A recap of the day’s activities:
Ben Obomanu. In the past two games, the Seahawks’ passing game has produced five plays of 20-plus yards. Four of them have gone to Obomanu, with an emphasis on the plus. He caught an 87-yard touchdown pass last week, as well as a 52-yard reception. He had receptions of 42 and 23 yards the week before.
So even if leading receiver Mike Williams is somehow able to play in Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Qwest Field, Obomanu will remain a big part of the offense.
“Everyone has an opportunity in life, and it’s kind of neat to watch Ben,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said today after practice. “Sometimes it takes a year, two years; some people it takes 10 years. But when a person has that opportunity, they can go one of two ways. And Ben took it and just ran with it.”
Literally. His runs after taking passes from Matt Hasselbeck were the most productive aspect of the offense against the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs – when Obomanu combined to catch 10 passes for 246 yards. That after catching 15 for 214 in his first four seasons with the team.
“Ben has been waiting, he’s been positive. And when it happened, he hit it full speed ahead and he hasn’t looked back,” Bates said. “It’s exciting to see those kinds of guys have those kinds of stories. I think it’s a great story, and he’s going to keep continuing to play the way he’s playing.”
Hasselbeck agrees, with all of it.
“Ben has done a nice job of going up and getting the ball when given opportunities,” he said. “You see sometimes around the league receivers going up and making a play on a smaller DB. Ben has done a great job with it.
“I think there are a handful of routes that he does really, really well – that he does better than anybody on our team. The route that he keeps catching, that’s been a big one for him. So hopefully we can get that dialed up again.”
Offensive line. It’s looking like the Seahawks will start the same combination in back-to-back games for only the third time this season. The unit that should start against the Panthers includes – from left tackle to right – Russell Okung, Mike Gibson, Chris Spencer, Stacy Andrews and Sean Locklear.
The only other times they had the same unit in consecutive games were Weeks 3-4 (when they went 1-1) and Weeks 6-7 (when they went 2-0). Since then, they’ve used three starters each at left tackle and left guard.
“They’re coming together,” Bates said. “It’s tough. It’s tough when you move guys in and out every week. But they’re fighting and they’re competing their tails off. The pass protection has been really good; we’ve just got to keep improving in the run blocking.
“The guys are working hard. Not one day, not one second can you say they’re not giving everything they have. So they’re giving everything and we’ve just got to keep working together and get in that flow. It’s five guys that have to be coordinated on the same page – exact. One wrong step and you’re going to have the three-technique (defensive tackle) go in between a combination block. So it’s a challenge. And they’re looking at it and taking it on.”
While the pass protection has allowed four sacks in the past four games, the running game has averaged 59.3 yards over that same span and 3.2 yards per carry – with averages of 39 and 2.7 the past two games.
“Our goal is just to be good at both,” Bates said. “We’ve just got to keep working and it’s going to take hopefully not much time.”
ON THE FIELD
Another gorgeous December afternoon, another practice outside. Today, the players worked for 80 minutes on “Turnover Thursday.” Among the highlights were several nice catches by wide receiver Brandon Stokley.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
TE John Carlson (hip)
DT Colin Cole (ankle)
OG Chester Pitts (ankle)
WR Mike Williams (foot)
MLB Lofa Tatupu (knee)
CB Marcus Trufant (lower leg)
QB Matt Hasselbeck (wrist)
DE Chris Clemons (ankle)
Carlson did not practice because of a sore hip. But Clemons, who leads the team with 7½ sacks, was back after sitting out on Wednesday to rest a sore knee.
Cole continued to do agility work with assistant trainer Donald Rich during practice, a positive sign that he might be able to return next week – if not this week. He has missed the past four games with a high ankle sprain. Williams again was catching passes on the side from coach Pete Carroll during individual drills, and not wearing a boot to protect his strained left foot.
For the Panthers:
Did not practice
CB Chris Gamble (hamstring)
RB Mike Goodson (not injury related)
OG Geoff Schwartz (back)
OT Travelle Wharton (toe)
Limited in practice
S Marcus Hudson (ankle)
CB Robert McClain (hip)
QB Tony Pike (shoulder)
S Jordan Pugh (hamstring)
QB Brian St. Pierre (shoulder)
RB Tyrell Sutton (ankle)
LB James Anderson (concussion)
CB Captain Munnerlyn (shoulder)
Anderson, the team’s leading tackler, was able to participate on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday, as was Munnerlyn. But Gamble sat out after getting limited work Wednesday.
STAT DU JOUR
The Panthers have scored a league-low 22 first-quarter points, while the Seahawks have scored the third-fewest points in the first quarter (27).
YOU DON’T SAY
“That is exactly what I told the team. That’s exactly what I told them – that’s what they’re going to hear; that people are going to look at the record and what’s happened in weeks past and all that. We’re not playing weeks past. We’re playing them this week. This is all that we can focus on. But we do have to realize – and I have to realize as a coach – that they’re going to hear that kind of stuff.” – Carroll, when asked how he overlooks the Panthers’ 1-10 record while preparing the players for Sunday’s game