Countdown to kickoff

DENVER – Greetings from not Mile High Stadium, not even Invesco Field at Mile High, but Sports Authority Field at Mile High. A new season, a new coach (John Fox) and even a new stadium name for the Broncos.

Some of the Seahawks already are on the field on this toasty afternoon preparing for tonight’s preseason game. This is a big game for the starters – and the fans watching on TV, as well – because they’ll get their longest stint of the preseason. The No. 1 offensive and defensive units will play into, and perhaps most of, the third quarter.

“We may go with the No. 1’s three quarters,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It just depends on what happens.”

What needs to happen for the Tarvaris Jackson-led offense is to score some points. The No. 1 unit has yet to do that in nine possessions in the preseason, when six have ended in punts, one on an interception and another on downs at the Minnesota Vikings’ 1-yard line last weel. We took a longer look at this situation in the advance that was posted on Seahawks.com this morning.

The Broncos’ starters, by contrast, have scored 17 points in four possessions. Kyle Orton will start at quarterback, despite missing time – and losing sleep – this week because his wife gave birth to their first child on Friday – at 3 a.m. Fox also says his starters should play into the third quarter, although he has promised Tim Tebow that he’ll more snaps tonight after the second-year QB threw only two passes last week.

Even though the starters will play more tonight, there will be plenty of action for “the kids,” as Carroll calls the team’s rookies and second-year players. Top draft choices James Carpenter (tackle) and John Moffitt (guard) will continue to start on the right side of the line, and impressive rookie free agent Doug Baldwin has earned the right to see more action in the slot.

On defense, rookie K.J. Wright will start at middle linebacker for David Hawthorne (sore knee) and second-year man Josh Pinkard will start at strong safety for Kam Chancellor (sore foot). Wright and Pinkard already have been productive in the preseason. Wright leads the team with team with 10 tackles, while Pinkard forced a fumble last week that turned an apparent touchdown into a touchback. Now they get a chance to show they can do it with the starters – and against the Broncos’ starters.

In addition to Hawthorne and Chancellor, running back Marshawn Lynch (ankle), tight end John Carlson (shoulder), left tackle Russell Okung (ankle) and rookie defensive end Pierre Allen (hamstring) will not play tonight.

But defensive end Chris Clemons (ankle), wide receiver Ben Obomanu (shoulder) and cornerback Walter Thurmond (ankle) are scheduled to make their preseason debuts after sitting out the first two games. Clemons led the team with a career-high 11 sacks last season and any pressure he can generate against Orton will be a plus. Obomanu started six games last season and averaged a team-best 16.5 yards on 30 receptions. Thurmond is expected to play in the nickel tonight, but he should challenge Kelly Jennings for the starting spot on the right side opposite Marcus Trufant once he gets more time after being out since the second day of training camp.

So, get ready for some football – and a longer look at the starters.

What to expect? “We just want to be more consistent out there,” Jackson said. “We want to make sure we get everything targeted right, get guys going in the right direction for us in protection, make sure I get the ball out accurately and make quick decisions, make sure we get the running game going.”

That about covers it, except for one more thing: Score points.


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Cyber surfing: Friday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Aug, 26:

Eric Williams of the New Tribune profiles Josh Pinkard, who will start at strong safety in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Broncos in Denver because Kam Chancellor won’t play. Says Williams: “Pinkard hopes to fill a role left vacant when Seattle did not re-sign veteran defensive back Jordan Babineaux – a versatile performer who played cornerback, safety and special teams. Pinkard, who is being groomed to play a similar role, showed his playmaking ability against Minnesota last week. He saved a TD by tackling wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux from behind at the 5-yard line and punching the ball out of his hands and out of the end zone for a touchback.”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times takes a look at Red Bryant, who has returned from a season-ending knee injury to anchor one end of the defensive line. Offers O’Neil: “There might not be a bigger player on Seattle’s defense than Bryant, something as figuratively true as it is literally accurate. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive end’s presence made all the difference in the run defense last year.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald checks in with Walter Thurmond, the second-year cornerback who has returned this week from a high ankle sprain he got the second day of practice in training camp. Says Boyle: “Gasping to catch his breath, his lip covered in blood, Walter Thurmond looked and sounded every bit like a person in the midst of an intense game of catch-up. After missing more than three weeks of training camp with a high-ankle sprain, the second-year cornerback has finally been able to get back on the field this week, and Thurmond is doing everything he can to get back to game speed with the season only a couple of weeks away. So if that means sprinting up the steep grass hill next to the practice field to get in some extra conditioning, Thurmond is all for that. And if it means playing with enough reckless abandon to end up bloodied in practice, well then that will be part of the plan, too.”

