteed their first winning season since 2007 and in control of their own playoff fate. They have a quarterback in Wilson who is playing his way into consideration as the league’s top rookie and an offense that can be called potent without evoking laughter. And in the second half — after the Bills scored 10 points in the final 1:10 of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 14 points — Seattle demonstrated a killer instinct by forcing three turnovers in 10 minutes, starting with K.J. Wright’s interception. ‘We’re showing growth,’ defensive end Red Bryant said. ‘We could have easily let up when it was 31-17, but we came out and finished. And all of those experiences, the tough losses, the two 7-9 seasons until now, it builds character. We’re definitely not a young team anymore.’ ”

O’Neil highlights the play of quarterback Russell Wilson, who passed for 205 yards and a touchdown and added 92 yards and three scores on the ground yesterday, “Wilson averaged 20.6 yards rushing over the first 11 games of this season. He has averaged 58.3 in the past three, and he has already rushed for more yards in a season than any Seahawk quarterback before him. He has gained 402 yards on the ground with two games still to play, passing Rick Mirer, whose 343 yards rushing in 1993 had been the most by a Seahawks player at that position. The read-option has become a staple of Seattle’s offense, and just one more way the Seahawks have expanded what they do while keeping their quarterback as the centerpiece. ‘Our offense is really explosive right now,’ Wilson said. ‘We do many, multiple, different things to attack the defense in terms of throwing the ball, in terms of running, a couple of trick plays here and there. It’s hard to stop.’ And Buffalo didn’t come close to doing that Sunday.”

O’Neil names Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch his players of the game in his “Two Minute Drill“, “Russell Wilson became the first NFL player to have three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown in the same half. He ran for a season-high 92 yards on nine carries. Running back Marshawn Lynch gained 113 yards on 10 carries, scoring on a 13-yard run in the third quarter. He has 28 rushing touchdowns since being traded to Seattle. Buffalo has rushed for 27 touchdowns as a team since he left.”

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times reflects upon the recent play of the Seahawks, “This is nearly a once-in-a-lifetime display. This is not the feat of a team destined to sneak into the playoffs and then stumble. There is something about the Seahawks — something incredible, something wondrous — that 108 points in two games is magnifying. A reporter asked defensive end Chris Clemons, who had 2 ½ sacks Sunday, if the Seahawks are peaking.  ‘When you say peaking, where is the peak?’ Clemons replied. I look up and can’t see it. Maybe I need new glasses. Or maybe we all should visit an observatory and look through a telescope. Where is the peak? It feels like the peak is wherever the Seahawks want it to be.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his game story from yesterday, “In his first game against his former team, running back Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards for the eighth time this season, finishing with 113 yards on 10 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown run. The Seahawks finished with 466 yards of total offense – the third consecutive week Seattle’s offense has put up over 400 yards of offense. ‘What’s important is that you continue to execute really well regardless of the circumstances and who you’re playing,’ Carroll said. ‘Our guys played football like we’re capable of playing.’ ”

Williams also details the play of the Seahawks defense, focusing on defensive end Chris Clemons, who with 2.5 sacks yesterday became the first franchise player since Michael Sinclair (1996-98) to notch double-digit sack totals in three consecutive seasons, “Clemons was the defensive end nobody wanted when the Seahawks traded for him in March 2010 with Philadelphia, sending Darryl Tapp to the Eagles. The Seahawks also received a 2010 fourth-round pick in the trade, selecting defensive end E.J. Wilson, who’s no longer with the team. Clemons developed into one of the Seattle’s anchor players on defense. The Seahawks signed him to a three-year, $21 million deal in the offseason. ‘I give all the credit to these guys,’ Clemons said, pointing to fellow defensive linemen Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant. ‘I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for them. They’re always communicating with me. Since I first came in, they welcomed me to the team.’ ‘We expect that from him,’ Bryant said. ‘He came out in the second half, and he absolutely took over the game, and gave the team the spark we needed to make sure we finished strong. I’m happy for him.’ ”

Mike Salk of 710Sports.com says the Seahawks have arrived as a complete football team, “…the 2012 Seahawks arrived because they now know exactly who they are and how they want to win. They aren’t just the gritty, defensive-minded football team that began the year in Arizona hoping to limit possessions and make one extra play in the end. They aren’t just the run-first offense that scored as many as 27 points just once in the first half of the year. They’re not a dink and dunk offense. They aren’t a bend-but-not break defense. Nor are they simply a read-option team or a play-action team. They are now a complete football team. In the last two weeks, their offense has scored 87 points. Cool. But their defense has added 14 itself. And special teams came up with seven more. They’ve put up 405 yards in the air, 554 more on the ground. And they’ve allowed just 487 total yards while forcing 11 turnovers. Again, all marks of a complete football team.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has his “Quick hits” following yesterday’s Seahawks win, “The lead: The Seahawks took care of business in a big way against an inferior Bills team, scoring at least 50 points for the second straight game. Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns and threw for another as Seattle’s offense moved the ball at will. This win, as convincing as it was, combined with the overtime victory in Chicago two weeks ago should ease some fears about the Seahawks’ ability to win away from CenturyLink Field. Seattle is 9-5 with two home games remaining, including one next week against San Francisco.”

Henderson also notes that Wilson is closing in on the rookie touchdown record, “Wilson now has 21 touchdown passes, five shy of the record Peyton Manning set during his rookie season in 1998. Wilson is tied for third along with Carolina’s Cam Newton, who had 21 last season. Charlie Conerly of the Giants is second with 22 in 1948, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Andrew Luck, the Colts’ rookie quarterback, has 20.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has his reaction following the Seahawks 50-17 win over the Bills, “The NFL does reward high-functioning football, and that describes well the Seahawks and their fast-rising playoff position, which is now the first wild card spot, fifth overall in the NFC. Heading into two home games against division rivals, here’s another list. Efficient quarterback play – check. Clock-controlling rushing game –  check. Turnover-inducing defense – check. Field-position edge from special teams – check. Roster depth to protect against injuries – check. Winning on the road – check. ‘We put together a really cool football game across the board,’ said coach Pete Carroll. ‘There was a concern about how we would handle (coming off a blowout win), but we played really well.’ ”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his “Wrap up” after the Seahawks 50-17 victory over Buffalo, “What it means: The Seahawks improved to 9-5, ensuring their first winning season since 2007. They strengthened their hold on a wild-card playoff berth, at least. This victory sets up a potentially pivotal Week 16 game against the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers. A 49ers defeat at New England in the Sunday night game would put first place on the line at CenturyLink Field next week. The Seahawks have won five of their past six games thanks largely to outstanding play from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.”

