A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 14:
A banner day. The indoor practice facility at VMAC got a touch of CenturyLink Field as banners from the Seahawks’ division and conference championship seasons are now hanging from the rafters on the north wall.
The players consider it a nice touch, as well as a motivational move – especially those who have been a part of more than last season’s NFC West title team. Linebacker Leroy Hill also was around for the division and conference champion in 2005, we well as the NFC West titles in 2006 and 2007.
“They’re cool, man,” Hill said. “I’ve been a part of three straight – ’05, ’06, ’07. I like the concept. It’s something you can look at while you’re practicing and it’s sort of like a motivation.”
The other banners are from the AFC West division titles in 1988 and 1999 and the NFC West title in 2004.
“They just make it look better,” Hill said. “They fill up some of that empty space.”
ON THE FIELD
The players practiced outside in 40-degree weather to get ready for Sunday’s game against the Bears in Chicago, where the forecast is calling for a high of 45 degrees. They worked without pads or helmets for 85 minutes.
Center Max Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini were the only ones in shorts as well as without long sleeves.
Doug Baldwin. Five minutes of firsts in Monday night’s victory over the Rams have earned the rookie his first NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honor.
Baldwin returned the opening kickoff, his first in a regular season game, for 37 yards on a reverse. He then downed his first punt in the NFL by catching Jon Ryan’s 34-yarder at the Rams’ 6-yard line. Baldwin then blocked his first NFL punt, on the ensuing series, which Michael Robinson returned 17 yards for the Seahawks’ first TD.
All in the first five minutes of the game.
Baldwin took his big night on national TV the way he has everything else he’s accomplished this season, which includes leading the team in receptions (45) and receiving yards (718): In stride.
“The plays that were given to me, the opportunities I was given, I expect to take full advantage of,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin is the third Seahawk to be honored in the past four games. Middle linebacker David Hawthorne (last week) and defensive end Chris Clemons (Week 11) were selected Defensive Player of the Week. The last Seahawk to win the special teams category was Ryan in Week 17 last season – also against the Rams. Kickoff returner Leon Washington (Week 3) and former kicker Olindo Mare (Week 7) also were honored last season.
Brian Urlacher. The Bears’ middle linebacker is 33 and in his 12th NFL season, but the native of Pasco continues to play at the highest level.
“He’s unusual,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said today. “Most people don’t have the talent that Brian has. He’s just one of those guys – a gifted athlete that comes around every once in a while. So you start with that. He takes great care of himself in the offseason and during the season. He’s a student of the game.
“Around here, everyone has a history and everyone knows Brian’s history as a football player. He’s a special guy to have on the team. He’s done so much for us.”
Urlacher’s resume includes being selected NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2005), NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2000), as well as voted to seven Pro Bowls. He also is the Bears’ all-time leading tackler (1,556).
IN ’N OUT
Hawthorne and left guard Robert Gallery sat out practice. Rookie K.J. Wright moved inside to replace Hawthorne, with rookie Mike Morgan stepping in on the strong side for Wright. Allen Barbre and Jarriel King split time at left guard for Gallery.
Defensive end Raheem Brock and Baldwin also did not practice.
Here’s the official injury report:
Did not practice
WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)
DE Raheem Brock (calf)
OG Robert Gallery (hip)
MLB David Hawthorne (knee)
CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)
LB Leroy Hill (neck)
QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral)
OT Jarriel King (hamstring)
For the Bears:
Did not practice
LB Lance Briggs (not injury related)
QB Jay Cutler (right thumb)
RB Matt Forte (knee)
DT Henry Melton (shin)
CB Charles Tillman (knee)
OG Edwin Williams (calf)
S Major Wright (shoulder)
The Seahawks also filled the opening on their 53-man roster by signing rookie wide receiver Ricardo Lockette from the practice squad. Defensive back Coy Fancies was signed to the practice squad.
STAT DU JOUR
It’s not so much that Devin Hester returns punts for touchdowns, it’s how often the Bears’ return specialist has done it (12), how long they’ve been (eight of 70-plus yards) and how many teams he has done it against (nine). He started in 2006 as rookie and still is at it this season, his sixth in the league. Here’s a look at his NFL-record dozen scoring returns on punts:
Date (opponent) Length
Sept. 10, 2006 (Packers) 84
Oct. 16, 2006 (Cardinals) 83
Dec. 3, 2006 (Vikings) 45
Sept. 16, 2007 (Chiefs) 73
Oct. 17, 2007 (Vikings) 89
Nov. 25, 2007 (Broncos) 75
Dec. 30, 2007 (Saints) 64
Sept. 27, 2010 (Packers) 62
Oct. 17, 2010 (Seahawks) 89
Dec. 20, 2010 (Vikings) 64
Oct. 2, 2011 (Panthers) 73
Nov. 13, 2011 (Lions) 82
The touchdown Robinson scored on Baldwin’s blocked punt was not the first of his six-season NFL career, just the first of his two seasons with the Seahawks. Robinson scored two touchdowns in 2006, during his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Both came on 1-yard runs, and in the same game – Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. So Robinson went four full seasons and large parts of two others, not to mention 89 games, between trips to the end zone.
The players will practice an hour earlier on Thursday, and then hold a Friday morning workout before the team flies to Chicago for Sunday’s game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I don’t know if there’s anything worse than a bear with a bad tooth.” – coach Pete Carroll on facing a Chicago team that has lost its past three games