Christian Caple of PI.com has the word from QB Tarvaris Jackson, which is: get some points from the No. 1 defense against the Broncos. Says Caple: “That’s certainly a good place to start for the Seahawks, whose first-team offense has been prevented by penalties and poor pass protection from scoring a single point through the first two games of the preseason.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has a look at the average age of all 32 NFL teamsby offense and defense, and the Seahawks rank 29th and 16th. Says Sando: “The Seahawks have been getting younger by design over the past two seasons. Like the 49ers, they have only six non-specialists in their 30s, with none older than 33 (Raheem Brock). … Most general managers want to make their teams younger when starting out. In Seattle, the head coach is also amendable to that approach.”

Michael Lombardi at NFL.com ranks the top players in the league at each position on offense and defense. Three Seahawks got red-chip status: tight end Zach Miller, center Max Unger and free safety Earl Thomas.

Here at Seahawks.com, we examine the depth and talent at the tight end position. As tight end coach Pat McPherson puts it: “If we’re healthy, we’re about as good as there is out there. I’m pretty excited about it.”

We also recap Thursday’s practice in words and video.


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Thursday in Hawkville

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where it was actually Friday because the Seahawks play on Saturday night:

FOCUS ON

Josh Pinkard. With Kam Chancellor sidelined by a sore foot, Pinkard will start at strong safety in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Broncos in Denver.

If his performance on the practice field this week – and especially today – is any indication, the second-year safety is ready for the challenge and the opportunity.

“This is a glorious opportunity for Josh,” coach Pete Carroll said after the team’s 95-minute padless practice. “It’s a huge opportunity for him to show he can hang with these guys.”

Today, Pinkard let it all hang out. He intercepted one pass and tipped away another. But his best play came a screen pass that he read before the ball was ever snapped, allowing him to close quickly and get to Doug Baldwin just as the rookie wide receiver was catching the ball behind the line of scrimmage.

“It’s just knowing the plays and knowing our pre-play keys and reads that we go through in our minds,” Pinkard said. “That’s why we’re sitting in those meetings all day. Once you get that tip or that tendency, you’ve just to react on it.”

Pinkard definitely did that today.

ROOKIE WATCH

K.J. Wright. The fourth-round draft choice will start at middle linebacker against the Broncos because David Hawthorne is out with a sore knee. Wright, who was drafted an outside linebacker, was moved inside after Lofa Tatupu was released on July 31. And the rookie has taken to his new role.

“This is an exciting opportunity for K.J., and for us to see him play with the first group,” Carroll said. “He had a terrific week of practice. I mean he really stepped it up and tried to play up with the fellas. It will be interesting to see how he does.”

Wright will be flanked by Aaron Curry and Leroy Hill, the starting outside linebackers, who participated in every phase of practice today after sitting out earlier in the week because of sore knees.

PLAYS OF THE DAY

Offense: Wide receiver Mike Williams going up between a pair of defenders to pull down a pass from Tarvaris Jackson for a 20-yard gain. The long play setup Jackson’s TD pass to a wide open Ben Obomanu in the two-minute drill that concluded practice. Williams also reached back to grab a Jackson pass in the end zone during the red zone drill.

Defense: Free safety Earl Thomas displaying his reactions, closing speed and leaping ability by flashing in to tip away a Josh Portis pass that was intended for rookie wide receiver Brandon Smith along the sideline.