Sando also shares a chart looking at where rookie quarterbacks Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Robert Girffin III stand through Week 15.

For a look around the League, Peter King of SI.com has his “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, which is always worth a read.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has his game recap and game at a glance, naming Wilson his player of the game. You can view Wilson’s complete game highlights here.

Tony Ventrella has his game recap, catching post-game reaction from coach Carroll, Wilson, Clemons, and Thomas.

And finally, our team photographer Rod Mar shares 52 frames from yesterday’s 50-17 win here.


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Friday in Hawkville: Thurmond out, so Maxwell and Lane are in

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 14:

Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell

Cornerbacks Jeremy Lane (pictured left) and Byron Maxwell (pictured right)

FOCUS ON

Next man up. Again. With Walter Thurmond being ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bills in Toronto, Byron Maxwell and rookie Jeremy Lane will take over at right cornerback.

Thurmond stepped in two weeks ago to replace Marcus Trufant as the nickel back, and then slid to the right side last week after Brandon Browner was suspended four games for violating the league’s performance enhancement policy – with Lane moving in as the nickel back. But Thurmond injured a hamstring in practice on Wednesday. Trufant will miss his third consecutive game, also because of a hamstring injury.

“He’s not going to make it. Unfortunately he’s not going to be there,” coach Pete Carroll said after today’s practice when asked about Thurmond. “We’ll play those guys in rotation – that would be Jeremy Lane and Bryon.”

Both will play a lot, because the one who is not at right corner will be the third corner in the nickel defense.

Maxwell, a sixth-round draft choice last year, is ready – because he has to be; and prepared – because he got a lot of snaps in the second half of last week’s 58-0 win over the Cardinals.

“It was great just to get out there and help the team,” said Maxwell, who got time at cornerback in one game last season and his first game this season against the Cardinals. “We were up by so much that they took Sherm (left cornerback Richard Sherman) out and it was just the young guys in there – me and J-Lane – getting some experience under our belts.”

It allowed Maxwell to get into the flow of the game, which was important because in most games his contributions are limited to the one snap dash-and-bash that is playing special teams.

“Which is important,” Maxwell said. “There’s nothing like game-time experience.”

Outside? Inside? Does Maxwell have a preference?

“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I just want to be on the field.”

MARTIN TO IR

Wide receiver Charly Martin has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season after pulling a calf in practice on Thursday.

OPPONENT WATCH

Scott Chandler. Stevie Johnson leads the Bills with 61 receptions, but it’s Chandler who has caught a team-high six touchdown passes – on 37 catches. And the production by the sixth-year tight end has not escaped Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

“It’s another real threat, especially in third-down situations,” Bradley said. “He’s one of the top receiving threats on third down. It’s a matchup that we’ve got to take a look at and see the threat he is. You’ll see Chandler with a lot of special routes or a lot of deep-developing routes. So they obviously feel pretty good about him getting away from defensive backs and linebackers.

“The NFL is such a matchup league, and offenses are looking for matchups. So we’ve always got to be aware of that.”

The 6-foot-7, 263-pound Chandler also is averaging 13.2 yards, tops on the team among receivers with more than five receptions.

INJURY REPORT

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

Out

CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)

CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)

Probable

DE Red Bryant (foot)

SS Kam Chancellor (groin)

WR Sidney Rice (foot)

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

Rice, Bryant and Chancellor practiced today for the first time this week and Carroll said he expected all the play against the Bills.

Linebacker Leroy Hill will return to the starting lineup after missing the past two games because of a sprained ankle, but Malcolm Smith also will play, Carroll said. Smith started the past two games on the weakside for Hill.

For the Bills:

Out

RB Fred Jackson (knee)

C Eric Wood (knee)

Questionable

LB Nick Barnett (knee)

S Jairus Byrd (shin)

DE Marcell Dareus (shoulder)

DT Spencer Johnson (knee)

CB Leodis McKelvin (groin)

DE Mark Anderson (knee)

OG Andy Levitre (knee)

CB Justin Rogers (foot)

WR Donald Jones (calf)

Probable

DT Kyle Williams (ankle)

DB Ron Brooks (hip)

TE Scott Chandler (groin)

OG Kraig Urbik (knee)

LB Chris White (thumb)

S Da’Norris Searcy (hand)

RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder)

CB Aaron Williams (knee)

DE Mario Williams (wrist)

STAT DU JOUR

Bobby Wagner, as we wrote last Friday, is putting up numbers worthy of NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Seahawks’ middle linebacker is third among rookies in the league in tackles and tied for third in interceptions – the only player among the Top 3 in both categories:

Tackles

Player, team                                    No.

LB Luke Kuechly, Panthers           130

LB Lavonte David, Buccaneers     117

Bobby Wagner, Seahawks            108

Interceptions

Player, team                                     No.

CB Casey Hayward, Packers             5

S Tavon Wilson, Patriots                   4

LB Bobby Wagner, Seahawks           3

CB Alfonzo Dennard, Patriots          3

CB Janoris Jenkins, Rams                  3

CB Leonard Jackson, Buccaneers    3

S Harrison Smith, Vikings                  3

UP NEXT

The team flew to Toronto after the players had a midday practice. Saturday’s walkthrough will be in Canada’s largest city.

YOU DON’T SAY

“They’re very explosive. There’s a little bit of an emphasis that we’re going to see (C.J.) Spiller more. If you look at his numbers, you can see why they would do that. He’s got great numbers in the running game and the passing game. That doesn’t help us any. So we have to really tune in to him. He’s the factor that can really change them. The perimeter stuff that he does is very dangerous. He has extraordinary speed and it shows up on the field. That’s a big deal for us.” – Carroll on Spiller becoming the feature back for the Bill with Fred Jackson out


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Thursday in Hawkville: Rookies on a rampage no surprise to rampaging rookies

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 13:

Russell Wilson

FOCUS ON

The rookie class. We’ve written a lot about the rookies, and for good reason. They’ve done so much to help the team already win more games this season (eight) than the Seahawks won in their first two seasons (seven) under coach Pete Carroll.

What’s news is how quickly the rookies realized they could be special.

“I knew that as soon as I got here for rookie minicamp,” rookie QB Russell Wilson said today of the first time the rookies gathered in May. “I had a great, great feeling about it. The passion and energy we brought to the practice every day. You wanted to see if that was going to continue into the summer and into the season.

“Everybody talks about that rookie wall. Well, we haven’t hit it. I really don’t believe we’ve hit it. We’re not even close and we’re ready to go.”

And the Seahawks can go to the postseason in the rookies’ first season, if they continue to take care of business one game at a time – starting with Sunday’s game against the Bills in Toronto.

While Wilson, a third-round draft choice, already has done things no other rookie QB in the history of the league has, first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin leads all rookies this season with eight sacks; second-round pick and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the team with 108 tackles; fourth-round pick Robert Turbin had his first 100-yard rushing effort in last week’s game against the Cardinals; and cornerback Jeremy Lane (sixth round), guard J.R. Sweezy (seventh round), defensive lineman Greg Scruggs (seventh round) and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (free agents) also played a lot, and made plays, against the Cardinals.

“That’s the great thing about it, our energy and our passion for the game and for this franchise is very, very high,” Wilson said. “So we want to do our best to represent very, very well.”

That opinion on the rapid, and continuing, impact of the rookies is not a one-man band.

“Probably the first day of OTAs,” Wagner said when asked when he realized these rookies could be something special. “I saw Russell flinging the ball, and Bruce rushing the passer, and just everything we were doing.”

Richard Sherman

PLAYER WATCH

Richard Sherman. This time, the view comes from a teammate – Wilson, who was with the free-spirited second-year cornerback when a group of players visited Seattle Children’s Hospital on Tuesday.

“Richard is a tremendous guy,” Wilson said. “He’s very, very intelligent. You can see that. He has this love for football, just like I do. He may express it in a little different way, but that’s not a bad thing. That’s his personality in terms of competing. He brings that fire to his teammates. He brings that compassion and fire to himself. That’s how he motivates himself. That’s great.

“It’s the National Football League, he’s just having fun.”

The off-field view of Sherman isn’t that much different.

“I think the biggest thing is, when we’re in Children’s Hospital and stuff like that, you can see his love for people and just how he likes to talk to kids,” Wilson said. “And that’s great. To be around a guy like Richard Sherman who, for sure in my opinion, is a Pro Bowl-type player, to see him be around young kids is pretty awesome.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

DE Red Bryant (foot)

SS Kam Chancellor (groin)

WR Sidney Rice (foot)

CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)

CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)

Limited in practice

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

WR Charly Martin (calf)

With Thurmond sitting out after injuring a hamstring in practice on Wednesday, Byron Maxwell and Lane split the reps at right cornerback. Bryant and Chancellor sat out for the second day and were replaced by Jason Jones and Jeron Johnson. Rice was out of the walking boot he was wearing on Wednesday.

For the Bills:

Did not practice

LB Nick Barnett (knee)

RB Fred Jackson (knee)

C Eric Wood (knee)

Limited in practice

S Jairus Byrd (shin)

DE Marcell Dareus (shoulder)

DT Spencer Johnson (knee)

CB Leodis McKelvin (groin)

DT Kyle Williams (ankle)

DE Mark Anderson (knee)

CB Ron Brooks (hip)

TE Scott Chandler (groin)

OG Andy Levitre (knee)

CB Justin Rogers (foot)

TE Lee Smith (knee)

OG Kraig Urbik (knee)

LB Chris White (thumb)

Full participation

WR Donald Jones (calf)

S Da’Norris Searcy (hand)

RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder)

CB Aaron Williams (knee)

DE Mario Williams (wrist)

TAKE THE PLEDGE TO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE

It’s OK to text. It’s OK to drive. It’s just not OK to do both at the same time. Just ask Wilson, who is partnering with Verizon to reward the high school that gets the most pledges from students to not text and drive.

“I have an awesome partnership with Verizon Wireless, it’s ‘Save it Seattle,’ ” Wilson said. “Basically, we’re trying to get as many pledges as we can from all the high schools and all the high schoolers to not text and drive.

“I’ve texted and driven before, and you don’t want to do that. I’ve made that pledge myself.”

The school that gets the most pledges by next Wednesday will get a visit from Wilson.

STAT DU JOUR

With three games left in the regular season, the Seahawks’ postseason opportunities run the gambit from claiming the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs to not even making playoffs. How’s that for disparity in a league that loves parity?

How can the Seahawks leapfrog from the top wild-card spot, which they currently hold, to the No. 1 seed? It starts with the Seahawks beating the Bills, 49ers and Rams to finish with 11 wins. It also would entail the top-seeded Falcons (11-2) losing their three remaining games; the 49ers (9-3-1) losing two of their remaining three; the Packers (9-4) finishing with no more than 11 wins, because the Seahawks hold the tiebreaker with their Week 3 victory over Green Bay; and the Giants (8-5) losing another game.

How can the Seahawks leapfrog the 49ers to win the NFC West? This dare-to-dream scenario is more intriguing, and also closer to reality. If the Seahawks beat the Bills and the 49ers lose to the Patriots (10-3) in Foxboro on Sunday night, the Seahawks could move into first place with a win over the 49ers next Sunday night at CenturyLink Field – and then clinch with a win over the Rams at CenturyLink on the 30th.

