Friday cyber surfing: Thomas, Baldwin looking to build on last season

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 18:

The Seahawks’ offseason program workout was open to the media on Thursday and Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas and leading receiver Doug Baldwin were made available for interviews.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times says Thomas and Baldwin are looking build off their productive 2011 seasons: “So what’s next? It’s a question not only for Baldwin and Thomas, but for this team to turn the potential it showed the second half of last season into a playoff berth. Were those final eight games a tease or a turning point? That depends in part on whether players like Baldwin and Thomas cannot just replicate last season, but build on it. ‘I think I have so much more to prove,’ Baldwin said, ‘and so much more that I’m capable of.’ As for Thomas? ‘Playing football, there’s never enough,’ Thomas said. ‘There’s always something you can learn and I’m still learning new stuff every day.’ ”

Eric Williams at the New Tribune looks at Thomas, who says that while personal achievements are nice the fun in football is all about winning: “Asked about a host of offseason accomplishments, including his first Pro Bowl invitation and an appearance at No. 66 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 players of 2012, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said he’s not concerned about individual awards. ‘I don’t know what everybody else thinks, but in my eyes, if you’re a great player, the personal accolades are going to come, but you just let them fall and play ball,’ Thomas said. ‘I’ve been playing ball since I was little, and I love doing it. If people like the way I play, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine, too. I just like to play ball.’ ”
John Boyle at the Everett Herald says Baldwin has retained the same mindset he had as a rookie free agent last season: “A year later, Baldwin’s future is much clearer as he prepares for the 2012 season with the Seahawks, but his big rookie campaign won’t change the way he prepares this summer. He may have some solid numbers on his résumé now, but Baldwin will still have the same attitude heading into this season as he did when he didn’t know if he would find work in the NFL. ‘One of my mottos that I remind myself of every day is that today doesn’t care about what you did yesterday,’ he said. ‘So to be honest with you, I have the same mindset, the same mentality. I’m still a rookie, because they brought in undrafted guys that are competing for a job to take my spot, to take other guys’ spots, so you’ve got to have that same mentality and that same hunger to go out there and win your spot every day.’ ”

Just when you thought there was nothing left to say – or write – about Bruce Irvin, Dennis Dillon at SI.com profiles the Seahawks’ first-round draft pick: “One day last summer, West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich stood on a second-floor balcony of the Puskar Center, the football facility that adjoins the Mountaineers’ stadium. Defensive end Bruce Irvin walked onto the field. He wore shorts and flip-flops. Not realizing that two pairs of eyes were watching him, Irvin casually jumped over a six-foot football dummy and then continued on his way. That’s not the sole reason the Seahawks chose Irvin with the 15th overall pick in the NFL draft – they’re not expecting him to leap over offensive linemen in a single bound – but his athleticism surely played a part. Irvin was the most surprising selection in Round 1: Most NFL pundits had him going in the second round or, at best, possibly late in the first. But as general manager John Schneider put it, the Seahawks draft for themselves, not for the rest of the league. The Seahawks have a plan and a vision for Irvin, 24, who played only two years of Division-I football following a checkered adolescence. He’ll back up end Chris Clemons (11 sacks last season) at the “Leo” position, then play opposite of Clemons on pass-rushing downs.”

Also at SI.com, they have a photo gallery on the top QB competitions in the league, and of course the Seahawks are included: “Overview: Third-round pick Russell Wilson is also in the mix for the starting job, according to coach Pete Carroll. That declaration is not good news for (Tarvaris) Jackson. By signing (Matt) Flynn in free agency and drafting Russell, the Seahawks have put Jackson on notice. Prediction: Flynn would have to flop not to get the starting job, because he already has a starter’s contract. If Russell plays well in preseason games and wins the top backup job, Jackson may be gone.” Another of the battles includes two QBs with Seattle ties – Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker with the Titans: “Overview: Hasselbeck was solid last season, but Locker is clearly the guy for the future. Locker is being groomed the old-school way – learning behind a veteran instead of being thrown into the fire. It could pay off long-term. Prediction: Hasselbeck will start the season, but Locker could very well finish it.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com looks at three NFC West players who are looking to stare down the sophomore jinx, including Baldwin: “One emphasis for 2012 will be for Baldwin to process information more quickly based on a firmer grasp of his responsibilities within a certain play and against specific defensive looks. Baldwin: “For me, it’s knowing my assignment earlier and making sure I can read the defense quicker, and not being distracted by the disguises that defenses try to throw at us. Just becoming more a student of the game, making sure that when we have a certain player we’re going against, making sure I study him more than I did last year.” That will be especially important, because opponents now have much more information on Baldwin, a relative unknown as a rookie.”

Russell Wilson did an interview with The Big 1070 in Madison, and the former University of Wisconsin QB discussed why his height will not be an issue: “It makes it that much more unique and that much more cool in terms of the fact that I can play at a high level that I play at 5-11. And that’s the thing about it. And I think that’s something that I definitely embrace.”

Speaking of Wilson, Albert Breer at NFL.com looks at the QB situations with the Seahawks and 49ers and wonders if rookies could end up starting for both: “One team was the toast of the NFL last season, rising out of a decade-long slumber and landing on the doorstep of the biggest stage in American sports. The other spent the second half of 2011, even while in the middle of franchise overhaul, as one of the league’s most dangerous teams, beating the Baltimore Ravens, and blowing out the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. But most interesting is that months after an optimism-pumping fall, in a quarterback-driven league, neither the San Francisco 49ers nor the Seattle Seahawks have a definitive answer going forward at the game’s most important position. Yes, the Niners have Alex Smith, who led the club to a 13-3 mark last fall. And sure, Seattle signed Matt Flynn, the biggest quarterbacking name on the market outside of that fella who used to play for the Indianapolis Colts. But facts are facts. Both Seattle and San Francisco made runs at Peyton Manning. Both clubs have drafted a quarterback outside the first round, but inside the first 75 picks in the past two years.”

Also at NFL.com, Ian Rapoport stands up for Wilson, who continues to field questions about his lack of prototypical height: “Being short isn’t the worst thing ever. Trust me. I’m short. Not that I could play quarterback, but it does make you work for everything. It does make succeeding a little sweeter, especially if you walk under the radar. Sure, you may need to jump up to grab something on the top shelf, but short people often have the quickness and athletic nimbleness that tall dudes lack. Maybe it’s a little tougher to dunk (ahem, impossible). But think Doug Flutie could’ve played the same if he was tall?”

Here at Seahawks.com, we also check in with Baldwin, who did all the right things on the field Thursday and then said all the right things in his Q&A session: “The Seahawks’ leading receiver last season couldn’t have been more P.C. (politically correct, not Pete Carroll) during his quick Q&A session with reporters Thursday after the team’s 45-minute workout as part of its offseason program. The most obvious question was Baldwin’s take on the quarterback situation, which is now a three-armed race after Carroll said on Sunday that rookie Russell Wilson would compete for the starting job with incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and free-agent addition Matt Flynn. Baldwin climbed upon his soapbox, er, leaned toward the podium and offered, ‘It’s the philosophy that coach Carroll preaches about – it’s competition; bring guys in that are going to be competing for a position. Obviously we’ve got three great quarterbacks – two that we know of; one that’s just coming in that’s showing great potential, obviously, with Pete Carroll saying what he did. So it’s going to be exciting times in (training) camp.’ ”

We also check in with Thomas, the Pro Bowl free safety who has been ranked at No. 66 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 players in the league: “Asked about his growing national notoriety, Thomas said, ‘Anything is motivation. I’m really just focused on what’s going down here in Seattle. All the personal accolades, that’s great. But if you win, everybody gets personal accolades. And I want to win.’ The Seahawks have won seven games in each of Thomas’ two seasons, after winning a combined nine games in 2008 and 2009. Baby steps, perhaps, but steps in the right direction as running back Marshawn Lynch also is included on the NFL Network list at No. 94. ‘I don’t know what everybody thinks, but in my eyes if you’re a great player the personal accolades are going to come,’ he said. ‘But just let them fall and play ball. I’ve been playing ball since I was little and I love doing it. If people like the way I play, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine, too. I just like to play ball.’ ”

There’s also Tony Ventrella’s video recap, as well as video of the Q&A sessions with Baldwin and Thomas.


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