Wednesday round-up: 2013 running back, D-line & special teams previews

Brock Huard and Danny O’Neil of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” discuss the Seahawks’ new additions along the defensive line and look ahead at how the position group projects heading into 2013

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” for today, Wednesday, July 10, about your Seattle Seahawks:

In anticipation of NFL.com’s feature set to run later today naming the most overrated and underrated players in Seahawks history, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times takes his own stab at guessing who might make their list.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says offseason addition Cliff Avril will be counted on to “carry the load” as the team’s top pass rusher.

Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com continues his positional preview series with a look at the loaded Seahawks backfield, and O’Neil also hosted his latest “Hawk Talk” chat yesterday afternoon, the full transcript of which can be found here.

O’Neil and co-host Brock Huard of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Danny” caught up with former Seahawks quarterback and current Indianapolis Colts signal caller Matt Hasselbeck, who is currently vacationing in Eastern Washington, in the podcast below:

We also have the podcast from O’Neil and Huard’s Seahawks roundtable discussion with ESPN’s John Clayton and NFC West blogger Mike Sando. The foursome talks about what to expect from the club offensively heading into the new season:

NFL.com Around the League writer Marc Sessler ranks the NFL’s Top 8 deepest backfields, and the Seahawks’ quartet of Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, and Derrick Coleman comes in at No. 2.

Here at Seahawks.com, Clare Farnsworth wraps up his 2013 positional preview series by highlighting the club’s special teams unit.

In news around the rest of the League, NFL.com columnist Adam Schein labels the New Orleans Saints as 2013′s most-fascinating team – Schein pegged the Seahawks in that same position last year. The Saints and Seahawks square off in Week 13 (Dec. 2) this season on ESPN’s Monday Night Football at CenturyLink Field.

NFL.com Around the League writer Chris Wesseling takes a look at which NFL records could be broken in the season ahead.

In a lighthearted piece at NFL.com, Henry Hodgson – the site’s “exclusive supplemental draft expert” – has his seven-round mock of Thursday’s 2013 supplemental draft.

NFL.com’s NFL Total Access crew ranks the Top 10 greatest touchdown celebrations of all-time in this short video feature.

And for a bit of off-the-field news, club chairman Paul Allen’s album “Everywhere At Once” is set for an August 3 release, but you can preview 13 tracks from Allen and the Underthinkers here.


Bobby Wagner interviews Robert Turbin at Utah State’s Blue and White game

Before they dressed in Seahawks blue and green together on Sundays at CenturyLink Field, linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin were clad in Utah State blue and white on Saturdays at Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah.

The Seahawks 2012 second- (Wagner) and fourth-round (Turbin) draft picks returned to their alma mater this past weekend for the Aggies’ annual Blue and White spring football game. It was there that Utah State Insider Matthew Glade tried to catch up with Turbin, only to have his interview highjacked by Wagner, who took the microphone from Glade and grilled Turbin with a few questions of his own.

After a bit of back and forth banter, Wagner isn’t all that impressed with Turbin’s answers for the camera.

“Your answers are pretty vanilla,” Wagner offered to Turbin. “Can you elaborate, or are you just going to stay vanilla?”

After a brief pause, Turbin carefully replies with, “Well, it’s my favorite ice cream.”

Well played, Turbin. Well played.


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Weighing in on the NFC West

Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.

Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.

It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:

Quarterback

Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”

Running back

Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”

Wide receivers

Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”

Tight ends

Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”

Offensive line

Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”

Defensive line

Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”

Linebackers

Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”

Safeties

Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”

Cornerbacks

Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”

Head coach

Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”


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

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

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

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

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


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Who should the Seahawks draft at No. 56?

Sio Moore, Terron Armstead, John Jenkins

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock tabs LB Sio Moore (left, UConn), OL Terron Armstead (middle, Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and DT John Jenkins (right, Georgia) as possibilities for the Seahawks at pick No. 56

So, just what are the options for a team that does not have a first-round pick in next week’s NFL Draft?