What’s the fallback scenario? The Seahawks win two of their final three to earn a wild-card spot with 10 wins.

What’s that last option? We don’t want to find out.

UP NEXT

The team will fly to Toronto on Friday afternoon following a midday practice, and then hold its Saturday walkthrough in the Canadian city.

YOU DON’T SAY

“You’ve always talked about how coach Carroll was such a great inspiration to you, can you elaborate on that?” – Carroll, sticking his head into Wilson’s weekly Q&A session to ask a mock question, and make Wilson laugh


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Wednesday in Hawkville: It’s a day for the players to cheer the fans

Matt Flynn

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for 12-12-12:

FOCUS ON

The Power of 12. Matt Flynn wasn’t really plugged into the energy generated by the 12th Man crowd at CenturyLink Field on game days when he signed with the Seahawks as a free agent in March.

Now, he is – especially after the backup QB saw his first action of the regular season in a 58-0 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday, when he completed 5 of 9 passes for 68 yards and directed a six-play, 62-yard drive to the final touchdown.

“Obviously it’s a huge advantage for us, noise-wise,” Flynn said today, when he and teammates shifted their focus to this week’s game against the Bills in Toronto. “And they’re smart fans. They know when to get loud and when to be quiet.

“I didn’t really know much about the Seahawks when I came up here. But they’ve opened my eyes and made me a fan of them.”

Cornerback Richard Sherman is sure the Seahawks have the best fans in the league, and says they’re deserving of any and all tributes that come their way on the numerical significant day.

“I’ve seen fans with tattoos of player’s faces,” he said. “They’re so passionate about the Seahawks around here it’s incredible. So I think it’s an incredible tribute to them. I would be happy to do anything we can to give back to the fans because they give a lot to us.”

OPPONENT WATCH

C.J. Spiller. Not surprisingly, the Bills’ suddenly fulltime feature back is no stranger to Pete Carroll. The Seahawks coach tried to recruit Spiller while coaching at USC when he came out of Union County High School in Lake Butler, Fla. Spiller opted for Clemson, but Carroll definitely remembers him.

“I have tremendous respect for C.J. Spiller,” Carroll said. “I saw him as one of the great players we ever came across. And boy, he has really torn it up. They build the offense around him and he’ll get even more activity now. That means you have a chance for them to score on every play, run or pass.

“So it’s a big deal for our defense to get ready for that.”

The Seahawks will see a lot more of Spiller on Sunday because Fred Jackson is out with a sprained right knee. The two had been splitting time, but Spiller and his league-leading 6.6-yard per carry average are now front and center.

“We want to make sure that we respect the heck out of that, because we know that he’s such a great player,” Carroll said.

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

DE Red Bryant (foot)

SS Kam Chancellor (groin)

WR Sidney Rice (foot)

CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)

Limited in practice

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)

Rice was in a walking boot today after waking up Monday with a bruised foot. “He improved quite a bit from game day,” Carroll said. “But he’s got a pretty sore foot.” Carroll added that tests of Rice’s foot found nothing that should keep him from playing against the Bills.

Trufant has missed the past two games and Carroll said he’s still in process of returning from his injury.

Chancellor and Bryant sat out to rest injuries that have limited them in practice in previous weeks. Jeron Johnson and Jason Jones filled in for them. With Thurmond limited, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell worked at cornerback.

For the Bills:

Did not practice

LB Nick Barnett (knee)

S Jairus Byrd (shin)

DE Marcell Dareus (shoulder)

RB Fred Jackson (knee)

DT Spencer Johnson (knee)

CB Leodis McKelvin (groin)

DT Kyle Williams (ankle)

C Eric Wood (knee)

Limited in practice

DE Mark Anderson (knee)

CB Ron Brooks (hip)

TE Scott Chandler (groin)

OG Andy Levitre (knee)

CB Justin Rogers (foot)

TE Lee Smith (knee)

OG Kraig Urbik (knee)

LB Chris White (thumb)

Full participation

WR Donald Jones (calf)

S Da’Norris Searcy (hand)

RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder)

CB Aaron Williams (knee)

DE Mario Williams (wrist)

NO MORE PADS

The players practiced without pads today and will for the rest of the season because the team has utilized the allotted number of padded practices allowed under the CBA that ended the 136-day lockout in 2010.

“This is the first ‘Competition Wednesday’ that we cherish so much that we aren’t in pads,” Carroll said. “I talked at length with the guys about that so we still gear and get our tempo and our speed and all the things we need to get done and still compete.

“This is a bit of a transition, so it’s a huge day. There’s a change coming up, so I’m concerned about it and want to get this thing started right.”

CLOSE, BUT …

Lynch and Sherman were nominees for NFC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, but the selections were Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings’ win over the Bears, while Lynch had 128 yards and three TDs – on 11 carries – in the Seahawks win over the Cardinals. Kuechly had a career-high 16 tackles in the Panthers’ upset of the Falcons, while Sherman returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and also recovered a fumble against the Cardinals.

The Seahawks have had four players selected this season: quarterback Russell Wilson (last week), defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 4), Sherman (Week 10) and kick returner Leon Washington (Week 12).

WHICH SEAHAWKS DESERVE YOUR PRO BOWL VOTE?

Fan balloting for the Pro Bowl ends on Monday, so you’ve only got a few days left to rock the vote for the worthy Seahawks.

Lynch is second (431,114) among the NFC running backs to Peterson (668,942), but there are others who need your help – including center Max Unger, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, free safety Earl Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, punter Jon Ryan and special teams standout Heath Farwell.

You can cast your vote here.

Fan balloting counts one third toward selection of the NFC squad, with the coaches and players scheduled to cast their votes Dec. 20-21.

 STAT DU JOUR

Staying with this 12-thing, the 12th Man helped prod three false-start penalties out of the Cardinals on Sunday, raising the league-leading total at CenturyLink Field to 119 since the start of the 2005 season. For those not in the stadium to see the scoreboard graphic that ticks off the false starts as they occur, here’s a look at the league leaders in that category during that span:

Stadium (team)                                  False starts

CenturyLink Field (Seahawks)                  119

Metrodome (Vikings)                                115

Ford Field (Lions)                                        107

Edward Jones Dome (Rams)                     102

UP NEXT

“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to practice for their final road game of the regular season. With the game in Toronto, the team will travel on Friday following a midday practice and hold its Saturday walkthrough in Toronto.

YOU DON’T SAY

“He’s just totally out of character. I don’t know where that’s coming from. But, keep running.” – fullback Michael Robinson on the pile-moving Lynch bouncing outside to score on a 33-yard run and then hurdling a couple of fallen players on a 20-yard TD run against the Cardinals


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Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Sunday’s 58-0 win over Arizona

Scoreboard

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks one day after their 58-0 performance over the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times has his game story from Sunday, “The Seahawks are 8-5, assuring they won’t finish with a losing record for a fifth successive season. And this time, Seattle found a way to win without any doubts. ‘We’ve been having a lot of close battles this whole year,’ safety Earl Thomas said. ‘It just feels great when you get a win and you don’t really have to fight. We just stayed disciplined the whole game and really didn’t give them any life.’ ”

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times  highlights the play of cornerback Richard Sherman and the Seahawks defense in Sunday’s win, “This was the kind of performance the Seahawks defense needed after several weeks of struggles. They didn’t hemorrhage yards and then save themselves with turnovers. They shut down the Cardinals completely. Arizona gained 154 yards, compared to the Seahawks’ season-high 493. The Cardinals never really threatened to score. ‘It was unbelievable,’ Sherman said. ‘It was a total team effort.’ ”

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times has his reaction after Sunday’s rout, “There is something special about this team. It has a certain resolve and an ability to move past a bad loss. For more than three months now, the Hawks have shown their resilience. They’re deep, talented and hungry. ‘Our resolve is embodied in our quarterback (Russell Wilson),’ [Michael] Robinson said. ‘Everything was going against him. He was too short. He couldn’t play in this league. Whatever the case may be. He keeps proving the critics wrong. And people tell us we can’t win on the road. People tell us we can’t beat some of the elite teams. Hopefully we’re trying to prove all that wrong. But we don’t want to think about the big picture right now. We want to finish and then look back and say, ‘Wow, look at what we just did.’ ‘ Fifty-eight to nothing. Wow, look at what the Seahawks just did. And look at all that still is possible for them.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps Sunday’s 58-0 Seahawks victory, “The Seahawks are now 6-0 at home — two wins away from going 8-0 at home for the first time since the team’s Super Bowl season in 2005. Seattle players aren’t taking the way they played for granted. ‘It shows us when we finish (a) game, and when we finish plays and we work all the way through the whistle, good things happen — for whatever reason,’ fullback Michael Robinson said. ‘And we have to keep it up. We’re in finish mode right now — fourth quarter.’ Added safety Earl Thomas: ‘It’s just a stepping stone. I think we’re getting hot at the right time. It’s getting late in the season, and we’re ready for this push to the playoffs.’ ”

Williams also writes about rookie running back Robert Turbin’s day, “Turbin finished with 20 carries for 108 yards, the first time he topped the 100-yard mark in his pro career. ‘It really helped a lot,’ Turbin said. ‘To finally not just get flashes of carries here and there, but to just get consecutive carries and get a feel for the defense for my own self. That’s a lot of what Marshawn does. You guys talk about that all time — he doesn’t break a lot of his big runs until the second half. Well, that’s a part of him feeling the game. And I was able to kind of feel the game myself.’ ”

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks’ saw their “next man up” philosophy pay dividends on Sunday, “[Walter] Thurmond was a little down on himself for not getting an interception on his dramatic tipped ball, but credited Wagner with a nice return. He was in no way rusty in his first start this season, he said, and he was not in the least surprised by the play of the young apprentices who were thrust into action. ‘We’ve got a lot of depth,’ Thurmond said, explaining that the results of this have benefits in practice as well as in games. ‘We’ve got a lot of competition every day in practice; that’s why we get better every week. And then when we get in game situations, we can capitalize and make plays.’ ”

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune details Sherman’s heroics on Sunday, “When the pummeling got to the point of wishing the NFL had a mercy rule for blowouts, Sherman even danced while on the bench. By that time the score was 51-0, and another afternoon — two interceptions, three passes defended, a fumble recovery and too many gesticulations to count — was in the books for the Seahawks’ Most Voluble Player. ‘Richard Sherman is a little bit crazy; everybody knows that,’ safety Earl Thomas, Sherman’s ‘Legion of Boom’ colleague, said in the Seahawks locker room. ‘But he’s a hell of a player. I’m glad he’s on our team.’ ”

Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune notes that tight end Anthony McCoy’s dropped passes seem to be in the past, “McCoy appeared in two games in 2010 and didn’t make a catch. Last season, he played in all 16 games, making 13 catches for 146 yards. But it was the catches he didn’t make that were the problem. McCoy had a habit of dropping passes. ‘I have grown a lot from my first year,’ McCoy said, crediting former teammates John Carlson and Chris Baker and current teammates Zach Miller and Cameron Morrah with helping him. ‘I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of dropped balls, and it’s something I really harped on in the offseason, and I think I fixed it for the most part.’ It seems that way. McCoy has 16 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and has one drop this season. ‘He has so much speed and so much ability,’ Wilson said. ‘He’s like a receiver in terms of the way he runs.’ ”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his game recap from yesterday, “Seattle’s running game was so dominant, totaling 284 yards, the fourth most in franchise history, that the Seahawks managed to put 58 points on the scoreboard with just 209 passing yards. ‘I don’t think I’ve seen (a blowout like this). I’ve never been a part of something like that, but a lot of crazy plays happened out there today,’ receiver Sidney Rice said.”