Special teams: Linebacker/rush-end/tight end Jameson Konz sliding in to down a Jon Ryan punt by catching it at the 2-yard line.

IN AND OUT

Chris Clemons, the “Leo” defensive end, returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday to rest his surgically repaired ankle. He’ll also play against the Broncos after sitting out the first two preseason games.

“We’re figuring out how much to play him,” Carroll said. “We’d just like to get him out there and start him on his comeback. He looked fine in practice when he’s taken his turns. He won’t see an extended amount of time. We’ll get him in there two or three plays at time and then out.”

Running back Marshawn Lynch sat out for the second consecutive day to rest a sore ankle and Carroll said Lynch will not play against the Broncos.

“We’re going to rest him this week to make sure we get him well,” Carroll said. “But if we were playing a (regular season) game, I know he’d be chomping at the bit to play. But I think it’s a good decision to hold him back right now.”

Still sidelined, in addition to Hawthorne, Chancellor and Lynch: tight end John Carlson (shoulder), defensive end Dexter Davis (hip) and defensive lineman Pierre Allen (hamstring). Left tackle Russell Okung (ankle) did some work in individual drills but will not play against the Broncos.

Four players remain on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from offseason surgery: wide receiver Deon Butler (leg), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe), defensive tackle Colin Cole (ankle) and cornerback Roy Lewis (knee). They could remain on PUP when the cut to 53 players is made on Sept. 3, Carroll said.

“Right now we’re just being real patient with that and we don’t expect those guys to make it by the first game,” Carroll said of the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco. “They’re not going to make it. It’s going to be awhile.”

UP NEXT

The players will have a sort walk-thru Friday morning before the team flies to Denver for Saturday night’s game. The players will be off on Sunday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Well, he’s huge, for one. He’s huge. That starts there, but he runs well, too. He gets up and goes. He can chase the football. And he’s so long with his arms that he can deliver a blow on blockers and extend and hold the line of scrimmage in an unusual fashion.” – Carroll, when asked what it was about Red Bryant’s body type that makes the 6-foot-4, 323-pounder suited for the five-technique end spot


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Cyber surfing: Wednesday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Aug, 24:

Eric Williams at the New Tribune examines the comfort and confidence Charlie Whitehurst is showing this summer. Rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin on the team’s backup QB: ““Personally I feel like I have more chemistry with him just because I’ve had more reps with him. Charlie’s a great guy. He’s a great quarterback who does some tremendous things on the field.”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at two defensive backs who are playing themselves into spots on the 53-man roster – cornerback Brandon Browner and safety Josh Pinkard. Offers O’Neil: “They can no longer be considered longshots to make Seattle’s roster, though. And that is truly remarkable, considering how far these two have come. Browner spent the past four seasons in the Canadian Football League while Pinkard spent most of 2010 coming back from the third torn knee ligament he suffered while at USC.”

Also from O’Neil, a video of coach Pete Carroll talking about the play of the offensive line in the first two preseason games, when the No. 1 unit hasn’t been as good as it needs to be and the No. 2 unit has been much improved from a year ago.

John Boyle at the Everett Herald asked Carroll a couple of times to clarify the situation at quarterback, and the coach is unwavering in his commitment to Tarvaris Jackson as the starter. Says Boyle, and Carroll: “So if you’re looking for a quarterback controversy following Saturday’s preseason game in which Charlie Whitehurst turned in a strong performance with the Seahawks’ No. 2 offense, you’ll be sorry to hear that Carroll has not changed the stance he took at the beginning of training camp when he named the newly signed Jackson the starter. ‘It doesn’t change at this point,’ Carroll said. ‘But I’m really pleased with (Whitehurst’s) progress.’ ”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press looks back at Saturday’s preseason game, which looked better to Carroll the second time around. Says wide receiver Mike Williams: “With this whole lockout and this drought from football and no one being able to watch the game I think now people can watch their teams and they’re a little more critical. Everyone has their right to an opinion and we have to go out and perform and we understand we didn’t really perform as a first unit.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has an updated free-agent scorecard for all the teams in the NFC West. On the Seahawks, he says: “Adding Jackson as the starting quarterback was the most significant move for the 2011 season. Mebane was the most important re-signing for the longer term. Hill was a bargain relative to how he’s playing right now. Miller and Rice were the types of young, talented players who rarely change teams in free agency. The Seahawks were outbid for Herring and Mare. Can street free agent David Vobora fill some of the void Herring left?

And speaking of Vobora, here at Seahawks.com, we check in with the newest Seahawk – the linebacker from Idaho and Eugene’s Churchill High School who was “Mr. Irrelevant” as the last pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Says Vobora: “That’s always been something I’ve taken a lot of pride in. … It’s an incredible deal. You kind of feel like you’re the first pick.”

We’ve also got Tuesday’s practice covered in words and video. And there’s a look back at Saturday night’s game against the Vikings in Ben Malcolmson’s “From the Sidelines” report.


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Cyber surfing: Monday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Aug. 22:

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle times examines “three things we learned” from Saturday night’s preseason home opener against the Vikings. Offers O’Neil, at No. 1: “Charlie Whitehurst is a more decisive quarterback this season. It’s true that he’s playing against second-unit defenses while Tarvaris Jackson faces the starters, but it’s equally clear that Whitehurst’s decision-making has been quicker in his second preseason as a Seahawk. He has completed more than 70 percent of his passes and currently ranks No. 11 in passer rating out of all NFL quarterbacks.”

Dave Boling at the News Tribune offers some sage advice: Remember, it was only a preseason game, and one that followed the lack of an offseason. Says Boling, in a needed voice of reason: “We should be reminded that these guys are in mid-May form right now. They haven’t learned each others’ names yet, let alone the full playbook. You can’t cook a stew in a microwave; it takes time to blend the ingredients. So assessments of the Seattle Seahawks after two exhibitions are verdicts with scant evidence. After a win and a loss, the first-team offense still hasn’t gotten the memo that the lockout has ended. However, if there was a league in which the second units competed, the Seahawks would be strong contenders.”

At SI.com, Chris Burke comes up with an obvious conclusion on the play of the Seahawks’ No. 1 line: “Facing an aggressive Minnesota front in a 20-7 loss Saturday night, the Seahawks’ line was manhandled. If not for Tarvaris Jackson’s ability to scramble and get out of trouble, he could have been sacked six or seven times in the two quarters he played — the Vikings’ one sack is about as misleading a stat as you’ll get.”

At NFL.com, Bucky Brooks arrived at the same conclusion: “The offensive line’s inability work in concert in pass protection remains a problem as well. The unit has been overwhelmed physically and tactically by opponents, and its inability to protect Tarvaris Jackson in the pocket has resulted in little production in the passing game. While Jackson can shoulder some of blame for a few errant tosses, he has been harassed and forced to flee the pocket, which has killed any and all rhythm.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at Josh Pinkard’s heads-up play that turned an apparent touchdown into a touchback, and how it was reminiscent of one he made as a junior in high school. Says coach Pete Carroll, who also coached Pinkard at USC: “Ever since Pink was a junior in high school, he’s knocked balls out like that. He did it in college all the way through. He’s an uncanny guy at getting the football out.”


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Thursday in Hawkville

A recap of the day’s activities:

FOCUS ON

South Park. Not the south end zone at Qwest Field. But South Park, the animated series on Comedy Central. You know, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Hasselbeck.

Hasselbeck? That’s right. Matt Hasselbeck made a surprising – especially to him – cameo appearance on the show Wednesday night. It was part of an episode called Insheeption, which parodied the movie “Inception.” The Seahawks’ quarterback is involved in a discussion about dream sequences and the mother of the child asks, “Who’s Hasselbeck?” The Hasselbeck “character” then says, “I am.”

The Seahawks quarterback did not supply the voice for the brief appearance, and had no idea he was going to be on the show. But he definitely heard about it once the show aired.

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