Monday in Hawkville: NFC West on the rise

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Sept. 17:


The NFC West. A division that was referred to as the NFC Worst when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll took over in 2010 has gotten the last laugh in the first two weeks of the NFL season.

The 49ers (2-0), Cardinals (2-0), Seahawks (1-1) and Rams (1-1) are a combined 6-2, the best record of the league’s eight divisions. And included in the W’s are victories over the Cowboys (by the Seahawks on Sunday), Patriots (by the Cardinals on Sunday), Packers (by the 49ers last week) and Lions (by the 49ers on Sunday night).

“We’re improved,” Carroll said today during his weekly day-after Q&A session. “The Niners played so well last year (13-3) and did such a good job throughout the season, they look like they’re really legit again. So the rest of us were trying to catch up a little bit.

“However, it’s happening.”

And the four teams are thriving by playing a physical and constrictive style of defense. The Seahawks rank sixth in average yards allowed after two games, with the 49ers at No. 11, the Cardinals at No. 13 and the Rams at No. 24. In average points allowed, of the teams that have played two games, the Seahawks are No. 3 (13.5), the Cardinals are No. 5 (17.0) and the 49ers are tied for No. 9 (20.5).

“I think it’s a very aggressive division,” Carroll said. “Our style, San Francisco’s style, the way the Cardinals are playing defense. I don’t know much about the Rams; haven’t seen them much, yet. But what else is Jeff (Fisher, the Rams’ first-year coach) going to do? He’s going to bring it.

“So it’s shaping up to be a really cool division. And I think people are going to look at it a lot differently than they have, say a couple years ago.”


Second-year cornerback Byron Maxwell has what Carroll labeled a first-degree (or mild) hamstring injury.

“We’ve got to wait and see how it works out,” Carroll said. “It might not be that serious, but we don’t know.”

Tight end Zach Miller played against the Cowboys, despite a foot injury that limited him in practice last week.

“Zach limped his way through this game,” Carroll said. “He was not full speed. But he made it through and toughed it out. He needs these days to get over this.”

“These days” are the players being off today and Wednesday, and having only meetings tomorrow, because of the Monday night game against the Packers next week.

Russell Okung was scheduled to start at left tackle against the Cowboys, but was a pregame scratch because of the bruised knee he got in the fourth quarter of the opener.

“He wasn’t full speed. He couldn’t go,” Carroll said. “He should be able (to play against the Packers).”


Marshawn Lynch ranks third in the league is rushing yards (207) behind the Bills’ C.J. Spiller (292) and the Dolphins’ Reggie Bush (241). The Seahawks face both those backs this season.

Sunday’s game will match the two punt returns in the NFC with the best averages – the Packers’ Randall Cobb (24.0) and the Seahawks’ Leon Washington (14.5). Washington also is second in the league in kickoff return average (38.3).

Punter Jon Ryan ranks eighth in the league in average (50.0) and seventh in net average (42.6).

Strong safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker K.J. Wright lead the team in tackles with 14 each.


The players will not practice until Thursday because of the Monday night game. That also means this week will not be as it seems, at least on the calendar. Thursday will be Wednesday. Friday will be Thursday. Saturday will be Friday. Sunday will be Saturday.

Washington will sign autographs at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday – the real Tuesday, as in tomorrow.


“The challenge is hugely at hand with Green Bay coming in.” – Carroll on the matchup against the Packers on “Monday Night Football” next week

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