A recap of the day’s activities:
Josh Freeman. The quarterback the Seahawks face at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday will not be the same wide-eyed rookie they played at Qwest Field last December.
In that ’09 game, Freeman was making his seventh NFL start for a team that would finish 3-13. Entering Sunday’s game, Freeman is the established starter on a team that is 8-6 and clinging to playoff aspirations. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 10 consecutive games, and has 18 through 14 games. He has thrown only one interception in the past five games, and his sixth for the season are the second-fewest among QBs with at least 400 attempts behind the Patriots’ Tom Brady (four).
Last season, Freeman had 10 TD passes and 18 picks.
“He was pretty raw when we played him last season,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “You’re seeing a much more poised quarterback. He’s done a nice job, and he makes a lot of things happen on the run.”
In addition to his improved passing stats – 59 percent completions (249 of 422) for 2,959 yards and that 18-6 TD-to-interception ratio – the 6-foot-6, 248-pound Freeman also has carried the ball 60 times for 330 yards.
“That’s incredible,” Bradley said of Freeman’s rushing numbers, which include a 5.5-yard average. “They’ve got designed plays for him – counters, with the quarterback keeping it. So that’s another thing we’ve got to be aware of.”
Bucs coach Raheem Morris is well aware of what Freeman has brought to the team this season.
“Free is becoming – really, he became our leader,” Morris said. “I can’t say ‘becoming’ anymore. He became our leader this year. He’s one of the guys that have been clutch. He’s wise beyond his years.
“He’s doing all the right things in the right way and he’s going out there and he’s learning every single week. People are saying his second year, but really this is his first year as a fulltime starter. He has the ability to go out there and win football games for us.”
The Seahawks already know that. Freeman was 16 of 26 for 205 yards with two TDs and an interception in the Bucs’ 24-7 upset victory at Qwest last season.
SIAVII DOWN, PAWELEK UP
With defensive lineman Junior Siavii being placed on injured reserve Thursday, it opened a spot on the 53-man roster for rookie linebacker Joe Pawelek, the longest-tenured member of the practice squad.
“You never wish an injury upon any of your guys, but at the same time you have to always be ready,” Pawelek said after today’s walk-thru. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m just so excited, getting the chance to get moved up and to get on the field playing special teams.”
The special teams can use Pawelek, after special teams captained Roy Lewis was placed on IR this week and with Will Herring being listed as questionable for Sunday’s game because of a tender hamstring.
Siavii got a stinger in last week’s game against the Falcons and coach Pete Carroll said it is going to take at least a month for the bruising on his spinal cord to subside.
“Junior is not in any danger, he just needs time,” Carroll said.”So this was the right thing to do.”
The official end-of-the-week status report, as released by the team:
LB Will Herring (hamstring)
DE Chris Clemons (ankle)
MLB Lofa Tatupu (knee)
C Chris Spencer (shoulder)
CB Marcus Trufant (back)
Trufant returned to practice today after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday, and will start against the Bucs.
“It really was not a serious injury,” Carroll said of Trufant, who experienced back spasms against the Falcons. “He came out of it on Tuesday, but we needed to rest him to make sure he’d be fine. So he’s ready to go.”
Herring is the only player who falls into the game-day-decision category, and even he was able to participate in today’s 40-minute walk-thru.
“This is as healthy as we’ve been in a long time,” Carroll said. “So we’re fortunate this late in the year to have our guys available to us. For the most part, this is as strong as we’ve been. So we’re hopefully going to be able to take advantage of that.”
For the Bucs:
WR Sammie Stroughter (hamstring)
OT James Lee (ankle)
TE Kellen Winslow (knee)
CB Myron Lewis (hip)
LB Dekoda Watson (ankle)
The team will fly to Tampa on Saturday for Sunday’s game. Carroll was able to alter the original plan, which called for traveling on Friday, because the game was moved to a 4:15 kickoff.
“We’ll be celebrating all the way across the country,” Carroll cracked when asked if he had any special Christmas Day plans for the team.
STAT DU JOUR
The Bucs have allowed their past two opponents – the Lions and Redskins – to score following the two-minute warning. Since 2005, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck has the third-highest passer rating in the final two minutes of each half.
Hasselbeck’s 85.9 rating ranks behind the Saints’ Drew Brees (92.8) and the Bengals’ Carson Palmer (88.9). During that span, Hasselbeck has completed 181 of 306 passes for 2,075 yards, with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.” – Santa, from Clement Clarke Moore’s “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas”