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.
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.”
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.
Finally, our team photographer Rod Mar has an updated look at the week of practice in photos.
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.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 18:
Jeremy Lane. It didn’t take the Bills long to see what the rookie cornerback had during Sunday’s game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
On their second play, and first pass play, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went to wide receiver T.J. Graham – and at the Seahawks’ sixth-round draft choice. But there was Lane, not only matching Graham stride for stride as they ran up the sideline, but having a better read on the ball than the intended receiver as the pass fell incomplete.
“He did a great job,” coach Pete Carroll said. “They went after him right off the bat and tried to get him and he played a great deep ball.”
Lane, who was making his first NFL start, could be needed again in Sunday night’s nationally televised game against the NFC West-leading 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Carroll is keeping his fingers crossed that Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant will be able to return from the hamstring injuries that have sidelined them – Thurmond for the game against the Bills, Trufant for the past three games.
But when the players begin practicing for the 49ers on Wednesday, it’s likely that Lane will be on the right side and Byron Maxwell will be the nickel back. The coaches also got a good look at Ron Parker, who was just re-signed last week, in the fourth quarter of the 50-17 rout of the Bills.
“All three guys did a good job,” Carroll said. “All of those snaps are just hugely valuable to us in bringing those guys along and getting a feel for them.”
Carroll also gave credit where credit is due – to secondary coach Kris Richard and passing game coordinator Rocky Seto, who were down to their third and fourth options with Lane stepping in for Thurmond, who had stepped in for Trufant, who were needed but unavailable because Brandon Browner is serving a four-game suspension.
“Kris Richard and Rocky Seto are doing a really good job coaching those guys,” Carroll said. “They’re playing with really good technique and again this week they stayed on top like they’re supposed to. They’re gaining confidence. We’re seeing reason to trust them more. And it’s really crucial for us that that’s happening right now.”
McGRATH ADDED TO 53-MAN ROSTER
Sean McGrath’s up-and-down season with the Seahawks spiked today when the practice-squad tight end was signed to the 53-man roster. He replaces tight end Evan Moore, who was released.
Moore was signed in September after tight end Kellen Winslow was released. But Moore caught only one pass for six yards.
McGrath, a rookie free agent from Henderson State, was signed in April after the NFL Draft. He was released on the roster cut to 53 players on Aug. 31, signed to the practice squad the next day and then released two days later. He returned to the practice squad on Sept. 8, was released again on Sept. 27 and then signed again on Oct. 2.
STATS ’N STUFF
Marshawn Lynch remains No. 2 in the league in rushing (1,379 yards). He’s the first Seahawks back to surpass 1,300 yards since Shaun Alexander led the league in rushing with 1,880 yards in 2005, and only the fourth back in franchise history it do it – joining Curt Warner, Chris Warren and Alexander. Lynch also is fourth in the league in total yards (1,542) and tied for seventh in first downs (69).
Leon Washington also remains second in the NFL in kickoff return average (30.0), while Jon Ryan is fifth in net punting average (41.6). Rookie QB Russell Wilson is eighth in passer rating (95.5).
With six interceptions, cornerback Richard Sherman is tied for fourth in the league, and defensive end Chris Clemons is tied for fifth with 11.5 sacks.
As a team, the Seahawks rank No. 3 in the league in overall defense, passing defense and rushing offense. They’re also sixth in turnover differential at plus-11.
STAT DU JOUR
The Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, even if they don’t beat the 49ers. According to the scenarios issued by the league, here’s how the Seahawks can get in:
Beat the 49ers.
Tie the 49ers and have the Giants lose and the Bears lose or tie; or the Giants lose and the Vikings lose or tie; or the Bears lose or tie and the Vikings lose or tie; or the Cowboys lose, Redskins win and Bears lose or tie; or the Cowboys lose, the Redskins lose and the Vikings lose or tie.
The Bears, Vikings and Redskins lose; the Bears and Vikings lose, the Cowboys lose or tie and the Redskins tie.
The players return from having two “off” days to begin practicing for Sunday’s game on “Competition Wednesday.”
Just a reminder: Kickoff for Sunday’s game is 5:20 p.m., not 1:25 p.m., after it was flexed in the primetime spot.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Oh, I realize that the 49ers-New England matchup was supposed to be the most epic event in the history of the free world. But when you consider all the factors, beating Seattle is more paramount.” – San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy
Tight end Evan Moore was waived by the Seahawks this afternoon, and practice-squad tight end Sean McGrath was signed off the practice squad to fill Moore’s spot on the 53-man roster.
The Seahawks signed Moore in September after tight end Kellen Winslow was released. But Moore caught only one pass for six yards.
McGrath, a rookie free agent from Henderson State, was signed in April after the NFL Draft. He was released on the roster cut to 53 players on Aug. 31, signed to the practice squad the next day and then released two days later. He returned to the practice squad on Sept. 8, was released again on Sept. 27 and signed again on Oct. 2.
A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 3:
Bobby Wagner. Tuesday, we tabbed the middle linebacker as our best rookie in the first quarter of the season. Today, coach Pete Carroll seconded that notion, and then some.
“I think it’s worth noting at the quarter point of the season that there are a lot of good things that have happened, particularly for some of the young guys who have come on. Bobby is one of them,” Carroll said of the Seahawks’ second-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.
“He’s really playing good football. He’s doing a terrific job of handling things. He’s shown up with big hits and he’s shown up covering well. He’s chasing the football. You can see the speed that he has.”
And Wagner is doing it in what was the one hole in the defense after the club decided not to re-sign three-time leading tackler David Hawthorne in free agency. Entering Sunday’s game against the Panthers in Carolina, Wagner is third on the team in tackles (22), and had three for losses among his team-leading seven solo stops against the Rams on Sunday.
“We don’t have anything we can’t do right now,” Carroll said. “He can play. He can play in nickel situations. He can do everything that we want him to right now.
“That’s a major statement for us.”
And a major statement about just how well the rookie from Utah State is playing at the next level.
Nickel back. Marcus Trufant was sidelined today because of a back issue that Carroll said is related to the problems that forced him to miss the first six games in 2009 and the last 12 games last season.
It’s significant because of the problems the Seahawks’ No. 2-ranked defense has had getting off the field on third downs. Opponents are converting 43.1 percent on third downs, and the Rams did it five times in Sunday’s game despite facing at least a third-and-10 situation on each play.
With Trufant sitting out, recently signed Danny Gorrer and second-year corner Byron Maxwell filled in for him during practice.
The Panthers’ offense. It starts with QB Cam Newton, but it definitely doesn’t stop there. Just ask Carroll.
“Boy, this is a loaded offense that we’re dealing with,” Carroll said. “We had a lot of respect for Cam Newton coming out in the draft. … But to see him now and see the offense they’re running and what they’re doing with the three running backs that they have is terrific. (Tight end Greg) Olsen and Steve Smith outside.
“This is a really, really difficult offense and they’re doing a great job. Ron (Rivera, Panthers coach) has put together an offense that is very, very explosive. It’s a good matchup for us.”
Newton and DeAngelo Williams each have 167 rushing yards to pace the Panthers, while Jonathan Stewart has 91 and the most impressive number with Mike Tolbert is 245 – his weight. Olsen leads the Panthers with 20 receptions, while Smith has 17.
The Panthers also have produced a glut of explosive plays: a 66-yard reception by Smith; a 55-yard reception by Louis Murphy; a 36-yard TD catch by Kealoha Pilares; a 34-yard reception by Olsen; a 40-yard run by Newton; a 27-yard run by Williams; and a 25-yard run by wide receiver Brandon LeFell.
“They average 10 or 11 (explosives plays) a game,” Carroll said. “That’s an enormous number. That’s a big challenge for us.”
The official report, as issued by the team:
OG John Moffitt (knee)
Did not practice
CB Marcus Trufant (back)
DE Jaye Howard (foot)
Limited in practice
RB Marshawn Lynch (rest)
Moffitt already has been ruled out for Sunday’s game because of the knee injury he got in Week 3 against the Packers. So James Carpenter will start at left guard, with Paul McQuistan sliding to the right side to replace Moffitt as he did Sunday against the Rams. With Lynch seeing little action in practice, rookie Robert Turbin got a lot of work with the No. 1 offense. Turbin ran for 45 yards on six carries against the Rams on Sunday.
For the Panthers:
Did not practice
DE Frank Alexander (back)
LB Jon Beason (knee)
CB Chris Gamble (shoulder)
OG/C Geoff Hangartner (knee)
S Colin Jones (shoulder)
Limited in practice
OG/C Mike Pollak (shoulder)
DE Antwan Applewhite (knee)
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES
Rookie free agent tight end Sean McGrath has been re-signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, running back Lonyae Miller was released.