We ask, of course, because that’s the situation the Seahawks find themselves in after trading the 25th pick overall to the Vikings as part of the three-pick package to acquire receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin last month.

The move leaves the Seahawks making their first pick in the second round, at No. 56 – barring the highly unlikely scenario that they trade back into the first round or up in the second round.

And who might be available at No. 56 that could help the Seahawks? We asked Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network who conducted another marathon conference call today.

First, he addressed the Seahawks’ draft position: “This is a draft that people are complaining it’s not sexy at the top. But I would tell you that there are probably 25 to 35 more draftable players this year than last year. So there’s more depth in this draft than I’ve seen in a while.”

Then he offered some options for that position: “What would I like to see Seattle come away with? Well, it could be a defensive tackle to complement Brandon Mebane – a John Jenkins, say, from Georgia. Big, 340-pound nose tackle who would make a lot of sense there. I think (Connecticut’s) Sio Moore could play (weak-side) linebacker. Really excited by his progress. He’s so versatile. I think he’s the kind of guy Pete Carroll would like. Then, maybe some competition at right tackle. Would you draft a Terron Armstead, who’s physical skill set is exciting but he’s awfully raw?”

Here’s a closer look at those three players that “I think fit a need for Seattle,” as Mayock put it:

Jenkins – His mass (6-4, 346 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine) and strength (30 reps in the bench press) are Jenkins’ most obvious assets, and have drawn comparisons to the Packers’ B.J. Raji. He got as high as 370 pounds last season, but reportedly is down to 332. As Rob Rang at NFLDraftScout.com put it, Jenkins is “built like a Coke machine and is just as difficult to move.”

Moore – The 6-1, 245-pounder had 274 tackles as a three-year starter for the Huskies and has been referred as “a classic 4-3 weak-side linebacker candidate.” At the combine, Moore ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds and also had a 38-inch vertical leap. As Dane Brugler at NFLDraftScout.com wrote after the Shrine Game in January, “Moore entered the week as an underrated prospect, but he showed during practice sessions what most already knew: He’s a pretty good football player.”

Armstead – The 6-5, 306-pound Armstead played at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but increased his draft stock with strong performances at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, and also after running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and popping a 34½-inch vertical leap at the combine. “He could develop into a left tackle with great feet and long arms,” Mayock said.

Mayock referenced Carroll again when asked about two players from Utah State – cornerback Will Davis and running back Kerwynn Williams – and whether that program was improving its status as a producer of NFL prospects.

“Just ask Pete Carroll,” Mayock said. “Pete drafted both (running back Robert) Turbin and (middle linebacker Bobby) Wagner last year. And Pete had one of the best drafts in the NFL last year. Bobby Wagner played great. Turbin had a real solid rookie season…

“Any time you get players drafted out of a school like Utah State, that play at the level they did in the NFL, it just increases the visibility on your school. And I think that’s great.”


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Mel Kiper Jr. ups Seahawks’ draft grade from C-minus to A

Russell Wilson

HONOLULU – Count ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. among those who’s willing to admit he erred on the grade he gave the Seahawks after they made their selections in last April’s NFL Draft.

In fact, it seems the line forms behind Kiper, who has given the Seahawks an A in his regarding of the 2012 draft after initially slapping them with a C-minus.

It’s an Insider feature at ESPN.com, so you must register and pay a fee to see Kiper’s entire regarding. But here’s what he had to say about the Seahawks:

“Give John Schneider and Pete Carroll all the credit in the world. I had major questions on value and even need with some of their picks, and in most cases, the Seahawks proved me wrong. At the time I wrote, ‘Let’s be clear: I think the Seahawks drafted guys they really wanted, and with a plan in mind for how to use them.’ Did they ever. Russell Wilson might be the defining pick of the draft, already a star and a guy Seattle got at No. 75 overall. I really liked Wilson as a prospect, and said on the set I thought he’d be ‘a great test case’ for short quarterbacks. My question of the pick also had to do with the fact that Seattle had acquired Matt Flynn. If Wilson had been 6-foot-2, I think he would have been a top-5 pick – said it then, say it now. Is that evaluation still reasonable? Has Wilson proven that short QBs can’t all be lumped together? Ultimately, evaluators will still have questions about whether short QBs can succeed because they simply have so few of them to evaluate. The sample size for guys at Wilson’s size who’ve succeeded as he has is so small that not only is Wilson almost unique, I don’t see a QB like him coming along for years. But there’s no way around the fact that he was a great pick, perhaps the best of the draft when you consider where he was taken.

“I also had questions about the value of Bobby Wagner at No. 47 overall, but he was a home run, an impact starter and a guy who will be a fixture for years to come. Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane and Greg Scruggs also look like great picks. The one pick I really questioned then and still feel the same way about is Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall. There’s no question Irvin can rush the passer, but that’s really all he can do, and I still don’t see him as a good value at that spot because he’s so one-dimensional. I wrote then, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Irvin gets 10 sacks in 2012, but that’s really his game. He’s not a three-down player yet.’ He still isn’t, and is a total liability against the run, as we saw against Atlanta in the playoffs. He finished with 8.0 sacks, but has plenty of development left if he wants to become more than a situational player. I think you want more of a complete player at that point in the draft. Still, this was an exceptional draft, a very good one in terms of immediate value and likely a defining one for the franchise based on Wilson alone.”


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ESPN panel votes John Schneider NFL executive of 2012

John Schneider

Seahawks general manager John Schneider topped a list of candidates for NFL executive of the year, edging out Denver Broncos general manager John Elway and Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, in a vote by several staff members of ESPN.com.

Schneider received eight total votes – one more than Elway and four more than Grigson. ESPN AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky has the story here, which includes Kuharsky’s opinion as well as thoughts from several other voters.

Here’s a breakdown of the votes:

  • Schneider – 8
  • Elway – 7
  • Grigson – 4
  • Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta Falcons – 2
  • Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers – 1
  • Bruce Allen, Washington Redskins – 1

Kuharsky voted for Schneider, recalling a conversation he had with with fellow ESPN.com blogger Mike Sando, who covers the NFC West, “I’ve had a close view of the Colts’ transformation from a 2-14 disaster to a 10-5 team heading to the playoffs.  As I broadened that view, however, I leaned on something Sando said as we discussed this: Take away the obvious moves, the moves your mom would know to make — signing Manning [Elway], drafting Luck [Grigson] — and find out who’s the choice. I voted Schneider, and so did seven others, enough for him to edge Elway.”

Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll’s 2012 draft class has produced the NFL’s rookie sack leader (Bruce Irvin, 8.0 sacks), a starting middle linebacker who is a serious candidate for defensive rookie of the year (Bobby Wagner), and of course starting quarterback Russell Wilson, who many believe can challenge Luck and Washington’s Robert Griffin III in the race for offensive rookie of the year. Not to mention the club picked up a physical running back in Robert Turbin to match the “Beastmode” attack of Marshawn Lynch, a cornerback in Jeremy Lane who has stepped up and played well in place of the suspended Pro Bowler Brandon Browner, a college defensive lineman turned starting NFL offensive guard in J.R. Sweezy, and several other contributors.

Added Sando, “I voted for Schneider because I thought the moves Seattle made required more skill and foresight. Elway and Grigson did more than simply acquire Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, of course. But without those moves, neither would factor into the discussion. Those were moves 99 percent of fantasy football general managers would have made.”


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Wednesday in Hawkville: Think Schneider for NFL Executive of the Year

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 26:

John Schneider

FOCUS ON

John Schneider. Add another name to the list of those associated with the Seahawks that deserves consideration for honors this season. With Schneider, it’s NFL Executive of the Year.

The Seahawks’ team that will host the Rams in its regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field on Sunday is 10-5 and clinched a playoff spot with last week’s decisive victory over the NFC West-leading 49ers. And the core of this team that has become the sixth in franchise history to post double-digit victories has been constructed the past three years by Schneider, the general manager, and coach Pete Carroll.

This year’s draft class included quarterback Russell Wilson, who was selected in the third round by Schneider and is a candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year; middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a second-round pick and candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; first-round pick Bruce Irvin, who leads all rookies with eight sacks; running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick who has provided the physical presence that was missing to complement leading rusher Marshawn Lynch; cornerback Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round pick who could start his third consecutive game on Sunday; and J.R. Sweezy, a former college defensive lineman and seventh-round pick who is the likely starter at right guard against the Rams.

“We’ve just continued to grow,” Carroll said. “Our way of thinking was hindered last year when we didn’t have the offseason (because of the 136-day lockout) to get our guys ready, because we wanted our guys to play early. That was hard as it could get, to see our philosophy and our approach to playing the young guys come to life.

“This is really the culmination of the three years, and the approach showed up this year I think successfully. You can see that we had a terrific draft and we’ve utilized those guys and they’ve grown to where they’re regular football players for us now.”

While it’s been three giant steps in the right direction for Carroll and Schneider, Carroll added, “We still feel like we’re in early stages. But we have been through three drafts, and he’s done a marvelous job with the drafts and with all of the transactions we’ve done.”

And with Carroll, that means tweaking the norm, because he looks for players with unique talents, rather than those who look as if they stepped out of the NFL-specs machine.

“To me, he’s an absolute joy,” Carroll said of Schneider. “Because we can talk about everything, work through everything and understand that we have to come to an agreement using all of the strengths and the savvy that we have. And we’ve turned out a pretty good product.

“I can’t imagine anybody doing a better job general managing than John has done. He’s just done an incredible job.”

FIVE VOTED TO PRO BOWL

Left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger were named starters on the NFC Pro Bowl team today, while kick returner Leon Washington also made the squad and running back Marshawn Lynch and free safety Earl Thomas are reserves.

To further the point Carroll made above, Okung and Thomas were the first-round draft choices in the first year Carroll and Schneider were in charge, while Washington and Lynch were acquired in trades during that first year.

For more on the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl selections, click here.

EDWARDS IMPRESSED WITH WILSON

Former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, now an analyst for ESPN, has selected his 10 most impressive players for 2012 and a certain rookie quarterback made the list.

Edwards on Wilson: “Wilson has been answering questions about his size (5-foot-11) his whole career. I think it’s time to put those to rest. The Seahawks have done a tremendous job expanding the playbook for Wilson over the course of the season, giving him only as much as they thought he could handle. He has terrific poise, is extremely accurate down the field and has led the Seahawks to road victories in Chicago and Buffalo before blowing out San Francisco on Sunday. In the red zone this year, he has 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.”

Edwards also gives cornerback Richard Sherman honorable mention, offering: “Although his status for the playoffs is uncertain, Sherman has had an excellent season. A smart player, Sherman is very physical at the line of scrimmage and has great change-of-direction and ball skills, especially with his back to the quarterback. He has selective memory, which is important as a cornerback, and doesn’t fear anyone. He has evolved into a true shutdown corner.”

OPPONENT WATCH

Brandon Gibson. The Rams’ second-leading receiver (48 receptions) and leader in touchdown catches (five) played at Washington State University and obviously is developing into a nice complement to leading receiver Danny Amendola.

“Gibby’s done great,” Jeff Fisher, the Rams’ first-year head coach, said today during a conference-call interview. “He’s been making plays since we arrived. He’s real smart. He’s tough. He can make the tough catch.

“It’s fun to see him, not only on Sundays, but make some tremendous catches on the practice field. Most of the catches should be easy and are easy, because Sam (Bradford) is an accurate passer. But every once in a while he needs to put it someplace and Gibby can go get it. He’s one of those guys you want on your football team. He’s fun to coach and fun to be around.”

POWERING UP, PART DEUX

Monday, we mentioned that the Seahawks had jumped to No. 3 in Peter King’s “Fine Fifteen” at SI.com and to No. 6 in the Power Rankings at ESPN.com. Today, they continued their ascent in some other Power Rankings.

No. 2 in Bryan McIntyre’s Power Rankings at YahooSports.com: “The Seahawks showed that they’re for real with a 42-13 blowout of the 49ers at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night. From an advanced metrics standpoint, the Seahawks are the No. 1 team in the NFL, ranking in the Top 5 in Football Outsiders’ offensive, defensive and special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). With a win over the Rams and losses by the 49ers and Packers, the Seahawks will get a first-round bye in the playoffs.”

No. 5 in Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings at CBSSports.com: “They are building something special up there for the long haul.”

No. 5 in Don Banks’ Power Ratings at SI.com: “As I said last week, let the Seahawks hang up a stupid number against the stout 49ers defense, and a legitimate case of Super Bowl Fever will break out in the Pacific Northwest. All systems go on that front. Seattle’s only fear might be peaking before the playoffs arrive.”

O-LINE “MADDEN-ED” AGAIN

For the second consecutive week, the Seahawks’ offensive line has been selected as the winner of the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award.

“With great balance on offense behind the steady play of offensive line and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are now poised to make a playoff run,” Hall of Fame coach John Madden said in the release announcing the selection of the Seahawks’ line.

The starting unit is comprised by – from left tackle to right – Okung, Paul McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy and Breno Giacomini. And because of the lopsidedness of the 42-13 win over the 49ers, backups Frank Omiyale and Lemuel Jeanpierre played in the second half.

Wilson threw for a career-high four touchdowns, while Lynch ran for 111 yards and scored twice.

The Seahawks’ line joins the 49ers (three times), Texans (twice), Giants (twice) and Vikings (twice) as multiple winners of the weekly Madden honor. But the Seahawks are the first unit to win it in back-to-back weeks.

PRACTICE-SQUAD SHUFFLE

Tight end Cooper Helfet has been signed to the practice squad. Defensive end Monte Taylor was released to clear a spot. Helfet was signed in May as a rookie agent, but was waived/injured on the roster cut to 53 players in August.

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as released by the team:

Did not practice

DE Red Bryant (foot)

OT Breno Giacomini (elbow)

LB Leroy Hill (hamstring)

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

TE Anthony McCoy (back)

WR Sidney Rice (knee)

CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)

Full participation

FS Earl Thomas (ankle)

With Giacomini sidelined, Omiyale worked at right tackle. Greg Scruggs filled in at defensive end Red Bryant. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse got snaps at split end for Rice. Washington and Turbin shared the reps at running back with Lynch out.

For the Rams:

Did not practice

CB Cortland Finnegan (thigh)

RB Steven Jackson (illness)

LB James Laurinaitis (back)

CB Scott Wells (knee)

Limited in practice

S Craig Dahl (knee)

Full participation

WR Austin Pettis (shoulder)

STAT DU JOUR

Among the Seahawks’ 10 victories are wins over three other teams that have won double digit games, which ties for the most in the league. Here’s a look at the league-leaders in that category, as well as a look at how many of those wins the teams that have won more than 10 or more games have:

Most wins vs. teams with 10-plus wins

Team                            Wins     Teams

Seahawks                      3          Packers, Patriots 49ers

Texans                           3          Broncos, Ravens, Colts

Patriots                         3          Broncos, Colts, Texans

49ers                             3          Seahawks, Packers, Patriots

Rams                             2          Seahawks, 49ers

Giants                           2          49ers, Packers

Vikings                          2          49ers, Texans

Teams with 10-plus wins vs. other teams with 10-plus wins

Team (record)            Wins      Opponents

Seahawks (10-5)           3          Packers, Patriots, 49ers

Patriots (11-4)               3          Broncos, Colts, Texans

Texans (12-3)                3          Broncos, Ravens, Colts

49ers (10-4-1)               3          Seahawks, Packers, Patriots

Falcons (13-2)               1          Broncos

Ravens (10-5)                1          Patriots

Packers (11-4)               1          Texans

Colts (10-5)                    1          Packers

Broncos (12-3)              1           Ravens

UP NEXT

“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Rams.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Watching @DangeRussWilson this weekend really took me back. He has to be this season’s #NFL Rookie of Year. @Seahawks.” – a tweet from former Vikings and Giants QB Fran Tarkenton, who Wilson has been compared to this season and especially during NBC’s telecast of Sunday night’s game against the 49ers


Friday cyber surfing: Malcolm Smith earning his way

Malcolm Smith

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 14.

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks plan to continue featuring running back Marshawn Lynch, who will face his former team this Sunday, “Lynch, who signed a four-year, $31 million deal in March, has seven 100-yard rushing games this season, second-best in the NFL. He has reached the milestone in five of the past seven games, including a dominant performance last week versus Arizona with 128 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns on just 11 carries. ‘He’s been very consistent with his output and his effort and his style,’ Carroll said of Lynch. ‘Everything has been there every single game.’ Added quarterback Russell Wilson: “He’s the best running back in the NFL — one of the best, for sure — and he does a great job of just being a workhorse. … I think the biggest thing is you have to keep feeding him.’ “

Mayers also has the Seahawks and Buffalo Bills injury reports from yesterday, noting that wide receiver Sidney Rice (foot) and cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) did not participate in practice.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with linebacker Malcolm Smith, who has seen increased playing time lately while veteran linebacker Leroy Hill recovers from a sprained ankle, “During his first season in Seattle, Smith had trouble staying healthy. Smith missed two games because of a hamstring injury, and two games with a concussion. But this season, Smith has been active for all 13 games. And he’s been a key special teams contributor, with five tackles and a blocked punt. ‘The speed on special teams is even more than defense,’ Smith said. ‘So being able to do that has helped a lot for sure. That was the plan when I came here. They said you have to earn your way. And that’s my way of showing up.’ “

Williams also chats with Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, who regularly covers the Buffalo Bills, and asks him five questions leading up to Sunday’s game, “Q: C.J. Spiller was one of the most explosive players in the 2010 draft. He’s on the verge of rushing for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, and has an impressive 6.6 per carry average. However, he’s still had to split carries with Fred Jackson, who was recently placed on the injured reserve list with a knee issue. Do you feel Spiller has been used effectively? A: Gaughan: He has been used effectively but not enough. He needs to get the ball more. There are some understandable reasons why he hasn’t gotten the ball in this situation or that situation. But the bottom line is he’s their best offensive weapon and he hasn’t gotten it enough. The offense was on the field 58 plays vs. St. Louis and he got eight touches. They lost by three.”

Michael Rushton of The Sports Network previews the Week 15 matchup between the Seahawks and Bills, “Working against Seattle is the fact that it has been a much better team at home than on the road. Had it faced off against Buffalo during the early string of this Toronto series, it might have been even ground. However, [Bills coach Chan] Gailey feels his team is starting to get a following a little further up north. ‘Last year it really felt like a home game. The first year it was a little bit more of a neutral site, but last year it felt like a home game. That is what you hope to create and continue to develop where that becomes like a game right here (in Buffalo). If we can get that, that would be great,’ he said. Gailey better hope Toronto’s allegiance isn’t riding on this game as Seattle has too much momentum and talent on the defensive side of things for the Bills’ struggling offense to overcome. Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 17, Bills 14″

John Boyle of the Everett Herald highlights the recent play of the linebacker Smith, “It’s way too early to say if Smith will join the long list of Seahawks defenders who have gone from draft-day afterthoughts to key contributors to a very good defense, but he’s done nothing to hurt the perception that Carroll and general manager John Schneider have a real knack for finding and developing talent on the third day of the draft. ‘It’s really fun to see the maturity of Malcolm,’ linebackers coach Ken Norton said. ‘I couldn’t be more pleased with Malcolm.’ “

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com has a look at where the Seahawks pass rush stands after investing in a first round draft pick and free agent acquisition along the defensive line, “Irvin. The 15th overall pick leads all rookies in sacks with eight. He picked one up late in last week’s blowout win over Arizona to avoid going a third straight game without a sack. The Seahawks raved about Irvin’s explosiveness when they drafted him. [Defensive line coach Todd] Wash said he recently fell back into a habit of not coming off the ball as quickly as he could. ‘Timid’ was the word Wash used. Wash also said Irvin is developing a nice spin move. Jones. The Seahawks hoped Jones would improve their interior pass rush when they gave the versatile lineman a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Jones has 2.5 sacks and has missed two games with an ankle injury.

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said both young defensive backs Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell played well against the Cardinals. They are preparing to play either outside or at nickel. Bradley is concerned the defense is no longer allowed to have padded practices under terms of the NFL collective bargaining agreement. Statistics showed the Seahawks gave up one more yard per carry last season after a non-pads practice week.”

Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” discuss cornerback Richard Sherman’s mentality in this short video.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press details the play of the Seahawks rookie class, “The most notable has been giving the Seahawks a key player in Wilson, the starting quarterback coming out of training camp. He’s on pace to challenge the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes and is the first rookie quarterback since 1970 to win his first six home games. At the same time that Wilson was named the starter, the Seahawks also decided Wagner would be capable of taking over as the organizer of the defense at middle linebacker. Wagner currently ranks third among all NFL rookies with 109 tackles. Irvin, the Seahawks’ first-round pick, currently leads all NFL rookies with eight sacks, and Turbin is coming off the first 100-yard rushing game of his career and looks like a suitable backup to spell Marshawn Lynch at running back without the Seahawks losing their punishing style of running. Carroll said he noticed near midseason that Wagner and Irvin both went through the typical rookie swoon of getting used to playing so many games. That wasn’t the case with Wilson. ‘With those other kids there was a time about eight, nine games in, they had already played 12 to 13 games, and it was hard on those guys,’ Carroll said. ‘Russell did not fall into that category; he just continued to progress the whole time. Why he has is because of the way he’s prepared himself. He’s just worked so hard and he will not back off. He continues to push, but not only does he continue to push and try hard, he’s getting better.’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM has his report from Thursday’s practice, “Thurmond appeared on the injury report Wednesday with a hamstring injury that forced him to have his workload reduced. A day later, Thurmond wasn’t able to practice. If Thurmond can’t play, the Seahawks would turn to CB Byron Maxwell and CB Jeremy Lane to step up into more prominent roles. Both saw time last week against the Arizona Cardinals but have not seen extensive action as part of the defense.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com has his NFC West offense and defense ranks thru Week 14, and offers a prediction for the Seahawks game against the Bills, “The Bills’ defensive front is playing better recently. Seattle has potential manpower concerns at cornerback and wide receiver, depending on Sidney Rice’s status. Still, if the Seahawks are a legit playoff team, they have to win this game, right? Marshawn Lynch is getting much of the attention heading into this game against his former team, but I’m thinking Russell Wilson will be the story, one way or another. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 23, Bills 17.”

NFL Films previews our Week 15 game against the Bills in this short video.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights Bills return man Leodis McKelvin, who is the only returner in the NFL to rank among the Top 5 in both punt return and kick return categories, and also recaps the events surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville“, with a focus on the play of the Seahawks rookie class.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” as the Seahawks hope to keep the momentum up after an overtime road win in Chicago against the Bears in Week 13 and a 58-0 victory at home against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.

We have quarterback Russell Wilson’s full video press conference from yesterday available for you here, and you can watch defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s full video press conference from yesterday here.

Lastly, our team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos here.


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