A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:
The identity of the Seahawks’ offense. Just who are these guys? The unit that failed to score and generated only 37 yards of total offense in the first half of the season opener against the 49ers? Or the one that put up 17 points and 182 yards in the second half of the 33-17 loss at Candlestick Park on Sunday?
Coordinator Darrell Bevell was asked exactly that after practice today, when the Seahawks began preparing for Sunday’s game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
“We’re still searching for a lot of things,” Bevell said. “We know the identity that we want to be. We’re not there yet. We’re still trying to find that.”
Frustrating the process is the fact that wide receiver Sidney Rice and left guard Robert Gallery did not play in the opener, and then fullback Michael Robinson went down with a sprained ankle in the first quarter – which forced tight end Zach Miller to slide to fullback on occasion.
“In the second half, we came out and played better,” Bevell said. “We got a little of rhythm going, we were able to gain some first downs – which helps get the rhythm going, obviously – and then we were able to get some points on the board.
“There are some positives that we can take away from it, but there’s a lot of work for us to do as well.”
Eddie Williams. With Robinson out this well, as well, Williams was signed off the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad on Tuesday and practiced with the Seahawks for the first time today.
Usually when a new player is added, he gets to wade into things. Not Williams, who was dropped off the deep end by stepping right in with the No. 1 offense.
“It’s fast. It’s my first time doing it,” Williams said. “But I’m up for the challenge. It’s a lot different, but I’ve got to get better. I feel like I’m slipping right in.”
Williams is getting plenty of help in his hurry-up drill to be ready for Sunday. There’s Bevell. There’s running backs coach Sherman Smith. There’s Robinson. But there’s also Justin Griffith, a former Seahawks fullback who is a season-long coaching intern.
“He’s out there quizzing me on all the defenses,” Williams said of Griffith. “It’s just making me a more complete player, and I can take that wherever I go for the next however long I play – 10 years, five years, whatever.”
This week, the only place Williams is going is Pittsburgh – as the Seahawks’ only healthy fullback.
“It’s a lot better than anything I’ve done before,” said Williams, who played H-back and slot receiver in addition to tight end at Idaho; fullback and tight end with the Washington Redskins, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft; and fullback and tight end with the Chicago Bears and Browns.
“I honestly feel like the way the scheme is here you’re a combo block on the tight end or you’re getting up on the safety. You’ve got to use your quickness and speed. Whereas other systems it’s downhill (to block) the middle linebacker. But this is a lot different, and it fits my skill set a lot better.”
Offensive line. Gallery was back at left guard today after sitting out last week and the opener against the 49ers after spraining an ankle in the preseason finale against the Raiders. That allowed first-round draft choice James Carpenter to return to right tackle after subbing for Gallery.
The rest of the No. 1 line included left tackle Russell Okung, who played against the 49ers after being sidelined since spraining an ankle on the first series of the preseason opener; center Max Unger; and right guard John Moffitt.
“That was great to see Robert back out,” Carroll said.
As for who starts against the Steelers, Carroll said, “We’ll work our way through the week and see what that means.”
Ben Roethlisberger. Carroll calls the Steelers’ 6-foot-5, 241-pound quarterback “a very, very volatile football player,” and here’s why:
“He’s an amazing player, in general,” Carroll said. “But when he really goes off the charts is when the play rhythm changes and he moves out of the pocket or he moves in the pocket and throws somebody on the ground and finds an open receiver and makes a great throw.
“He’s incredible at finding guys downfield with all the chaos going around him as the pocket breaks down and the play breaks down. So he’s more dangerous when he gets on the loose, even. It’s a number of factors. He’s such a big, strong guy, that he can just shed the rush. You have to really work to get him down. And he does not give up on a play. He won’t throw the ball away. He won’t waste a play. He’s going to go find something to do with it, because he’s been so good at it. So, boy, there’s just a big play waiting to happen with him. So he’s a very, very volatile football player that we have to do a great job in coverage, we have to stay on top and then we have to stay alive in our rushes so we can get to him and hopefully keep him from making those kinds of plays. Not very many people do. He basically gets out and does things in every game.”
IN AND OUT
In addition to Gallery, middle linebacker David Hawthorne (knee) returned to practice and was working with the No. 1 defense, while Rice (shoulder) was limited. Both missed the opener.
“Having Sidney back on the practice field was great today, along with Robert and ‘Heater,’ ” Carroll said. “Sidney ran around a lot and caught a lot of passes today. What that means, I don’t know. But it’s better than not seeing him do it.”
In addition to Robinson, cornerback Byron Maxwell (ankle), defensive end Dexter Davis (hip), linebacker Malcolm Smith (hamstring) and tackle Jerriel King (ankle) did not practice.
STAT DU JOUR
The Steelers have averaged 49.8 sacks the past four seasons, when they have led the NFL twice (2007 and 2010) and finished second twice (2008 and 2009).
Carroll has a milestone event on Thursday, and the Seahawks’ coach has chosen a unique way to mark his 60th birthday. His wish is to raise funds – and awareness – for “A Better Seattle,” which is designed after his already successful “A Better L.A.” program that connects highest-risk, gang-influenced youth with positive support systems.
So Carroll is asking fans to donate to the project through http://wishes.causes.com/petecarroll, and he will match the donations. Those donating will be entered to win a day at VMAC, where they will watch practice and get a tour of the facility; a Seahawks helmet autographed by Carroll; or an NFL football signed by the coach.
Thursday also will be the official launch of the “A Better Seattle” program.
“We do have a big event that’s coming up in that we’re making an announcement tomorrow about the start of ‘A Better Seattle,’ and a follow-up to the foundation work that we did in Los Angles that we’re very excited about,” Carroll said today during his midweek news conference.
“It just coincidentally happens to come on my birthday. Of all the things, to me, that’s what’s most significant about it being Sept. 15.”
On the field, the players will continue to follow their altered schedule to help prepare them for playing on the East Coast this week, with a walk-thru at 10:15 a.m. and practice at 11:45.
YOU DON’T SAY
“That’s a real logical storyline to follow, but it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers.” – Carroll when asked if Sunday’s game presents an additional challenge because the Steelers lost their opener to the Ravens 35-7