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Gallery to Patriots

It didn’t take Robert Gallery long to find a new NFL home.

Released by the Seahawks last Wednesday, after one season with the team, the veteran guard has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Patriots. Gallery started 12 games for the Seahawks in 2011 after being signed in free agency.

But the Raiders’ former first-round draft choice and Bill Belichick have a history – or at least the Patriots coach wishes they did. Mike Reiss at ESPNBoston.com recalls a moment from a pre-draft news conference in 2004 when Belichick was asked who he would select if he had the first overall pick.

His choice: Gallery.

Belichick finally got his man, and some needed depth for the Patriots’ O-line.


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Thursday cyber surfing: Changing of the (left) guard

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, March 15:

Day Two of free agency for the Seahawks was all about guards, as the team released Robert Gallery, reached agreement on terms with Paul McQuistan and hosted Steve Hutchinson.

Eric Williams at the News Tribune wraps up the situation: “The metamorphosis of the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line – one of the youngest starting units in the league – continued during the second day of NFL free agency. The Seahawks announced the release of 31-year-old guard Robert Gallery, who limped though his only season in Seattle. Seattle also re-signed versatile offensive lineman Paul McQuistan to undisclosed terms. And the Seahawks hosted a familiar face – and Gallery’s possible replacement – on Wednesday in former left guard Steve Hutchinson.”

The Seahawks also lost tight end John Carlson, who agreed to terms with the Vikings. Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times has the details: “Tight end John Carlson is leaving the Seahawks, having agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings. Carlson was Seattle’s second-round pick in 2008, and in his first two seasons with the Seahawks he twice had more receptions than any tight end in franchise history.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald also has a recap of the Seahawks’ activities: “It probably doesn’t hurt that Hutchinson, a seven-time Pro Bowler, has almost no remaining ties to the organization he left six years ago. The entire front office and coaching staff have been turned over, meaning there shouldn’t be any remaining hostility, and it should also help Seattle’s chances that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell spent five seasons in Minnesota with Hutchinson.”

And Curtis Crabtree at KJR also wraps things up: “So how likely is a Hutchinson return to Seattle? According to columnist Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, very much so. Farmer said on his twitter account Monday that he expected Hutchinson to return to Seattle. He added to that statement after news of Hutchinson’s visit to Seattle came out on Wednesday. ‘As I wrote Monday, unless somebody blows away the Seahawks’ offer, Steve Hutchinson is going back to Seattle.’ “

Mike Sando at ESPN.com offers thoughts on the NFC West from Day Two of free agency: “Seahawks linebacker David Hawthorne plans to visit New Orleans. The Saints should know him well. Hawthorne had a combined 21 tackles and one interception against New Orleans in two games during the 2010 season (one in postseason). He faced the Rams six times when new Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was head coach in St. Louis. Hawthorne is an NFL success story as an undrafted free-agent-turned-starter. Seattle needs help at linebacker whether or not Hawthorne returns. K.J. Wright can move from the strong side to the middle if needed.”

Jason La Canfora at NFL.com continues to monitor the activity around the league, and you can follow along here. He’s got the word on former Dolphins QB Chad Henne agreeing with the Jaguars. Henne had been scheduled to visit the Seahawks.


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Monday cyber surfing: Manning madness contiunes

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks — over the weekend, as well as today, March 12:

Peyton Manning visited the Cardinals on Sunday, after spending Friday with the Broncos. In this report from Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter at ESPN.com, they have sources saying the Seahawks are not an option for the iconic QB who spent the past 14 seasons with the Colts: “Peyton Manning on Sunday completed an exhaustive three-day road trip in which he is known to have visited with the Broncos and Cardinals, the two teams that sources believe have emerged as the favorites for the free-agent quarterback. Despite those sources’ contention about the Broncos and Cardinals as favorites, Manning has not engaged either in contract negotiations or selected his next team and is highly unlikely to make that decision by Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, when the new league year begins for other free agents. … The Seahawks and Chiefs have failed in their attempts to get Manning to visit their facilities and are no longer considered contenders for the quarterback, sources said.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune says Manning has not declined an invitation to visit the Seahawks: “Contrary to an earlier report by the Denver Post, a team source with knowledge of the situation confirmed that Peyton Manning has not declined an invitation to visit with the Seattle Seahawks, which means the door remains open that the future Hall of Famer could expand his trips to include a possible visit to Seattle.”
Peter King at SI.com was in Phoenix, and leads his “Monday Morning Quarterback” with the obvious: “(Manning) doesn’t have long to play. A year, two, three, maybe four at the outside. You get the feeling he knows if he only has a season or two, he wants to be somewhere that gives him the best chance right away to get to the Super Bowl. That said, I wouldn’t expect a decision by Manning before Wednesday.”

Despite Manning reportedly narrowing the field of teams he’ll sign with to two, Michael Lombardi at NFL.com looks at all 31 teams as far as their interest in the former Colts QB. He lumps the Seahawks into the “we were all-in for Manning category”: “These teams are easy to determine and have openly expressed their love for Manning. These teams know Manning would help them win and is better than anyone they could put on the field. Not all these teams have an equal chance, so some might pull out quickly once they realize they cannot acquire Manning. No team wants to be embarrassed in its pursuit, so some might only go all-in if they sense they can actually win.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald says the Seahawks should make a run at Manning: “Preposterous you say? Probably. But so is the idea that a four-time MVP, one of the greatest quarterbacks of his or any other era, is available as an unrestricted free agent. Yet there Manning is, a risky but potentially franchise-changing player, ready to be snapped up by a team willing to shell out some big money and trust in a surgically fused neck.” Bottom line, however: It sounds like they might not even get the opportunity to make their pitch.

Two former Seahawks were in the news Saturday, when the Vikings released All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson and the Falcons signed former Pro Bowl middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu. Mike Sando at ESPN.com revisits their time in Seattle: “Both players earned Pro Bowl honors with Seattle when the team made its lone Super Bowl appearance following the 2005 season. Tatupu’s health was a primary factor in his absence from the NFL last season. Knee and concussion problems slowed the linebacker during his time with Seattle, affecting his play and leading the Seahawks to release him before the 2011 season. Hutchinson was in his prime when the Seahawks lost him to the Vikings six years ago in one of the more dubious episodes in team history. The team hoped using the transition tag on Hutchinson following the 2005 season would spur the sides to a long-term agreement. Instead, Hutchinson’s agent, Tom Condon, worked with the Vikings to craft a contract the Seahawks could not match without guaranteeing all $49 million of the deal. The so-called poison pills inserted into that contract stirred controversy and hard feelings while exposing the Seahawks to harsh criticism, even though few foresaw the poison-pill route as a threat.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we continue our series of looks at free agents expected to hit the market on Tuesday with the receivers, offensive linemen and defensive backs. The team added players at these positions last year by signing tight end Zach Miller and guard Robert Gallery from the Raiders, wide receiver Sidney Rice from the Vikings and cornerback Brandon Browner from the CFL.

Steve Wyche at NFL.com breaks down the big trade between the Redskins and Rams for the No. 2 spot in April’s NFL Draft: “The Redskins quickly realized they wouldn’t be in the running for Manning. So they ponied up the picks to get up to No. 2 in order to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Rams, by sliding back to No. 6, will still get a big-time prospect, plus, have two high second-round picks to add to a roster lean on impact players – and let’s not forget the two first-rounders the next two years.”


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Friday in Hawkville

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 16:

FOCUS ON

Michael Robinson. How good a lead blocker has the Seahawks’ fullback been this season? The best in the league, as selected by USA Football.

Coach Pete Carroll announced at the team meeting this morning that Robinson had been named to the third annual All-Fundamentals Team – which honors 26 players who exhibit exemplary football techniques for youth football players to emulate.

“It was a surprise for Mike and the players to hear about his award,” Carroll said after practice, the team’s final full workout before Sunday’s game against the Bears in Chicago. “Mike is well-deserving. He’s a great football player and a great effort guy, a great team guy. He does everything right.

“So for them to recognize him is fitting, and the team rallied behind him and was exciting for him.”

In its release on the team, the organization said Robinson “is like another lineman in the backfield with his ability to run block,” and specified his “exceptional vision and pad level.”

The recognition is nice, but Robinson has other priorities.

“It’s cool, but it’s my job,” he said. “I just like to play football. It doesn’t mean anything if we’re not winning, so I’m just glad we won the last few games. Things like are nice as long as we can keep it going.”

As part of his selection, Robinson receives a $1,500 equipment grant from the organization to donate to a youth or high school football program and also a custom-made Riddell helmet trophy.

Also named to the team:

Offense – Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (throwing mechanics); Texans running back Arian Foster (following blocks/ball security); wide receivers Eric Decker of the Broncos and Donald Driver of the Packers (catching with hands); Steelers tight end Heath Miller (run blocking/catching); and a running-blocking line of Jets center Nick Mangold (also combo block), Giants guard David Diehl and Saints guard Carl Nicks (also drive block) and Panthers tackle Jordan Gross (also combo blocking) and Browns tackle Joe Thomas (pass blocking footwork).

Defense – Chiefs end Tamba Hali (pass rush); the defeating-a-block foursome of Bears end Julius Peppers, Ravens tackle Haloti Ngata (also arm over rush), 49ers tackle Justin Smith (also bull rush) and 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (also tackling); Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (tackling); 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (gaining ground downhill/tackling); Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes (pass coverage); Packers cornerback Charles Woodson (playing the ball); Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins (breaking up the pass); and Chargers safety Eric Weddle (footwork in coverage).

Special teams – Bears return man Devin Hester (kick catching/returning); Vikings snapper Cullen Loeffler (long snapping mechanics); Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee (kicking mechanics); Raiders punter Shane Lechler (punting mechanics).

And who selected this team? Jim Mora, the former Seahawks coach and now coach at UCLA; Charles Davis, analyst for NFL Network and Fox Sports; Herm Edwards, former Bengals coach and ESPN analyst; Merrill Hodge, former NFL running back and ESPN analyst; and Carl Peterson, former executive with the Chiefs.

LYNCH A WINNER, TOO

Marshawn Lynch has been voted the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week after rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown in Monday night’s victory over the Rams.

This is first such award for a Seahawks player this season.

INJURY REPORT

For the first in a long time, all players participated in today’s 85-minute practice. Left guard Robert Gallery and defensive end Raheem Brock were back after missing two days, while cornerback Richard Sherman and offensive lineman Jarriel King returned after sitting out Thursday. Carroll expects all to be ready for the Bears, with the possible exception of King.

Here’s the official end-of-the-week status report:

Questionable

OL Jarriel King (hamstring)

Probable

DE Raheem Brock (calf)

OG Robert Gallery (hip)

CB Richard Sherman (knee)

CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)

LB Leroy Hill (neck)

QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral)

WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)

LB David Hawthorne (knee)

For the Bears:

Out

QB Jay Cutler (right thumb)

RB Matt Forte (knee)

WR Sam Hurd (not injury related)

Questionable

DT Henry Melton (shin)

Devin Hester (ankle)

Probable

CB Charles Tillman (knee)

OG Edwin Williams (calf)

S Major Wright (shoulder)

Cutler and Forte were not expected to play, and Hester also did not practice today.

STAT DU JOUR

With four interceptions in the past three games, cornerback Brandon Browner has a team-leading five in his first season with the Seahawks. His total ties him for the third most in the past 13 seasons. Here’s a look at the interception leaders in each of those seasons:

Year    Player, interceptions

2011   Brandon Browner, 5

2010   Earl Thomas, 5

2009   David Hawthorne and Deon Grant, 3

2008   Josh Wilson, 4

2007   Marcus Trufant, 7

2006   Ken Hamlin, 3

2005   Michael Boulware, 4

2004   Ken Lucas, 6

2003   Reggie Tongue, 4

2002   Reggie Tongue, 5

2001   Willie Williams, 4

2000   Jay Bellamy and Willie Williams, 4

1999   Shawn Springs and Willie Williams, 5

UP NEXT

The team flew to Chicago after today’s practice and will hold a walk-through there on Saturday. They will return Sunday night to a short week, as they host the 49ers on Christmas Eve at CenturyLink Field. Tickets are available for the Saturday home finale and can be purchased here.

YOU DON’T SAY

“We think he’s a great player that can control a football game, so we have to respect the heck out of him. That means it’s in the plans in all areas – run and pass, and third down and early down stuff. He’s just a real problem. You’ll see how we do. We don’t know. But we have a lot of regard for what he can do and how he can control a football game. So we have to do something about him constantly.” – Carroll on Bears defensive Julius Peppers


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Thursday in Hawkville

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 15:

FOCUS ON

Tarvaris Jackson. If it’s Thursday, the starting quarterback talks to the media. But Jackson’s post-practice Q&A session was different today.

He faced reporters and cameras for 9½ minutes and not once was Jackson asked about the condition of his right shoulder. That’s the one with the strained pectoral, which has been the major – and at times only – topic of conversation when it came to Jackson since he injured it in the Week 5 upset of the Giants.

Even more telling than his lack of words about the shoulder after practice were his actions during the 110-minute session that was held in the indoor practice facility, as the team continued to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Bears in Chicago. In the 9-on-7 drill early in practice, Jackson was not handing off to the backs – often his only reps in practice in the past two months. Instead, he was on the other end of the field, throwing passes in the 1-on-1 drill. For the first time in six to eight weeks, by his estimation.

“I guess that’s good, on both counts,” he said after his interview was completed.

That it is. So rather than talking about pain management and trying to play on limited practice reps as he has for weeks, Jackson was able to discuss other subjects:

Like playing for the first time in the NFL as a rookie in 2006, against the Bears in Chicago: “My fondest memory, and probably the one that sticks out in my head the most, is my first game I ever played there. It was negative-18 wind-chill. It was horrible out there. Every time I talk about Chicago, I always bring up that story. … I was the third quarter that day and they took the first-string guy out (Brad Johnson) and the second-string guy got hurt (Brooks Bollinger). I’m on the sideline with my little clipboard and all you can see is my eyes because I’ve got a mask on and I’m all covered up in a big jacket. It was the coldest I’ve ever been.”

Like Skittle-back Marshawn Lynch, and his habit of munching his favorite candy on the sideline during games: “The camera just caught my man over on the sideline eating his Skittles. He always does it. But it just so happened that lately they caught him eating them and it’s taken off. At least he’ll probably get some free Skittles, probably get an endorsement. Maybe get him on a commercial with a little leprechaun or something. I don’t know, whatever works, man. That’s what he does, so I’m jumping on the bandwagon myself.”

Like what type of candy he would go for in an endorsement deal: “Skittles. The purple bag (wild berry) though, not the red bag (originals). The purple bag is more tropical.”

IN ’N OUT

Middle linebacker and leading tackler David Hawthorne and leading receiver Doug Baldwin returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday. But cornerback Richard Sherman did not practice and was replaced on the left side by fellow rookie Byron Maxwell.

Sitting out for a second day was left guard Robert Gallery, who was replaced by Allen Barbre.

Here’s the official injury report:

Did not practice

DE Raheem Brock (calf)

OG Robert Gallery (hip)

OT Jarriel King (hamstring)

CB Richard Sherman (knee)

Full participation

CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)

LB Leroy Hill (neck)

QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral)

WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)

LB David Hawthorne (knee)

For the Bears:

Did not practice

QB Jay Cutler (right thumb)

RB Matt Forte (knee)

DT Henry Melton (shin)

CB Charles Tillman (knee)

WR Sam Hurd (not injury related)

Limited participation

OG Edwin Williams (calf)

S Major Wright (shoulder)

PRIMETIME FLASHBACK

One of the “on this date” moments for today involved a 1991 game against the Falcons in Atlanta – and at old Fulton County Stadium – when Deion Sanders intercepted two passes and returned a third 55 yards for touchdown after taking a lateral from Tim McKyer.

But there’s a story to go with the story.

Sitting side by side in the last row of the press box were M.C. Hammer and Evander Holyfield. As McKyer pitched the ball to Sanders, they stood up. Arms raised and hips gyrating, Hammer exclaimed, “Put a move on ’em, D. Put a move on ’em.”

Sanders did exactly that, and then some, as Hammer and Holyfield exchanged five-highs, fist-bumps and huge smiles.

STAT DU JOUR

It is “Turnover Thursday” on the Pete Carroll Calendar, but today it was slanted toward talk of just how good the Bears are at forcing them. “That was the first thing we talked about when we came in on Wednesday – make sure we protect the ball,” said Jackson, who should know because he spent the past five seasons playing with the Vikings and against the Bears twice a year. “They’re ball hawks. They go after the football. They take pride in taking away the football.”

The Bears are plus-8 in turnover ratio. Here’s a closer look at where they rank in the league in the major turnover categories:

Turnover ratio

Team               Ratio

49ers               plus-21

Packers           plus-20

Lions                plus-11

Texans             plus-10

Patriots           plus-9

Bears               plus-8

Total turnovers

Team               No.

Packers            32

49ers                31

Lions                 29

Bears                27

Texans             25

Patriots           25

Interceptions

Team                No.

Packers             27

49ers                 18

Lions                  18

Patriots             18

Bears                 17

Seahawks          17

Texans               17

Chiefs                 17

Fumble recoveries

Team                  No.

49ers                  13

Bengals              12

Lions                   11

Bears                  10

Titans                 10

Ravens               10

Vikings               10

UP NEXT

The players will practice Friday morning before the team flies to Chicago for Sunday’s game.

The Seahawks play their home finale on Christmas Eve against the 49ers. Tickets are available for the Dec. 24 game at CenturyLink Field and can be purchased here.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s almost like they really put themselves in a position where they’re ball control and they’re putting it on their defense. It’s ball control, the points will come, let’s move the ball, let’s take what the defense gives us and if we have to punt, we punt.” – defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on how the Bears offense has changed while playing without Cutler and Forte


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Cyber surfing: Thursday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 15:

Jerry Brewer at the Seattle Times offers some advice as the suddenly surging Seahawks enter their final three games, starting with Sunday’s matchup against the Bears in Chicago: “You can still hear the noise if you listen closely. It’s a muffled protest now, not the passionate shout that it used to be. That’s because the outdated idea — tank games, draft high — isn’t just counterintuitive for Seahawks fans anymore. Now that the Seahawks have won four of five games and made something of this season, it’s also counterproductive. Why oppose winning now just to see if a lose-to-win experiment could spur success after prolonged heartache, disappointment and humiliation?”

Also at the Times, Danny O’Neil looks at how the Seahawks’ run-oriented offensive attack is bucking the trend in the pass-happy NFL: “The Seahawks aren’t swimming upstream against the NFL’s prevailing current. They’re running into it. Repeatedly. The Seahawks have spent the better part of the last six games handing the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch and running headlong against the trend that the NFL is becoming a passing league.”

Dave Boling at the News Tribune evokes the P-word – and it’s not Pete, as the Seahawks coach isn’t the one talking playoffs: “Pete Carroll is not about to discourage his team – or anybody else, for that matter – if they want to get excited about a long-shot possibility. Even if that includes a mid-December mention of slender postseason odds. ‘It’s natural to have the conversation as long as the focus is here to do the work every day,’ the coach of the Seahawks said Wednesday. ‘They can talk like that. If they get out of whack with it, I’ll (tell) them it isn’t what we can control. We can only do something this week. It’s a long ways away still.’ ”

Also at the New Tribune, Eric Williams looks at the Bears’ offense that is missing running back Matt Forte and QB Jay Cutler as it prepares for the Seahawks’ defense: “The NFL’s Mad Scientist, Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Martz, has had to reel in his aggressive nature of late with the absence of quarterback Jay Cutler, who’s out for at least the last three games of the regular season with a broken right thumb on his throwing hand. Instead, the Bears have leaned on an improved ground game with backup quarterback Caleb Hanie leading the offense. Still, that offense has failed to muster enough yardage to close out games, losing three straight. Playing behind a makeshift offensive line and without his top offensive weapon – running back Matt Forte, unavailable because of an MCL sprain – Hanie has predictably struggled.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald looks at how the once “soft” Seahawks are making things hard on opposing defenses with their running game: “Through seven games, Seattle ranked second to last in the league in rushing, and with the run game struggling, had fluctuated back and forth between running a no-huddle offense. Prior to that game in Dallas, (Tom) Cable, Carroll and the rest of the offensive coaches got together and a made a decision — no matter how it turned out, the Seahawks were going to run the ball. They were going to have an identity as a physical, run-oriented offense.”

Tim Booth at the Associated Press, via PI.com, stays with that theme: “The stretch of success has thrust Marshawn Lynch into the spotlight. Lynch leads the league in rushing over the past six weeks with 706 yards and five games of at least 100 yards, including 115 in Monday night’s win over St. Louis.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has his weekly look at injury situations that matter in the NFC West, including this rundown on the Seahawks: “Linebacker Leroy Hill practiced fully Wednesday despite a neck injury, a good sign for Seattle given the team’s depth issues at the position. Linebacker David Hawthorne rested his injured knee, no surprise. He’s playing with an MCL injury that needs monitoring. Receiver Doug Baldwin (ankle), left guard Robert Gallery (hip) and defensive end Raheem Brock (calf) did not practice. They were expected to play Sunday against the Bears. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson remained a full participant in practice despite his pectoral injury. Jackson seems to be getting stronger.”

Sando also looks at the latest totals from fan balloting for the Pro Bowl, with punter Jon Ryan and safety Kam Chancellor sitting third at their respective positions.

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with the newest member of the 53-man roster, rookie wide receiver Ricardo Lockette: “As Ricardo Lockette sat in the dentist chair on Tuesday, he broke into tears. An exposed nerve during a root canal? No just a call from Seahawks general manager John Schneider informing the rookie wide receiver that he was being elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. ‘He was like, ‘Congratulations, we’re moving you up,’ Lockette said Wednesday. ‘Tears immediately started to flow, because it’s been such a tough road for me. Once I got that news, man …’ Lockette paused before adding, ‘I can’t explain it. Best day of my life.’ ”

There’s also a look back at Monday night’s victory over the Rams in Ben Malcolmson’s “From the Sidelines,” as well as recaps of Wednesday in “Wednesday in Hawkville” and Tony Ventrella’s video review.


Wednesday in Hawkville

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

FOCUS ON

A banner day. The indoor practice facility at VMAC got a touch of CenturyLink Field as banners from the Seahawks’ division and conference championship seasons are now hanging from the rafters on the north wall.

The players consider it a nice touch, as well as a motivational move – especially those who have been a part of more than last season’s NFC West title team. Linebacker Leroy Hill also was around for the division and conference champion in 2005, we well as the NFC West titles in 2006 and 2007.

“They’re cool, man,” Hill said. “I’ve been a part of three straight – ’05, ’06, ’07. I like the concept. It’s something you can look at while you’re practicing and it’s sort of like a motivation.”

The other banners are from the AFC West division titles in 1988 and 1999 and the NFC West title in 2004.

“They just make it look better,” Hill said. “They fill up some of that empty space.”

ON THE FIELD

The players practiced outside in 40-degree weather to get ready for Sunday’s game against the Bears in Chicago, where the forecast is calling for a high of 45 degrees. They worked without pads or helmets for 85 minutes.

Center Max Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini were the only ones in shorts as well as without long sleeves.

PLAYER WATCH

Doug Baldwin. Five minutes of firsts in Monday night’s victory over the Rams have earned the rookie his first NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honor.

Baldwin returned the opening kickoff, his first in a regular season game, for 37 yards on a reverse. He then downed his first punt in the NFL by catching Jon Ryan’s 34-yarder at the Rams’ 6-yard line. Baldwin then blocked his first NFL punt, on the ensuing series, which Michael Robinson returned 17 yards for the Seahawks’ first TD.

All in the first five minutes of the game.

Baldwin took his big night on national TV the way he has everything else he’s accomplished this season, which includes leading the team in receptions (45) and receiving yards (718): In stride.

“The plays that were given to me, the opportunities I was given, I expect to take full advantage of,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin is the third Seahawk to be honored in the past four games. Middle linebacker David Hawthorne (last week) and defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 11) were selected Defensive Player of the Week. The last Seahawk to win the special teams category was Ryan in Week 17 last season – also against the Rams. Kickoff returner Leon Washington (Week 3) and former kicker Olindo Mare (Week 7) also were honored last season.

OPPONENT WATCH

Brian Urlacher. The Bears’ middle linebacker is 33 and in his 12th NFL season, but the native of Pasco continues to play at the highest level.

“He’s unusual,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said today. “Most people don’t have the talent that Brian has. He’s just one of those guys – a gifted athlete that comes around every once in a while. So you start with that. He takes great care of himself in the offseason and during the season. He’s a student of the game.

“Around here, everyone has a history and everyone knows Brian’s history as a football player. He’s a special guy to have on the team. He’s done so much for us.”

Urlacher’s resume includes being selected NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2005), NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2000), as well as voted to seven Pro Bowls. He also is the Bears’ all-time leading tackler (1,556).

IN ’N OUT

Hawthorne and left guard Robert Gallery sat out practice. Rookie K.J. Wright moved inside to replace Hawthorne, with rookie Mike Morgan stepping in on the strong side for Wright. Allen Barbre and Jarriel King split time at left guard for Gallery.

Defensive end Raheem Brock and Baldwin also did not practice.

Here’s the official injury report:

Did not practice

WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)

DE Raheem Brock (calf)

OG Robert Gallery (hip)

MLB David Hawthorne (knee)

Full participation

CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)

LB Leroy Hill (neck)

QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral)

OT Jarriel King (hamstring)

For the Bears:

Did not practice

LB Lance Briggs (not injury related)

QB Jay Cutler (right thumb)

RB Matt Forte (knee)

DT Henry Melton (shin)

CB Charles Tillman (knee)

Limited participation

OG Edwin Williams (calf)

S Major Wright (shoulder)

The Seahawks also filled the opening on their 53-man roster by signing rookie wide receiver Ricardo Lockette from the practice squad. Defensive back Coy Fancies was signed to the practice squad.

STAT DU JOUR

It’s not so much that Devin Hester returns punts for touchdowns, it’s how often the Bears’ return specialist has done it (12), how long they’ve been (eight of 70-plus yards) and how many teams he has done it against (nine). He started in 2006 as rookie and still is at it this season, his sixth in the league. Here’s a look at his NFL-record dozen scoring returns on punts:

Date (opponent)                                 Length

Sept. 10, 2006 (Packers)                         84

Oct. 16, 2006 (Cardinals)                        83

Dec. 3, 2006 (Vikings)                             45

Sept. 16, 2007 (Chiefs)                           73

Oct. 17, 2007 (Vikings)                           89

Nov. 25, 2007 (Broncos)                        75

Dec. 30, 2007 (Saints)                            64

Sept. 27, 2010 (Packers)                        62

Oct. 17, 2010 (Seahawks)                      89

Dec. 20, 2010 (Vikings)                           64

Oct. 2, 2011 (Panthers)                          73

Nov. 13, 2011 (Lions)                             82

CLARIFICATION

The touchdown Robinson scored on Baldwin’s blocked punt was not the first of his six-season NFL career, just the first of his two seasons with the Seahawks. Robinson scored two touchdowns in 2006, during his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers.

Both came on 1-yard runs, and in the same game – Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. So Robinson went four full seasons and large parts of two others, not to mention 89 games, between trips to the end zone.

UP NEXT

The players will practice an hour earlier on Thursday, and then hold a Friday morning workout before the team flies to Chicago for Sunday’s game.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I don’t know if there’s anything worse than a bear with a bad tooth.” – coach Pete Carroll on facing a Chicago team that has lost its past three games


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Thursday in Hawkville

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 8:

FOCUS ON

Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks’ Skittles-back was a focal point at VMAC as well as in St. Louis, where the Rams are preparing for Monday night’s nationally televised game at CenturyLink Field.

“Marshawn is a great back,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said today during a conference-call interview. “I think he’s a powerful guy, a guy who obviously makes something out of nothing. He’s the kind of guy that breaks tackles and you can’t go to sleep on him.

“I think he’s the guy that makes that offense go. No disrespect to anybody else on that offense, but I do think Marshawn is kind of that X-factor and they’ve built around him and they’ve kind of decided to settle into a certain scheme with him – a zone scheme – and he does a great job with it.”

Lynch definitely is on a roll. He has rushed for 100-plus yards in four of his past five games and scored in his past eight games – which ties for the second-longest streak in franchise history. He’s also coming off a 148-yard, two-TD effort against the Eagles last Thursday night.

But the one game in his run where Lynch did not crack triple digits came three weeks ago against the Rams in St. Louis. He gained 88 yards on 27 carries, for a 3.3-yard average that was his lowest in the past five games.

Despite that minor bump in his road to a 1,000-yard season, and the loss of three starting linemen to injuries, the Seahawks remain committed to featuring their Beast Mode back.

“With a back like Marshawn, things may look dead and he’s going to squirt out of there,” left guard Robert Gallery said.

That was obviously the case on Lynch’s 15-yard TD run against the Eagles, where he disappeared into a pile of players only to pop out and score.

“He kind of got stuck in there, then all of a sudden he’s coming out,” Gallery said. “It’s a tribute to him to be able to keep his feet moving and pop out of there when the time calls for it.”

PLAYER WATCH

Russell Okung. Out of sight, but not out of mind. That’s the Seahawks’ left tackle who is on injured reserve after tearing his right pectoral against the Eagles.

“Obviously he’s had his share of freak things happen,” said Gallery, who has talked to Okung since the injury. “But it is what it is. It’s part of the game. Obviously he’s upset. You don’t want to get hurt. You want to play.

“But he’s in good spirits. He got it taken care of and now he’s just got to get healthy and be ready for next year.”

Okung, last year’s first-round draft choice, will be missed because he had been playing at a high level.

“Really good. Big time,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said when asked about Okung’s performance in recent weeks. “He was playing like you’d expect a guy you draft that high to play. Particularly the last five or six weeks, I don’t think anybody was playing at his level at that spot. It was just dominant, protecting the quarterback and you can run to him you can run away from him.”

IN ’N OUT

Middle linebacker David Hawthorne sat out practice to rest a sore knee and was replaced by K.J. Wright, who in turn was replaced by Mike Morgan at strong side linebacker. But quarterback Tarvaris Jackson took all the starter reps in the 95-minute practice that was held in the indoor practice facility.

Here’s the official injury report:

Did not practice

MLB David Hawthorne (knee)

DE Raheem Brock (calf)

Limited participation

CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)

CB Byron Maxwell (illness)

Full participation

QB Tarvaris Jackson

For the Rams:

Did not practice

QB Sam Bradford (ankle)

QB A.J. Feeley (right thumb)

DE Chris Long (ankle)

KR Quinn Porter (abdomen)

DT Fred Robbins (back)

Limited participation

OT Mark LeVoir (chest)

DE Eugene Sims (ankle)

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said today that he is hopeful Bradford will be able to play Monday night, but that No. 3 QB Tom Brandstater will get most of the work in practice.

“We’re always going to put the health of the player first and foremost,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s kind of where we were at last week (going into the game against the 49ers) in deciding that we didn’t want to put (Sam) in a position where it could go backwards. We just felt, and we’re hopeful, (with) another eight days that he’ll feel better and be up on his toes and just get him out of any kind of danger zone.

“Should we get to the end of the week and think that that’s not the case, then we’re going to protect Sam first. … What we’re trying to do is get him to the game. So his reps will be very, very limited and then we’ll see where we’re at when we get to Monday.”

STAT DU JOUR

Despite that 16-points-in-10-minutes blip against the Redskins two weeks ago, the Seahawks’ defense remains one of the stingiest in the NFL when it comes to allowing fourth-quarter points and touchdowns. Here’s where they rank in the league in both categories:

Fourth-quarter points allowed

Team                           Points

Seahawks                      83

Browns                          84

Ravens                           86

Lions                               87

Bengals                          93

Fourth-quarter touchdowns allowed

Team                       TDs

Browns                      6

Seahawks                  8

Lions                          8

Ravens                       8

Only five teams have scored fourth-quarter touchdowns against the Seahawks’ defense, but four of the eight TDs it has allowed have come in the past four games: Giants, 68-yard pass; Cowboys, 6-yard pass; Ravens, 11-yard pass; Redskins, 28-yard run and 50-yard pass; Eagles, 2-yard pass.

Opponents also have scored four fourth-quarter TDs against the Seahawks on returns: 49ers, 102-yard kickoff return and 55-yard punt return; Bengals, 56-yard punt return and 75-yard interception return.

UP NEXT

The week that really isn’t as it seems continues, as the players will hold their Thursday practice on Friday and their Friday practice on Saturday in preparation for Monday night’s game.

Tickets remain for the game against the Rams and can be purchased here.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I think it’s contagious. It gets everybody excited. We all know the ability that he has. … That’s what we always felt about him, that he can make those big plays and that he has that ability.” – offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell when asked about Lynch’s style of play and its affect on the entire offense


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Photoblog: Ramming the Rams

The Seahawks, fresh off of an impressive upset of the Baltimore Ravens, headed to St. Louis to face their familiar division foe at the Edward Jones Dome.

In the visitors locker room at the Edward Jones Dome, tight end Anthony McCoy sat alone with his thoughts in the minutes before the Seahawks took the field.

With less than a week to prepare to start in place of injured right guard John Moffitt, veteran Paul McQuistan was still reviewing his playbook in the locker room before the game.

The Rams were determined to test Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner early and often, and he made a pass defense on former Washington State receiver Brandon Gibson.

St. Louis defensive back Quintin Mikell intercepted a pass from Tarvaris Jackson but then found himself face-to-face with Seahawks lineman Robert Gallery.

Seattle ran the ball successfully for the third game in a row, with Marshawn Lynch doing the lion's share of the work.

Seattle's big defensive linemen Alan Branch and Red Bryant celebrate after stopping Rams running back Steven Jackson.

Safety Earl Thomas gets pumped after the defense held St. Louis to a three-and-out.

Linebacker K.J. Wright corrals St. Louis tight end Stephen Spach in the first half as the defense kept the Rams off the field.

Receiver Sidney Rice fought is way into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown reception from Tarvaris Jackson to tie the game at 7-7 in the second quarter.

Seahawks punter Jon Ryan continued his fine play, landing four punts inside the St. Louis 20-yard line.

Leon Washington returns a punt 37 yards along the Seahawks sideline.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin continued his knack for finding open spaces, and his 35-yard catch late in the first half kept a Seahawks scoring drive alive.

Defensive end Chris Clemons wreaked havoc on the Rams, here creating a sack and fumble by St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford.

Red Bryant applied pressure on Bradford as well.

Raheem Brock joined the pressure party, chasing Bradford out of the pocket on this play.

Brandon Browner got the best of Rams receiver Brandon Lloyd on this pass along the Seahawks sideline.

With a lead, the Seahawks defense was free to pressure Bradford, and Roy Lewis got the sack on this play.

Defensive end Red Bryant rumbles upfield with the football after intercepting a tipped pass by Sam Bradford in the fourth quater.

Head coach Pete Carroll congratulates Bryant after the interception.

Chris Clemons claimed his third sack of the game and caused his second fumble which was recovered by David Hawthorne.

Seahawks fans were well-represented in St. Louis, and they gathered behind the team's bench in the fourth quarter to show their support.

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and head coach Pete Carroll share a laugh in the game's waning moments.

In the locker room after the game, defensive captain Red Bryant spoke to the team, urging them to keep working hard and improving, focusing only one week at a time.


Game at a glance

A recap of the Seahawks’ 22-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field on Sunday:

PLAYERS OF THE GAME

The obvious choice for player of the game is Marshawn Lynch, after he ran for 109 yards and caught a team-high five passes for another 58 yards. But let’s not be so obvious. Let’s include the offensive line and lead-blocking fullback Michael Robinson.

Yes, Lynch was in “Beast Mode,” but his blockers definitely helped unleash the beast – tackles Russell Okung and James Carpenter; guards Robert Gallery, John Moffitt and Lemuel Jeanpierre; and center Max Unger.

“I was really proud of the offensive line,” coach Pete Carroll said of a unit that hasn’t received many positive reviews this season. “I thought they played great, protected beautifully today. And when we needed it most, they were able to grab the running game and take five or six minutes off the clock.”

Carroll was referring to the blocker-led, Lynch-fueled final drive from the Seahawks’ 20-yard line to the Ravens’ 16 on the final possession of the game that began with 5:52 to play. Lynch touched ball on eight of the first 10 plays, including seven in a row, before quarterback Tarvaris Jackson took a knee twice to run the final seconds off the clock.

Lynch had 46 of his rushing yards in the fourth quarter and 23 in the third quarter, after getting 35 in the first quarter and only 5 in the second quarter.

Even the linemen had to admit they were inspired by how hard Lynch ran – and runs.

“It’s impressive,” Unger said of Lynch bringing the cliché “moving the pile” to life right before his eyes. “I mean, we know what he’s going to bring. Our play has to be elevated when we see stuff like that and just give it all out. He had a couple of very awesome runs there at the end.”

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense: Before Lynch took over on that final drive, Tarvaris Jackson made sure the drive would continue by threading a pass between two defenders to wide receiver Golden Tate for a 24-yard completion on a third-and-5 play. Tate was in the game because Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin had gone out with concussions, but Jackson did not hesitate to go his way with so much hanging in the balance.

Said Jackson, “Golden did a good job of getting open. I just tried to put the ball on him before the safety got there and he was able to make the catch, stay in bounds and keep the clock running.”

Tate, however, said his catch finished third on that completion behind, first, the play call by coordinator Darrell Bevell and, also, the throw by Jackson. And maybe even fourth, because Tate also credited the clearing route run by Mike Williams on the same side for allowing him to get open.

“Great call by coach Bevell,” Tate said. “Tarvaris made a great throw. I just did the easy job – catch the ball and secure the ball. We move the stakes and that was huge for us.”

Defense: The Ravens’ Joe Flacco put the ball up a career-high 52 times, so the Seahawks had ample opportunity to make big plays. But none was bigger than the pass that rookie strongside linebacker K.J. Wright tipped and middle linebacker David Hawthorne intercepted and returned 34 yards to the Ravens’ 4-yard line to setup a field goal that made it 22-7 early in the third quarter.

“Turnovers always are big,” Hawthorne said. “You win the turnover ratio, you’re going to win the game.”

Special teams: Steven Hauschka kicked five field goals, but let’s go with the last one because it tied the franchise single-game record that was set by Norm Johnson in 1987 and then tied by Johnson (1988), Todd Peterson (1999) and Olindo Mare (twice in 2010).

“I know it looks like five kicks was the difference in the game, but there are a lot of plays by a lot of different guys that helped make that happen,” Hauschka said.

INJURY REPORT

The Seahawks lost six players during the game, but the most serious appeared to be knee injury Moffitt got in the first quarter. The rookie right guard is scheduled to have a MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage and how long he might be sidelined.

After Moffitt went out, Jeanpierre stepped in and played well.

In addition to the concussions that Rice (third quarter) and Baldwin (second quarter) got, strong safety Kam Chancellor (fourth quarter) also got one and backup safety Atari Bigby went out in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. So Chris Maragos got ample snaps at safety late in the game.

Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove also injured a hamstring in the third quarter.

WORTH NOTING

The Ravens had allowed nine 100-yard rushers in their past 92 games, but Lynch became the 10th.

Lynch carried a career-high 32 times – eight shy of Shaun Alexander’s franchise record – to get his 109 yards.

The Seahawks forced three turnovers – their second-highest total this season. In addition to Hawthorne’s interception, Michael Robinson and Malcolm Smith forced fumbles on kickoff returns that were recovered by Atari Bigby and Ben Obomanu.

The Seahawks won time of possession for the second consecutive week – and only second time this season – with a season-best 35:01.

Free safety Earl Thomas and linebacker Leroy Hill led the Seahawks with eight tackles.

The Seahawks got their hands on 10 of Flacco’s passes, including three by cornerback Brandon Browner.

Smith, a rookie linebacker, got the Seahawks’ only sack – his first in the NFL. He also had two tackles on special teams.

The Ravens averaged 6.3 yards rushing, but ran the ball just 12 times.

The Ravens’ Ray Rice ran for 27 yards, caught eight passes for 54 yards and also threw a 1-yard TD pass to tight end Ed Dickson, who had 10 catches for 79 yards.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’m glad we had a chance to celebrate with our fans today, and they were fantastic again. The 12th MAN was extraordinary today. It was a beautiful day working with them and playing with them. You can’t have more fun coaching football than when you’re coaching at this place. So it was really special.” – Carroll