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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.


Jon Ryan to host charity golf tournament & kicking camp north of the border

Jon Ryan

A couple of summer activities that slipped under our radar in last week’s blog post on the Seahawks 12 Tour and related player-driven football camps around the nation come from Seahawks punter Jon Ryan, who will host a charity golf tournament and kicking camp north of the border this week in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

For the sixth-year Seahawk Ryan, a native of Regina, SK, his inaugural golf tournament takes place tomorrow, June 20, at Regina’s Wascana Golf & Country Club. The event supports the Bob Ryan Scholarship Foundation – a fund Ryan and his brother Steve set up in their father’s name. The foundation offers financial aid to student athletes playing for the University of Regina Rams Football Club – Ryan’s alma mater – and also helps those in need of cancer care and treatment at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre.

Ryan will be joined at tomorrow’s tournament by fellow Seahawks in free safety Chris Maragos, tight end Sean McGrath, kicker Steven Hauschka, and long snapper Clint Gresham, as well as former Seahawks kicker Jeff Reed and stars from the Canadian Football League (CFL). For Ryan, the golf classic preludes his Saturday kicking camp to be held at the University of Regina’s Rams Field.

So if you’re strolling around the prairie province this week, Ryan encourages you to stop by and say hello to some of your Seahawks, as they enjoy what’s left of their five week break prior to the start of training camp in late July.


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Thursday in Hawkville: That’s a wrap on the offseason program

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Club for June 13, when the Seahawks wrapped up their offseason program by concluding their mandatory three-day minicamp:

FOCUS ON: SPRINGING FORWARD  

Three minicamp practices. Nine OTA sessions. Almost two dozen non-OTA workouts. And five players who excelled, from almost start to almost finish.

In honor of the offseason program ending today for the veterans, and taking a huge step in that direction for the rookies, we decided to check in with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to get their informed-plus opinions on which players had outstanding springs.

Darrell Bevell, Percy HarvinBevell opted for two new players, who bring elements an already good offense didn’t have – Percy Harvin, who was acquired in a March trade with the Vikings; and Luke Willson, who was selected in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft.

Harvin is a receiver, but also a runner, and that versatility – not to mention the productivity he provided the past four seasons in Minnesota – will complement the contributions of All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and wide-outs Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Willson is a 6-foot-5, 252-pound tight end who has more speed than anyone that size should. That speed allows him to exploit matchups with linebacker and strong safeties, and his arrival also softens the loss of incumbent backup Anthony McCoy, who tore an Achilles tendon in the first OTA session.

“With the other guys, we know what you have,” Bevell said. “And they’ve all done a great job. But Luke and Percy are new and it’s been good to see how their talents are going to blend in.”

Harvin missed some time because of injuries, but as Bevell put it, “You could see what he brings whenever he was on the field.”

Quinn, in his first year as the D-coordinator, went with a proven commodity – All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas; and a couple of young linebackers – Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.Earl Thomas

“With Earl, it’s the focus he has and his mindset,” Quinn said. “He has completely captured what we’re trying to do. It just leaps out at you and I’ve been totally impressed.”

Right on cue, Thomas forced and recovered a fumble during the scrimmage-like session that ended today’s final minicamp practice.

“Bobby has put the work in,” Quinn said of Wagner, the middle linebacker who led the team in tackles as a rookie last season. “He’s doing the things when no one is watching – studying video, putting in the extra work in the weight room and the meeting room.”

Wright finished second to Wagner in tackles last season while playing on the strong side. This spring, he has been working on the weak strong, and continuing to make strong contributions.

“K.J. just continues to jump out,” Quinn said.

ALMOST LIVE

Coach Pete Carroll ended practice with a scrimmage-like drill, and the players appreciated the opportunity to show what they’ve accomplished this spring.

“It’s fun,” Wilson said. “It was a nice way to finish it.”

The second-year QB led the only touchdown drive, capping it with a 3-yard scoring pass to second-year tight end Sean McGrath. They also set up the TD, as McGrath made a falling grab of a 24-yard pass from Wilson against tight coverage from linebacker Korey Toomer. Wilson also directed a nine-play, 42-yard drive, but Steven Hauschka’s 51-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright. Backup QB Brady Quinn led a drive that ended with a 44-yard field goal by Carson Wiggs.

But the defense also had its moments, as cornerback Will Blackmon intercepted a Quinn pass that was intended for rookie wide receiver Chris Harper to go with Thomas’ bang-bang play where he forced and then recovered a fumble.

ROOKIE WATCH: JORDAN HILL AND JESSE WILLIAMSJordan Hill, Dan Quinn, Jesse Williams

The coaches keep asking more from the defensive linemen that were selected in the third (Hill) and fifth (Williams) rounds of April’s draft, and the rookies just keep on delivering.

“They’re real different,” Carroll said. “Jesse is a 329-pound kid and strong as an ox. We see Jordan as much quicker and shiftier, and a very, very good technique player. He has really good leverage and hand placement. He’s exciting.”

Since joining the team for the rookie minicamp in May, Jordan has worked at both the three-technique and nose tackle spots in the both the base defense and nickel defense; while Williams has played both tackle spots as well as the five-technique end position in the base defense.

Today, Jordan got extensive work with the No. 1 line, while Williams got his turn to work with the starters on Wednesday.

“We have moved them around,” Carroll said. “That versatility helps. Both kids are really smart and they get it, and they have really good work ethic. … It’s very exciting that those guys have come in and we think they can add unique dimensions for each one of them.”

PAUL ALLEN TAKES IN PRACTICE

Owner Paul Allen watched part of today’s practice from the sideline.

“It was good to see the owner out here,” Carroll said. “Mr. Allen came out and saw us work on the last day, and it looked like he was having a good time, too.”

Also on hand were former quarterbacks Jim Zorn, the team’s original QB (1979-84) who also coached the position (2001-07); and Hall of Famer Warren Moon, who played two seasons with the Seahawks (1997-98) and is now the analyst for the team’s radio broadcasts.

MARSHAWN LYNCH HIGHLIGHTED IN TOP 100 OF 2013

NFL Network’s countdown of the Top 100 Players of 2013 continued this evening with the unveiling of players ranked No. 30-21. The Seahawks’ Beast Mode back earned a mention at No. 24 on the list.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I think the biggest thing is just to be consistent. Be clutch. And try to dominate. When the game’s on the line, just help our football team win. I think that’s the biggest thing as a quarterback, be a great leader, have attention to detail and have that relentless competitive nature every day. I think that’s the biggest thing I can bring to the table, in terms of practicing and in games.” – Wilson when asked about his goals for the 2013 season


Tuesday in Hawkville: Michael Brooks showing he’s a fast learner

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 11, as the Seahawks kicked off a mandatory three-day minicamp that will conclude their offseason program:

FOCUS ON: MICHAEL BROOKS

After the rookie defensive tackle was claimed off waivers on May 29 and practiced with the Seahawks for the first time a few days later, Brooks admitted, “I’m just trying to learn my way around right now and get with this new system.”

The 6-foot-3, 299-pound Brooks apparently is a fast learner. In today’s practice, he tipped a pass incomplete and then penetrated to get a “sack” – on back-to-back plays. It was that talent and versatility that first attracted the Seahawks, who tried to sign Brooks after the NFL Draft in April. He opted for the Lions, but the Seahawks got another chance to acquire Brooks after he was waived.

“We saw some things we liked about him on tape and Michael certainly has come in here and tried to learn the system quickly,” first-year defensive line coach Travis Jones said after practice – which was held under sunny skies but also in a brisk breeze along the shores of Lake Washington.

And, like most of the linemen, Brooks is learning more than one position. He’s playing the three-technique tackle spot as well as the five-technique end position.

“Everybody’s got different positions to learn,” Jones said. “You’ve got to try to find a way to get on this team, and the best way to do that is to learn a couple of different positions.”

And it doesn’t hurt when you’re making multiple plays from those multiple positions.

PLAYER WATCH: CHRIS CLEMONS

Bruce Irvin, Chris ClemonsThe team’s sack leader the past three seasons was on hand for the start of the mandatory minicamp, but Clemons is continuing his rehab from surgery after tearing a ligament and meniscus in his left knee during the wild-card playoff victory over the Redskins in January.

“It’s good to get Clem back in, even though he can’t work,” Carroll said.

Clemons, who was acquired in a 2010 trade with the Eagles, has posted 11, 11 and 11.5 sacks in his first three seasons with the Seahawks.

“The doctors say he’s in great shape,” Carroll said. “He’s ahead (of schedule). He’s worked diligently to get there. Is he going to make it back by the first game? I don’t know. He has a chance. And if it can happen, he’ll make it happen.

“But like I said the whole time, we will not rush that. We’re going to take our time on that and make sure he’s right. The doctors are greatly confident. He is also.”

Even if he’s not practicing, Clemons provides a plus.

“Clem, he’s a great leader on this team. He’s tough as nails and really stands for something in this locker room,” Carroll said. “So to have him around is important.”

POSITION WATCH: TIGHT END

With starter Zach Miller sitting out to rest a sore left foot, it allowed second-year tight end Sean McGrath and rookie Luke Willson to work with the No. 1 offense – snaps that will prove invaluable as they continue to develop in the offense.

“It does give the other guys a chance to step up and get some good focus work,” Carroll said. “It’s really good for Luke and Sean McGrath is getting extra turns. So it’s a good deal.”

While Willson was selected in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft, McGrath spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad after being signed as a rookie free agent last year.

“Sean is stronger. He’s quicker,” said Carroll, pointing out that McGrath has added almost 10 pounds. “He just looks great. He always could catch the football really well. Now he knows what he’s doing and he’s become just a regular part of it. He’s in the rotation right now.”

ANOTHER TOP 100 PLAYER

A sixth Seahawk will be included among the players ranked 21-30 in the NFL Network’s continuing countdown of the Top 100 Players for 2013. The latest group will be unveiled starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

As usual, we can’t tell you who it is. But All-Pro center Max Unger (No. 95), receiver/returner/running Percy Harvin (No. 90), All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas (No. 66), Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 51) and All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman (No. 50) are the Seahawks previously included. That leaves a very-prominent name still out there – All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch.

A WISH COME TRUE, AND THEN SOME

Kevin LeeThe club hosted Make-A-Wish recipient Kevin Lee today. Needless to say, it was an over-the-top experience for the 12-year old from Farmington Hills, Mich., who has had four open-heart surgeries.

We can’t share more details at this time because the event was videotaped by a crew from ESPN and will be included in the network’s Eighth Annual My Wish series that is scheduled to air the week of Aug. 18.

UP NEXT

The players will practice again on Wednesday afternoon and then wrap up the three-day minicamp with a morning practice on Thursday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“You saw him. He was killing it today in practice. He’s just a very, very talented football player – very fast; very, very quick. He’s a very smart football player. He has the mind of quarterback. He thinks all the time. He’s thinking about what’s going on. What the coverage looks like and how he’s matched up with certain guys. So that helps.” – quarterback Russell Wilson on third-year slot receiver Doug Baldwin, who was played through injuries most of last season after leading the team in receptions as a rookie free agent in 2011


Minicamp round-up: Day one

Good morning, and welcome to day one of the Seahawks’ three-day mandatory minicamp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Today’s team workout is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., but before we get there, here’s a look at what’s “out there” as the club heads into the final week of their Offseason Program.

Sean McGrathBob Condotta of the Seattle Times identifies four key issues the Seahawks face as they gather for camp this week, including the battle for the backup tight end spot between 2013 fifth-round draft pick Luke Willson and second-year player Sean McGrath.

Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com details five players to watch during the team’s three-day workout – offensive guard John Moffitt, wide receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Tharold Simon, defensive tackle Jesse Williams, and the competition for the backup offensive tackle spot between 2013 seventh-round draft pick Michael Bowie and third-year pro Michael Person.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has his observations from the team’s nine sessions of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) that finished up last week and has a look at what to expect from this week of camp.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune previewed this week’s minicamp in his Monday Morning QB chat. You can find the transcript of yesterday’s chat here.

DLMike Sando of ESPN.com has a look around the rest of the NFC West, as the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers also hold their mandatory minicamps this week, while the St. Louis Rams continue with OTAs.

Our Clare Farnsworth offers a recap of the club’s offseason to this point and highlights questions and concerns heading into the practice week.

Outside of minicamp news, former Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was released from the Buffalo Bills yesterday and John Boyle of the Everett Herald makes the case for bringing Jackson back to Seattle to backup entrenched starter Russell Wilson.

Lindsay Jones of USA Today has a feature on wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks of NFL.com breaks down who is the better cornerback – the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman or the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson – and Brooks offers the edge to Sherman, calling him “currently far superior.”

Check back later this afternoon for our coverage from day one of Seahawks minicamp.


Anthony McCoy undergoes surgery to repair torn Achilles tendon

Anthony McCoy

Fourth-year tight end Anthony McCoy underwent surgery yesterday to repair a torn Achilles tendon, an injury he suffered Monday of this week during the team’s first OTA session. The surgery was performed by Dr. Ed Khalfayan at Seattle Surgery Center.

Drafted by the Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of USC, McCoy saw action in all 18 games last season, often working out of double tight end sets with No. 1 tight end Zach Miller. He caught 18 balls for 291 yards and three touchdowns last year and was the team’s first player to top 100 yards receiving that season, when he made three catches for 105 yards in the club’s 58-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14.

The injury to McCoy leaves second-year players Sean McGrath and Cooper Helfet, 2013 fifth-round draft pick Luke Willson, and rookie minicamp signees Victor Marshall and the former professional basketball playing Darren Fells as the five players rounding out the position behind Miller.


Tight end Darren Fells released

Darren Fells

Darren Fells, a former professional basketball player who was trying to catch on with the Seahawks as a tight end, has been released the team announced today.

The 6-foot-7 Fells had been signed in March following a tryout.

Fells played basketball last season for the Libertad Sunchales in Argentina and before that also had played professionally in Mexico, France, Finland and Belgium. He played his college ball at the University of California, Irvine.

The release of Fells leaves the Seahawks with five tight ends on their 90-man roster, as the veterans put the wraps on the second week of Phase 2 in their offseason program today and the rookies are set to report Thursday for a three-day minicamp this weekend: starter Zach Miller, who finished third on the team with 38 receptions last season; incumbent backup Anthony McCoy, who had career-best totals in receptions (18), receiving yards (291) and TD catches (three) last season; Sean McGrath, a rookie free agent last year who spent most of the season on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster in December; Luke Willson, who was selected in the fifth-round of the NFL Draft last month; and Cooper Helfet, who was signed to a future contract in January after being with the team in training camp last year.


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Thursday cyber surfing: Early mock drafts

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, January 17.

Gil Brandt, a senior analyst at NFL.com, has his first 2013 NFL Mock Draft, and has the Seahawks selecting Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins with the 25th overall pick, “The Seahawks have very good young players at most positions, though they could use a receiver who can get some separation. Hopkins might be a bit of a reach, but he’s quick.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com passes along his thoughts on the Seahawks after viewing Mel Kiper Jr.’s first 2013 NFL Mock Draft, in which Kiper projects the team taking Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, “The Seahawks have recently given big contracts to defensive linemen Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Chris Clemons. They used the 15th choice in the 2012 draft for pass-rushing defensive end Bruce Irvin. Seattle has also gotten mostly good play from defensive tackle Alan Branch. Despite all the investments in the defensive line, I do think the Seahawks would be wise to address the position early in the draft if value warrants the pick. Adding Jenkins’ 358-pound body to the line might help shore up a run defense that ranked 30th in yards per carry allowed from Week 7 through the end of the season. Improving the pass rush should stand as Seattle’s No. 1 offseason priority, however. Clemons is 31 years old and suffered a torn ACL during the Seahawks’ playoff victory at Washington. His status for the 2013 season is in question. Irvin’s longer-term future was at Clemons’ position. Perhaps Clemons’ injury accelerates the transition. Pass-rushing defensive tackle Jason Jones, a free agent in 2013, also finished the season on injured reserve. Seattle could have used a stronger pass rush late in games against Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Atlanta. Addressing that deficiency in the draft seems like a must even though Irvin and fellow rookie Greg Scruggs showed promise.

Brady Henderson of 710Sports.com recaps a conversation with 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” and Seahawks general manager John Schneider, in which the trio talks about backup quarterback Matt Flynn, “In the absence of any glaring needs outside of a pass rusher, and with only two starters set to become unrestricted free agents, the Seahawks’ decision on Flynn will be a leading offseason story line. ‘We’re going to do what’s best for the organization, period,’ Schneider said. ‘This isn’t like, ‘Well, now that Russell’s done so well, what are you going to do with Matt?’ We have two guys under contract that are good.’ “

Sarah Spain of ESPN.com highlights Seahawks tight end Sean McGrath as part of her “NFL 53rd Man” series, “He didn’t make the 53-man roster after training camp, but he found a home on the practice squad — for two days. Then he was re-signed five days later, then cut again two and a half weeks later. Each time the team would release him, they’d tell him to stick around, he’d be re-signed in a few days. Those days off were tough for McGrath, who got antsy sitting around waiting. But the success of other practice-squad players gave him something to hold on to. ‘First guy who gets called up off the practice squad, Jermaine Kearse. As soon as he gets pulled up we’re like ‘Man, this is real! They’re really doing it,’ McGrath said. ‘Then another guy gets pulled up. All these guys get pulled up and it just gives a light at the end of the tunnel.’ McGrath had to wait a while, but he finally got to that light.”


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Friday cyber surfing: With Jones out, opportunity arises for club’s young D-linemen

Greg Scruggs

Defensive end Greg Scruggs (pictured right) could see an expanded role in the absence of defensive lineman Jason Jones, who was placed on injured reserve

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, December 21.

The club made a few roster moves yesterday, sending defensive lineman Jason Jones to injured reserve and signing defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo off of the team’s practice squad. In Fangupo’s place, the team signed wide receiver Bryan Walters, a native of Kirkland, Wash., to fill out the practice squad.

Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times has the story on the move of Jones to injured reserve, “Defensive tackles that could see an expanded role for the Seahawks are Clinton McDonald, rookie Jaye Howard (who has been inactive most of the year) and Hebron Fangupo, a 6-foot-1, 323-pound player signed to the active roster Thursday. Rookie Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round pick out of Louisville, is also expected to see more time on the defensive line against a physical 49ers offense. ‘My biggest thing has been waiting for my opportunity and my chance, and so it’s come,’ said Scruggs, who has two sacks. ‘Now I just have to apply everything that I’ve been doing. You thrive on the opportunity to perform under pressure. One of the biggest knocks on me was I always had potential in college to be a first-round pick, but when big games came around, it was almost as if it was a slump. I’ve been fighting that my whole life and I think that this is an opportunity for me to go out and really show that I can play on the big stage and I can play under pressure.’ “

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times writes that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh share the same philosophy on football, but differ in terms of personality, “Carroll has never met an interview he can’t talk around, while Harbaugh hasn’t found a conversation he can’t make agonizingly, haltingly awkward. But someone who has played for both coaches said that as different as they were to play for, there is a common ground between the two head coaches in Sunday’s game between the top two teams in the NFC West. ‘Their personalities are completely different,’ said Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin, who played for Harbaugh in college. ‘Coaching style is completely different. But there’s a strategic way that they go about running their teams. Obviously, they both love to run the ball. Passing is not necessarily at the forefront of the offense. It’s all running, and then you build the pass off the run. That, I guess you could say is comparable. Defense as well. You’ve got to have a strong defense to back everything up.’ “

O’Neil also has Thursday’s injury report for both the Seahawks and 49ers, noting the Seahawks got a boost with the return of defensive tackle Alan Branch to practice.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says that it’s a good weekend to be a Seattle sports fan, with the Washington Huskies squaring off against Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, and the Seahawks battling the 49ers on Sunday Night Football, “Sunday, of course, is the Almost-Game-of-the-Century between the Seahawks and San Francisco at CenturyLink Field. Games like this are why we’re sports fans. Games this good have a way of briefly galvanizing communities, which is part of why we build stadiums to house them. Sure, the Niners took some of the starch out of it with their win over New England in Foxborough last week, virtually assuring their second straight NFC West title, but this night still will have all the heat, passion and noise of a playoff game. CenturyLink will be lit up.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with Fangupo after the move of Jones to injured reserve, “Fangupo is stout against the run, and could help plug up the middle of the defense against San Francisco’s potent running attack. ‘I’m just excited, man,’ Fangupo said. ‘I know what I can do, I’ve just been waiting. On game days it’s hard to watch, so I just try and sit back and wait for my opportunity to play. The best way to do that is by practicing, working my butt off to get the offensive line ready. And now that I have my shot, I’ve got to do the best I can.’ “

Williams also has a look at the increasing popularity of the read-option offense, “The option puts defenses at a disadvantage. Stack the box to stop a bruising runner like Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch or Washington’s Alfred Morris, and the quarterback pulls the ball out and takes off untouched down the sideline. Spread out to protect the perimeter, and the big back gashes you inside. ‘It just becomes a numbers game,’ San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ‘Your typical run, the quarterback hands off and it’s now their 10 against your 11. Now, when he’s a potential runner, it’s their 11 against your 11 and they’re not even blocking one of the guys at the point of attack, so it actually becomes 11 against 10 if they do it right. So, the numbers are flipped.’ “

Michael Rushton of The Sports Network previews Sunday’s matchup with the Niners, “Seattle has much more on the line than San Francisco, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Kaepernick, who is looking to perfect his game heading into the postseason. He even refused to classify his win over New England as any kind of statement. ‘It really isn’t going to mean too much if we don’t come out and win this week. So, that’s what we’re focused on right now,’ he said. Even Seattle’s perfect home record might not save it as San Francisco is 11-4 on the road under Harbaugh since 2011. Sports Network Predicted Outcome: 49ers 20, Seahawks 13″

John Boyle of the Everett Herald dissects what Jones’ move to injured reserve means for the rest of the defensive line, “Rookie Greg Scruggs is the likely candidate to take over Jones’ pass-rushing role, but things would get more complicated in the event that Branch were to be out or even limited by his ankle injury. Clinton McDonald, who normally plays in pass-rushing situations, could take over for Branch in the base defense, or Scruggs could see some time in that role. The Seahawks could also work rookie Jaye Howard into that rotation, or even undrafted rookie Hebron Fangupo, who was signed off the practice squad to fill Jones’ roster spot. ‘We get a chance to take a look at some of the younger guys now,’ said Seattle’s ever-optimistic defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. ‘Some of those guys may have an opportunity now.’ “

Former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman, contributing to 710Sports.com, offers a look at running back Marshawn Lynch, whose production has received less attention than normal – just the way Lynch likes it – because of the success of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, “The last time I remember hearing from Lynch was after the Miami game, a loss in which he only rushed for 46 yards. There was no scowling or harsh answer during the interview and he was gracious with both his time and himself. He’s much more likely to talk to the media after a game like that than after a victory in which he runs for over 100 yards. He’s not there for that. He just wants to win and is willing to pick his teammates up after a loss. He reminds me of Lofa Tatupu in that way. It was well known in the media that if you want one- or two-word answers, ask Tatupu about himself. If you want sentences that turn into paragraphs, ask him about his coaches and teammates. Like Tatupu, Lynch has a level of selflessness that plays well with his teammates … and ex-linebackers.”

Bill Swartz of 710Sports.com has his report from Thursday’s practice, “There was some positive injury news Thursday. Defensive tackle Alan Branch (ankle) was a full participant. With Seattle placing defensive lineman Jason Jones (knee) on injured reserve, the team is taking a closer look at young backups. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said rookies Greg Scruggs and Jaye Howard are both getting lots of work and could be in the rotation along with veteran Clinton McDonald. I spoke with Scruggs before practice and he assured me he is ready for this prime-time, nationally televised game. Scruggs believes he didn’t step up his game in college and it cost him a chance to be a first-round draft pick. He has practiced at all four defensive line positions for Seattle.”

Jim Moore of 710Sports.com previews the Seahawks-Niners matchup, “The 49ers have the slightly better team, but I said it last week, and I’ll say it again: if I’m going to blather on and on about the Seahawks being Super Bowl contenders, I have to ride them to the finish, and you’ve gotta love ‘em at home. Prediction: Seahawks 27, 49ers 21″

Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710 AM ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” discuss why they believe Sunday night’s contest will be decided by which coaching staff outsmarts the other in this short video.

Curtis Crabtree, writing for the Associated Press, says this Sunday the Seahawks will try to overcome several missed chances that plagued them in their first matchup with the Niners back on October 18, “Wilson was just 9 of 23 for 122 yards and an interception against the 49ers. His 38.7 passer rating against San Francisco is his lowest mark this season. Yet Wilson doesn’t see the point of dwelling on a missed opportunity. ‘There’s times where you’re like, ‘Oh man I wish he caught it’ … You have emotions but the key is staying even-keeled as possible, I think,’ Wilson said. ‘I let the receivers know I’m coming right back to them. You don’t think that they’re not going to catch the next one, so you’ve got to keep playing.’ Seattle’s offense has greatly improved since the initial meeting in October. Wilson has a passer rating of 111.3 over the seven games following the loss to the 49ers. Wilson has thrown 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions and Seattle is 5-2 since then.”

Mike Sando of ESPN.com notes several similarities between the Seahawks and 49ers on a statistical level:

  • Each team has scored 25 red zone touchdowns on 47 chances.
  • Each team has converted about 36 percent of its third-down opportunities.
  • Each team averages 6.8 yards per pass play.
  • The teams are within 30 yards of one another in total rushing yards: 2,280 for the 49ers and 2,250 for the Seahawks.
  • The teams are within one total touchdown of one another: 40 for the 49ers, 41 for the Seahawks.
  • The teams have committed about the same number of penalties, 99 for San Francisco and 95 for Seattle.

Sando also offers up his prediction for the Sunday night matchup between the two clubs, “Here we go. The main event. My feeling going into Week 15 was that San Francisco would go 1-1 against the Patriots and Seahawks. I didn’t have the guts to pick the 49ers at New England, unfortunately. The slate is clean this week. If the 49ers win prime-time road games on opposite coasts against two of the NFL’s best teams in an eight-day period, they’re even better than I realized when ranking them No. 1 on my latest power rankings ballot. Should be a great game either way. Sando’s best guess: Seahawks 23, 49ers 21.”

Doug Kretz of ESPN.com details “What to watch” in Sunday night’s matchup between the Seahawks and Niners. You must be an ESPN Insider to view this piece, but here is a small sample, “Key positional battle — Seahawks’ O-Line vs. 49ers’ D-Line: Seattle’s offensive line has been dominating up front the past couple of games and has been creating huge run lanes for Lynch and the ground game. These blockers are great road-graders who fight for everything they get and refuse to back down. San Francisco’s defensive linemen are also powerful and are great fighters. They are the league’s third-ranked run defense and hold opponents to 3.61 yards per carry….These are two evenly matched teams, and the position advantage could go either way at multiple spots. The ’12th Man’ advantage should provide the difference as Seattle pulls this one out.” Kretz likes the Seahawks by a score of 20-17.

NFL Films previews our Week 16 Sunday night matchup with the Niners in this short video.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth highlights rookie tight end Sean McGrath, who was recently promoted to the active roster from the practice squad earlier this week after the release of tight end Evan Moore, and recaps the activities surrounding “Thursday in Hawkville“, with a focus on the play of the rookies Wilson and Bobby Wagner.

Tony Ventrella has his “Seahawks Daily” with reaction from the club as they look forward to a challenging weekend against the Niners.

We bring you Wilson’s full video press conference from yesterday here, and Bradley’s full video press conference from yesterday here.

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


Carroll: Branch to sit out Wednesday’s practice; Knox added to practice squad

Kyle Knox

Linebacker Kyle Knox in a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans

Head Coach Pete Carroll addressed the media this afternoon as part of his weekly Wednesday press conference ahead of this afternoon’s 2:00 p.m. practice and preparation for their Week 16 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field.

Carroll addressed yesterday’s roster moves, noting that linebacker Kyle Knox has been added to the practice squad to fill the spot left by tight end Sean McGrath, who was promoted to the active roster with the release of tight end Evan Moore. Knox had spent time with the club during training camp earlier this season.

On the promotion of McGrath to the active roster, Carroll said they need to get special teams production out of that roster spot – something Moore did not provide. According to Carroll, McGrath has a “good chance” to see play time this Sunday.

Defensive tackle Alan Branch will sit out today’s practice as he rests a sprained ankle he suffered against the Bills. Carroll said Branch will “probably” sit out Thursday’s practice as well, with the hope they have him on the field by Friday and back in time for Sunday’s game against Niners.

In Branch’s place, rookie defensive end Greg Scruggs and fourth-year defensive tackle Clinton McDonald are expected to see play time.

On the injured cornerbacks – Marcus Trufant (hamstring) and Walter Thurmond (hamstring) – Carroll said they will know more about their status later in the week. In the meantime, rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane will see work as the second starting cornerback opposite Richard Sherman, with second-year player Byron Maxwell working as the nickel corner.

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


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