Monday round-up: Russell Wilson in Wisconsin; ESPN lays out bright future

Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy made it’s stop in Madison, Wis. over the weekend, as the Seahawks Pro Bowl quarterback instructed hundreds of youth players looking to improve both on and off the field

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” for today, Monday, July 1, about your Seattle Seahawks, as well as a look back at what you may have missed last week, June 25-28, when I was a little under the weather:

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune notes offensive guard James Carpenter’s health is a key component for the ‘Hawks in 2013, and offers a detailed look at the competition along the O-line.

Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com delves into the uncertainty – and upside – present along the interior of the Seahawks’ offensive line.

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com highlights rookie defensive tackle Jesse Williams in his Finding the Fits series, which identifies one unheralded player per team who appears to be a good fit schematically, and in turn could be a surprise contributor early on.

We have the podcast from Dave “Softy” Mahler’s Friday conversation with cornerback Richard Sherman, who spent the weekend down in Orange, Texas at free safety Earl Thomas’ football camp for youth. Sherman previews his Celebrity Softball Game next weekend at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium:

Avi Zaleon of the Beaumont Enterprise recaps Thomas’ aforementioned weekend youth camp.

Matt Williamson of ESPN.com says Thomas is the player the Seahawks can least afford to lose.

Tom Mulhern of SportsMadison.com recaps quarterback Russell Wilson’s Passing Academy in Madison, Wis.

Adam Rank of NFL.com has his list of 12 must-see stadiums throughout the League, and Seattle’s CenturyLink Field pops up at No.2.

In a bit of obscure off-the-field news, wide receiver Sidney Rice has signed on with Wingstop to open five new franchises in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

In case you missed it last week over at ESPN.com, a slew of their NFL Insiders projected the Top 10 players at each position group for the 2016 season. We already told you where Russell Wilson projects among 2016 quarterbacks last week, courtesy of NFC West blogger Mike Sando. As a refresher, the site’s positional projections were exercises that followed their Future Power Rankings, which evaluated the core of each franchise as they project in 2016 –  the Seahawks ranked at No. 3.

Each positional piece is an ESPN Insider feature, but I’ve pulled the Seahawks mentions and what ESPN’s panel of experts had to say about each player in several snippets below:

Top 10 running backs in 2016No. 5, Christine Michael – ESPN’s Matt Williamson writes: “The selection of Michael seemed like an odd one, but Marshawn Lynch, with his extremely violent running style, probably isn’t going to last long in this league. Michael is a first-round caliber talent, but has a lot of questions off the field. Expect Pete Carroll and company to harness Michael’s great talent by bringing him along slowly. By 2016, he will be a total stud and a true every-down running back. Ignoring their extenuating circumstances, Lattimore and Michael are the most talented all-around running backs from this latest draft class.”

Top 10 wide receivers in 2016 - No. 6, Percy Harvin – ESPN’s Field Yates writes: “There have been some injury and attitude concerns for Harvin during his first four seasons in Minnesota, but a change of scenery has him ready to explode in Seattle in 2013. His rare open-field elusiveness, coupled with great strength for a player of his stature, makes him a rare breed. He can take carries from the backfield, too, and he’ll now play with a quarterback who can deliver the ball on a rope; that will only help the electric Harvin.”

Top 10 safeties in 2016No. 1, Earl Thomas – Williamson writes: “Thomas is an essential member of the league’s best secondary and what I expect to be an elite defense overall. He has outstanding range and is best as a center fielder, but he truly excels in all facets of safety play. Thomas will only be 27 years old when the 2016 season begins, which could be the peak of an outstanding career.”

Top 10 safeties in 2016 – No. 9, Kam Chancellor - Williamson writes: “Chancellor recently turned 25 and his best football should be ahead of him. A punishing hitter, his career might not be as long as some of the others on this list. But Chancellor already has established himself as one of the best safeties in the league, and he paired with Thomas to be a foundational unit for the Seahawks to build around.”

Top 10 cornerbacks in 2016No. 2, Richard Sherman – ESPN’s Herm Edwards writes: “Another corner with very good length, it’s really hard to beat Sherman deep. Seattle’s system is perfect for him, because he can press receivers and disrupt them at the line of scrimmage — which plays right into his confidence. With eight interceptions last season, he’s only going to improve moving forward.” (And because I know you’re dying to know, the Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson is the only player that ranks ahead of Sherman on this list).

Top 10 linebackers in 2016No. 3, Bobby Wagner – Yates writes: “Kuechly took home NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors last year, but you wouldn’t have heard any complaints from me if Wagner was the recipient instead. Relatively unknown out of Utah State, all Wagner did was lead one of the NFL’s best defenses in tackles with 147, while also recording a pair of sacks and picking off three passes. The 22-year old has already shown he can do it all.”


Seahawks well represented in Top 100 Plays of 2012

NFL Network’s NFL AM has been unveiling the Top 100 Plays of 2012, and 66 plays into their countdown, the Seahawks are well represented on their list.

We take an updated look at eight of those plays that feature some of Seattle’s very own.

No. 34 – Golden Tate shows up for the fourth time on this list, this time when he hauls in an acrobatic 32-yard grab from quarterback Russell Wilson in the team’s Week 12 game against the Miami Dolphins.

No. 59 – Tate connects with fellow wide receiver Sidney Rice on a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of a Week 10 game against the New York Jets at CenturyLink Field. Quarterback Russell Wilson fakes a hand-off to running back Robert Turbin and then pitches the ball back to Tate, who acts like a runner before winding up his left arm and delivering a strike to Rice in the back of the end zone.

No. 61 – Tight end Zach Miller makes the list for his tremendous one-handed touchdown grab in Week 8 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Miller hauled in a 16-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson for his first touchdown as a Seahawk.

No. 69 – The Legion of Boom makes their presence known as free safety Earl Thomas snags a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass and returns it 57 yards for a touchdown to cap off a 50-17 win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. Aided by Thomas’ effort, the Seahawks became the third team in NFL history and first since 1950 to score 50 points or more in back-to-back games, after posting 58 in a shutout of the Arizona Cardinals the week prior.

No. 77 – Wilson checks in at No. 77 on the countdown, but not for one of the many plays he made with his arm last season. It’s Wilson’s feet that get the recognition here, as he practically out-maneuvers the entire New England Patriots defense on a 3rd-and-4 play to pick up nine yards and a first down. No offense to CBS Sports play-by-play man Ian Eagle, but this play gets much more entertaining (and equally more appropriate) when the slapstick comedy “Yakety Sax” tune is played over the top of Wilson’s scramble. Mute the video of the play below and queue up “Yakety Sax” on YouTube, try to start both videos at nearly the same time, and enjoy.

No. 88 - Eighty-eight goes to Tate, whose acrobatics are on display again in this one, as he takes a quick pass from Wilson and dodges defenders for 11 yards before diving into the end zone for a touchdown in Week 9 against the Minnesota Vikings. The play gave the Seahawks a 20-17 lead they would not surrender, as they bested the Vikings 30-20 at CenturyLink Field.

No. 89 – It’s only appropriate that play No. 89 on the countdown goes to the Seahawks’ No. 89 – wide receiver Doug Baldwin. His 43-yard juggling catch against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16 made the cut on the countdown. Baldwin was the club’s leading receiver that day, hauling in four catches for 53 yards and two scores, as Seattle topped the division rival Niners, 42-13, on Sunday Night Football.

No. 96 - Tate’s 14-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a three-point lead with 32 seconds left in the game against the Chicago Bears in Week 13 makes the list at No. 96. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler would connect with wide receiver Brandon Marshall on the ensuing drive to set up a field goal that would tie the game at 17, but Wilson led an 80-yard touchdown drive in the opening possession of overtime to give Seattle a 23-17 victory with a play that we’re sure will show up later on this list.


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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”


Tuesday in Hawkville: A very happy, and also productive, birthday for Percy Harvin

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 28, when the Seahawks had an OTA session that was open to the media:

FOCUS ON

Percy Harvin. So, what do you get a player who seemingly has everything for his 25th birthday?

Percy HarvinHow about a 57-yard touchdown reception? That’s what quarterback Russell Wilson came up with during today’s OTA session, and it was just one of four receptions for Harvin during the final team period that slapped an exclamation point on the workout.

Harvin was acquired in a trade with the Vikings in March because he was proficient and productive as a receiver, returner and runner the past four seasons with the Vikings. But today, on his birthday, the spotlight was on Harvin’s receiving skills.

On the second play of the team period, Harvin got behind Brandon Browner, a 6-foot-4 cornerback who is as physical as he is tall, to take Wilson’s pass along the sideline and run it into the end zone. A few snaps later, it was Wilson to Harvin on a crossing pattern. Then, Harvin made a nice grab of a pass from backup QB Brady Quinn as he was racing across the field toward the sideline. Finally, it was Quinn to Harvin to round out the day.

Four routes, four receptions; one big reason why the Seahawks deemed Harvin worth the three draft choices they gave up to acquire him.

None of this should come as a surprise, because last year Harvin tied for first in the NFL with no dropped passes on 82 targets before being sidelined for the final seven games with a torn ligament in his ankle. In fact, according to the statistics provided by ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, the Seahawks have three players who ranked among the top 20 in that category last season: Harvin at No. 1; wide receiver Sidney Rice, another ex-Viking, who had one drop on 78 targets to rank No. 9; and tight end Zach Miller, who had one drop on 49 targets to rank No. 16.

Marshawn LynchPLAYER WATCH

Marshawn Lynch. The team’s leading rusher the past three seasons was back after missing last week’s OTAs. Today, Lynch didn’t miss a beat – or an assignment, or a hole – while displaying the explosive quickness and power that helped him rush for a career-high 1,590 yards last season.

POSITION WATCH

Linebackers. It was difficult not to watch assistant coach Ken Norton’s crew during the session was featured rain, wind and even a sun break or two along the shores of Lake Washington.

Outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Kyle Knox intercepted passes in the 7-on-7 drill, when cornerback Byron Maxwell added a third. During the final team period, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner slapped away a pass that was intended for Miller, while outside linebacker Malcolm Smith made a last-second tip of a pass that was almost in the hands of rookie tight end Luke Willson.

ANTHONY McCOY WAIVED/INJURED; JAKE BSCHERER SIGNED

In a procedural move, tight end Anthony McCoy was waived/injured today. When he clears waivers, McCoy will revert back to injured reserve. McCoy tore his right Achilles tendon during an OTA session last Monday and had surgery on Thursday.

Jake Bscherer, one of three dozen players who attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, was signed. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle played at Minnesota-Duluth.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions on Wednesday and Friday, which are not open to the media. Next week, they have OTAs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“They’re very serious. And I think they’re hungry. They’re very hungry. The way these guys work in the weight room or running inside. You can see them compete in practice. Yeah, they’re ready to go.” – Antoine Winfield, the team’s new nickel back, when asked about the other starters in the secondary: cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Browner and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor


Patriots at Seahawks featured as 12th-best game of 2012

It’s quite fitting that the 12th-best game on NFL.com’s list of the Top 20 games of 2012 goes to the home of the 12th Man.

The Seahawks’ 24-23 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 6 of last season at CenturyLink Field was unveiled today at No. 12 on their list. In that game, the Seahawks battled back from a 23-10 deficit midway through the fourth quarter, as quarterback Russell Wilson threw scoring passes to wide receiver Braylon Edwards and again to wide receiver Sidney Rice with less than 90 seconds to play. The Seahawks defense then closed the door on Tom Brady and the Pats by forcing a turnover on downs on New England’s ensuing possession to secure the 24-23 win.

The game was somewhat of a coming out party for Wilson, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, good for a 133.7 quarterback rating. Until that point, Wilson’s arm had been kept under wraps by head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who asked Wilson to avoid risks and play it safe with the football.

Wilson’s counterpart that day, Brady, threw 31 more times than the Seahawks rookie, completing 36 of 58 for two touchdowns and two interceptions – one by cornerback Richard Sherman and another by free safety Earl Thomas.

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has his full recap of the game here, and below he explains why this game was ranked where it was:

Patriots-Seahawks featured two of the better clubs from last season, with the bonus being that we rarely see this interconference matchup.

Going a step further, you couldn’t find two more contrasting styles if you tried. Seattle pounds the ball, tries to completely shut down your offense and asks its quarterback to make plays in spots. Meanwhile, New England often places the whole game on its quarterback’s shoulders, while living off takeaways on defense. Consider: Brady attempted 31 more passes than Wilson in this game, despite the fact New England had a two-score lead in the fourth.

All that made for an intriguing matchup decided by one point. Not bad.”


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

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

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

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

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


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How many primetime games will the Seahawks have?

Zach Miller

Happy Schedule Thursday.

Yes, the league will announce the 2013 NFL schedule today – at 5 p.m. PT. Until then, we thought you might want to weigh in on how many primetime games the Seahawks might get.

It was a topic for discussion at Virginia Mason Athletic Center yesterday, because the Seahawks are an ascending team and have some inviting matchups on tap this season: The NFC Champion and NFC West rival 49ers, home and away; the Falcons in Atlanta, where the home team rallied in the closing seconds for a two-point victory in January’s divisional playoff game; the Colts in Indianapolis, matching a pair of teams that won 11 games last season and are led by quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson; the Saints at CenturyLink Field, in a rematch of that memorable 2010 wild-card playoff game where Marshawn Lynch’s electrifying and earth-shaking 67-yard touchdown run iced the Seahawks’ 41-39 upset of the defending Super Bowl champions; and the Vikings in Seattle, with the Seahawks’ foursome of Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Antoine Winfield and Heath Farwell playing against their former team.

The Seahawks had a franchise-high five primetime games in 2006, following their run to the Super Bowl in 2005. They’ve had three primetime games in each of the past two seasons, and also had three in 1999, 1990, 1987, 1986 and 1985.


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Seahawks sign WR Brett Swain

Brett Swain

Wide receiver Brett Swain was signed to a two-year contract by the Seahawks today after going through a tryout with the team.

Swain, 27, entered the league in 2008, when the Packers drafted the San Diego State wide-out in the seventh round. He caught six passes for the Packers in 2010. Swain also played with the 49ers in 2011, catching two passes, but he was released during last August’s roster cut to 53 players.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Swain joins a receiving corps with the Seahawks that already includes Sidney Rice, who led the team last year with 50 receptions; Percy Harvin, who was acquired last month in a trade with the Vikings; Golden Tate, who caught 45 passes last season while starting opposite Rice; and Doug Baldwin, the team’s leading receiver in 2011.


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Top impact acquisition? Matt Bowen says it’s Percy Harvin

Matt Bowen played safety in the NFL for four teams over seven seasons, so his take on “impact acquisitions” this offseason carries a little more weight than the other opinions circulating in cyberspace.

Bowen, who played for the Rams, Packers, Redskins and Bills from 2000-06, listed his Top 5 Impact Acquisitions as a special contribution at EPSN Insiders. And No. 11 checks in at No. 1 – that’s Percy Harvin, the receiver/returner/runner the Seahawks acquired in a trade with the Vikings last month. The feature at ESPN.com requires registration and a fee, but here’s what Bowen has to say about Harvin:

“Creative ability is what you get from the former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks took a big risk when they made the trade to acquire Harvin and rewarded him with a new contract that paid out $25.5 million guaranteed. That’s big money for a slot receiver who isn’t going to consistently align outside of the numbers. However, Harvin gives the Seahawks multiple options from a play-calling and formation perspective, along with the value he brings to the return game. He’s an explosive player in the open field who can produce after the catch from a variety of alignments.

“In Seattle, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can get the ball to Harvin out of the slot, aligned in the backfield, or use a pre-snap motion to create favorable matchups. Think of the bubble screen, inside option routes, seam or underneath crossing concepts – the idea is anything to get Harvin the ball in space. With Russell Wilson, the Seahawks will lean on some movement passes (boot, sprint) to get the quarterback outside of the pocket. That plays into Harvin’s skill set from an inside alignment.

“And don’t be surprised to see Harvin used in the read-option scheme to get to the edge of the defense. The Seahawks already have talent with Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. With the addition of Harvin, this offense becomes much more varied in its game plan approach. Harvin isn’t a conventional talent at the wide receiver position, but that’s why he creates opportunities within the playbook to attack and expose opposing defenses.”

Also on Bowen’s list, in this order: Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, Falcons running back Steven Jackson, Rams tight end Jared Cook and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.


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Russell Wilson: “It’s so exciting to see what we have on the table”

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson was in a corporate meeting at Virginia Mason Athletic Center last week, but John Schneider felt compelled to interrupt the session. And who could blame him? The Seahawks had just completed a trade to acquire Percy Harvin and the team’s general manager figured the team’s quarterback should be among the first to know.

“John Schneider knocks on the window and pulls me aside,” Wilson recalled today during a promotional event for the Verizon Wireless “Save it Seattle: Pledge to Stop Texting & Driving” program. “He said, ‘Hey, come in. I need to talk to you real quick.’ He tells me we added Percy Harvin to the football team.”

That’s Percy Harvin the versatile and productive receiver/returner/runner from the Vikings who fills several needs for a Seahawks offense that only got better as last season progressed with Wilson as the rookie QB.

Wilson’s reaction? As understandable as it was predictable.

“He’s a guy that’s very, very competitive. A guy who’s been one of the top receivers in the National Football League. He’s very, very explosive. He’s a great kick returner. He’s going to help our football team,” Wilson said.

Wilson looks at Harvin as a complement to the receivers already on the roster who can enhance what Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin bring to the passing game.

“It’s so exciting to see what we have on the table,” Wilson said. “I know that feeling of losing last year (to the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs), and it doesn’t feel good. So we have to do whatever it takes to win. And I definitely believe our football team is mentally and physically ready, and spiritually as well.

“It’s a battle and we can’t wait to get out there and add Percy and the rest of the guys that we have added as well.”

That would be Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, the defensive linemen who were signed in free agency last week – after Harvin was acquired in the trade.


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