Wednesday in Hawkville: Wagner doing more than just filling a hole in the middle

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 3:


Bobby Wagner. Tuesday, we tabbed the middle linebacker as our best rookie in the first quarter of the season. Today, coach Pete Carroll seconded that notion, and then some.

“I think it’s worth noting at the quarter point of the season that there are a lot of good things that have happened, particularly for some of the young guys who have come on. Bobby is one of them,” Carroll said of the Seahawks’ second-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.

“He’s really playing good football. He’s doing a terrific job of handling things. He’s shown up with big hits and he’s shown up covering well. He’s chasing the football. You can see the speed that he has.”

And Wagner is doing it in what was the one hole in the defense after the club decided not to re-sign three-time leading tackler David Hawthorne in free agency. Entering Sunday’s game against the Panthers in Carolina, Wagner is third on the team in tackles (22), and had three for losses among his team-leading seven solo stops against the Rams on Sunday.

“We don’t have anything we can’t do right now,” Carroll said. “He can play. He can play in nickel situations. He can do everything that we want him to right now.

“That’s a major statement for us.”

And a major statement about just how well the rookie from Utah State is playing at the next level.


Nickel back. Marcus Trufant was sidelined today because of a back issue that Carroll said is related to the problems that forced him to miss the first six games in 2009 and the last 12 games last season.

It’s significant because of the problems the Seahawks’ No. 2-ranked defense has had getting off the field on third downs. Opponents are converting 43.1 percent on third downs, and the Rams did it five times in Sunday’s game despite facing at least a third-and-10 situation on each play.

With Trufant sitting out, recently signed Danny Gorrer and second-year corner Byron Maxwell filled in for him during practice.


The Panthers’ offense. It starts with QB Cam Newton, but it definitely doesn’t stop there. Just ask Carroll.

“Boy, this is a loaded offense that we’re dealing with,” Carroll said. “We had a lot of respect for Cam Newton coming out in the draft. … But to see him now and see the offense they’re running and what they’re doing with the three running backs that they have is terrific. (Tight end Greg) Olsen and Steve Smith outside.

“This is a really, really difficult offense and they’re doing a great job. Ron (Rivera, Panthers coach) has put together an offense that is very, very explosive. It’s a good matchup for us.”

Newton and DeAngelo Williams each have 167 rushing yards to pace the Panthers, while Jonathan Stewart has 91 and the most impressive number with Mike Tolbert is 245 – his weight. Olsen leads the Panthers with 20 receptions, while Smith has 17.

The Panthers also have produced a glut of explosive plays: a 66-yard reception by Smith; a 55-yard reception by Louis Murphy; a 36-yard TD catch by Kealoha Pilares; a 34-yard reception by Olsen; a 40-yard run by Newton; a 27-yard run by Williams; and a 25-yard run by wide receiver Brandon LeFell.

“They average 10 or 11 (explosives plays) a game,” Carroll said. “That’s an enormous number. That’s a big challenge for us.”


The official report, as issued by the team:


OG John Moffitt (knee)

Did not practice

CB Marcus Trufant (back)

DE Jaye Howard (foot)

Limited in practice

RB Marshawn Lynch (rest)

Moffitt already has been ruled out for Sunday’s game because of the knee injury he got in Week 3 against the Packers. So James Carpenter will start at left guard, with Paul McQuistan sliding to the right side to replace Moffitt as he did Sunday against the Rams. With Lynch seeing little action in practice, rookie Robert Turbin got a lot of work with the No. 1 offense. Turbin ran for 45 yards on six carries against the Rams on Sunday.

For the Panthers:

Did not practice

DE Frank Alexander (back)

LB Jon Beason (knee)

CB Chris Gamble (shoulder)

OG/C Geoff Hangartner (knee)

S Colin Jones (shoulder)

Limited in practice

OG/C Mike Pollak (shoulder)

Full participation

DE Antwan Applewhite (knee)


Rookie free agent tight end Sean McGrath has been re-signed to the practice squad. To clear a spot, running back Lonyae Miller was released.

McGrath was added to the practice squad after being released on the final roster cut in August; released two days later; re-signed five days after that; and then released last week.


Which is better, the Seahawks’ kickoff return unit or the Seahawks’ kickoff coverage unit? Neither, because both units lead the NFL in average starting position after four games. Here’s a look at how the Seahawks stack up:

Kickoff coverage

Team                     Kickoffs    Avg. start

Seahawks                  15          18.3

Ravens                       24          19.3

Jets                             18          19.3

Bears                          23          19.6

Redskins                    23          19.6

Kickoff return

Team                       Returns    Avg. start

Seahawks                   16             27.8

Vikings                        21             27.5

49ers                           14            26.4

Falcons                       14             25.5

Bears                           15            25.2


“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Panthers. The team will leave for Charlotte on Friday following a midday practice.

Just a reminder: Sunday’s game has a late kickoff – 4:05 p.m. in Charlotte; 1:05 p.m. in Seattle.


“I think Russell Wilson’s going to be OK. I just think people need to relax a little bit, don’t push the panic button. Let’s see where we go this week. I think he’s going to come back and play very strong. I really do.” – Warren Moon, Hall of Fame QB and analyst for Seahawks radio broadcasts, on the team’s rookie quarterback during an interview on 710 ESPN

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