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A Happy Bobby Birthday

Bobby Wagner

The way Bobby Wagner played last season, it was hard to believe the Seahawks’ middle linebacker was only a rookie.

He not only led the team with 140 tackles, Wagner’s total was the fifth-highest in franchise history behind Terry Beeson (153 in 1978), Chad Brown (150 in 1998), Anthony Simmons (147 in 2000) and Michael Jackson (141 in 1981). Wagner also finished second in voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The way Wagner approached this offseason – with a lead-by-example commitment to getting better – it’s hard to believe he’s only 23. And just barely, as today is Wagner’s 23rd birthday.

“Bobby has put the work in,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “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.”

So on Wagner’s birthday it turns out that he might be the gift of a second-round draft choice who just keeps on giving.

Speaking of gifts …


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On this date: Seahawks trade draft choice that Cowboys used to select Tony Dorsett

Tony Dorsett

Heisman Trophy Winner Tony Dorsett smiles as he waits to be interviewed by a local television station after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Draft (AP Photo/MK)

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on May 3:

1977: The Seahawks trade the second pick in the NFL Draft to the Cowboys, who select running back Tony Dorsett. In exchange, the Seahawks get the Cowboys’ first-round pick, which they used to select offensive lineman Steve August; and three second-round picks – which became offensive lineman Tom Lynch and linebacker Terry Beeson. Beeson would lead the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons (1977-79), including a still-franchise record 153 in 1978. August started 90 games from 1977-84.

1978: Cornerback Keith Simpson is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, and linebacker Keith Butler is added in the second round. Simpson would start 70 games in eight seasons with the team, retuning three of his 19 interceptions for touchdowns; while Butler was the franchise’s all-time leading tackler by the time he left after the 1987 season with 813 – a mark that would be broken by Eugene Robinson (984).

1979: Manu Tuiasosopo is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The defensive tackle from UCLA would lead the team in sacks (eight) as a rookie and produced a career-high 94 tackles in 1980. He started 64 games in five seasons.


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On this date: Anthony Simmons selected in first round of draft

Anthony Simmons

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on April 18:

1998: Linebacker Anthony Simmons is selected in the first round of the draft. Simmons would lead the Seahawks in tackles three times – including 147 in 2000, which ranks as the third-highest single-season total in franchise history behind Terry Beeson (153 in 1978) and Chad Brown (150 in 1998).


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Today is the anniversary of NFL’s switch to 16-game schedule

The 16-game regular season in the NFL has been the norm so long that it’s hard to remember when teams played fewer games.

But there was that time, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame shows in this chart to commemorate today’s 36th anniversary of the owners voting to expand the regular season.

The Seahawks played two seasons under the 14-game schedule that was used from 1961-1977. They went 2-12 in their inaugural season in 1976 and 5-9 in 1977.

The Nordstrom family was the majority owner of the team, which played its home game in the Kingdome. Jack Patera was the coach. Jim Zorn was the quarterback. Steve Largent was the leading receiver. Sherman Smith was the leading rusher. Dave Brown (’76) and Terry Beeson (’77) were the leading tacklers.

That ’76 season was short on victories, but long on long-anticipated excitement.

“We only won two games that first year,” recalls Zorn, who is now a member of the team’s Ring of Honor along with Largent and Brown. “But you would have thought we almost went to the playoffs. That’s how enthusiastic not only we were, but the fans were. Everybody was excited.”

And what a difference that one season made to the expansion Seahawks. As Smith puts it, “As a team, we definitely felt more like a team in ’77. There was just more familiarity, with what the coaches wanted from us and with what the guy next to you would do on any given play. That first year, it was just getting ready to go and coming to training camp with more than 100 guys. So in ’77, it was a totally different feeling.”


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Monday in Hawkville: Carroll is concerned only about the 49ers

A recap of the events at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 17:

Red Bryant

FOCUS ON

The obvious. It’s just that what’s obvious depends on who you’re talking to.

Obvious No. 1: The Seahawks are hosting the NFC West-leading 49ers on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field. After their impressive and then resilient performance in last night’s win over the Patriots in New England that pushed their record to 10-3-1, the 49ers can clinch the division title by beating the Seahawks; or the 9-5 Seahawks can keep their division-title hopes alive with a win over the 49ers.

Obvious No. 2: The Seahawks hold the No. 5 seed – or first wild-card spot – in the NFC playoff picture. But right behind them at 8-6 are the Bears, Giants, Cowboys and Vikings (The Redskins also are 8-6 but currently lead the NFC East). The Seahawks hold the tiebreaker against the Bears, Cowboys and Vikings because they beat each team this season. But the only way to insure making it to the postseason is to keep winning during the regular season.

Obvious No. 3: The Seahawks are one hot team, having won their past three games – two of them on the road – and in the past two weeks becoming the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in back-to-back games.

When each obvious item was broached during his weekly day-after Q&A session this afternoon, coach Pete Carroll smiled, and then offered his own version of the obvious.

“We ain’t done nothing yet,” he said when asked about the playoff patter. “When that happens, it happens. Every one of these games are championship matchups. Every one of them makes the statement that you’re still in it, or you’re finally in it and you get it.

“We’ve just got to go play this football game and play it really, really well. And if that’s the result, then that’s OK.  We’ve got another game after that one, too. There’s still a lot of work to be done here. I don’t think it’s a factor, really. It shouldn’t be. We’ve got to go win a football game, regardless of whether there was something hanging out there or not.”

This attitude that each game is a championship game and the goal each week is to go 1-0 has served the Seahawks beyond well as they’ve won five of their past six games. But after Sunday’s 50-17 victory over the Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, several players said that Carroll’s championship-game approach really applied to this week’s game. The 49ers beat the Seahawks 13-7 in San Francisco in Week 7, so there’s payback as well as postseason positioning on the line for the rematch.

And Carroll knows there will be no extra motivational work to be done this week.

“All we can do is really focus on this game right here. We’ll have no trouble focusing,” he said. “They’re a great team. And coming home and all that, it will be exciting to get ready.”

After this week, the Seahawks will host the St. Louis Rams on the 30th, while the 49ers will close their regular season by hosting the Cardinals.

“Coming home, with the last two games here at the stadium, it’s a great opportunity for our fans and we want to really play well in this setting,” Carroll said. “It’s an exciting way to come down, finishing in the division. And it starts with San Francisco this weekend.”

INJURY UPDATE

The ankle that defensive tackle Alan Branch sprained against the Bills is not as serious as first anticipated.

“He came out way better than we thought,” Carroll said. “We’ll rest him, probably until Friday. We’re thinking he might have a chance to make it back. So that’s very encouraging, because we thought after the game he would not be able to do that. We’ll see how that goes.”

Carroll said he also has his fingers crossed that cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant might be able to return this week. Trufant has missed the past three games and Thurmond sat out against the Bills – both with hamstring injuries.

Defensive lineman Jason Jones (sore knee) and leading receiver Sidney Rice (sore foot) also could be limited in practice this week.

PRACTICE SQUAD ROULETTE

Defensive end Monte Taylor has been signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei was released.

The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Taylor was signed by the Seahawks after the NFL Draft in April, but released in June and claimed off waivers by the Eagles.

STAT DU JOUR

Bobby Wagner had another game with double-digit tackles (12) against the Bills, his fifth of the season. In the past nine games, the rookie middle linebacker is averaging 10.3 tackles. With his first tackle in Sunday night’s game against the 49ers, Wagner will tie Keith Butler for the second-most tackles in a season by a Seahawks rookie. With 16 in the final two games, he will set a franchise record for most tackles by a rookie in a season. Here’s a look at where Wagner currently ranks:

Player (year)                                   Tackles (solo/assists)

LB Terry Beeson (1977)                   136      (110/26)

LB Keith Butler (1978)                     122      (83/39)

LB Bobby Wagner (2012)                121      (77/44)

SS Kenny Easley (1981)                    107      (79/28)

LB Lofa Tatupu (2005)                      105      (86/19)

UP NEXT

The players were “off” today for a “Victory Monday” and will have their usual “off” day on Tuesday. They will return on Wednesday to begin practicing for Sunday night’s game.

Center Max Under will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop.

YOU DON’T SAY

“A perfect game for Russell Wilson, just the way Wilson wants to play – running a lot, playing option football, playing from the pocket. ‘Whatever we call, we know something good can happen with Russell right now,’ said coach Pete Carroll after the 50-17 rout of Buffalo in Toronto. Wilson rushed nine times for 92 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards. He completed 14 of 23 for 205 yards and a touchdown. Wilson’s been such a revelation that, week by week, it’s hard to fathom how good he’s become versus the image of what 90 percent of the NFL coaching and scouting community had of him before the draft.” – Peter King, in naming the Seahawks rookie QB as one of his offensive players of the week in his “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com


Friday cyber surfing: It’s all about the rookies

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 11:

The Seahawks’ rookies have reported and will practice today for the first of three times in their weekend minicamp. Eric Williams at the News Tribune takes a look at how coach Pete Carroll relishes this look at the rookies: “ ‘It’s going to be really cool to see these guys come together,’ Carroll said. ‘There are so many highlight players in this group of kids. We can’t wait to get them on the field with us.’ Most eyes will be on (Bruce) Irvin, a speed pass rusher, and quarterback (Russell) Wilson, two players who were considered surprise selections by national NFL observers – particularly where they were taken in the draft. For Irvin, the focus will be on how long it takes for him to develop into a consistent pass rusher and an every-down player in order to live up to his draft status. In Wilson’s case, his 5-foot-11 stature and ability to deliver accurate passes from inside the pocket will be a constant measuring stick of his success in the NFL.”

Chris Burke at SI.com takes a look at the undrafted free agents who could turn into finds for the teams that signed them, including the Seahawks: “Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington. We’re kind of on a run of guys catching on with their local teams. Seattle fans ought to be well-aware of Kearse after a strong career at Washington. He has good size and will go over the middle — valuable traits for a team searching for WR help. Others to watch: Rishaw Johnson, G, California (Pa.); DeShawn Shead, DE, Portland State”

During a chat at ESPN.com, NFC West blogger Mike Sando fielded a question about the Seahawks’ creativity in player acquisition: “The 49ers converted Bruce Miller from college defensive end to fullback and got good play from him last season. Miller had not played offense since high school. (J.R.) Sweezy, like Miller, was a later-round pick. Teams have greater freedom to experiment with later-round choices. The key is to be creative without over-thinking things. More broadly, the concern in building around specialized or somewhat unique players – think Red Bryant for Seattle – is that specialized players can be tough to replace if injured. However, that is where staff flexibility can make up the difference. The Seahawks seem to have a good defensive staff and approach. Another potential concern relative to Sweezy is what the move represents: a clear push by an assistant coach to get a player he liked. Tom Cable also drove the selection of James Carpenter a year ago. Drafting players to fit the staff is important, but we should also watch to see if assistants have too much sway.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at the selection of linebacker Bobby Wagner in the second round, which follows a productive trend for the team: “There’s not just a precedent, it’s a productive precedent. In 2005, Lofa Tatupu – who played for Carroll at USC – was the Seahawks’ second-round draft choice. He not only started as a rookie, he was the leading tackler on the franchise’s first Super Bowl team – the first of a club-record four consecutive seasons that the too-small, too-slow Tatupu would lead the Seahawks in tackles. In 1977, Terry Beeson was a second-round draft choice, and he also led the team in tackles as a rookie – the first of three consecutive seasons Beeson would do it, including a still-franchise record 153 tackles in 1978. In 1978, Keith Butler was selected in the second round of the draft, and he became the franchise’s all-time leading tackler by the time he left after the 1987 season (a total since surpassed by Eugene Robinson). In 1987, Dave Wyman was the team’s second-round draft choice, and he finished second on the team in tackles in 1988 and 1989. In 1990, Terry Wooden was selected in the second round, and he led the team in tackles in 1991 and 1995 and finished second in 1993 and 1994 – although it was as an outside ’backer. But you get the picture; second-round linebackers have been very, very good for the Seahawks.”

We’ve also got an item on how coach Pete Carroll surprised the veterans on Thursday, as well as birthday wishes for Jim Zorn that includes a must-see NFL Films video.

Remember free agency? It’s still going on, and Jason La Canfora at NFL.com has a look at the best remaining players, and where they might fit best.


On this date: Seahawks ‘pass’ on Dorsett

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on May 3:

1977: The Seahawks trade the second pick in the NFL Draft to the Cowboys, who select running back Tony Dorsett. In exchange, the Seahawks get the Cowboys’ first-round pick (which they used to select offensive lineman Steve August) and three second-round picks (offensive lineman Tom Lynch, linebacker Terry Beeson and wide receiver Duke Ferguson).

1978: Cornerback Keith Simpson is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, and linebacker Keith Butler is added in the second round. Simpson would start 70 games in eight seasons with the team, while Butler would be the franchise’s all-time leading tackler (813) when he left after the 1987 season.

1979: Manu Tuiasosopo is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The defensive tackle from UCLA would lead the team in sacks (eight) as a rookie and start 64 games in five seasons.


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And the best second-round pick is …

Sherman Smith. Terry Beeson. Keith Butler. Brian Blades. Terry Wooden. Kevin Mawae. Lofa Tatupu. John Carlson.

Each was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Seahawks. Each delivered results befitting a first-round pick. But which player was the best second-round pick in franchise history?

Smith, a quarterback at Miami of Ohio, was a member of the team’s initial draft class in 1976. After switching to running back in his rookie training camp, all he did was lead the team in rushing five times, including the Seahawks’ first four seasons. Beeson, a middle linebacker, came in the second draft in 1977 and led the team in tackles in each of his first three seasons – including a still franchise-record 153 in 1978. The following year delivered Butler, another linebacker who was the team’s all-time leading tackler when he left after the 1987 season.

In 1988, Blades was the team’s top draft choice because the Seahawks had used their first-round pick to select linebacker Brian Bosworth in the 1987 supplemental draft. But Blades led the team in receiving five times, remains No. 2 on the team’s all-time list in receptions (581) and receiving yards (7,620) behind Hall of Famer Steve Largent, was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1989 and elected to the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.

Wooden, an outside linebacker, was part of the 1990 draft that was headlined by the trade to acquire Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy with the third pick overall and also included running back Chris Warren and strong safety Robert Blackmon – aka “The Rookie Club.” Wooden started 87 games in seven seasons, led the team in tackles in 1991 and 1995 and also finished second twice. Mawae started at guard as a rookie in 1994 and also 1995 before moving to center in 1996 and 1997.

Carlson, a tight end who arrived in 2008, holds the franchise single-season records for the position receptions (55 in ’08), receiving yards (627 in ’08) and TD catches (seven in 2009).

But the best-of pick has to be Tatupu, who arrived in 2005 – just in time to help lead the Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl. The middle linebacker is the only player in franchise history to lead the team in tackles four consecutive seasons (2005-08) and also was voted to three Pro Bowls.

Tatupu was released last year, Carlson spent the season on injured reserve and each is with a new team – the Falcons and Vikings, respectively. But their impact is undeniable, as each was voted to the 35th Anniversary team.

And Steve Raible definitely deserves honorable mention. A second-round pick in 1976, an injury ended Raible’s career after only six seasons, but he has remained with the Seahawks as first the analyst and now play-by-play man for team’s radio broadcasts.


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On this date: Simmons drafted

1998: Linebacker Anthony Simmons is selected in the first round of the draft. Simmons would lead the Seahawks in tackles three times – including 147 in 2000, which ranks as the third-highest single-season total in franchise history behind Terry Beeson (153 in 1978) and Chad Brown (150 in 1998).


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Rampaging rookies

The numbers Joey Galloway put up during his rookie season were almost as stunning as his speed: 67 receptions for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns; as well as an 89-yard punt return for a TD and an 86-yard scoring run on a reverse of a reverse – in back-to-back games.

Galloway, if you remember, had reconstructive knee surgery while at Ohio State. But he came back faster. Timed in 4.52 seconds for 40 yards before the injury, Galloway clocked a 4.38 at the scouting combine in 1995 and then lowered that at his Pro Day workout – where the Seahawks had him in 4.2, but other stopwatches caught Galloway at 4.16 and 4.18.

Scouts at that workout were reluctant to say what time they had for Galloway, because they didn’t want to be the first to offer a time few would believe.

But during a pre-minicamp 40 in the spring of 1999, Galloway ran 4.15 – with a slight rolling start.

Fellow receiver Sean Dawkins had heard about just how fast Galloway was, but his eyes widened to the size of two fried eggs as he offered, “I was like this, just looking at the clock.”

Added Dawkins, “Speed kills in this league, and Joey’s got a lot of it.”

Regardless of which time you go by, Galloway was fast – and had the uncanny ability to shift into an extra gear while seemingly already running at full speed against cornerbacks who were supposedly as fast, or faster.

But did his speed-infused ’95 contributions comprise the best rookie season in franchise history?

Here are some others to consider, before you cast your vote below:

Steve Niehaus, 1976 – Yes, Steve Largent and Jim Zorn where in this same rookie class during the team’s inaugural season. But Niehaus, the defense tackle who was the team’s first-round draft choice, trumped their efforts. He had 8½ sacks among his 90 tackles.

Terry Beeson, 1977 – A second-round draft choice, he started 13 games at middle linebacker and led the team with 136 tackles, including 110 solo stops. He also broke up five passes.

John Harris, 1978 – A steal of a sixth-round pick, Harris started all 16 games at free safety, collecting 113 tackles, four interceptions and 15 passes defensed.

Kenny Easley, 1981 – The fourth pick overall in that year’s NFL draft, he started 14 games opposite Harris. Easley finished second on the team in tackles (107) and interceptions (three).

Curt Warner, 1983 – Coach Chuck Knox traded the team’s first-, second- and third-round draft choices to move into the third spot so he could select the back needed for his Ground Chuck offense. Warner did not disappoint, rushing for 1,449 yards (on 335 carries), catching 42 passes and scoring 14 touchdowns to earn AFC offensive player of the year honors.

John Kasay, 1991 – A kicker? Yes, but not just any kicker. In his rookie season, Kasay scored 102 points and hit eight of his 10 field-goal attempts from 40-plus yards. Josh Brown scored more points (114) as a rookie in 2003, but he also missed eight field goals – include five from 40-49 yards in 11 attempts.

Steve Hutchinson, 2001 – The second of the team’s two first-round picks stepped in and started all 16 games at left tackle. The offense averaged 121 rushing yards (up from 107.5 in 2000) and Shaun Alexander ran for 14 TDs.

Lofa Tatupu, 2005 – The Seahawks traded up in the second round of the draft to select the middle linebacker. He not only solidified a spot where the team had started seven players in the previous six seasons, Tatupu led the team with 105 tackles and also had four sacks and three interceptions.

Why aren’t Largent (54 catches for 705 yards and four TDs in 1976), Darryl Turner (35 for a 20.4-yard average and 10) and Darrell Jackson (53 for 713 and six in 2000) on this list? Because Galloway pulled away from the wide-receiver field in his rookie season – when he became the 10th rookie in league history, and first since 1986, to catch passes for at least 1,000 yards.


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