NFC West: John MOffitt

RENTON, Wash. -- Summer fun for the Seattle Seahawks is almost over, so what stood out?

Training camp has officially ended, cuts are coming and the final preseason game for the Seahawks is Thursday night at home against Oakland.

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
AP Photo/Tom LynnPete Carroll's Seahawks will have to work on cutting down the penalties after a preseason chock full of them.
Here’s a quick look at some of the high, lows and truly unusual moments over the last month.

Best surprise on offense: Receiver Stephen Williams. He’s been nothing short of spectacular. The former Arizona Cardinal leads all NFL receivers in the preseason with 186 yards on six receptions, including three long touchdowns and four catches of 20-plus yards. At 6-5, 210, the lanky Williams has long arms and has shown the ability to out-leap defenders for tough catches down the sidelines.

Best surprise on defense: Defensive end Benson Mayowa. The undrafted rookie from Idaho has stood out at practice and in the games with his quickness and ability to rush the passer. At 6-3, 255, he was a long shot to make the team when training camp started. Now he appears to be a shoo-in. He has 10 tackles in three games and 2.5 sacks. He also has five quarterback pressures and a fumble recovery.

The humble celebrity: Quarterback Russell Wilson, of course. This town is in a Wilson frenzy. Probably not since the heyday of Ken Griffey Jr. has any athlete captured the heart of the city like Wilson. But Wilson’s growing status as an NFL celebrity reaches far beyond the Pacific Northwest. He was the cover for ESPN The Magazine’s NFL preview issue and recently was featured in GQ Magazine. In Russ We Trust is the hottest slogan in Seattle, but Wilson takes it all in stride and handles his popularity with quiet dignity.

Biggest disappointment: Losing receiver Percy Harvin before he got started. The 67 million-dollar man was Seattle's biggest off-season acquisition, the dynamic receiver who could give the Seahawks' offense its one missing piece as a game-breaker and consistent deep threat for Wilson. But a torn labrum required hip surgery that will keep him off the field until at least late November. How can you miss what you never had? The Seahawks will find out soon enough.

Best moves for a big man: Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, all 6-2, 300 pounds of him, showing off his popping dance moves to the music during a walk-through practice. Maybe he can earn a spot on "Dancing With The Stars."

Fat man in some little shorts: OK, he’s not really fat, just big, but I kept thinking of the old "Tommy Boy" line by Chris Farley every time guard John Moffitt walked on the practice field in the shorts that looked like he was ready to play a 1975 NBA game. I wonder if he is wearing mini-shorts now in Denver, and what Peyton Manning has to say about it if he is?

Cuts all teams will watch: Those will come in the Seattle secondary, a spot where two or three of the back-ups could start for most NFL teams. The Seahawks literally are three-deep at all four spots. The reductions among the defensive backfield will be some difficult decisions for the Seattle coaches, but other teams probably are salivating waiting to see which of these DBs hits the waiver wire.

Most disappointing draft pick: Chris Harper. The fourth-round pick from Kansas State just hasn’t done anything to stand out, other than being big and strong at 6-1, 235.

If at first you don’t succeed: It took two tries over 24 hours, but Moffitt ended up in Denver after first being traded to Cleveland. That deal was voided when the Browns had concerns over a previous knee injury. Apparently, the Broncos were OK with that, shipping defensive tackle Sealver Siliga to Seattle for Moffitt within minutes to the deal falling through with Cleveland.

Yellow Seahawks: Not yellow, as in cowardly lion. Yellow as in penalty flags. It’s been a sea of yellow for the Seahawks in the first three preseason games -- 34 penalties for a whopping 354 yards. But Seattle managed to win all three games and has outscored its opponents 88-30. Coach Pete Carroll isn’t happy about it and knows this trend has to end.

Don’t call me ChrisTEEN: It appears the Seahawks have done it again with an early draft pick that had many experts shaking their heads. Seattle didn’t have a pick until late in the second round. When the pick came, it stunned many observers to see the Seahawks take a running back, not exactly a weak spot for the team. But Texas A&M’s Christine (pronounced KRIS-ton) Michael, has looked sensational. Michael leads the NFL is preseason rushing yards with 186 yards on 27 carries in two games for a 13.5-yard average, including a 43-yard TD run at Green Bay.

