NFC West: Byron Maxwell

Seahawks have a lot to say

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
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RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks were quite a talkative group this week, so here are a few interesting quotes that stood out:

Defensive linemen Michael Bennett, who has 7.5 sacks this season and 22 quarterback hurries, was asked the difference in playing for the Seahawks and playing for his previous NFL team at Tampa Bay:

Bennett
“At Tampa you just had one position and kind of stayed there,” Bennett said. “Here, everybody [on the defensive line] has to be able to play multiple positions. I think that’s one of the strengths of our defense. You can’t know where one player is. We move around and make plays.”

Bennett on the Seahawks' chances of clinching the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs with a victory Sunday against Arizona:

“We don’t want to put too much emphasis on it,” Bennett said “When you do that, guys get afraid to make mistakes and get too uptight. They don’t play the way they are capable of playing.”

Cornerback Byron Maxwell, on playing so well he will cause the coaches to make a tough decision next week on who starts when Walter Thurmond returns from his four-game suspension.

"That’s a good thing, I guess,” Maxwell said. “The end goal is getting to the Super Bowl, so it’s all about what’s best for the team. It’s a blessing we have all these guys [in the secondary]. We’re getting each other better.”

Maxwell also was asked when was the last time he had two interceptions in a game, which he did against the Giants last weekend:

"High school," he said.

Sherman
Cornerback Richard Sherman on who should be the NFL defensive player of the year between him and Seattle free safety Earl Thomas:

“I would have to give it to Earl,” Sherman said. “I think if there is anywhere that the defensive player of year should be, it should be in Seattle, whether it’s myself or Earl.”

Outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield on whether the NFL should expand the playoffs:

“I think they should keep it just like it is,” he said. "We don’t have a seven-game series like baseball or basketball. You show up and get it done or you don’t. If they added [playoff] teams, I think the competition goes down. I think the way the system is now is what makes the NFL what it is. You’ve got to be in the right position to get in the playoffs, and that makes any division race tough.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson on how important consistency is to his progress:

“Well, that was my number one goal, to be honest with you,” he said. “My number one goal coming into the season was being consistent, so that’s kind of my approach to the game, to practice, to just each day. I think that’s been a good thing so far.

“I want to keep growing. There’s so many more things that I can do better, and so many things I can learn. That’s the exciting part about being a quarterback in the National Football League. You never really know it all.”
Seattle Seahawks Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesThe Seahawks made five interceptions, including two apiece by Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If the Seattle Seahawks return to this stellar, and likely frigid, facility in a few weeks for the game of games, it will be because of a defense with depth, talent and skills like no other.

Quarterback Russell Wilson is the glamour boy of this team, and deservedly so, as he showed once again in a 23-0 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife stadium.

But posting a shutout for the first time this season, along with picking off five Eli Manning passes, at the venue where the Super Bowl takes place in seven weeks is something to remember.

This defense is the other thing that sets the Seahawks apart.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind,” middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said of playing at the Super Bowl site. “Of course it did. And it feels good to play like this here. If the time comes and we take care of business to get back here, it will matter. No doubt about it.”

Seattle, with the NFL’s best record at 12-2, entered the game with the No. 1 defense in the league in yards allowed. It won’t change after this one. The Seahawks gave up only 181 yards, including just 25 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Look at it like this: The Seahawks gave up 26 fewer yards rushing Sunday than they did on one big play to Frank Gore in the 19-17 loss at San Francisco last week, a day on which Seattle allowed 163 yards rushing to the 49ers.

“We had a chip on our shoulders about that,” said Wagner, who led the team Sunday with 10 tackles and 1 sacks. “We wanted to show that’s not who we are.”

Who they are is a defense with such extraordinary depth that a third-string cornerback can intercept two passes against Manning. Byron Maxwell now has three interceptions in the past two games starting at right cornerback. Manning found out the hard way that Maxwell isn’t your typical backup.

“Yeah, he tested me on the very first play,” Maxwell said, referring to an incomplete pass intended for Victor Cruz. “But I feel like I’m just as good as our starters and I want people to know it.”

Manning had been playing much better in recent weeks after a horrible start to the season, but he was no match for the Seattle secondary. He made the senseless decision to challenge cornerback Richard Sherman on a sideline go-route, which Sherman picked off so easily he might as well have called a fair catch.

Sherman had two picks and assisted on another when he tipped a pass into the end zone in the fourth quarter that free safety Earl Thomas caught to preserve the shutout.

“He owed me one after I let him have that pick on the [Hail Mary] pass at the end of the half,” Thomas said. “We came prepared [Sunday]. We had a bad outing last week, but that doesn’t define us.

“You saw what happened [Sunday]. We need to keep this same mentality, because when we’re [angry] like this, we’re hard to beat. We did a lot of things right today and really disguised our coverage.”

Thomas said the Seahawks changed things up a little against the Giants by starting most plays with two safeties deep, but then one of them would close in near the line of scrimmage right before the snap. The Giants didn’t know who it would be -- Thomas or strong safety Kam Chancellor.

“Did you see some of those hits Kam made today?” Maxwell asked. “Wow. One guy for [the Giants], I won’t say who, came up to me and said, ‘That’s a man right there,’ talking about Kam.”

Almost everyone on the Seattle defense looked like men among boys Sunday. The Giants didn’t even cross midfield until midway through the fourth quarter, long after the outcome was decided.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin called New York’s offensive performance “pathetic.” The Seahawks have made a lot of offenses look that way this season, but this game stood out.

“That’s as good a defensive coverage day for us as I can remember,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Guys really stepped up. It’s as complete a game as we’ve had.”

That includes receiver Doug Baldwin, who caught six passes for 71 yards and 12-yard touchdown on which he fought he way to the goal line. It includes running back Marshawn Lynch, who had six receptions for 73 yards, along with a 2-yard TD run that saw him break four tackles and will his way into the end zone.

And, of course, it includes Wilson, who was 18-of-27 passing for 206 yards and one touchdown, along with 50 yards rushing.

Let’s give Wilson his due. He became the only quarterback in NFL history to win 23 games in his first two seasons. He also is one of only three quarterbacks in league history -- joining Dan Marino and Peyton Manning -- to throw 50 TDs in his first two seasons.

The Seahawks would not be where they are without Wilson. But the new golden boy of the NFL would not be where he is without this remarkable defense that just played lights-out on the field where they hope to return soon.

video

Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

December, 15, 2013
12/15/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 23-0 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Seahawks improve to an NFL-best 12-2 and earn a franchise-record sixth road victory this season. Seattle needs to win only one of its last two games (both at home) to clinch the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Stock watch: It was the best effort of the season by the Seattle defense. The Giants had only 54 yards in the first half. Eli Manning threw five interceptions, and three picks came in the first two quarters, although the last one by Richard Sherman was on a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the half. New York had only 15 yards rushing in the first half. This will give you some idea of how well the Seahawks played on defense. Golden Tate tied the franchise record with seven punt returns in the game.

Cornered: Another stellar effort by the Seattle cornerbacks. Two weeks in a row, quarterbacks have tested backup corner Byron Maxwell, only to watch him burn them. Maxwell had two interceptions Sunday, giving him three in the past two games. And any team that throws a sideline go route on Sherman is just plain dumb. Manning tried it in the second quarter, and Sherman could have called for a fair catch. Jeremy Lane also played well as the nickelback. Even the interception by free safety Earl Thomas late in the fourth quarter came on an assist from Sherman in the end zone when he batted the ball to Thomas. The Legion of Boom hasn't missed a beat without cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.

Hauschka a kicking machine: It was another perfect day for Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka, who went 3-for-3 on field goals. He has made 30 of 31 field goals, with his only miss a blocked kick at Indianapolis. Hauschka is the best kicker in the league this season.

What's next: The Seahawks return home for the final two games of the regular season against the Arizona Cardinals on the Sunday before Christmas and the St. Louis Rams on the Sunday after Christmas. If the Seahawks defeat Arizona, the final game becomes a chance to rest some starters and not risk injuries before the playoffs.
Wilson and KaepernickUSA TODAY SportsQBs Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick meet for the second time this season on Sunday night.
SAN FRANCISCO -- It is not going to be the most important game of the season, as many thought when the schedule was released in April.

The Seattle Seahawks, coming off an absolute beat down of New Orleans on Monday night, are 11-1 and the San Francisco 49ers are 8-4 heading into their meeting on Sunday, which will be the second-to-last game at Candlestick Park. The Seahawks will clinch the NFC West with a win. The 49ers need a win more because they're holding onto the sixth and final NFC playoff spot by a game.

There is plenty at stake and there is plenty of animosity. Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson hash it all out.

Blount: Bill, almost everyone expected this to be the game that would possibly decide the NFC West title. It still can, but not the way people imagined. The Seahawks can clinch the division crown at San Francisco on Sunday with a victory. Why aren’t the 49ers the team everyone thought they would be, and can they still be the team they were a year ago at this time?

Williamson: Terry, I think the 49ers are fine. They are 8-4 and they have won seven games by double digits, which is tied with Denver for the league high. This is an elite team. Still, there are two issues at play. The 49ers are 2-4 against teams with winning records. They were blown out by the Seahawks and the Colts early in the season and then they lost back-to-back games to Carolina and New Orleans by a total of four points last month. If the 49ers have anything to prove, it’s that they can beat a quality team. Another reason why this race hasn't been close is the Seahawks are playing out of their minds. They simply ran away from a good team. Terry, do you think the Seahawks can stay up for this game after the huge win? Or could this be a letdown game?

Blount: I really thought this was going to be a big letdown game for the Seahawks and a chance for them to come in flat, but now they have the opportunity to clinch the title in the most unlikely of places for them. The Seahawks would love to walk away from this one and be able to tell the 49ers that they clinched the division crown "in your house." So I think they'll be pretty focused, but the short week of preparation and coming off an emotional Monday night game could take a toll.

Bill, the Seahawks had a convincing 29-3 victory over the 49ers at CenturyLink Field in the second game of the season, but Seattle has lost four consecutive games at Candlestick Park by a combined score of 109-54. Is this a game where the 49ers feel they have something to prove?

Williamson: Oh, certainly. Players were talking about this game in the locker room Sunday after beating the Rams. I think that was a first for this season. The 49ers want to win this game because I think they want to prove to themselves as much as anyone else that they can end the Seahawks’ mini-dominance over the 49ers. The 49ers want to protect their territory in this game. What struck me is players talked about not overthinking this game and not getting caught up in the moment. It’s a sign they learned from some previous mistakes. I’m looking forward to seeing it play out. Terry, do you get the sense the Seahawks respect the 49ers as much as they did going into Week 2?

Blount: Honestly, my sense is most of the Seahawks just really don't like the 49ers, and it's no secret that Richard Sherman can't stand Jim Harbaugh, along with the fact that Harbaugh and Pete Carroll won't be sending each other Christmas cards. Certainly, the Seahawks realize San Francisco has a lot of very talented players who can beat you in many ways. Publicly, they will say they respect the 49ers. Privately, they can't stand them and respect just doesn't enter the picture.

Bill, Colin Kaepernick was the toast of the NFL a year ago as a young quarterback with limitless talent. He’s had some rough moments this year, but also has had flashes of brilliance. What's different for him this season and is he as good as he was a year ago?

Williamson: I think it is a combination of things, including the fact that he is still learning and the offense is still evolving. I think the key was that he lacked all his weapons. It was startling how much better the passing game was Sunday in Michael Crabtree's debut. He had just two catches, but it opened up the entire game against St. Louis. Terry, do you think the 49ers can have success against this top-notch Seattle secondary that they didn't have in the past two meetings?

Blount: Certainly, having Crabtree back makes the 49ers a more formidable receiving corps than the game in September. And the Seahawks are down a man from that game with Walter Thurmond's suspension. Some people probably have forgotten that Brandon Browner didn't play that night because he had a hamstring injury. But the job backups Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane did against the Saints, as good a passing team as you'll find, showed how much depth Seattle has in the secondary. I think Vernon Davis is the key for San Francisco, and I can't see Anquan Boldin being shut down this time the way he was in Seattle.

Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
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SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 34-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night at CenturyLink Field:

What it means: The Seahawks proved they are the best of the best in the NFC with a convincing victory over the Saints, which gives Seattle a two-game advantage in the race to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. But in reality, it’s more than two games because the Seahawks have defeated both the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans, which gives Seattle the tiebreaker over both teams that are two games behind them with four games to play, and the Saints and Panthers have to play each other twice.

Stock watch: In MVP considerations, Russell Wilson has moved ahead of Drew Brees by clearly outplaying his idol Monday night. Wilson was sensational in the first half, completing 14 of 19 passes for 226 yards and two TDs. And the Seattle defense destroyed the potent New Orleans passing game, including a 22-yard touchdown for defensive linemen Michael Bennett after defensive end Cliff Avril knocked the ball out of Brees' hand and Bennett caught the deflection.

Miller a tough tight end, too: This game was supposed to be about the Seahawks defense against New Orleans star tight end Jimmy Graham, but the Saints had a tough time covering Seattle tight end Zach Miller, who had a 2-yard TD catch after a 60-yard catch in the first quarter.

Maxwell and Lane up to the task: Fears of Brees lighting up the Seattle backups in the secondary were unfounded. All the distractions this week surrounding the suspension of Walter Thurmond and possibly Brandon Browner, who is out with a groin injury, didn’t hurt the Seahawks at all. Byron Maxwell played well as the starter, and Jeremy Lane also did a good job in the slot on the nickel packages.

What's next: The Seahawks fly south to play their archrivals, the San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park. This was expected to be a game that might decide the NFC West, but Seattle has a three-game lead with four to play, so it isn’t the game it might have been, but it is important to San Francisco’s playoff hopes.

Winfield would help the Seahawks

November, 25, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- Assuming the Seahawks can talk him out of retirement, and he passes a physical, expect to see Antoine Winfield back in a Seattle uniform later this week.

Coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks could consider re-signing the veteran cornerback to come in and help the depleted secondary.

Winfield
Cornerback Walter Thurmond is facing a four-game suspension due to non-PED substance abuse, so Winfield is a veteran player who knows the system and could step in immediately.

That’s also assuming he has stayed in good physical condition and is ready to go. Winfield's last real NFL game, excluding preseason, was the Minnesota Vikings' playoff loss against Green Bay on Jan. 5 last season when he started at left cornerback. Winfield started all 17 of Minnesota's games last season.

So it would be almost 11 months since his last meaningful game if he is re-signed and plays against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

In Winfield's case, he probably can step in and make a positive impact. He knows the defensive schemes since he was here for training camp and the entire preseason. And he’s a 15-year veteran, including 173 starts, so it’s not exactly his first rodeo. But he’s bound to be a little rusty.

If they sign him, the Seahawks probably would use Winfield in the slot on their nickel package, while Byron Maxwell starts at cornerback for Thurmond. Second-year corner Jeremy Lane also will play in the slot, but having a veteran guy like Winfield in the mix certainly could help against a wily veteran quarterback like Drew Brees.
Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh Ric Tapia/Icon SMIPete Carroll's Seahawks and Jim Harbaugh's 49ers have continued their rivalry into the offseason.
The 2012 battle for NFC West supremacy between the San Francisco 49ers' and Seattle Seahawks' has turned into a perceived battle this offseason.

"It just feels like the Seahawks make a move, then the Niners make a move," former NFL quarterback Damon Huard said Wednesday during our conversation on 710 ESPN Seattle. "The Seahawks sign Percy Harvin, then the Niners go get Anquan Boldin. The Niners just signed Nnamdi Asomugha, they signed Colt McCoy, and now it's the Seahawks' turn to sign a quarterback. It really feels like this competition that was so fun to watch last fall has carried over into the offseason between the Niners and the Seahawks."

That's what it feels like from this angle, too. So, when ESPN's Bill Polian listed 49ers general manager Trent Baalke among his top six executives Insider without a mention of Seattle counterpart John Schneider, I knew some Seahawks fans would take offense.

"Schneider should be on there," SamW9801 wrote in commenting on the Polian piece.

I'm going to ratchet up the discussion with an assist from Tony Villiotti of draftmetrics.com. Tony identified ranges of picks by how frequently teams have found five-year starters within those ranges.

Using those general ranges, displayed at right, I've put together a chart at the bottom of this item comparing the 49ers' and Seahawks' draft choices since 2010.

Baalke took over the 49ers' draft room roughly a month before the 2010 draft. Schneider became the Seahawks' GM that offseason. The 49ers then underwent a coaching change after the 2010 season, at which point Baalke assumed the GM title officially. We might cut Baalke some slack for selecting Taylor Mays, a player then-coach Mike Singletary valued. There were surely other times when both GMs followed their coaches' input, for better or worse.

Seattle has drafted 28 players during this period, three more than San Francisco has drafted. The Seahawks had more to work with from a qualitative point as well. Their median choice was No. 130 overall, compared to No. 165 for the 49ers.

It's pretty clear both teams know what they are doing in the draft.

Aldon Smith, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and NaVorro Bowman have earned Pro Bowl and/or All-Pro honors for the 49ers. Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman have done so for the Seahawks.

Both teams have found franchise quarterbacks after the first round. Colin Kaepernick was chosen 36th overall in 2011. Wilson went to Seattle at No. 75 last year.

Neither team has missed in that first category, which includes players taken among the top 13 overall picks. Smith and Okung are elite players at premium positions.

Both teams have unanswered questions in that 14-40 range. The 49ers are waiting on receiver A.J. Jenkins to produce. The Seahawks haven't gotten much from guard James Carpenter. But in Iupati and Thomas, the 49ers and Seahawks, respectively, found players among the very best at their positions. Kaepernick's selection puts this group over the top for San Francisco. Seattle got eight sacks from Bruce Irvin as a rookie in 2012, so the Seahawks aren't far behind. It's just impossible to overlook the value a franchise quarterback provides.

