Thursday round-up: Happy birthday, America

Happy Birthday America

On this date in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress, announcing the formation of the United States of America – a new nation of 13 colonies liberated from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Who knew that just 200 years later, in 1976, the Seahawks would open their inaugural NFL season in a Kingdom(e) of their own.

Today, we celebrate our nation’s 237th birthday, and with it some Seahawks links in what are widely considered the dog days of the NFL offseason. But I’m here to make those dog days a little more interesting (hopefully), so here’s a look at what’s “out there” for today, Thursday, July 4, about your Seattle Seahawks:

Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com breaks down the Seahawks wide receiver position, noting the club has one of the deepest corps in the NFL, with the roster boasting four different players who have caught 45 passes or more in at least one of the past two seasons.

O’Neil also has the chat transcript from his Wednesday afternoon “Hawk Talk” available here.

NFL.com Around the League writer Chris Wesseling profiles wide receiver Golden Tate at No. 31 on their list of the top 40 players they see “Making the Leap” in 2013, citing Tate’s ability to make plays down the field as the reason to expect a big year out of the fourth-year pro.

Dave Dameshek of NFL.com has assembled division-by-division All-Pro squads, and his NFC West team features several Seahawks. Dameshek ranks the West as the strongest of the League’s eight divisions.

In honor of the Fourth of July, the staff at NFL.com tries to pinpoint which 2013 matchup is most deserving of it’s own national holiday.

John Clayton’s “Inside the Huddle” video feature for ESPN.com leads by profiling quarterback Russell Wilson. Clayton says the 5-foot-11 Wilson has the hand size of a 6-foot-7 athlete, noting his 10.25-inch hand-span is the seventh-largest hand-span measured at the NFL Combine since 2006.

It got a little dusty in here with this one, but ESPN.com also has a video feature of several military personnel coming home to reunite with their families. At the 5:37 mark, U.S. Army Sgt. Zach Ames surprises his wife, Bri Ames, and their daughter Emersyn with a reunion at CenturyLink Field before the Seahawks’ contest with the New York Jets last season.

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin was involved in yet another football camp for youth, this time down in Pensacola, Florida – just across the bay from his hometown of Gulf Breeze. BLAB TV has video and sound from Baldwin and Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson, who was also in attendance.

Richard Sherman joined 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Bob and Groz” show Wednesday afternoon to talk a little bit more about his celebrity softball game for charity taking place this Sunday, July 7, at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium. A complete list participants is available here, but some highlights include Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, who will serve as the team’s head coaches, several Seahawks and members of the Seattle Mist, Seattle SuperSonics legend Shawn Kemp, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, former NFL wideout Terrell Owens, and 2012 NFL replacement referee Lance Easley.

Here at Seahawks.com, we have a look in photos at the spirit of the 12th Man present in several active-duty military members around the globe.

Clare Farnsworth’s positional series continued yesterday, this time highlighting the club’s young, fast, and athletic linebacker corps.

A friendly reminder that our 2013 training camp dates are quickly filling up. All weekend dates are already sold out and weekday availability is not far behind. Be sure to secure your spot and register while you still can at bingtrainingcamp.seahawks.com.

And I leave you with one last link that I like to come back to every Independence Day, and it comes from the movie title of the same name. As a kid who grew up in the mid-90’s engulfed in science-fiction, fantasy, and everything Will Smith (except Big Willie Style, I skipped that one), this speech from President Thomas J. Whitemore (played by Bill Pullman) still gives me goosebumps, and still makes me damn proud to be an American.

Happy birthday, America.


On this date: Scott Fitterer hired as scout

Scott Fitterer

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on June 28:

2001: Scott Fitterer is named an area scout. He was promoted to director of college scouting in 2010. In his current role, Fitterer has been involved in the NFL Drafts that have reshaped the Seahawks’ roster — beginning with the selections of All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas, Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, split end Golden Tate and strong safety Kam Chancellor in 2010; All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and linebackers K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith in 2011; and quarterback Russell Wilson, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Bruce Irvin and guard J.R. Sweezy in 2012.


Thursday round-up: Future Power Rankings; Seahawks NFL’s best defense?

The Seahawks partnered with the Microsoft Corporation to create a one week job shadowing program where left tackle Russell Okung, defensive end Gregg Scruggs, kicker Steven Hauschka, long snapper Clint Gresham & former Seahawk wide receiver Ben Obomanu were matched with Microsoft Finance & Research Managers

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” for today, Thursday, June 20, about your Seattle Seahawks:Cliff Avril

ESPN.com has rolled out their NFL Future Power Rankings, an exercise measuring the confidence their site’s experts (Herm Edwards, Mel Kiper, Mike Sando, Gary Horton, Matt Williamson, Field Yates, and former NFL GM Bill Polian) has in each club as they project three seasons ahead. The ranking takes into account the quality of the team’s roster, the quality of it’s quarterback, the quality of the 2012 draft class, the ability of the team’s front office, and the capability of a team’s coaching staff. It’s an ESPN Insider feature, so a subscription is required to view the full piece, but here’s a sampling of what was said about the Seahawks, who ranked at No. 3 (up from No. 21 in last year’s Future Rankings) behind the Green Bay Packers (No. 2) and San Francisco 49ers (No. 1), “GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have very quickly drafted a contender in Seattle. The emergence of Wilson as a dynamic player and leader has exponentially improved this club. The defense loses coordinator Gus Bradley but in essence Pete’s fingerprints are all over this group anyway. And a good group it is. The addition of Cliff Avril at a low price was one of the best free-agent pickups of the year. Avril and Irvin provide an outstanding tandem of pass-rushers.” – Polian

Several contributors over at NFL.com position the Seahawks as the League’s best defense.

NFL.com Around the League writer Gregg Rosenthal ranks the top 25 edge rushers in the NFL today, and second-year defensive end Bruce Irvin makes the list at No. 12. Rosenthal lists Avril as having “just missed” his top 25.

Russell WilsonNFC West blogger Mike Sando of ESPN.com has a chart breaking down NFL quarterbacks that have produced games with a QBR of 90+ from 2010-12. Perhaps not surprisingly, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list, totaling 14 games with a 90+ QBR in 46 starts from 2010-12, but it’s Wilson who stands out on Sando’s list with five 90+ QBR games last season alone.

Sando also has his daily look around the NFC West and his Wednesday SportsNation chat transcript can be found here.

Dick Fain, on Sports Radio 950 KJR AM’s “Mitch in the Morning” show, chats with Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon about what he saw from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson through the team’s Offseason Program and what to expect from the club in the 2013 season. We have the podcast for you below:

Here at Seahawks.com, Clare Farnsworth talks with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn about backup players stepping up.

Punter Jon Ryan is hosting a charity golf tournament today in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Free safety Chris Maragos, tight end Sean McGrath, kicker Steven Hauschka and long snapper Clint Gresham will also be in attendance.

And by way of NFL Network’s NFL AM, NFL Chief Security Officer Jeff Miller adds some clarity to the League’s new bag rule.


Minicamp round-up: Day three

Minicamp

Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane (left), free safety Earl Thomas (middle) & cornerback Richard Sherman (right)

Good morning, and welcome to the final day of the Seahawks’ three-day minicamp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Today’s workout is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. – two hours earlier than the sessions that were held on Tuesday and Wednesday. But before we get there, here’s a look at what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for June 13, 2013:

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along his notes and observations from day two of camp, including comments from cornerback Richard Sherman on the close-knit chemistry of the team’s secondary. Williams also profiles the 6-foot-7, 305-pound defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, who has been working throughout the offseason in the spot vacated by defensive tackle Alan Branch, who signed with the Buffalo Bills in free agency.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times has a few post-practice video interviews from yesterday with wide receiver Sidney Rice, linebacker Bobby Wagner and Sherman.

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM also details the impressive play of the Seahawks secondary and has his notes from day two of camp.

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com has a look at quarterback Russell Wilson’s rapid rate of improvement.

NFL.com’s Around the League writer Marc Sessler caught wind of Wilson’s unwillingness to acknowledge a “sophomore slump” when Wilson was asked about the term during his Tuesday press conference. Sessler puts Wilson ahead of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden as the surest-bet quarterback who’s heading into their second season.

With 23 of the League’s 32 teams in minicamps this week, NFL.com’s Chris Wesserling has compiled a quick-hit-list of 15 things we learned from Day 2 of NFL minicamps.

Our Clare Farnsworth’s “Hawkville” blog focuses on Sherman and wide receiver Doug Baldwin – the pair of Stanford graduates who have stood out above the rest with their play this offseason. Farnsworth also has a feature on the versatility of the team’s defensive line, catching up with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, defensive line coach Travis Jones, defensive end Red Bryant and McDaniel on the line’s look.

Team photographer Rod Mar has the snaps from days one and two of camp here.

We’ll be back with more following today’s practice and media availabilities, as we wrap-up this final day of the Seahawks’ official Offseason Program. In the meantime, we leave you with four Seahawks-themed podcasts from yesterday via 710Sports.com:

Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable on “Brock and Danny”

Center Max Unger on “Bob and Groz”

Fullback Michael Robinson on “Bob and Groz”

Left tackle Russell Okung on “Wyman, Mike and Moore”


A sixth Seahawk in NFL Network’s Top 100

NFL Network Top 100

After a two-week hiatus, the Seahawks get another name in NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013.

When players No. 30-21 are unveiled at 5 p.m. PT on Thursday on NFL Network, a sixth Seattleite will join the likes of center Max Unger (No. 95), wide receiver Percy Harvin (No. 90), free safety Earl Thomas (No. 66), quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 51), and cornerback Richard Sherman (No. 50).

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you who that player is just yet. But with the field shrinking by the week, it makes it a little bit easier to pinpoint the remaining Seahawks on the list. All-Pro/Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch is the first that comes to mind, but I could also see Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung earning a mention.

Tune in to NFL Network tomorrow to find out who it is and we’ll have the announcement for you here as soon as it drops.


Monday in Hawkville: Zach Miller’s one-handed catches really aren’t as easy as he makes them look

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 3, as the Seahawks kicked off the final week of their OTA sessions:

FOCUS ON: ZACH MILLER

Zach MillerThe Seahawks’ veteran tight end does so many things well that focusing on just one could be difficult. Except that when it comes to making one-handed catches, Miller is exceptional.

He had another during today’s OTA session, as well as a finger-tip grab of a pass after he got behind Pro Bowl-caliber strong safety Kam Chancellor. Miller also had a one-hander in the end zone last Wednesday that earned five-highs from several players – defensive, as well as offensive – and coach Pete Carroll. All three passes were thrown by quarterback Russell Wilson.

“I’ve always had a knack for just being able to get the big paw on it,” Miller said through a smile after the team’s sun-drenched session along the shores of Lake Washington. “It helps that I’ve got pretty big hands.”

But making the one-handers is mental as well as physical.

“You’ve got to understand what kind of passes you can catch like that,” Miller said. “If the ball is coming to you fast, you have no chance. So you’ve kind of got to pick your times to do that.”

While those catches can be uplifting for Miller, the QB who throws the pass and the other offensive players, they can have the reverse effect on the players who are covering Miller.

“If you make a one-hander, the defenders don’t like that,” he said. “They think they’ve got you. Then you stick a big paw out and you bring it in, they’re like, ‘Really, you caught that?’ ”

With Miller, the answer is a resounding “yes,” and comes with the tagline “again.”

PLAYER WATCH: MICHAEL BROOKS

The rookie defensive tackle has now practiced with the team twice since being claimed off waivers last week. But Brooks admits to feeling like the new kid who has entered a new school at midterm.

“I’m just trying to learn my way around right now and get with this new system,” said Brooks, who was signed by the Lions after April’s NFL Draft.

Brooks did things one way at East Carolina and was learning to do them another with the Lions. Now comes the way defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and line coach Travis Fisher teach their techniques.

“I was just getting used to the way they do things in Detroit, then I get here and I’ve got to switch it all over,” he said.

In his first two practices – Friday and today – Brooks has participated in the individual drills and then been tutored while on the sideline during the team portions.

“It’s been a pretty good transition. Everybody is helping out,” he said. “I’m just watching and trying to learn from the older guys. They’ve been in the system for a while and I’m just kind of feeling my way through.”

POSITION WATCH: RIGHT TACKLEBowie

With incumbent starter Breno Giacomini missing today’s session, rookie tackle Michael Bowie worked on the right side of the offensive line with the No. 1 unit that also included Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, veteran left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger and second-year right guard J.R. Sweezy.

Bowie also continued to work with the No. 3 line, along with left tackle Mike Person, rookie left guard Alvin Bailey and fellow seventh-round draft choices Jared Smith at center and Ryan Seymour at right guard.

The extra reps will only help Bowie as he works to earn one of the backup spots on the 53-man roster.

JOSH PORTIS CFL BOUND

Josh Portis, the quarterback released last month by the Seahawks, has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, the team has announced.

Portis was the Seahawks’ No. 3 quarterback on 2011, when he was active for one game. He was released last August on the roster cut to 53 players, signed to the practice squad and then released in November. Portis was re-signed in April.

UP NEXT

The players will be back on the field Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as they complete the 10 OTA sessions allowed by the CBA that ended the 136-day lockout in 2011.

The Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field will kick off its grand re-opening weekend on Friday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. The ceremonial ribbon cutting will take place at 5:30, with Wilson and team president Peter McLoughlin doing the honors.

YOU DON’T SAY

“He’s ready to learn. He’s listening to everything. He’s asking questions. Which is exactly how you want your rookie to be. He’s making plays out. He’s having some good days. It’s what he’s got to do to be our second tight end. … And he has that speed that he can separate from guys pretty easily. He’s going to be a weapon for us on offense.” – Miller on Luke Willson, the tight end the Seahawks selected in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft


Monday in Hawkville: Russell Wilson picks up far beyond where he left off

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 20, as the Seahawks kicked off the OTA portion of their offseason program:

FOCUS ON

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback made it difficult to not watch him, and coach Pete Carroll summed up the situation when asked how much farther along Wilson is this year compared to last year – when he had just been selected in the third round of the NFL Draft and still was competing for the starting job with the since-departed duo of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.

“There’s no way of even calculating that,” Carroll said after a crisp, spirited practice on yet another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. “His awareness and his sense for the finest details, we jumped offside today and he’s working on hard counts on the first play of team (drills).

“He didn’t know what a hard count was last year at this time.”

That might be stretching it just a tad, but saying that Wilson had a very impressive outing in the first of the team’s 10 OTA practices is not.

In that first team segment Carroll mentioned, Wilson completed passes to wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and also scrambled twice, before throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson remained almost as sharp, and aware, for the rest of the session.

“It’s really hard to equate what it is, because he’s applied himself so much that he’s taken an extraordinary amount of information and he’s processing it,” Carroll said. “He threw a couple of balls today – things that we’ve talked about over the offseason we’d like to take a shot at – and he did it today just to see what would happen. With full awareness of why he was doing it.”

Before the OTA session was over, Wilson had completed passes to 10 receivers – running back Robert Turbin; Baldwin and McCoy; Tate, running back Derrick Coleman, rookie tight end Luke Willson, Percy Harvin, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

The pass to Kearse was vintage Wilson – and that’s saying something, as well, that a second-year QB already has established trademark nuances to his game. It came on the final play, as Wilson avoided pressure and got off a pass that caught Kearse as much as Kearse caught the pass.

“Russell is the kind of players that will affect other guys,” Carroll said. “He affects everybody around him and hopefully that will help everybody play better.”


UNIT WATCH

Offensive line. Right tackle Breno Giacomini participated fully, after being limited in Phase 2 of the offseason program following elbow surgery. His returned allowed the No. 1 offense to field the same line that closed last season – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger, right guard J.R. Sweezy and Giacomini.

Comprising the second unit, from left tackle to right: Mike Person, who had been working for Giacomini with the No. 1 line; Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, John Moffitt and Michael Bowie. In the third unit: Alvin Bailey, Johnson, Jared Smith, Ryan Seymour and Jordon Roussos.

PLAYER WATCH

Cliff Avril. And that’s what the defensive end who was signed in free agency was doing – watching, because he’s dealing with plantar fascia that he got a month ago.

But with Bruce Irvin facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season and Chris Clemons still recovering from surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee from the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in January, Avril is slated to be the starter at the Leo end spot in the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina.

“I like the fact that Cliff is here because he gave us a cushion for Clem,” Carroll said. “That now changes for the first month of the season.”

Today, Irvin continued to work at Leo end in the No. 1 nickel line, with Mike Morgan taking over with the second unit and Ty Powell going with the third unit. In the base defense, Michael Bennett was the Leo end with the No. 1 line.

ROSTER MOVES

Tight end Darren Fells was re-signed this morning, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.

Fells, a basketball player in college who also played professionally in Belgium, Ireland and Argentina, was released two weeks ago. But he attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Steiner had been claimed off waivers last week.

Also, running back Christine Michael, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, signed his rookie contract.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week. Next week, they’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

YOU DON’T SAY, PLAYER EDITION

“We really don’t care. Coach said we’ve got a lot of hype, but he also said let’s make it natural. Everybody around here expects us to win, but we expect ourselves to win, too. We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose. With a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.” – Harvin, when asked how the players were handling the heightened expectations that have come from being regarded among the “favorites” in the league this offseason by the national media

YOU DON’T SAY, COACH EDITION

“It was a very, very good first day for us.” – Carroll


Seahawks’ Six land on Top 100 list

Richard Sherman

Pete Prisco has his annual list of the Top 100 players in the NFL at CBSSports.com, and guess who checks in at No. 9?

It’s Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback. Says Prisco, “He is cocky, brash and plays with a nasty edge. Oh, he can also cover. He had eight picks and led the league with 32 passes defended. …”

Other Seahawks on Prisco’s list include an All-Pro free safety who just turned 24; a pair of Russells; an All-Pro running back; and a recently acquired receiver/runner/returner. Here’s where those players are ranked, as well as Prisco’s comment:Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch

FS Earl Thomas (51) – “He is the centerfielder on a good defense, showing off both range and the ability to tackle. He is just now getting to his prime.”

QB Russell Wilson (82) – “Despite his size, he showed in his rookie season that he has what it takes to be a top-level quarterback. It’s early, but he gets it.”

Russell Okung, Earl ThomasLT Russell Okung (86) – “He is the anchor of the Seattle line, the guy who protects Russell Wilson’s backside. He is coming off his best season.”

RB Marshawn Lynch (87) – “He had 1,590 yards and averaged 5 yards per rush. He is a big reason why Seattle made the playoffs.”

WR/RB/KOR Percy Harvin (97) – “He is an explosive playmaker when he’s on the field. But he’s had trouble staying there and his per-catch average of 10.9 needs to be better.”

Prisco also has a Top 10 of players under 23, and Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is ranked No. 4. Says Prisco, “He finished seventh in the NFL in tackles playing in the middle on one of the best defenses in the league. He is a rangy linebacker who can also play the pass. He had three interceptions as a rookie.”


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Another Seahawk in NFL Network’s Top 100

The Seahawks already have one player in the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players for 2013 and they’re about to get another.

Players No. 90 through No. 81 will be profiled Thursday in the weekly series, which starts at 5 p.m. PT. We know who that player is and where he’s ranked, we just can’t say. But make sure you tune in early to see who it is.

Among the candidates: All-Pro and Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas, All-Pro and Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin, Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung and Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.

All-Pro and Pro Bowl center Max Unger? He was at No. 95 when the series kicked off Saturday following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.

Unger was the Seahawks’ second-round draft choice in 2009. He started at right guard that season, becoming the first rookie lineman to start all 16 games for the Seahawks since Ray Roberts in 1992. Unger was back at right guard in 2010, but he got a season-ending toe injury in the opener. He moved to center – the position he had played at the University of Oregon – in 2011 with the arrival of line coach Tom Cable and has only gotten better by the snap.

“I knew Max when he came out of college,” said Cable, who was with the Raiders at the time. “I thought he would be a fine, fine center when he got to this level. … So we put him there from Day One and his development has been second to none on this team.”


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NFL Network to begin unveiling Top 100 players for 2013

When we get to the end of the three-day NFL Draft on Saturday and you still haven’t had enough football, the NFL Network will be there.

The network will begin unveiling its Top 100 players of 2013, beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. PT with those ranked 91-100. At least one Seahawk will be included in the opening look at the Top 100, but the network isn’t saying who.

But the Seahawks have several players worthy of consideration at some point during the 11-week countdown: the All-Pro quartet of running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas; left guard Russell Okung and quarterback Russell Wilson, who joined Lynch, Unger and Thomas at the Pro Bowl; and perhaps even strong safety Kam Chancellor, nose tackle Brandon Mebane and recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin.

Additional information is available here.


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