Swiss timing: Receiver Sidney Rice flew across one continent and one ocean to get a knee treatment that took 20 minutes. Hey, whatever works. Rice had a platelet-enriched plasma procedure (whatever that is) on his knee, something that isn’t done in the U.S. He returned two days later and has looked fine on the practice field, but hasn’t played yet in the preseason.

Two plays, two TDs and 213 yards: You could watch a thousand NFL games and not see this happen again. The Seahawks have a 107-yard touchdown (Jermaine Kearse’s kickoff return) and a 106-yard TD (Brandon Browner’s fumble recovery in the end zone) in the first half of the Denver game Aug. 17.

People everywhere: It was a training camp festival every day at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The Seahawks had 2,500 tickets available for each practice at camp and they sold them all. Heck, they probably could have sold 10,000 each day if they had the space at the V-MAC. The Seahawks' facility is one of the most picturesque settings in the NFL, sitting on the eastern banks of Lake Washington. There’s a hill overlooking the field and the lake where fans sit to watch practice. It was packed every day.
RENTON, Wash. -- The Seahawks continue to stockpile defensive lineman, adding two more in the past two days. Seattle now has 11 defensive lineman who were not with the team one year ago.

The John Moffitt trade, which took two tries (first to Cleveland, that was voided, then to Denver the next day) resulted in Seattle acquiring Broncos defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.

The Seahawks also added defensive tackle Dewayne Cherrington, a rookie free agent from Mississippi, after releasing kicker Carson Wiggs on Monday.

Siliga, 6-2 and 325 pounds, is in his second season out of Utah. He had two assisted tackles against the Seahawks in the preseason game Saturday night at Seattle. Siliga already was at practice Wednesday.

“A true pro in the way he worked,’’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said of Siliga. “You could see his strength right away.”

Cherrington (6-3, 335) played college football at Richmond. Cherrington was not drafted, but signed with New England as a free agent before being released last week.

Both Siliga and Cherrington are longshots to make the 53-man roster, but the Seahawks coaches are trying to make sure they don’t come up short with the players on the defensive front.

The others who are new this year include Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett, O'Brien Schofield, Martin Parker and Michael Brooks (veteran players who were signed and brought in), draft choices Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, and rookie free agent Benson Mayowa.

Obviously, some of these men will be gone when cuts are made to get down to the 53-man roster (and eight possible practice squad players) before the regular season begins.

But a few of the newcomers have stood out, especially Mayowa and Schofield. Mayowa, a rush end from Idaho, has 2.5 sacks and four quarterback pressures in the first two preseason games.

Schofield, a fourth-year player from Wisconsin, has a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Schofield knocked the ball out of quarterback Brock Osweiler’s hands and recovered it in the backfield in the Denver game last weekend.

“We started him at linebacker and then moved him back to Leo (rush defensive end),” Quinn said of Schofield, who played three seasons for the Arizona Cardinals. “He’s doing well.”

Hill, a third-round pick from Penn State, also has looked strong at defensive tackle. He’s in the running for the starting spot at the 3-technique defensive tackle, a spot vacated when Seattle lost Alan Branch to free agency in the offseason. Quinn said no decision had been made there, but McDaniel and Jaye Howard probably have the best chance of earning the first-team spot.

Avril and Bennent, two proven pass-rushers, and McDaniel, a defensive tackle in his eighth season, were the biggest off-season acquisitions on defense. Bennett has played both tackle and defensive end. Avril has yet to get in a game, and missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. He also missed mini-camp and OTAs with a foot injury, but the Seahawks are counting on him to be a major contributor this season.

It was clear after the 2012 season that the Seattle coaches wanted to upgrade the defensive front and improve their rush. With defensive end Chris Clemons still recovering from off-season ACL surgery and defensive end/outside linebacker Bruce Irvin suspended for the first four games, the Seahawks are trying to ensure they have enough quality depth to make an improvement in that area.
NFC West teams recently cast aside three relatively high draft choices aged between 23 and 26. The moves showed a willingness to disregard draft status when making decisions.

Whether recent NFC West castoffs O'Brien Schofield, John Moffitt and A.J. Jenkins become key contributors with their new teams is critically important to the players involved. It's less of a consideration for their original teams for a few reasons that come to mind:

  • Schofield: The Arizona Cardinals released Schofield, a 2010 fourth-round choice, after signing pass-rusher John Abraham. They had a new coaching staff. They had to know Schofield might leave in free agency after the 2013 season anyway. They had to consider whether his $1.3 million salary fit into their plans under the circumstances. Schofield is looking good in Seattle Seahawks camp and figures to earn a spot on their 53-man roster. His willingness to accept a new contract offering injury protections to the team provided affirmed the value judgment Arizona made.
  • Moffitt: The Seahawks' offensive line was in bad shape when the team used early choices for Moffitt and James Carpenter in the 2011 draft. Depth on the line and throughout the roster has improved significantly since then. Moffitt, a third-round pick, hadn't won a starting job and did not necessarily project among the nine linemen likely to earn spots on the 53-man roster. Other teams with less depth on their lines had interest in giving Moffit a shot. Cleveland was one of them. Denver was another. Moffitt wound up with the Broncos after the Browns failed Moffitt on a physical examination.
  • Jenkins: The San Francisco 49ers traded Jenkins, their 2012 first-round pick, to Kansas City for Jon Baldwin, the Chiefs' 2011 first-rounder. Players chosen in first rounds usually get more time to develop than the 49ers gave Jenkins. The fact that Baldwin was available following a coaching and front-office change in Kansas City gave the 49ers a chance at getting something in return. Baldwin is much bigger than Jenkins, giving him a better shot at matching up against the physically imposing corners San Francisco will face in the NFC West especially.

Note that the St. Louis Rams have not made such a move to this point in the preseason. They appear willing to allow additional time for 2012 second-round receiver Brian Quick to develop. Running back Isaiah Pead, another second-round pick from that draft class, will be another player to watch. He hasn't made much impact to this point.
RENTON, Wash. — Seattle guard John Moffitt was traded, then not traded, then traded again, all within 24 hours.

Moffitt was dealt to the Cleveland Browns on Monday afternoon for defensive lineman Brian Sanford, but Cleveland voided the deal Tuesday afternoon, reportedly due to health concerns over a previous Moffitt knee injury.

Moffitt has been on the field throughout training camp, played in both of Seattle's preseason games and said he was in better shape than any time in his career.

Less than 30 minutes after news broke of the trade being nixed, the Seahawks had traded Moffitt to Denver for Broncos defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.

[+] EnlargeJohn Moffitt
Steven Bisig/USA TODAY SportsAfter his trade to Cleveland was voided over a health issue, Seattle sent guard John Moffitt to Denver for defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.
Maybe both teams liked what they saw from those players in the Seahawks' 40-10 victory over Denver on Saturday night in Seattle.

Siliga, 6-foot-2 and 325 pounds, is in his second season out of Utah. He had two assisted tackles against the Seahawks.

Moffitt still will need to pass a physical with the Broncos, but assuming that gets done with no problems, Seattle’s decision to trade Moffitt clears up some things:

1. Starting battles for the offensive line are over. The only real contest up front was between J.R. Sweezy and Moffitt, but obviously Sweezy won out. The other OL starters are set: Russell Okung at left tackle, Paul McQuistan at left guard, Max Unger at center and Breno Giacomini at right tackle.

Moffitt has more experience than Sweezy and might be a better player from a technique standpoint, but Sweezy has a toughness to him and a hard edge that offensive line coach Tom Cable loves, which is why he wanted to see what he could do when the team moved Sweezy to offense last season.

Sweezy was a seventh-round draft choice last year as a defensive tackle from North Carolina State. He was moved to the offensive line, partially because of an arm injury to Moffitt in training camp last season. Sweezy struggled early on, but improved as the season progressed.

Moffitt hoped to win the starting job at training camp this year, but it didn’t happen.

The only thing that could change the starting lineup on the O-line (other than an injury) is having James Carpenter back on the field and healthy. Carpenter was a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2011, but injuries have plagued his time in the NFL.

A foot injury has sidelined him so far in the preseason. If Carpenter is healthy and gets some time on the field soon, he could eventually return to a starting spot at guard, but that’s a big if at this point.

2. As they’ve shown in the past, the Seahawks aren’t afraid to move an early-round draft choice if they feel other players, not as highly touted, are doing better jobs.

Moffitt was a third-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2010. He played well his rookie season and was viewed as a possible anchor at guard for the long term, but injuries slowed his progress.

He became expendable because the Seahawks are pleased with what they’ve seen from rookies Ryan Seymour (a seventh-round pick out of Vanderbilt), Michael Bowie (a seventh-round pick from Northeastern State in Oklahoma) and Alvin Bailey (a free agent from Arkansas).

Seymour now is listed as the backup to Sweezy. Bowie and Bailey are listed at tackle, but they also can play the guard spots.
The Seattle Seahawks were once counting on 2011 third-round choice John Moffitt to bolster their offensive line. They traded him to the Cleveland Browns on Monday because their depth had improved and Moffitt never played well enough to win the job outright. He wasn't necessarily going to earn a spot on the initial 53-man roster.

The Browns, desperate for help at guard after injuries struck the position particularly hard, sent defensive end Brian Sanford to Seattle in return. Sanford, undrafted from Temple in 2010, played 62 snaps for the Browns in six games over the past two seasons. The 6-foot-2, 280-pounder has also spent time on the Browns' practice squad.

Teams generally keep no more than nine offensive linemen on their 53-man rosters. Seattle rookie tackles Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey have played well enough during training camp and the preseason to project as likely keepers. Both might help at guard as well. Russell Okung, Max Unger and Breno Giacomini are returning starters. Veteran Paul McQuistan and second-year pro J.R. Sweezy are candidates to start, as is James Carpenter, provided Carpenter can get healthy. Moffitt's departure leaves veteran Lemuel Jeanpierre as the player best suited to back up Unger at center, it appears.

McQuistan, Sweezy and Carpenter are the top starting candidates at guard.

K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman remain as key starters from Seattle's 2011 draft class. Carpenter could join them, health permitting. Malcolm Smith, one of two seventh-rounders that year, could start at linebacker. Sixth-rounder Byron Maxwell has impressed in camp at cornerback and is pushing for a roster spot in a deep secondary.

Moffitt became best known in Seattle for his outgoing personality and sense of humor. Those characteristics fit best on an offensive line when backed by dependable, credible play on the field. Moffitt started as a rookie before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He has had a hard time getting back into the lineup and staying there.

Note that the playing-time information in the chart shows games played only for Seattle. Some of the players have played for other teams as well.

The Seattle Seahawks lead the NFL in suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs since Pete Carroll became coach in 2010, research by ESPN Stats & Information shows.

Defensive end Bruce Irvin's four-game suspension, announced Friday, was the fifth during that span, according to research ESPN's Steve Martinez conducted using STATS PASS.

The total does not include the 2012 suspension implicating cornerback Richard Sherman, who overturned a four-game ban on appeal. The botched handling of a leaky collection cup proved critical to the successful appeal.

Seven other teams have incurred three or four substance-abuse suspensions for PEDs over that span, including the Denver Broncos and New York Giants with four apiece, according to STATS PASS. The San Francisco 49ers are among 10 teams with zero.

Since 2010, the NFL suspended Seattle's Irvin, Brandon Browner, Winston Guy, Allen Barbre and John Moffitt for PED usage under its policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

Moffitt said he took Adderall, a psychostimulant prescribed for attention-deficit disorders, under a doctor's prescription without knowing he needed a special exemption from the NFL.

Sherman, who denied violating the policy, has suggested doctor-approved Adderall use is widespread. He called for the NFL to lift its ban on the substance.

The chart ranks NFL teams by most PED-related suspensions since Carroll arrived as the Seahawks' head coach on Jan. 12, 2010.

Carroll and the NFL denied a 2009 report linking former USC players to positive steroid tests. One of the players named in that disputed report, Brian Cushing, later served a four-game NFL suspension for violating the policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

First-time violators of the policy receive four-game suspensions. The penalty doubles for second-time violators. Third-time violators face suspensions of at least 12 months, subject to reinstatement at the commissioner's discretion. Players suspended under the policy for any length become ineligible for the Pro Bowl or any other NFL or NFL Players Association honors.

NFL policy requires annual testing for steroids and related substances when training camps begin or whenever a player reports to the team after camps begin. Preseason and regular-season protocol calls for 10 players per team to be tested at random each week. That protocol continues into the postseason for playoff teams. Players under contract can be tested up to six times during an offseason, subject to increases following a positive test.
Brock Huard, Danny O'Neil and I got together over the phone Tuesday to discuss 2013 draft needs for the Seattle Seahawks on 710ESPN Seattle.

The conversation got me thinking about real and perceived needs for NFC West teams.

Most of the perceived needs are also real ones, but sometimes we focus disproportionately on a few areas while overlooking others.

A quick look at one position to reemphasize for NFC West teams:

Arizona Cardinals: With a disproportionate focus on the offensive line and heavy focus on potential additions to the pass rush, we should note that the Cardinals parted with both veteran starting strong safeties this offseason. They could proceed with Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell as the starters. However, Johnson remains unproven as a full-time starter. Bell is 35 years old, so he projects as a short-term solution. Jonathan Amaya, Justin Bethel and Curtis Taylor are the backup safeties.

St. Louis Rams: So many mock drafts project wide receiver and safety to the Rams in the first round. The offensive line is another position where the Rams could help themselves early in the draft. Yes, they added Jake Long in free agency. But with no established starter at left guard and more questions at tackle than we might initially realize from afar, the line could use reinforcements. Shelley Smith, Harvey Dahl, Rok Watkins, Chris Williams and Brandon Washington are the guards. Long and projected right tackle Rodger Saffold have missed games to injury recently. Saffold is entering the final year of his deal. Joe Barksdale is the third tackle right now, it appears.

San Francisco 49ers: Safety, defensive line and tight end are three positions heavily emphasized already. Looking ahead, the team has only two cornerbacks and three wide receivers under contract for 2014. Carlos Rogers and Chris Culliver are the corners. Michael Crabtree, A.J. Jenkins and Ricardo Lockette are the receivers. These could be positions for the 49ers to emphasize earlier than anticipated, depending upon how the draft falls at positions of greater perceived need.

Seattle Seahawks: Defensive tackle, outside linebacker and tight end are three areas I've thought about quite a bit. The offensive line should be set for years to come after Seattle used early picks for Russell Okung, Max Unger, James Carpenter and John Moffitt in recent seasons. However, the long-range picture at guard remains unsettled. Seattle could also use a backup tackle with the ability to push Breno Giacomini for the job on the right side in the future. Here's a supporting note from ESPN Stats & Information: "Including postseason, Seahawks quarterbacks were sacked or put under duress on 29.7 percent of their total drop-backs last season and 26.8 percent of their drop-backs against four or fewer pass-rushers, both worst in the NFL."
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 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.

SEATTLE -- We've got sunshine and temperatures in the high 30s as the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams warm up on the field at CenturyLink Field.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is the only non-specialist I see on the field at this time. He's working on his backpedal and breaking on passes thrown by a Seahawks staffer. Sherman has every reason to revel in the opportunity Sunday after dodging a four-game suspension on Thursday.

Sherman will start for Seattle. The team will be without injured linebacker Leroy Hill. The speedy but inexperienced Malcolm Smith will start in Hill's place.

Also inactive for Seattle: safety Winston Guy, cornerback Walter Thurmond, cornerback DeShawn Shead, guard Rishaw Johnson, guard John Moffitt and tackle Mike Person. Moffitt, a former starter, is inactive for a second consecutive week. The team has decided it's better off with rookie seventh-round choice J.R. Sweezy in the lineup at right guard. Sweezy started in Week 1 and again against San Francisco last week.

The Rams' inactive list includes quarterback Austin Davis, receiver Steve Smith, running back Terrance Ganaway, tight end Cory Harkey, linebacker Sammy Brown, tackle Joe Barksdale and defensive tackle Matt Conrath. No surprises there.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

December, 5, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb (ribs) does not appear close to returning. John Skelton will start at quarterback. Receiver Andre Roberts (ankle) and defensive end Ronald Talley (ankle) did not practice. Defensive end Calais Campbell, held out of the Cardinals' Week 13 game, practiced on a limited basis. He's recovering from a calf injury. Campbell has six career sacks against Week 14 opponent Seattle. That is the most for Campbell against a single opponent. Safety Kerry Rhodes (quadriceps), linebacker Reggie Walker (knee) and running back Beanie Wells (knee) were also limited. Wells played 43 percent of the snaps against the Jets. Fellow running backs William Powell (35 percent) and LaRod Stephens-Howling (19 percent) also played extensively. Cornerback Justin Bethel (shoulder), receiver Early Doucet (ribs), snapper Mike Leach (back) and linebacker Paris Lenon (shoulder) practiced fully Wednesday.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams held out receiver Danny Amendola (foot), linebacker Mario Haggan (elbow), center Scott Wells (knee), tight end Mike McNeill (thigh) and running back Steven Jackson (foot). Amendola's status is one to monitor closely. He played against Arizona two weeks ago despite being listed as doubtful on the Friday injury report. He did not play against San Francisco last week. Rookie receiver Chris Givens appears to be developing quickly and has taken over some of the shorter routes previously reserved for Amendola. With Amendola out, Givens and Brandon Gibson each played 90 percent of the snaps at receiver. Givens was the player quarterback Sam Bradford targeted. He has 16 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown over the last two games. Austin Pettis (66 percent) and Brian Quick (15 percent) also factored.

San Francisco 49ers: Receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder) and cornerback Tarell Brown (hamstring) missed practice Wednesday. Nickel corner Chris Culliver (illness) was limited, as was kicker David Akers (pelvis) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith (shoulder). The team listed cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee), linebacker Patrick Willis (shoulder), running back Frank Gore (wrist), linebacker Tavares Gooden (elbow, knee), guard Mike Iupati (shoulder) and linebacker NaVorro Bowman (shoulder) as full participants in practice. Depth at wide receiver is more of a concern with Manningham hurting and Kyle Williams on injured reserve. Michael Crabtree (62 percent), Randy Moss (41 percent), Manningham (36 percent) and Ted Ginn Jr. (18 percent) logged snaps at receiver against St. Louis. The 49ers have hinted that rookie running back LaMichael James could make his 2012 debut shortly. Gore played 87 percent of the snaps against the Rams, an unusually high number. Veteran Brandon Jacobs played 11 percent. He does not represent the change of pace Kendall Hunter provided before landing on injured reserve. James would.

Seattle Seahawks: Starting left guard James Carpenter is finished for the season. His absence requires an adjustment, but the change could produce an upgrade in the short term. Carpenter wasn't healthy and it showed in his play. John Moffitt is a natural candidate to start. Seattle has had eight linemen start this season. That is tied for third-most in the NFL behind Philadelphia (nine) and St. Louis (nine). The Seahawks held out defensive end Red Bryant, who surprised the coaching staff by playing -- and playing well -- against the Bears despite a foot injury. Bryant wore a boot on his foot in the locker room after the game in Chicago. Cornerback Marcus Trufant also missed practice. He has a hamstring injury. It sounds like the team will try Jeremy Lane at nickel corner while Trufant recovers. Walter Thurmond is expected to play right corner while Brandon Browner serves a four-game suspension. It's possible Thurmond could play inside as well. Receiver Sidney Rice does not have a concussion, according to the team, but he was listed as limited with a head injury after absorbing a hard hit while making the winning touchdown catch Sunday. Leroy Hill (ankle) was limited. Coach Pete Carroll sounded excited about Hill's replacement, Malcolm Smith.

Sorting through Seahawks' roster moves

December, 4, 2012
There was some thought before the 2012 NFL season that James Carpenter, the Seattle Seahawks' 2011 first-round draft choice, might not play again until 2013.

Carpenter did return from a serious knee injury in time to start seven games.

But after a concussion and knee trouble slowed him, the Seahawks shut down Carpenter for the season by placing him on their reserve/non-football illness list Wednesday. The team also released receiver Braylon Edwards with a waived/injured designation. They signed guard Rishaw Johnson to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.

Carpenter has now missed 16 of 28 regular-season games as a pro. The team moved him from right tackle before the injury to left guard this season. Carpenter was trying to work his way up to speed, but he sometimes had trouble moving quickly enough to execute blocking assignments. John Moffitt, a third-round choice in 2011, is expected to replace Carpenter in the lineup. He started nine games at right guard last season before suffering a season-ending injury. He has four starts in six appearances this season.

Edwards caught a touchdown pass during a Week 6 victory over New England. He has not caught a pass since that game. Meanwhile, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have emerged as consistent producers. They are tied for the NFC West lead with seven touchdown receptions each. Third receiver Doug Baldwin is also healthier than he has been recently.

NFC West thoughts as Week 9 gets going

November, 4, 2012
SEATTLE -- A few thoughts while Green Bay leads Arizona and the Minnesota-Seattle game awaits:
  • Early Doucet has two dropped passes for the Cardinals. He now has six this season, twice his total for 2011. I've been getting questions about Michael Floyd possibly replacing Doucet. This would not be a direct swap. Doucet plays primarily from the slot. Floyd is more of an outside receiver. If Floyd replaces Doucet in the three-receiver package, Andre Roberts would be the slot receiver. That was the thinking when Arizona drafted Floyd in the first round. Doucet (29) and Roberts (22) led the Cardinals in targets from the slot entering Week 9, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Floyd had only two.
  • Cardinals outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield suffered an ankle injury. His return is questionable, according to the team.
  • Seattle did not name its starting offensive line after listing James Carpenter among its inactives. John Moffitt will presumably start at right guard, with Paul McQuistan moving over to left guard, where Carpenter had been playing. Seattle has improved its line depth over the past couple seasons. Moffitt seemingly fits the Seahawks' zone scheme better than Carpenter fits it, at least as a guard.
  • Ex-Seahawks tight end John Carlson was listed among the Vikings' inactive players, as expected. Carlson caught two scoring passes in his most recent meaningful game at CenturyLink Field. That was during Seattle's playoff upset against New Orleans following the 2010 season. He spent last season on injured reserve and has been sidelined since suffering a concussion during the Vikings' victory over the Cardinals.
  • Blair Walsh, the Vikings' kicker, just connected in practice on a 55-yard field goal. He appeared to have more than five yards to spare. He has made all four tries from 50-plus yards this season, three of them at home and one outdoors.

All for now. Back to watching

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 24, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs) will miss the game against San Francisco on Monday night. Safety Kerry Rhodes (back), cornerback Greg Toler (hamstring) and guard Adam Snyder (quadriceps) are also dealing with injuries. Rhodes and Toler missed the Minnesota game. Snyder started but did not finish it. Teams playing Monday night file their first formal injury reports Thursday. For that reason, the situations in Arizona and San Francisco are a little cloudier. The Cardinals do expect to have special-teams captains Anthony Sherman (knee) and Reggie Walker (concussion) back from injuries. It's not clear whether tight end Todd Heap will be back this week from the knee injury he suffered at New England in Week 2.

St. Louis Rams: Receiver Danny Amendola returned to practice on a limited basis, but he's not expected back from his chest injury for a few weeks. Left tackles Wayne Hunter (back) and Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice. Receiver Chris Givens (illness), linebacker Mario Haggan (thigh) and defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) also sat out Wednesday. Backup defensive tackle Matt Conrath (knee) was limited. The Rams have done a very good job getting backup offensive linemen ready to play. They've also been aggressive in trying out out new personnel up front when it gives them a chance -- not a guarantee, but a chance -- to upgrade. Update: The Rams announced Friday that Brandon Gibson, not Givens, was the player missing practice due to illness.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers emerged from their Thursday night victory over Seattle knowing Joe Staley's concussion wasn't a factor, after all. Staley and the offensive line played very well. Having additional days off between games should help San Francisco emerge healthier against Arizona. If quarterback Alex Smith's injured factor was to blame for the quarterback's less consistent deep throwing, perhaps the recovery time will help him on that front. Frank Gore is expected to play despite injured ribs. One question, however, is whether his reps will suffer any as a result. The team has yet to play Brandon Jacobs in a game. The depth behind Gore appears strong. Receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder) missed the Seattle game.

Seattle Seahawks: Receiver Doug Baldwin (ankle) has a high sprain suffered Thursday night. He'll probably miss multiple games. That means Charly Martin will reemerge in the offense. Braylon Edwards could get additional snaps as well, particularly if Golden Tate's consistency does not improve. Tate and Martin could get more work from the slot with Baldwin out. That would also open up reps for Edwards on the outside. Cornerback Walter Thurmond is practicing following a lengthy rehab from a broken fibula. The team has through next week to activate Thurmond from the physically unable to perform list. Guard John Moffitt (knee) is also back at practice this week, but it's not clear when he'll return to the rotation on game days. Defensive tackle Jason Jones (ankle) and special-teams linebacker Malcolm Smith (concussion) are expected to play.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 17, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs) will miss the game at Minnesota, giving John Skelton his first start since the season opener. I've broken down their statistical similarities and differences since Week 12 last season in case you're interested in taking a look. Fullback Anthony Sherman (knee), cornerback Greg Toler (hamstring) and safety Kerry Rhodes (back) were among those not practicing. Sherman's injury forced Reagan Maui'a into the game against Buffalo. A penalty Maui'a committed for spiking the ball following a reception came at a crucial time. Rhodes left the Buffalo game with back spasms. He has played very well at times and would be missed. Darnell Dockett continues to play through a hamstring injury. That could limit his endurance. Tight end Todd Heap (knee) hasn't played since the New England game. He was limited in practice.

St. Louis Rams: Receiver Danny Amendola remains out indefinitely, putting pressure on other receivers to make up the difference in the middle of the field and in the red zone. Those are areas where the team hasn't performed consistently enough of late. The Rams remain without left tackle Rodger Saffold (knee). Wayne Hunter has played better than anticipated in relief. Saffold was expected to miss at least a month when injured one month ago. He missed practice Wednesday. The team also practiced without Hunter (back), cornerback Janoris Jenkins (back) and linebacker Mario Haggan (thigh). Jenkins and Hunter are expected to start against Green Bay. Running back Steven Jackson is no longer on the injury report after working through a groin injury. Rookie Daryl Richardson will continue to get carries on merit, it appears.

San Francisco 49ers: The team listed receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder) and left tackle Joe Staley (concussion) as limited in practice Wednesday. The short week complicates their situations. Staley can play Thursday night if a neurologist clears him. If Staley sits out, right guard Alex Boone will move to left tackle. Veteran Leonard Davis would presumably fill in at right guard. He did against Buffalo. Running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) was also listed as limited, but health doesn't appear to be the primary reason for his continued inactivity on game days. The team has good depth at the position. The other backups behind Frank Gore contribute on special teams. Jacobs is looking like an insurance policy. Two years ago, the team lost Gore for the final five games. Quarterback Alex Smith's finger injury is not expected to limit him.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks appear healthier than they've generally been in recent seasons. They're the only team in the division yet to list a quarterback on the injury report. Strong safety Kam Chancellor has been cleared to play despite an ankle injury, coach Pete Carroll told reporters Wednesday. Clinton McDonald, a contributor in the nickel defensive line this season, is expected to return. Seattle will be without former starting guard John Moffitt.

2012 Seahawks offensive snaps: Weeks 1-5

October, 14, 2012
A periodic look at which players are playing and when, concluding with the Seattle Seahawks' offense: