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Friday cyber surfing: ‘Hawks wrap up preseason 4-0

Good morning, and here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, August 31, after finishing the preseason with a record of 4-0 following their 21-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders Thursday night.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times recaps last night’s victory, and speaks to the team’s depth that was continually on display through four preseason games,”The Seahawks outscored opponents 67-21 in the second half of exhibition games this season, which speaks to the team’s improved depth. Seattle must trim its roster to 53 players on Friday, and will open the regular season Sept. 9 in Arizona. ‘We did a great job this preseason,’ [Russell] Wilson said. ‘But now it’s time to look forward on to what’s next, and that’s the season. Obviously, we have to take one step at a time.’”

O’Neil also highlights rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin in his game notebook, who tallied his first NFL sack last night, “It took Bruce Irvin 3 ½ games before he finally got to the opponent’s quarterback. Once he registered his first half a sack in the third quarter against Oakland, Irvin couldn’t wait to get back there. He had another sack in the fourth quarter, a tackle for loss and nearly another sack, turning Seattle’s exhibition finale into a coming-out party for the Seahawks’ first-round pick. ‘I mean, I wanted to get a sack,’ Irvin said. ‘I came so close last week. I wanted to get my feet wet.’ “

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune digests Thursday night’s win, with a couple notes on running back Vai Taua, “Running back Vai Taua is one of those players who stood out Thursday. The University of Nevada product served as a tackling dummy most of 2011, working as the scout squad running back for Seattle while spending most of the season on the practice squad. But Taua finally got a chance to dish out some punishment Thursday. Taua finished with 49 yards on nine carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run. Taua also had five catches for 39 yards as he attempts to lock up a spot on Seattle’s 53-man roster. Taua offers some versatility because he can play both tailback and fullback, along with playing on special teams.”

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a look at Seattle’s ball-hawking defense, who has scored points in three of the team’s four games this preseason, “Particularly relevant with the first turnover was that it was first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin who forced a fumble on a punt to set up the Seahawks’ first score. Irvin tackled Raiders returner Roscoe Parrish, forcing a fumble that was recovered by fellow rookie Bobby Wagner. The turnover set up a 25-yard field goal by Steven Haushka. In the second quarter, another rookie, cornerback Jeremy Lane, picked off a Matt Leinart pass intended for Brandon Carswell to set up another Haushka field goal (29 yards). The Seahawks led the NFC in turnover differential through the first three exhibition games at plus-five, having forced eight turnovers. The turnovers helped the Hawks power to the league’s best scoring differential of plus-60 (101-41).”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has his game report from Thursday night, “Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes a lot of what he has seen from his team coming out of his third preseason in Seattle. ‘We’re so much tighter with what we’re doing,’ Carroll said. ‘The messaging and philosophy is embedded. Our style is clear. Now I don’t know if we’re going to bring it to life in the regular season, I don’t know that, but we’re going to try. … This is the style of play that we’ve been looking for’ “

Brady Henderson of mynorthwest.com sums up Thursday night’s performance from rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin, “It was the type of performance the Seahawks had in mind when they made Irvin the 15th overall pick. And it was just what he needed after a quiet preseason, even if it came in a meaningless game. ‘It feels good to finally have a little success,’ a smiling Irvin said afterward before putting his night in the proper perspective. ‘But it don’t count. The stat sheet starts over next week. That’s why I wasn’t really concerned when people was worried. It don’t count, so I’ve just got to keep working and get ready for the season next week.’ “

Art Thiel of SportsPressNW.com wraps Thursday’s victory and Seattle’s preseason, “For whatever it’s worth in dominating the Titans, Broncos,  Chiefs and Raiders in the preseason, the Seahawks allowed averages of 248 yards of total offense and 15 first downs in a combined 122-44 domination of the scoreboard. Leading the NFC in takeaways before the game with seven, the defense recovered another fumble and added an interception. ‘It’s exciting, but you have to take it with a grain of salt,’ said cornerback Richard Sherman. ‘Every (offense) is vanilla, they’re not doing much different. No schemes. But we have extremely high expectations for ourselves.’ “

Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM takes a crack at predicting the Seahawks 53-man roster.

Mike Sando of ESPN.com revisits three nuggets from Thursday’s matchup with the Raiders, including a comment on Bruce Irvin’s impact, “First-round draft choice Bruce Irvin played deep into the game as the Seahawks tried to get their rookie defensive end into a rhythm. They were going to leave him in the game until Irvin produced, and once he did, they weren’t going to take him out. Irvin feasted on the Raiders’ backups in the second half. He finished with 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits after failing to register on the defensive stat sheet in the first three preseason games. Irvin also forced a fumble while working on the punt-coverage team. Irvin can now emerge from the preseason with something to build upon.”

Sando also rehashes a conversation he had with Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc., who believes naming rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the starter was the move that could put Seattle over the top, ” ‘I very much believe Russell Wilson will have the best year of any quarterback in the division,’ Williamson said. ‘Sam Bradford has a chance to be a very good one, but he looks terrible and his supporting cast is a mess. Arizona is a mess. I’m not a huge Smith believer.’ In Wilson, Williamson see the potential for Cam Newton-type production. He thought Wilson, a third-round choice, should have gone a round earlier. ‘One thing about him, his college history shows he doesn’t turn the ball over,’ Williamson said. ‘He’ll do more at this level, but he is not going to hurt the team the way rookie quarterbacks usually do. He’s very smart, really knows where to go with the ball.’ Williamson went with Pete Carroll as his projected coach of the year. ‘We’ll look back in 16 games and say, ‘Wow, naming Wilson the starter over Matt Flynn was a gutsy move by Coach Carroll and that is why they won the West,’ ‘ Williamson said.”

Scott Pianowski of YahooSports.com lists the Seattle Seahawks as one of his “Five NFL teams that are better than you think“. Pianowski says, “Seattle just completed a dominant 4-0 preseason, outscoring opponents by 78 points, and while that doesn’t guarantee a thing going forward, a strong August has correlated to a strong season over the last couple of decades (mind you, it didn’t help Seattle in 2009, when a 4-0 preseason led to a 5-11 mark). I’m expecting the Seahawks to post a winning record in 2012, and they should challenge San Francisco for the division title.”

From our fullback Michael Robinson, we have the much-anticipated next installment of his “Real Rob Report“, which features appearances by quarterback Russell Wilson, cornerback Richard Sherman, guard John Moffitt, center Max Unger, defensive end Greg Scruggs, and punter Jon Ryan.

Here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth looks at the impressive play from the young players on the roster during last night’s game, and names Bruce Irvin as his player of the game.

Finally, Tony Ventrella gives us a video recap of Thursday’s events.


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Game at a glance: Irvin breaks the ice

A recap of the Seahawks’ 21-3 victory over the Raiders at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night:

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Bruce Irvin. There were plenty of candidates, but the nod goes to the first-round draft choice because he broke his oh-fer drought in the preseason.

After not producing a tackle, let alone a sack, in the first three preseason games, Irvin had 1.5 sacks against the Raiders and came tantalizingly close to collecting a couple more. He also forced a fumble on a punt return in the first quarter to set up Steven Hauschka’s first field goal to get things rolling.

“You can see the flair that he has,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s because of that marvelous speed that he has coming off the edge. He’s getting better, and he has so much talent.”

PLAYS OF THE GAME

Offense: The obvious choice would be Vai Taua’s 2-yard run in the second quarter for the Seahawks’ first touchdown. But his 13-yarder to the 2-yard line that setup it up was even better.

“It’s easy when you offensive linemen are getting push like that,” Taua said. “It makes it a lot easier, so all the credit goes to them.”

Defense: Jaye Howard’s safety-producing tackle of Mike Goodson in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t just that the rookie defensive lineman got to the RB in the end zone; it’s how he did it. Howard manhandled 300-pound Colin Miller on his way to Goodson.

“I thought Jaye Howard made a huge play, obviously,” Carroll said. “A safety is always fun.”

Special teams: Irvin’s fumble-forcing hit on punt returner Roscoe Parrish. Second-round draft choice Bobby Wagner recovered at the Raiders’ 38-yard line.

“I just thank the football Gods to see that I’ve been busting tail in practice every day,” Irvin said. “Those Gods are always watching. They watch when you take a play off. I think it starts in practice.”

INJURY REPORT

Taua strained the posterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees. Carroll said the extent of the injury will be known after Taua has additional tests on Friday.

Wide receiver Golden Tate twisted a knee while returning a punt in the third quarter. “It’s not bad,” Carroll said. “We need to see how he bounces back.”

Tate was returning punts because Leon Washington got poked in the eye during practice on Tuesday.

“He wasn’t real comfortable trying to catch punts in the pregame (warm-ups),” Carroll said. “He couldn’t see the ball the way he wanted to.”

Carroll also reported that defensive end Red Bryant chipped a tooth during the sideline celebration after Howard’s safety.

DID YOU NOTICE?

Rookie wide receiver Jermaine Kearse lined up at running back after Taua had to leave the game.

“We ran out of running backs, that’s why Kearse played,” Carroll said. “The guys were having a blast on the sideline with him.”

YOU DON’T SAY

“You just hope that you did enough to impress somebody. If not here, then there are 31 other teams that hopefully you have impressed.” – Taua, on Friday’s roster cut from 75 players to 53


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Wednesday in Hawkville

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:

FOCUS ON

Walter Thurmond. The second-year cornerback from Oregon waded back into practice on Tuesday after missing more than three weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Today, he made a splash – and got his lip bloodied while doing it.

“I disappointed myself,” Thurmond said in a say-what statement after the two-hour practice. “I dropped a couple of picks out there shaking this rust off. Looking forward to a better practice tomorrow.”

The offense isn’t, as Thurmond’s making-up-for-lost-time portfolio was packed with impressive plays while working as the nickel back with the No. 1 defense.

Thurmond blitzed and the play was whistled a sack on one snap. On another, he closed on a pass in half-a-blink and tipped it incomplete with a well-timing, well-placed dive. On still another, his presence forced rookie wide receiver Ricardo Lockette to shy away from a pass over the middle. Thurmond finished on a high note as well, breaking up a pass that was intended for wide receiver Golden Tate in the two-minute drill that concluded practice.

“They gave me some more reps today,” he said. “I just felt real comfortable getting my feet under me again. It feels good to be back.”

Thurmond also looked sharp at the start of training camp, when he was working at right cornerback with the No. 1 defense. Then he injured his ankle on the second day.

“I feel healthy now,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just going out and playing football.”

And making plays.

UNIT WATCH

The No. 1 defense. At least what was left of it. With defensive end Chris Clemons, linebackers David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill and strong safety Kam Chancellor sitting out, as well as linebacker Leroy Hill being limited, they were replaced by – in order – Raheem Brock, rookie K.J. Wright, rookie Malcolm Smith and second-year man Josh Pinkard.

The unit might have been missing five starters, but they didn’t miss much in practice.

The “starters” were especially impressive in the 7-on-7 drill, as Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings and Thurmond broke up passes and QB Josh Portis was forced to scramble on another play because the coverage was so tight across the field.

PLAYS OF THE DAY

Defense: So many from which to chose, starting with Thurmond impressive break on the ball for one of his deflections and also including rookie cornerback Byron Maxwell tipping a Charlie Whitehurst pass that was intended for rookie wide receiver Kris Durham and then intercepting the carom. But let’s go with one that came earlier in practice, as just-arrived linebacker David Vobora played off a block with one hand while reaching out to thump the running back with the other – and behind the line of scrimmage. The effort prompted linebackers coach Ken Norton to offer, “That’s good work 40 (Vobora’s number). Nice hands.”

Offense: And speaking of nice hands – and a nice throw – Tarvaris Jackson hit Tate with a laser of a pass along the sideline. The pass had to be on the mark, because cornerback Kennard Cox had good coverage on the play.

IN AND OUT

The release of defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer earlier in the day allowed the team to re-sign Vai Taua. Practice was already in progress when the rookie running back emerged from the locker room, but coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took time to come over and shake hands – and Carroll even gave Taua a pat on the helmet.

In addition to the four defensive starters, running back Marshawn Lynch also sat out. He joined a group that already included tight end John Carlson, left tackle Russell Okung and defensive linemen Dexter Davis, Pierre Allen and A.J. Schable. But backup center Mike Gibson was back after sitting out Tuesday.

UP NEXT

The players will practice Thursday morning, their final full workout before flying to Denver on Friday for Saturday night’s preseason game against the Broncos.

The first roster cut – to 80 players – must be completed by Tuesday. The cut to 53 players must be made by Saturday, Sept. 3, after the final preseason game.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I got to learn the defense better, seeing different situations that the offense is going to try and put us in and just really getting a better feel for the knowledge of the game. So even being hurt I still benefitted from it.” – Thurmond


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Balmer waived

Defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer, a former first-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers, has been released by the Seahawks.

Running back Vai Taua was re-signed to fill Balmer’s spot on the 90-man roster. Taua was signed Aug. 14, but then released Monday. The rookie free agent from Nevada rushed for 15 yards on two carries in Saturday night’s preseason home opener against the Vikings.

Balmer was acquired in a trade with the 49ers last August and started 11 games during the regular season and both playoff games because of injuries to end Red Bryant and tackle Brandon Mebane – they were the first starts of Balmer’s three-year NFL career. He finished with 43 tackles, including a career-high eight against the Giants in Week 9.

But Balmer, who did not play against the Vikings, became expendable because the Seahawks signed Alan Branch and Jimmy Wilkerson in free agency last month. Branch is starting as the three-technique tackle, while Wilkerson can play that spot as well as at the five-technique end – the two positions where Balmer filled in last season.


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