Boyle also rehashes the dominance that was on display in the Seahawks’ win, “The lopsided nature of this victory is nearly impossible to repeat in the NFL, but the way the Seahawks exerted their will, the way the defense dominated at home, the way they didn’t let a bad team hang around, bodes well for a team that gets to play two of its final three at home. It has its only remaining road game against the 5-8 Bills on a quasi-neutral field in Toronto. ‘We have so much more to do and our goal is to do a lot of great things and to bring a lot of great things to this city and our franchise,’ quarterback Russell Wilson said. Two weeks ago after a forgettable afternoon in Miami, greatness seemed like a pipe dream. After their past two victories, however, the Seahawks are a team nobody can ignore.”

Todd Fredrickson of the Everett Herald has a look at the Seahawks’ ability to contain Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, “For Sherman and Walter Thurmond, who stepped in for Browner, that meant a careful study of Cardinals all-everything wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Their performance exceeded even their own wildest fantasies. Fitzgerald caught only one pass, a completely harmless reception in the fourth quarter that went for just two yards. ‘You don’t come into a game ever expecting to hold Larry to one catch. He’s one of the best receivers in the world, probably top five or six in the history of the game,’ Sherman said. ‘To hold him down is a testament to our entire defense, everybody playing disciplined, everybody doing their job. It’s not just me,’ he said. ‘It’s everybody.’ ”

Mike Salk of 710Sports.com details the Seahawks’ “killer instinct” in putting away the Cardinals on Sunday, “It doesn’t matter how poorly your opponent plays, you have to put them away and the Seahawks did exactly that. So now we know the Hawks are capable of a blowout. Cool. But does that mean we should expect more of them? I say no. This team is still built to play defense, run the ball, and win close games. That recipe does not lend itself to many blowouts. The NFL is too evenly matched to see even comfortable wins very often. But does it mean that we need to start expecting ‘bigger’ things for this team? It sure might. I’m not as much impressed that the Seahawks won by 58 as I am that they played so well in Week 14. The NFL is such a grind that often the best team in the regular season is not playing the best in January. But a team hitting its stride in December can set itself up perfectly for a January run. The Seahawks seem to be one of those teams playing its best at the perfect time. Now we’ll see if they can make the most of it.”

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has several “quick hits” following Sunday’s Seahawks win, “The lead. The Seahawks improved to 8-5 with an absolutely dominant performance against the lowly Cardinals, forcing eight turnovers and scoring in seemingly every way imaginable. Seattle’s 58 points broke the franchise record of 56, set in 1977 against Buffalo. The win ensures the Seahawks at least a .500 regular season for the first time under coach Pete Carroll. More importantly, it strengthens the Seahawks’ hold on a playoff spot. Seattle remains a game and a half back in the NFC West standings as San Francisco beat Miami.”

Henderson covers backup quarterback Matt Flynn’s regular-season Seahawks debut, “Flynn finally made his Seahawks debut during Sunday’s 58-0 rout of the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field, a game so one-sided that Seattle pulled Wilson one series into the third quarter. ‘It’s been really hard for Matt to have to sit back and watch this,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He came here to be the starter and it hasn’t worked out, but he’s a fantastic football player and he deserves to play. I’m thrilled that we got to get him some significant playing time today.”

Henderson also recaps the Seahawks’ dominant defensive performance, “Skelton completed 11 of 22 passes for 74 yards and the four interceptions. He was replaced in the second half by rookie Ryan Lindley, who didn’t look much better while going 8 of 17 for 59 yards. This marked the third time this season that Seattle’s defense hasn’t allowed any points. The Seahawks also kept St. Louis and Carolina from scoring on offense, but neither of those performances could match this one. Seattle held Arizona to 154 yards in all, an abysmal total even for a Cardinals offense that ranks last in the NFL ‘Ass kicking. That’s the only thing you can say,’ Skelton said when asked to put the game into words.”

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has his reaction following the Seahawks’ convincing victory, “For Seahawks fans, that is the exciting part — growth led by Wilson that has spread throughout the lineup. Overshadowed by the quarterback’s improvement has been another rookie, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Like Sherman, he had two picks (Arizona’s premier wideout, Larry Fitzgerald, had one catch for two yards) and led the team with eight tackles and two passes defensed. He is in command of the defense in the same way Wilson runs the offense. To have two rookies in the pivot positions leading a 58-0 triumph in the NFL stretches credulity. It is a major salute to GM John Schneider to have identified these talents and a major salute to coach Pete Carroll to have the guts to go so young when more experienced players could have been put in charge. ‘It’s a reward for all the hard work,’ Carroll said of having a blowout after so many taut, final-possession outcomes. ‘You work so hard and so often, the games don’t (often) afford you the opportunity. For everybody to play, for everybody to contribute — so many guys can get on the stat sheets — it’s really very positive.’ ”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com deciphers how the Seahawks win affects the rest of the NFC West, “The division race might yet come through Seattle, where the Seahawks have yet to lose in six chances this season. San Francisco and St. Louis (6-6-1) still must play at CenturyLink. Seattle plays its lone road game, against Buffalo, indoors at Toronto. The 49ers have been the best team in the division most of the season, but they haven’t been able to run away. Among NFC West teams, Arizona still owns the longest winning streak this season, at four games. St. Louis’ current three-game winning streak, its longest since 2006, stands second. Seattle and San Francisco have yet to win more than two in a row, but there’s still time. The NFC West fun is only beginning.”

Sando also has his “Rapid Reaction” after yesterday’s Seahawks-Cardinals game, “What I liked: Both defenses showed up early, consistent with how NFC West games have been played over the past year or so. Seattle’s Bobby Wagner picked off John Skelton’s fourth attempt. Linebacker K.J. Wright broke up a pass for Larry Fitzgerald, and cornerback Walter Thurmond dove under the ball to tip it up in the air. Wagner caught it and headed the other way, the first of two picks for him. Arizona’s defense then held Seattle to a field goal, sacking Russell Wilson on third down. Wilson, pressured into ineffective play during a 20-16 defeat at Arizona in Week 1, had answers this time. That became apparent late in the first quarter when Wilson quickly dumped off to Anthony McCoy to beat a five-man pressure for a 21-yard gain. McCoy had three catches for 105 yards. Fellow tight end Zach Miller had a 24-yard touchdown grab. Wilson played very well again. His lone pick came on a tipped pass while Seattle held a 31-0 lead in the second quarter.

Lastly, the Seahawks’ defensive performance yesterday sparked NFL.com to take a look back at the most fantasy football points scored by defenses since 2002. Yesterday’s defense nabbed 41 fantasy points – good for second-most since 2002. The leader? The Seattle Seahawks of 2005, whose defense racked up 44 fantasy points in a 42-0 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.


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Friday in Hawkville: Bryant, Chancellor return to practice

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 7:

Red Bryant, Kam Chancellor

FOCUS ON

Getting healthier. The Seahawks’ defense got two XXXL pieces of good news today when end Red Bryant and strong safety Kam Chancellor returned to practice after sitting out on Thursday.

Bryant did not practice on Wednesday, either, to rest his sore right foot. He is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals at CenturyLink Field.

“It looks like he’s in good shape to go,” coach Pete Carroll said after the team practiced outside for second time this week.

Chancellor has a groin injury, but he’s also listed as probable.

“We gave him a day off yesterday,” Carroll said. “But he was out there in limited fashion, so he’s probable to play as well.”

WEATHERING THE ELEMENTS

It was cold, breezy and raining during practice, which made for the perfect warm-up for Sunday’s game – when the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 40s and a 50-percent chance of rain. It was even colder and windier, and rained more, during Wednesday’s practice.

“We don’t know what we’re going to get on game day and we had a good day of work yesterday inside, so we got a little bit of the elements out there,” Carroll said. “It was good. It worked out fine.”

POSITION WATCH

Right guard. Rookie J.R. Sweezy and John Moffitt both worked at the spot with the No. 1 offensive line today and each is ready to play against the Cardinals.

“J.R. practiced with the (No. 1 line) quite a bit this week to make sure he’s prepared,” Carroll said. “He and John will play the spot. We’re in good shape there.”

The right guard spot is open because Paul McQuistan has moved back to the left side to replace James Carpenter, who was played on injured reserve this week because of soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.

OPPONENT WATCH

The Cardinals’ defense. Asked after practice what concerned him more – a few players or the scheme – Carroll opted for both.

“Darnell Dockett is really, really a big-time football player,” he said. “Patrick Peterson is as exceptional an athlete as you can get. Adrian Wilson. Those guys are great football players that make things happen and they make game-changing plays.”

And what defensive coordinator Ray Horton is doing with the Pro Bowl end (Dockett), cornerback (Peterson) and Pro Bowl safety (Wilson) allows them to be even more effective. The Cardinals are plus-7 in turnover differential because they have 27 takeaways, including 18 interceptions. They lead the NFC and are third in the league in red-zone defense. They rank No. 7 in total defense.

“The scheme that they have lets those guys get active and get involved,” Carroll said. “The linebacking crew is really fast and aggressive and you’ll see them blitz all day long. It’s a very tough scheme. Their numbers show it.”

INJURY REPORT

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

Out

CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)

Questionable

LB Leroy Hill (ankle)

Probable

DE Red Bryant (foot)

SS Kam Chancellor (groin)

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

WR Sidney Rice (head)

C Max Unger (hip)

Trufant was ruled out today because of the pulled hamstring that also forced him to sit out last week’s game against the Bears in Chicago. Walter Thurmond replaced Trufant as the nickel back against the Bears, but he will move to right cornerback this week to replace Brandon Browner, who was suspended four games by the NFL on Wednesday for violating the league policy on performance enhancing substances. Rookie Jeremy Lane will be the nickel back against the Cardinals.

Hill practiced on a limited basis, and Carroll said his status will be a game-day decision. He did not play against the Bears and was replaced by Malcolm Smith.

For the Cardinals:

Doubtful

DE Ronald Talley (ankle)

Questionable

DE Calais Campbell (calf)

QB Kevin Kolb (ribs)

WR Andre Roberts (knee)

RB Chris Wells (knee)

Probable

CB Justin Bethel (shoulder)

WR Early Doucet (ribs)

LS Mike Leach (back)

LB Paris Lenon (shoulder)

S Kerry Rhodes (quadriceps)

CB Greg Toler (knee)

LB Reggie Walker (knee)

Talley did not practice today, while Campbell, Kolb, Roberts and Wells were limited.

STAT DU JOUR, PLAYER EDITION

Against the Bears, rookie QB Russell Wilson ran for 71 yards, the most by a quarterback in franchise history. The effort also left him 45 yards behind Rick Mirer for the most rushing yards in a season by a QB. Here’s a look at where Wilson ranks in both categories:

Single-game rushing

Player (year)                         Att.   Yards   Avg.

Russell Wilson (2012)           9       71       7.9

Jim Zorn (1978)                     6       63      10.5

Matt Hasselbeck (2002)       6      62       10.3

Single-season rushing

Player (year)                        Att.   Yards    Avg.   TD

Rick Mirer (1993)                68      343      5.0       3

Russell Wilson (2012)         66      298      4.5       0

Jim Zorn (1978)                    59      290      4.9       6

STAT DU JOUR, TEAM EDITION

The Seahawks have traveled an erratic path to reach their 7-5 record. The seven teams that have beaten have a combined record of 45-39. The five teams they have lost to are a combined 26-32-2. Here’s a look at the records of those teams:

Victories

Team (record)

Cowboys (6-6)

Packers (8-4)

Panthers (3-9)

Patriots (9-3)

Vikings (6-6)

Jets (5-7)

Bears (8-4)

Losses

Team (record)

Cardinals (4-8)

Rams (5-6-1)

49ers (8-3-1)

Lions (4-8)

Dolphins (5-7)

UP NEXT

The players will have a walkthrough on Saturday morning, their final on-field session before Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

The Seahawks are holding their annual Toys for Tots drive at Sunday’s game and asking fans to donate new, unwrapped toys that will be distributed to children for Christmas as part of the nationwide event sponsored by the Marine Corps.

YOU DON’T SAY

“We take them as very, very dangerous. Think about how hungry that football team is to get a win. They’ll do whatever it takes and they have a lot of big-time players that can change games for them. So we respect the heck out of this team.” – Carroll on the Cardinals, who have lost their past eight games


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Thursday in Hawkville: Smith ready to step in again, if needed

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 6:

Malcolm Smith

FOCUS ON

Malcolm Smith. When veteran weakside linebacker Leroy Hill could not play against the Bears in Chicago on Sunday because of a sprained ankle, Smith stepped in and played what coach Pete Carroll labeled “a terrific game.”

Hill is practicing on a limited basis this week, as the Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field, so Smith continues to get a lot of work.

“You’re always waiting for the opportunity to show what you can do,” said Smith, a seventh-round draft choice in 2011 who tied for second on the club in special teams tackles as a rookie but saw limited action on defense.

“I prepare like a starter and want to play, so when the opportunity comes you just do it.”

Smith had two tackles against the Bears, but the one that stood out was when he ran Matt Forte down from behind for a 2-yard loss. He also stopped fullback Evan Rodriguez for no gain on a pass play. Each play showcased Smith’s speed.

“We’ve become faster with him on the field,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said.

Getting all the reps with the No. 1 defense in practice last week also helped Smith answer the challenge on Sunday.

“Definitely practice reps help a lot,” he said. “But you’ve still got to capitalize.”

Which Smith definitely did against the Bears, and plans to do this week if he’s needed against the Cardinals.

“When Leroy couldn’t play, we could have been lamenting, ‘Oh gosh, we’re going to lose an experienced player.’ And we hate to miss him,” Carroll said. “But Malcolm just did a remarkable job of making plays and doing his assignments and playing hard. That’s what you hope happens.”

OPPONENT WATCH

Larry Fitzgerald. The Seahawks began their season facing the six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver in their opener against the Cardinals in Arizona. Since then, they’ve also gone against the Lions’ Calvin Johnson, Patriots’ Wes Welker, Cowboys’ Miles Austin, Packers’ Greg Jennings, Rams’ Danny Amendola, Panthers’ Steve Smith, Vikings’ Percy Harvin and Bears’ Brandon Marshall with varying degrees of success.

Where does Fitzgerald rank in this show of good hands?

“He’s right up there, there’s no doubt,” Bradley said. “He’s hurt us in the past.”

Like in last year’s season finale, when Fitzgerald “kind of took over the game,” as Bradley put it, with eight catches for 148 yards in the second half after the Seahawks had held him to one catch for 1 yard in the first half.

“He made some great catches,” Bradley said. “You go back and look at tape over the last couple of years and see some of the catches he’s made, and on extra-effort plays. We put together a tape on just how to tackle him because he’s so good in open space.

“He’s something to deal with.”

The Cardinals are making him more difficult to deal with by moving Fitzgerald around. While he used to lineup primarily as the split end, he’ll now be at flanker, in the slot and even in the backfield on any given snap.

“We have to have great awareness of where he is on the field,” Bradley said. “It’s just better overall awareness of the style of receiver he is, the routes that he likes to do.”

PRACTICE SQUAD ADDITION

Chandler Fenner, a 6-foot-1, 189-pound defensive back, has been added to the practice squad. A rookie free agent from Holy Cross, he signed with the Chiefs after the NFL Draft and was released in August. Fenner fills the spot that opened when defensive back DeShawn Shead was added to the 53-man roster on Wednesday.

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Did not practice

DE Red Bryant (foot)

SS Kam Chancellor (groin)

CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)

Limited in practice

LB Leroy Hill (ankle)

C Max Unger (hip)

Full participation

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

WR Sidney Rice (head)

With Chancellor sitting out, Jeron Johnson was at strong safety with the No. 1 defense. As they did in Wednesday’s practice, Jason Jones stepped in for Bryant and Smith worked for Hill in the drills the veteran linebacker did not participate in.

For the Cardinals:

Did not practice

WR Andre Roberts (ankle)

DE Ronald Talley (ankle)

Limited in practice

DE Calais Campbell (calf)

QB Kevin Kolb (ribs)

CB Greg Toler (hamstring)

RB Chris Wells (knee)

Full participation

CB Justin Bethel (shoulder)

WR Early Doucet (ribs)

LS Mike Leach (back)

LB Paris Lenon (shoulder)

S Kerry Rhodes (quadriceps)

LB Reggie Walker (knee)

STAT DU JOUR

We’re flat-out lifting this one from ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, who compares the performances of the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the Colts’ Andrew Luck against seven common opponents this season – the Bears, Vikings, Packers, Dolphins, Patriots, Lions and Jets. We think you’ll agree that this look at the rookie QBs is worth repeating:

Category           Luck        Wilson

Record               4-3            5-2

Attempts          327            190

Completions    177            123

Comp. pct.       54.1           64.7

Pass yards      2,333        1,537

TD passes           13              16

Interceptions     12                1

Passer rating   74.9       115.6

Rushes                18             39

Rush yards         95           214

Rushing TD           1               0

First downs           8            15

UP NEXT

“Turnover Thursday” gives way to “No Repeat Friday” as the players will have their final full practice before Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

The Seahawks are holding their annual Toys for Tots drive at Sunday’s game and asking fans to donate new, unwrapped toys that will be distributed to children for Christmas as part of the nationwide event sponsored by the Marine Corps.

YOU DON’T SAY

“The challenge is we’re playing a great team. Arizona’s record doesn’t show how great their defense is. They make a lot of the plays. They do a lot of things on defense. They’re very experienced. So we’re going to have to play our best game.” – Wilson, pooh-poohing any thought that the Seahawks might overlook a Cardinals team that has lost eight in a row after starting 4-0


Comments Off on Thursday in Hawkville: Smith ready to step in again, if needed