McGrath was added to the practice squad after being released on the final roster cut in August; released two days later; re-signed five days after that; and then released last week.
STAT DU JOUR
Which is better, the Seahawks’ kickoff return unit or the Seahawks’ kickoff coverage unit? Neither, because both units lead the NFL in average starting position after four games. Here’s a look at how the Seahawks stack up:
Team Kickoffs Avg. start
Seahawks 15 18.3
Ravens 24 19.3
Jets 18 19.3
Bears 23 19.6
Redskins 23 19.6
Team Returns Avg. start
Seahawks 16 27.8
Vikings 21 27.5
49ers 14 26.4
Falcons 14 25.5
Bears 15 25.2
“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Panthers. The team will leave for Charlotte on Friday following a midday practice.
Just a reminder: Sunday’s game has a late kickoff – 4:05 p.m. in Charlotte; 1:05 p.m. in Seattle.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I think Russell Wilson’s going to be OK. I just think people need to relax a little bit, don’t push the panic button. Let’s see where we go this week. I think he’s going to come back and play very strong. I really do.” – Warren Moon, Hall of Fame QB and analyst for Seahawks radio broadcasts, on the team’s rookie quarterback during an interview on 710 ESPN
The Seahawks made a practice-squad move this morning, adding tight end Sean McGrath and releasing wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
McGrath was with the team during training camp and the preseason, when he caught five passes for 64 yards. Kearse, who played at the University of Washington, also was with the team this summer and caught one pass for 37 yards during the preseason. Each of the rookie free agents had been released on last Friday’s roster cut to 53 players.
In a procedural move, linebacker Matt McCoy was released from the injured reserve list with an injury settlement.
Portis heads practice squad signees
The Seahawks have signed the following seven players to their squad:
QB Josh Portis
WR Ricardo Lockette
LB Korey Toomer
TE Sean McGrath
OL Rishaw Johnson
LB Allen Bradford
S DeShawn Shead
Portis, Lockette, Toomer, McGrath, Johnson, Bradford and Shead were waived by the Seahawks on Friday’s roster cut to 53 players.
A recap of the activities surrounding the Seahawks’ Bing Training Camp for August 3.
J.R. Sweezy. The first of Seattle’s two seventh round choices in this year’s draft, the former North Carolina State defensive lineman was drafted to play offensive line for Head Coach Pete Carroll, and more specifically, for Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable.
In practice today, Sweezy saw a lot of work running with the number one offensive line unit at both left and right guard. Carroll has commented that Sweezy is out there with the ones strictly to get more and more reps each day, and Sweezy is taking every chance he gets to learn a little bit more about his new position.
“I’m definitely learning more being in there with the first team,” Sweezy said. “Those guys know this offense like the back of their hand. They’ve helped me a lot. I still don’t know it as well as I should, but going with that first-team O-line helps a lot.”
The transition from the aggressive style of play a defensive lineman dictates to the more sit-back, wait-and-react approach of an offensive lineman has to be nothing short of mind-boggling for Sweezy, who admits there has been quite the learning curve.
“It was rough in OTAs to start,” Sweezy said. “I was completely confused. At first I was too aggressive. On defense my whole life I’ve been taught to play at a 45-degree angle and now I have to sit back and wait and not lunge at people. When you lunge as an offensive lineman you get beat every time, so it’s a matter of me staying back on my heels.”
“But now I’m starting to get it. It’s starting to make sense and I’m having fun.”
And it sure looked like it made sense to Sweezy today as he participated in the team’s 9-on-7 run blocking drill. With Leon Washington in the backfield, Sweezy – at left guard – sealed his man to the inside of the line before bouncing off the block and finding linebacker Heath Farwell five yards down field to spring Washington for a healthy gain.
Much of Sweezy’s improvement can be directly linked to the offensive line guru Cable, who personally worked out and talked with Sweezy prior to April’s draft.
“He’s the best,” Sweezy said of Cable’s approach to coaching the offensive line. “He’s already taught me so much. I’ve learned a ton in this past few weeks span. Every day I fill up two pages of my notebook with information that he’s teaching me and helping me with, and I’m continuing to get better every day.”
A little change-up from Farnsworth’s ‘Unit Watch’ section, as we take a look at rookie Sean McGrath, the undrafted free-agent tight end out of Division II’s Henderson State (Ark.). McGrath was the only player to score in the team’s two-minute drill during Friday’s practice, which featured drives from each of the three quarterbacks – Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson, and Matt Flynn – starting at their own 35-yard line. Running with the third unit, McGrath received a 10-yard strike from Flynn with two seconds left in the drill on a slant route over the middle, falling into the end zone for a score.
“That starts up front with the offensive line first and foremost,” McGrath said. “I’m just doing what they tell me to, following the examples of the veterans, and just trying to work to get better in camp.”
A humble answer from a hard-working individual.
Earlier in the same drill, Flynn lured the defense offside and took a shot for McGrath 20 yards down field, who made the grab on his knees. McGrath has stood out with his hustle and work ethic during camp thus far, and it seems to be paying dividends.
“It’s just a privilege and an honor to play football and do what I love to do for a living,” McGrath said. “I’m just going to keep on having fun doing what I love doing. Playing here with coach Carroll and the whole staff, the Pacific Northwest is a great place to be.”
PLAYS DU JOUR
Offense: Today’s practice featured a little more offensive prowess than Thursday’s defensive-dominated session. The offensive play of the day came on a ball from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who received the majority of the first-team reps today. Wilson tossed a beauty of a deep ball down the left sideline for a streaking Golden Tate who was on a straight-go pattern against cornerback Brandon Browner. Running at full speed the entire way, Tate slowed down just enough to adjust his body to the ball from Wilson, who dropped it right in Tate’s breadbasket over the top of the 6-4 Pro Bowl corner Browner. In the one-on-one receiver drills, it was more Tate, as he cut inside to beat cornerback Ron Parker to the middle of the field on a ball from quarterback Matt Flynn, then, upon receiving the football, spun back to his outside shoulder and headed toward the sideline for a healthy amount of yards after the catch. In the team’s 11-on-11 drill rookie wide receiver Phil Bates took a reverse handoff up the right sideline for a big gain with the help of some quality down-field blocking by fellow rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei.
Defense: In the team’s 9-on-7 run defense drill left tackle Russell Okung sealed his man to the inside in a play that appeared to have freed running back Leon Washington loose from the backfield, but Earl Thomas’ instincts took over to disrupt the play, as the lightning-quick Pro Bowl safety met Washington right at the hole in the line of scrimmage to stuff the play for no gain. Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin showed some very impressive get-off during one-on-one lineman drills, beating offensive lineman Alex Barron to the quarterback in what was a battle of first-round draft picks. Defensive tackle Jason Jones showed some surprising get-up for a 6-5, 276 pound defensive tackle, leaping in the air and extending his long arm to swat down a Tarvaris Jackson pass at the line of scrimmage in the team’s 11-on-11 session toward the end of practice.
IN ‘N OUT
Cornerback Ron Parker returned to practice after sitting out Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday’s practices. Parker had last saw the practice field on Sunday, July 29.
Eight players players did not practice – wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Antonio Bryant, tight end Anthony McCoy, linebackers Bobby Wagner, Matt McCoy, and Jameson Konz, offensive lineman James Carpenter, and cornerback Walter Thurmond. Carpenter and Thurmond remain on the physically unable to perform list.
The players have a walkthrough and meetings this afternoon and will practice at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow, which is the final practice slotted for 10:15 a.m. of the entire camp. Sunday’s practice moves to 1:15 p.m. and is set to feature a “mock game” between the squads.
JOIN THE CROWD
Today’s practice attracted more than 1,000 fans, as well as another fly by from the Navy’s Blue Angels, who are in town for Seattle’s Sea Fair weekend.
Also seen at today’s practice – a C-17 cargo plane rumbled over the Seahawks three practice fields at VMAC prior to the booming Blue Angels. Mother Nature was not shy to show her face as well, as a lone deer frolicked along the western bank of Lake Washington, while a bald eagle circled the nearby shores.
Seven practices remain open to the public, including Saturday and Sunday’s practices, which are the final weekend practices of camp. You can register to attend a practice session here.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I’d probably try to be like [U.S. Olympic athlete and all-around gymnastics gold medalist] Gabby [Douglas], and practice that. I’d try to do some flips or something like that. I wouldn’t be very good at it, but I’d train myself. Not the outfit, though. The outfit wouldn’t fit me.” – Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson when asked what sport he would compete in if he were to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games.