Seattle has the edge in the 41-66 range. Mays is long gone from the 49ers. That leaves LaMichael James for the 49ers against Bobby Wagner and Golden Tate for Seattle. Wagner was an instant starter at middle linebacker and a three-down player who commanded consideration for defensive rookie of the year. Tate blossomed with Wilson at quarterback.

The Seahawks also have an edge in that 67-86 range, having selected Wilson.

Seattle holds a 7-3 lead in number of picks used between the 87th and 149th choices, a range producing five-year starters 16 percent of the time, according to Villiotti.

Both teams used picks in that range for players whose injury situations dragged down their draft status: Joe Looney in San Francisco, Walter Thurmond in Seattle. Both teams found starting linebackers in this range: Bowman to the 49ers, K.J. Wright to the Seahawks. Both teams found developmental running backs in that range: Kendall Hunter to the 49ers, Robert Turbin to the Seahawks. Both teams found Pro Bowl players: Bowman in San Francisco, Chancellor in Seattle.

Sherman, arguably the NFL's best cornerback, gives Seattle an edge in the 150 through 189 range of picks. Both teams found backup tight ends there. Anthony Dixon (49ers) and Jeremy Lane (Seahawks) have the potential to expand their roles.

The 49ers found starting fullback Bruce Miller in the final pick range, which runs from 190 to the end of the draft. Seattle found a projected starting guard there in J.R. Sweezy. Malcolm Smith is a candidate to start at linebacker for Seattle. Miller and Sweezy both played defense in college. Miller already has successfully transitioned to offense. Seattle believes Sweezy will do the same.

Summing it up: Both teams can feel good about their draft performance in the past three seasons. I doubt either team would trade its picks for the other team's. That makes sense. Teams draft the players they like best. The 49ers have six projected 2013 starters to show for their choices. The number is eight for the Seahawks, not counting Irvin or Tate. Seattle has had more choices and higher choices, and more openings in the lineup to accommodate those players. I think that shows in the results.


The Seattle Seahawks' secondary is whole again now that cornerback Brandon Browner, a Pro Bowl choice one year ago, has returned from a four-game suspension in time for the team's wild-card playoff game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.



Fellow starter Richard Sherman continued to play nearly all the defensive snaps without Browner. Cornerbacks Marcus Trufant, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell each played about half the snaps against St. Louis in Week 17.

The assumption is that Browner will resume his role as an every-down player opposite Sherman. How frequently the Redskins use more than two wide receivers will influence how much Trufant and/or the others play Sunday.

The Redskins used three or more wide receivers about 40 percent of the time on first and second downs this season, right around the NFL average, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The rate fell to about 33 percent over the past five weeks. I singled out early downs because most teams use three or more receivers on third down regardless of offensive philosophy.

Play-action tactics could influence the outcome Sunday.

Washington has used play-action 175 times on early downs, most in the NFL. Seattle ranks fourth with 150.

The Redskins have a league-high 12 receptions for 30-plus yards on these plays. Their 1,817 yards passing on these plays leads the NFL by more than 400 yards. The corresponding numbers produce a No. 2 ranking in NFL passer rating (118.9) and No. 5 ranking in Total QBR (87.7).

The Redskins' Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson rank among the NFL's top eight in play-action receiving yards on early downs -- even though Garcon missed six games to injury. Teammate Joshua Morgan ranks 20th.

Garcon has 18 receptions for 445 yards and three touchdowns on these plays. That works out to 24.7 yards per catch. Hankerson has 13 catches for 338 yards and two scores in these situations. His average is 26 yards per catch. The corresponding numbers for Morgan include 17 catches for 262 yards and no scores.

Browner plays aggressively. He's a good tackler and can force fumbles. Aggressive play can lead to aggressive mistakes, however.

Seattle's defense has allowed 7.9 yards per pass attempt with five touchdowns, three interceptions, an 88.4 NFL passer rating and 74.2 Total QBR score against play-action attempts on early downs. The passer rating allowed ranks 13th. The QBR score allowed ranks 17th.

That will be one area to watch Sunday. I offer relate thoughts in the video atop this item.

On a side note, Seattle's Sidney Rice ranks 10th in play-action receiving yards on early downs. He has 16 receptions for 303 yards and four touchdowns in these situations.

Manningham active vs. depleted secondary

December, 23, 2012
12/23/12
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SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks had hoped to have cornerbacks Walter Thurmond or Marcus Trufant available to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

Neither is active.

The 49ers, meanwhile, are getting receiver Mario Manningham back from a shoulder injury. San Francisco could be in better position to attack the Seahawks with three-receiver personnel groupings. However, the 49ers seem to be most comfortable using two backs and/or two tight ends.

How much will they change to exploit a potential matchup advantage?

The 49ers rank last in the NFL this season in yards per game while using three-plus wide receivers on first and second down, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That doesn't necessarily mean the 49ers are weak in that area. It mostly means they don't use that personnel much on early downs.

Seattle will have top cornerback Richard Sherman for this game while Sherman awaits word on his appeal of a four-game suspension for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs. Backup corners Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell have shown promise as well, but they remain unproven.

How much of a gamble is Sherman taking?

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
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Richard Sherman was fantastic for the Seattle Seahawks during their 58-0 victory over Arizona on Sunday.

Sherman
The second-year cornerback picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown. But with the Seahawks winning so comfortably, it's fair to wonder whether Sherman and the Seahawks would have been better served in the long run if Sherman had instead been serving the four-game NFL suspension he continues to appeal.

These are the sorts of tradeoffs people consider regularly in the courts when they refuse plea agreements at the risk of incurring stiffer punishment if found guilty.

If Sherman can beat the NFL system by avoiding a suspension entirely, he and the team are better served by the fight. There is certainly something to say for principle as well. If Sherman is wrongly accused, why accept the punishment? But if he is fighting a losing battle, as the case seems to be most of the time in these situations, there's the potential a suspension could come down just as the Seahawks are transitioning to the playoffs.

All things to consider while reading Adam Schefter's report on Sherman's attorneys pressing their appeal in a manner that could buy time for the cornerback, at least for now.

Seattle's other starting corner, Brandon Browner, also faced a four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Browner accepted the suspension. He missed the Arizona game and is eligible to return one day after the regular-season finale against St. Louis.

The Cardinals' offensive ineptitude made it tough to thoroughly evaluate the less-experienced corners thrust into duty Sunday. Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane do appear capable. Sherman and Browner emerged from the shadows to become front-line players last season. Perhaps one or more of the current replacements will as well.

Walter Thurmond, sidelined by injury early in the season, has returned and figures to play extensively regardless.

MNF inactives: Jennings in, Baldwin out

September, 24, 2012
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SEATTLE -- Receiver news highlighted the players Seattle and Green Bay named inactive for their Monday night game.

The Packers will have Greg Jennings, who had missed the team's most recent game after suffering a groin injury. Seattle will play without Doug Baldwin, who had been listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.

Baldwin led the Seahawks in receiving last season, but the Seahawks have targeted him only six times this season, completing three passes for 13 yards. Sidney Rice leads Seattle in targets with 13, followed by Braylon Edwards with eight. Golden Tate returned from a knee injury last week and was targeted four times, catching three passes for 38 yards.

Seattle named Baldwin, Jaye Howard, James Carpenter, Byron Maxwell, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Danny Gorrer and Winston Guy inactive for this game. The Packers' inactive list featured Jarrett Boykin, Sean Richardson, Davon House, James Starks, Terrell Manning, Jamari Lattimore and Tom Crabtree.

Marshawn Lynch active for Seahawks

September, 9, 2012
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Seattle Seahawks will have running back Marshawn Lynch for their regular-season opener despite back spasms that limited him in practice recently.

Lynch is active for the game. Seattle named the following players inactive: Kregg Lumpkin, Byron Maxwell, John Moffitt, James Carpenter, Golden Tate, Jaye Howard and Greg Scruggs.

Moffitt was the starting right guard early in camp, but rookie J.R. Sweezy took over the job. Lemuel Jeanpierre is the primary backup at the interior offensive line spots. He started some last season.

Arizona named cornerback Greg Toler inactive. Others: Ryan Lindley, LaRon Byrd, William Powell, Jamaal Westerman, Senio Kelemete and Pat McQuistan.
Four Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks have started 16 games in a season since the team moved from St. Louis for the 1988 season.

Jake Plummer did it three times. Kurt Warner (2008), Dave Krieg (1995) and Timm Rosenbach (1900) did it once apiece.

It's pretty clear the Cardinals will need their top two quarterbacks, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, to start games in 2012. And while coach Ken Whisenhunt has said rookie Ryan Lindley doesn't factor as a potential starter for Week 1, I won't be surprised if Lindley finds his way into the lineup at some point this season. The Cardinals like him.

Lindley, scheduled to start the team's exhibition finale Thursday night, would be the second third-stringer to start for the Cardinals since 2010, when Max Hall made three starts for the team.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says that's not the plan, however. Somers: "The only thing that appears settled at the quarterback position is that Lindley has at least secured the No.3 job over Rich Bartel, who has not played in the past two preseason games. Bartel is likely to play Thursday. Lindley is not a threat to start any time soon. He's completed 51.5 percent of his passes this preseason with two interceptions and no touchdowns. He has looked good at times, however, and the Cardinals are optimistic about his future." Noted: Arizona had three starters in the 2010, 2004 and 2000 seasons, most recently. Only once since 2005 have the Cardinals had one quarterback start more than 11 games in a season. That was in 2008, when Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com updates the team's situation at offensive tackle.

Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are searching for their identity. Coach Jeff Fisher: "What we want from this football team is tough and aggressive. To me, that's the only way you should be. You're tough, smart and aggressive. You play through the whistle, you play hard and you go out expecting to win every game, from the start of the season to the end of the season."

Will from RamsHerd.com takes a play-by-play look at Sam Bradford's performance against Dallas in the team's most recent preseason game. He sees negative tendencies born of pressure.

Rich Cimini and Chris Mortensen of ESPN break down the Rams' trade that sent Jason Smith to the Jets for Wayne Hunter: "The Jets had no intention of dealing Hunter, but they received a call from the Rams shortly after demoting him, a source said. Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who held the same position with the Jets from 2006 to 2011, always held Hunter in high regard. On Sunday night, Hunter struggled again in a backup role, surrendering a fourth-quarter sack at left tackle. Behind the Jets' bench, he was verbally abused by unruly fans. Hunter lost his temper and had to be restrained by teammate Vladimir Ducasse, according to a team source. In the previous game, Hunter allowed 2.5 sacks against the New York Giants."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Hunter could push Barry Richardson for the starting job at right tackle.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers' Vic Fangio called the team's defensive effort against Denver a learning experience. Maiocco on Perrish Cox: "Cox has seemingly surpassed Tramaine Brock on the depth chart, and figures to find a role once the regular season begins. Cox is currently the No. 2 nickel back behind Carlos Rogers and a spare corner."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News offers 49ers notes, including this one: "There was no official update on receiver/returner Ted Ginn, who was sporting an orthopedic boot around his right ankle. Ginn sustained the injury while running a reverse against the Broncos. Coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that X-rays were negative."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com focuses on opportunistic play from Earl Thomas and the Seahawks' secondary. Farnsworth: "Thomas intercepted a Josh Portis pass that went off wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, added a second pick on a Wilson pass and then made a leaping deflection of a Russell Wilson pass that was intended for wide receiver Ben Obomanu. Thomas’ lead-by-example efforts were infectious, as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Phillip Adams also had interceptions; and safeties Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy, cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Mike Morgan and Browner broke up passes."

Also from Farnsworth: Wilson's work ethic has deep roots. The quarterback's late father used to wake his son at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to throw pass routes.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says backup Matt Flynn tested a sore elbow during Seahawks practice. Also: "The highlight of the day was a catch by wide receiver Sidney Rice over the middle as he extended to grab a ball thrown by Russell Wilson. He caught the ball with his fingertips, extending so far it really did look like he only got the first two fingers of both hands and his thumbs on the ball, pulling it to his body and tucking into a roll as cornerback Byron Maxwell dove -- futilely -- to try and break up the pass. It was simply remarkable."

More from O'Neil: thoughts on why rookie quarterbacks are getting chances to play.

Bill Swartz of 710ESPN Seattle includes this Terrell Owens-related note from coach Pete Carroll: "Carroll was asked about the release of Owens and emphasized that it had nothing to do with attitude. Carroll said he was a terrific teammate and that he'd be surprised if Owens is not given a shot by another team.
Highlights and interpretations from coach Pete Carroll's news conference following the Seattle Seahawks' first practice of training camp Saturday:
  • Pass-rush thoughts. The Seahawks think their pass rush will be vastly improved with defensive end Bruce Irvin taking over Raheem Brock's old role opposite Chris Clemons in passing situations, and with Jason Jones rushing from the interior. Carroll: "Out of all of the aspects of our football team, I'm most excited about our potential to improve there." Perhaps it would be better for the team if Carroll were most excited about the possibilities at quarterback. Then again, Carroll is a defensive-minded head coach, so he might be inclined to think about defense first.
  • Proceeding with caution. The Seahawks, much like the Arizona Cardinals with Beanie Wells, are taking a conservative approach to rehab with one of their top offensive players. Receiver Sidney Rice is wearing a non-contact jersey in practice. The team has bet big on Rice and doesn't want to do anything to risk injury as Rice returns from surgeries on both shoulders. Carroll: "I just think he’s had enough that he’s been through that it warrants taking our time here and not rushing him back."
  • Closing the door: The law prohibits burial of the living, but Carroll broke out a figurative shovel when asked about recently released receiver Mike Williams. Carroll: "First off, it was just time to move on. Mike had come back and he had done some good things for us, and I just felt like it was time to just go ahead and move on. Mike had probably topped out what he was going to do for us at this place. Hopefully, he'll get another chance to do something somewhere else."
  • Forgotten contributors: Cornerback Walter Thurmond's return from a leg injury appears less important to the team now that the secondary has placed three starters in the Pro Bowl and a fourth, Richard Sherman, with similar ability. Carroll thinks Thurmond will need a month or longer to get back on the field. Carroll: "We think he’s unique on this team with his quickness and style; he’s a very aggressive kid. If he comes back to us in four weeks or six weeks whenever it is, when he does come back to us that can be a heck of a boost for us." Byron Maxwell is another nearly forgotten cornerback with the ability to make an impact, health permitting.
  • DUI fallout: Carroll shed no light on expectations for running back Marshawn Lynch, who could be subject to NFL discipline -- most likely a fine, possibly a suspension -- following a DUI arrest this offseason. The team doesn't know how the league might proceed. The NFL can act in the absence of a legal judgment, but that could be less likely in the absence of aggravating circumstances. And so the Seahawks wait.
  • Setting up the roster: Carroll pointed to new contracts for Lynch, Clemons, Red Bryant and Max Unger as a signal to the locker room that the organization will take care of productive players. Carroll: "We’re working really hard to have a really well structured roster, and if you guys take a look at it and look at the offensive side of the ball, how complete it is right now. There are not many question marks going forward contractually. We're very solid defensively, it’s very much the same. We’re committed to our guys and we want to demonstrate that whenever we can."

The Seahawks are holding their second camp practice Sunday at 10 a.m. PT.
Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the Seattle Seahawks’ defense and special teams.

Defensive linemen (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.8

Safest bets: Red Bryant, Jason Jones, Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, Alan Branch

Leading contenders: Clinton McDonald, Jaye Howard, Greg Scruggs, Pep Levingston

Longer odds: Pierre Allen, Cordarro Law, Dexter Davis

Comment: The Seahawks finished the 2009 season with Bryant, Mebane, Craig Terrill, Colin Cole, Nick Reed, Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding and Darryl Tapp on their 53-man roster. Pete Carroll has transformed the line since becoming head coach before the 2010 season. The changes have been as much about fit as personnel. The group keeps getting stronger.

Linebackers (12)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.6

Safest bets: K.J. Wright, Leroy Hill, Bobby Wagner, Korey Toomer

Leading contenders: Heath Farwell, Matt McCoy, Malcolm Smith, Barrett Ruud

Longer odds: Michael Morgan, Allen Bradford, Kyle Knox, Jameson Konz

Comment: Toomer's arrival in the fifth round cranks up the pressure on Smith, a 2011 seventh-round choice. Farwell and McCoy could be competing for a spot. Farwell is better on special teams. McCoy offers more at linebacker. Bradford is converting from running back and has a chance to stick in some capacity. Ruud looks like insurance for Wagner, but his health is a concern.

Defensive backs (17)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.2

Safest bets: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman

Leading contenders: Jeron Johnson, Byron Maxwell, Roy Lewis, Marcus Trufant, Walter Thurmond, Winston Guy

Longer odds: DeShawn Shead, Ron Parker, Coye Francies, Donny Lisowski, Jeremy Lane, Phillip Adams, Chris Maragos

Comment: Three of the four starters went to the Pro Bowl last season; Sherman arguably should have gone. Trufant's conversion to a nickel role has the potential to upgrade Seattle's coverage. Injuries sidelined Trufant and Thurmond last season. Both can contribute at a reasonably high level if healthy. It's tough to bank on either one, however. Don't forget about Maxwell. He impressed in camp as a rookie, only to fade from the picture after suffering an ankle injury. Seattle likes its depth at corner. Johnson should be ready to take a step forward at safety. The Seahawks like what they've seen from Guy as well.

Special teams (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Safest bets: Jon Ryan, Steven Hauschka, Clint Gresham

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Carson Wiggs

Comment: Ryan led the NFL with 34 punts downed inside the 20 (against eight touchbacks). Opponents returned two punts for touchdowns, however.

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