NFC West: Lemuel Jeanpierre

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have said repeatedly that they want to keep this Super Bowl-winning team together as much as possible.

They took a few steps toward proving it on Friday with their three restricted free agents.

Seattle re-signed back-up safety Jeron Johnson and back-up offensive linemen Lemuel Jeanpierre to one-year deals. The team also tagged receiver Doug Baldwin with a second-round tender, proving they plan to do all they can to keep him.

The Seahawks will get a second-round pick if Baldwin leaves (assuming Seattle doesn't match the offer) or pay him $2.2 million if he doesn't get a higher offer. It's still a bargain considering how much Baldwin contributed in 2013.

He caught 50 passes in the regular season, including five touchdown catches, and had 13 receptions in the three playoff games. But Baldwin also was Russell Wilson's go-to guy in key third-down situations, consistently making the tough catch to keep drives alive.

Some people might incorrectly read into Baldwin's tender tag that the Seahawks don't intend to re-sign free-agent receiver Golden Tate. Seattle released receiver Sidney Rice, freeing up over $7 million in cap space, with the thought of using some of that money to keep Tate.

Seattle also released defensive end Red Bryant to free up cap money to try to re-sign defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who will be one of the most sought-after free agents this year. It won't be easy. Bennett could command as much as $8 million a year over four or five years.

More moves could be on the way with the possible release of defensive end Chris Clemons and tight end Zach Miller, who could be asked to restructure his contract.

But the point is the Seahawks aren't just sitting back and hoping for the best. Tough decisions remain, but as always, Schneider and Carroll are being proactive with moves to try to keep as much of the Super-Bowl squad together as they can.
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.

Rapid Reaction: Seahawks 30, Vikings 20

November, 4, 2012

SEATTLE -- Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' victory over the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field in Week 9:

What it means: Seattle improved to 5-4 overall, 5-1 outside the division and 4-0 at home. The victory kept the Seahawks on pace for a winning record if they can continue to win their home games. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson continued trending in the right direction with three touchdown passes and heady scrambles. His recent performances suggest a bright future for Seattle even as its once-formidable defense sprung additional leaks. The Seahawks are alone in second place behind San Francisco in the NFC West.

What I liked: Wilson came out firing with two first-quarter touchdown passes, building upon his recent improved play. The Seahawks opened up the playbook early, including when they had receiver Sidney Rice throw to tight end Zach Miller for a 25-yard gain. Wilson's three first-half scoring passes helped Seattle take a 20-17 halftime lead despite having no answer for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Wilson took one sack after taking zero on 35 drop-backs at Detroit last week. Offensive lines tend to get credit and blame for sack numbers, but quarterbacks play a critical role, too. Wilson is showing a very good feel for the pocket. He turned at least one sure sack into a short gain Sunday. Wilson ran the four-minute offense effectively to help close out the game.

Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards rushing for the third game in a row. He continued to break tackles and overcome missed blocks. Lynch gives the offense attitude. He should have an easier time if Wilson continues his recent improvement.

Seattle's pass defense was effective, particularly considering how well Minnesota was running the ball. Jeron Johnson, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, Leroy Hill and Greg Scruggs had sacks or half-sacks. Irvin roughed up Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder in the second half. Ponder was limping after that play. The second-year quarterback did not hurt the Seahawks much with his scrambling.

The Seahawks held Ponder to 2.9 yards per pass attempt. They sacked him four times and picked him off once. Brandon Browner's diving interception was the catch of the game. Earl Thomas narrowly missed another shot at picking off Ponder.

What I didn't like: Seattle's once-fearsome run defense continued to struggle. The Seahawks entered this game ranked 19th in yards per carry allowed over their previous three games. They promptly allowed a 72-yard run to Peterson on the Vikings' first drive. Peterson had 144 yards by halftime, and when he scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter, Seattle's defense had allowed 28 points in its past 28 minutes of clock time. Peterson had more yards rushing than Seattle allowed during its first three games combined.

Seattle had an extra-point try blocked in the first half. Coach Pete Carroll, who admittedly botched a replay challenge against Detroit last week, lost a questionable second-half challenge in this game. Running back Robert Turbin and receiver Jermaine Kearse dropped passes.

Moffitt's role: John Moffitt started at left guard after the Seahawks named James Carpenter inactive. There had been some thought Moffitt might start at right guard, where he started previously. Moffitt got backed up and lost his helmet to blow up a short-yardage run in the first half. Moffitt later helped clear the way for Lynch's 23-yard run to the 9-yard line with 5:30 left in the third quarter. Moffitt also helped clear the way for Lynch's 3-yard scoring run later in the drive.

Injury watch: K.J. Wright, the Seahawks' starting strongside linebacker, left the game in the first quarter after suffering a concussion. Mike Morgan replaced him.

The Seahawks lost center Max Unger, their best offensive lineman this season, to a hand injury in the third quarter. Lemuel Jeanpierre replaced him. Unger returned to the game after undergoing X-rays.

The Vikings lost receiver Percy Harvin to a leg injury in the third quarter. Harvin had just returned after a hamstring injury had forced him to the sideline. He was injured when Wagner tackled him on the perimeter. Harvin returned the game, but he was limping and did not pose the same threat from that point forward.

What's next: The Seahawks are home against the New York Jets in Week 10.

Seahawks' line prospects minus Carpenter

November, 3, 2012
The Seattle Seahawks have shuffled linemen through their starting offense without great consequence.

They'll be looking to continue the trend Sunday.

Left guard James Carpenter, listed as questionable on the team's Week 9 injury report Friday, was ruled out Saturday. The team cited a concussion as the reason.

Former starting right guard John Moffitt is expected to start at one of the guard spots. I would expect Moffitt to take over at right guard, with Paul McQuistan moving from that spot to left guard, where he started previously.

Carpenter has been playing his way back into form after missing much of last season following knee surgery. With Carpenter playing more than half the snaps this season, Marshawn Lynch ranks second among NFL players in rushing yards. And with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson showing a good feel for the pocket, the team allowed zero sacks at Detroit in Week 8, the third time in 42 games the Lions have failed to collect one.

Eight players have started on the Seahawks' offensive line this season. Only St. Louis (nine) has started more players on its offensive line in 2012. Teams generally carry nine offensive linemen at a time on their 53-man rosters. Seattle had eight different starters on its line last season.

Russell Okung, McQuistan, Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy, Breno Giacomini, Frank Omiyale, Moffitt and Carpenter have started on the Seahawks' offensive line this season. All but Sweezy, a rookie, and Omiyale, a free-agent addition, started for the team last season. Robert Gallery and Lemuel Jeanpierre also started in 2011.

The chart shows play counts and basic production numbers by line combination this season. The third line listed is the one expected to play against Minnesota on Sunday. "YPA" shows yards per pass attempt. "YPC" shows yards per carry. The chart also shows sack percentage, defined as sacks divided by pass attempts plus sacks.

Around the NFC West: Bound for Bay Area

October, 18, 2012
A few thoughts before boarding a plane for San Francisco to see the 49ers' NFC West opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night:
  • December revisited: Here's hoping these teams pick up where they left off in December. It's great having both teams competitive at the same time.
  • Different OL: Robert Gallery and Lemuel Jeanpierre started on Seattle's offensive line in the 2011 Week 16 game between the teams. Paul McQuistan, now at right guard, was at left tackle then. Marshawn Lynch topped 100 yards rushing anyway. Seattle now has Russell Okung and James Carpenter on its left side, with McQuistan at right guard. The 49ers should be better this time, too. They've got Patrick Willis instead of injury replacement Larry Grant at inside linebacker.

  • Akers on alert: The 49ers got four field goals from David Akers in their 19-17 victory at Seattle last season. Akers missed twice against the New York Giants last week. He's making 68.8 percent of his tries after exceeding 82 percent in each of the previous four seasons. Points could be precious in a game featuring two top defenses.
  • Smith in pocket: Seattle forced 49ers quarterback Alex Smith from the pocket several times last season. That could be a key variable Thursday night. Last season, Smith completed 21 of 31 passes for 225 yards and an 88.4 Total QBR score against Seattle from inside the pocket. He completed only 8 of 15 passes for 78 yards and a 57.8 QBR score from outside the pocket.
  • Regular offense: The 49ers gained 173 yards on 12 pass attempts (14.4-yard average) against Seattle when operating with two backs and one tight end against the Seahawks' base defense. They averaged 3.1 yards per attempt against Seattle with one back and one tight end against Seattle's nickel defense. The 49ers are better at wide receiver this season, but they're still at their best when their personnel and formations suggest a run is coming. On a side note, Seattle could be better equipped on defense -- both in its base and sub packages -- with rookie Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker. Wagner is much healthier and faster than predecessor David Hawthorne was last season.

I could go on here, but there's a flight to catch and I'd hate to miss a chance to see this game from Candlestick Park. And to think, I didn't even mention the Seahawks' new quarterback, Russell Wilson. The day is young.

Note: Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the charting data.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 10, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Life without the injured Ryan Williams at running back begins Sunday against a Buffalo defense that allowed 621 yards to San Francisco, including 311 on the ground. Utility back LaRod Stephens-Howling expects to return from a hip injury. He was limited Wednesday. Arizona will presumably incorporate Stephens-Howling into its no-huddle offense and into its spread passing sets. He's not an every-down back, but when healthy, Stephens-Howling provides big-play ability in doses. The Cardinals did not sign a veteran back after losing Williams (for the season) and would-be starting back Beanie Wells (until Nov. 25). William Powell and Alfonso Smith are the leading candidates to carry the ball on early downs. Defensive end Darnell Dockett (hamstring) played sparingly in Week 5 and was limited Wednesday. Tight end Todd Heap practiced on a limited basis. A knee injury has kept Heap out for the past three games. Cornerback Greg Toler, who pulled up with a hamstring injury while allowing a touchdown pass at St. Louis, did not practice. Cornerback Michael Adams also missed practice with a hamstring injury. The Cardinals figure to need their cornerbacks against Buffalo, a team that uses three-plus receivers extensively. Fullback Anthony Sherman (22 snaps at St. Louis) and outside linebacker Quentin Groves (six snaps) also sat out. Sherman has a knee injury. Groves has a hamstring injury. Quarterback John Skelton is back from his ankle injury, but he's not full strength. Kevin Kolb remains the starter.

St. Louis Rams: Leading receiver Danny Amendola will miss roughly six weeks, beginning with St. Louis' game at Miami. That will probably affect the Rams' ability to throw quickly and productively against pressure, and to convert on third down. Amendola ranks third in the NFL behind Wes Welker and Victor Cruz with 24 receptions from the slot. He made eight of those receptions on third down. Safety Quintin Mikell practiced without limitation Wednesday less that a week after suffering a concussion against Arizona. Linebacker Mario Haggan (thigh), fullback Brit Miller (ankle) and left tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice. Saffold has missed three games and was expected to miss at least four. Defensive linemen William Hayes (back) and Eugene Sims (head), key contributors both, were limited in practice.

San Francisco 49ers: Coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Alex Smith told reporters they're not concerned about the injury Smith suffered to the middle finger on his throwing hand. The injury did not appear serious, but it was initially a concern. This could be the week San Francisco debuts running back Brandon Jacobs, who has not played since suffering a knee injury during camp. Letting Jacobs suit up against the New York Giants, his former team, would seem fitting. The 49ers are getting good play from their existing backs, however, and Jacobs doesn't offer much on special teams. One question is whether the 49ers could use Jacobs in short-yardage situations. Frank Gore has two first downs on six third-and-1 carries this season. Anthony Dixon has one first down (a touchdown) on his only third-and-1 carry. Gore converted the team's only fourth-and-1 rush. Add it up and San Francisco has converted four times in eight short-yardage chances, the same figures Jacobs posted with the Giants during the 2011 regular season.

Seattle Seahawks: Center Max Unger will join the injury report for Seattle this week with a hip injury that was expected to keep him from practicing Wednesday. Former starting guard John Moffitt, a contingency at center when healthy, was also among those missing practice. A knee injury will keep him inactive this week. Eight players have started on the offensive line for Seattle this season, tied with Jacksonville for most in the league. Seattle does have options at center. Lemuel Jeanpierre has started there. Defensive linemen Clinton McDonald (groin) and Jaye Howard (foot) did not practice. The team continues to list running back Marshawn Lynch as limited with a back injury. He has 121 touches this season, second-most in the NFL behind Arian Foster (142). Lynch had 313 touches last season.

MNF inactives: Jennings in, Baldwin out

September, 24, 2012
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
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.

Where NFC West stands on offensive lines

September, 3, 2012
The San Francisco 49ers' offensive line approaches the 2012 NFL season with the same starters in four of five spots.

The new starter, right guard Alex Boone, has been with the team since 2010.

This was by design. The 49ers have used first-round picks for three of their five starters on the line. They'll be looking for a jump in performance as they enter another season together.

"You look at guys around the league who have had success as an offensive line and a lot of times they’ve played together in the same system for a while," left tackle Joe Staley said from 49ers training camp. "You see that moreso on the offensive line than at any other position."

You don't see it much in the NFC West, at least outside the 49ers.

The chart shows offensive linemen for every NFC West team, sorting them by starters, reserves, practice-squad players and those placed on injured reserve. Asterisks identify linemen who started for their current teams last season. Seattle has seven such players after shuffling its line constantly last season.

The Cardinals have two key linemen on injured reserve, Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges. Two others, Blake DeChristopher and Ryan Bartholomew, landed there after being waived/injured.

I've shaded the backups to highlight depth. The backups for Arizona and San Francisco started zero NFL games last season. Seattle's backups combined for 26 starts, with each of the four starting at least three games. The Rams' Wayne Hunter started 16 games for the New York Jets. No other Rams backups started in 2011.

Rookie Rokevious Watkins projects as a likely starter for St. Louis -- if not now, then at some point -- after the team released Quinn Ojinnaka. How he plays this season could determine how seriously the Rams need to address left guard in free agency or the draft. The Rams could also consider drafting at least one tackle, at which point Rodger Saffold could become a candidate to move from left tackle to left guard. In the meantime, the Rams appear likely to continue combing the waiver wire.

Arizona, having already lost Brown, appears most vulnerable to injury. As it is, D'Anthony Batiste will be making his fifth career start and first at left tackle when Arizona faces Seattle in Week 1. Right tackle Bobby Massie is a rookie.

The 49ers could find themselves scrambling if one of their tackles were lost. Boone, the swing tackle last season, has moved into the lineup at guard. The team doesn't have another true tackle on its roster. Boone could move to tackle in a pinch, with Leonard Davis or Joe Looney stepping in at guard. Looney, a rookie coming off foot surgery, could project as a long-term starter at right guard. Boone will have something to say about that, however.

The Seahawks have options, particularly on the interior, after rookie J.R. Sweezy emerged as a surprise candidate at right guard. Incumbent starter John Moffitt can back up the three interior spots if he's not starting, as can Lemuel Jeanpierre. Former starting right tackle James Carpenter will become a candidate to start at left guard if his knee rehabilitation continues on schedule. He was expected to practice with the backups this week.
NFL teams are pretty much finished tweaking their rosters until training camps begin later this month.

Organized team activities have passed, as have minicamps.

It's a good time to reassess where teams stand and where they might be headed at various positions based on the admittedly limited information available at this time. So, beginning with this item and continuing through Tuesday, I'll offer up for consideration roster breakdowns for each NFC West team, beginning with the offenses.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.8

Safest bets: Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson

Leading contenders: Josh Portis

Longer odds: none

Comment: The plan calls for Jackson, Flynn and Wilson to take turns with the first-team offense when training camp opens. The roster spots for Flynn and Wilson appear most secure. Jackson's situation appears most volatile. He could start, he could serve as a veteran backup at a reduced salary or he could be released. Seattle has to hope Flynn or Wilson takes advantage of the opportunity, on the theory that Jackson has most likely peaked. The Seahawks still like Portis as well, but keeping four quarterbacks isn't a realistic option.

Running backs (7)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.1

Safest bets: Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson

Leading contenders: Kregg Lumpkin, Tyrell Sutton

Longer odds: Vai Taua

Comment: Turbin becomes the big back Seattle wanted as insurance for Lynch. Washington emerges as the undisputed change-of-pace back after the Seahawks decided against re-signing Justin Forsett, who landed in Houston. Robinson's value on special teams and at fullback would seem to buy security for him at a position of decreasing value around the league.

Wide receivers (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Safest bets: Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate

Leading contenders: Kris Durham, Ricardo Lockette, Ben Obomanu, Mike Williams, Deon Butler

Longer odds: Phil Bates, Charly Martin, Lavasier Tuinei, Cameron Kenney

Comment: Baldwin appears to be the receiver Seattle can count on the most. That is good and bad. The team needs Rice to hold up physically after undergoing surgeries on both shoulders this offseason. Concussions were another problem for Rice last season. Tate was ascending when last season ended. The broken hand he suffered this offseason prevented Tate from participating fully in minicamps. He needs to avoid additional setbacks to build on last season. Durham could make Williams expendable. Lockette's speed separates him from the other receivers on the roster. He's raw, but two long receptions late last season showed big-play potential.

Tight ends (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.2

Safest bets: Zach Miller, Kellen Winslow

Leading contenders: Anthony McCoy, Cameron Morrah

Longer odds: Sean McGrath

Comment: Winslow's addition altered Seattle's outlook at the position. The team hopes to use him in tandem with Miller to force unfavorable matchups upon opponents. The plan will be to pound away with Lynch if defenses play sub packages against Miller and Winslow, or to pass if teams show base looks. That was part of the plan a year ago as well, but John Carlson's injury limited Seattle's options. Carlson's departure in free agency stung. Winslow was a viable fallback even though knee problems limit his speed and prevent him from practicing regularly.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.1

Safest bets: Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, Max Unger, John Moffitt, Breno Giacomini, James Carpenter, Deuce Lutui

Leading contenders: Alex Barron, J.R. Sweezy, Frank Omiyale, Allen Barbre, Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre

Longer odds: Edawn Coughman, Paul Fanaika

Comment: Seattle has kept 10 offensive linemen in Week 1 during each of its first two seasons under coach Pete Carroll. Short-term injury concerns generally play into any decision to keep more than nine. Seattle figures to save a spot early in the season by leaving Carpenter on the physically unable to perform list. That would leave room, in theory, for three players from the "leading contenders" list above. Jeanpierre has value as a guard with the ability to back up at center. Moffitt also got work at center this offseason. Johnson made a positive impression as an undrafted rookie this offseason. Barbre will serve a suspension to open the season. Barron could project as a swing tackle.
The Seattle Seahawks have continually churned their roster along the offensive line, finding starter Breno Giacomini and other contributors that way.

Alex Barron becomes the latest addition after the Seahawks announced agreeing to terms with the veteran first-round choice Tuesday.

Barron, chosen 19th overall by St. Louis in 2005, generally impressed while working against rookies during Seattle's recent minicamp. He was inconsistent and prone to penalties with St. Louis. The Rams traded him to Dallas. Barron spent last season on injured reserve with New Orleans.

I'll resist the temptation to dismiss Barron's signing given Seattle's ability to run the ball last season with a patched-together offensive line. For example, Paul McQuistan was at left tackle last season when the Seahawks ended San Francisco's 36-game streak of allowing no individual 100-yard rushers.

So, go ahead and chuckle at Seattle for making a small bet on Barron, but it's no shock if Cable gets the last laugh.

Barron gives the Seahawks seven offensive linemen drafted by other teams. That includes choices from every round but the sixth (and two from the fifth). The chart shows drafted linemen on the Seahawks' roster, ordered by draft slot. Shading identifies players chosen by Seattle.

The chart does not show undrafted players, including contributor Lemuel Jeanpierre.

The Seattle Seahawks have churned their roster at multiple positions over the past couple seasons.

The changes they made on the offensive line proved particularly fruitful, allowing them to build momentum on the ground despite losing starters to injury.

Veteran Frank Omiyale could join the mix in 2012. The Seahawks are visiting with the 29-year-old veteran free agent Monday. The Chicago Bears replaced Omiyale in their lineup with 2011 first-round pick Gabe Carimi, and again with Lance Louis after Omiyale filled in for an injured Carimi late in the season.

The Scouts Inc. report on Omiyale heading into the 2011 season read, in part, "Omiyale is big, strong lineman with good short-area quickness and agility. He is a good knee-bender who can roll his hips to unload and leverage run blocks. He has a quick kick step to get out and pick up speed rushers on the edge."

The Bears obviously thought less of him last season. The Seahawks aren't necessarily looking for a starter, however. They could simply be taking a look at veteran depth. The team used seven starting combinations on its line last season. Breno Giacomini, Lemuel Jeanpierre and Paul McQuistan played more extensively than anticipated.

Omiyale has started 32 games over the last four seasons, including all 16 for the Bears in 2010.

NFC West injury situations that matter

December, 7, 2011
Arizona: Kevin Kolb is spending his time on the practice field, not on the injury report. That suggests Kolb's injured toe and foot held up well during his victorious return against Dallas. Kolb overcame a slow start to finish strong. He showed good mobility in scrambling for 17 yards to the 5-yard line. He'll need that mobility against the 49ers' pressure Sunday. Running back Beanie Wells missed practice Wednesday to rest various ailments. He expects to start. Tight end Todd Heap rested his troublesome hamstring last week in an attempt to return more successfully this time. He was limited in practice. On defense, the team welcomed back safety Kerry Rhodes to practice. He suffered a broken foot against Minnesota two months ago. He could need time to ease back into playing.

St. Louis: The Rams are shuffling at quarterback and along the offensive line heading into their game against Seattle on Monday night. Rookie Tom Brandstater took the first-team QB reps while Sam Bradford (ankle) and A.J. Feeley (thumb) rested injuries. The Rams have some leeway given that they do not play until Monday, but this is a dire situation. Feeley said he does not anticipate being ready, according to the team. Bradford's status remains in question. The Rams are also without left guard Jacob Bell, who could miss multiple games after suffering a knee injury at San Francisco. The team is already without both starting tackles. One backup tackle, Mark LeVoir, is back at practice this week. Safety Darian Stewart is also back after missing one game with a concussion. Chris Long continues to miss practice, same as last week, but his two-sack performance against the 49ers indicates he'll be ready to play.

San Francisco: Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis isn't practicing. All signs point to Willis missing the Arizona game. Backup Larry Grant played well in relief against the Rams last week. The 49ers will presumably handle Willis' hamstring with care. Receiver Braylon Edwards also could return after missing the St. Louis game to rest knee and shoulder injuries. Receivers Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams played well enough for the 49ers to feel good about the position whether or not Edwards is available. The 49ers are relatively healthy. Reports from 49ers practice suggest cornerback Carlos Rogers could be among those appearing on the injury report this week. The 49ers will make their report available following practice later Wednesday.

Seattle: Tarvaris Jackson's apparent recovery from a pectoral injury has allowed him to practice fully the last couple weeks. That's significant for an offense adjusting to frequently changing parts on the offensive line, and at receiver. Paul McQuistan goes from replacing the injured John Moffitt at right guard to replacing the injured Russell Okung at left tackle, a scenario the Seahawks never could have envisioned. Lemuel Jeanpierre steps in at right guard. All signs point to Seattle continuing its emphasis on the running game. On defense, David Hawthorne has been playing through knee problems. He was the NFC's defensive player of the week after returning an interception 77 yards for a touchdown against Philadelphia. The injury prevented him from opening up and running full speed, however. K.J. Wright took practice reps at middle linebacker while Hawthorne rested. Rookie Mike Morgan stepped into lineup at Wright's old spot. With no game til Monday, Hawthorne presumable has a good shot at playing.

2011 Seahawks Week 10: Five observations

November, 14, 2011
Five things I noticed while watching the Seattle Seahawks' 22-17 home victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10:
  • Seahawks had the better QB. Tarvaris Jackson outplayed Joe Flacco by a shockingly wide margin. Jackson hung tough in the pocket when pressure was mounting and delivered the ball accurately, including to Marshawn Lynch. But the most impressive play for Jackson showcased his strong arm. Jackson, supposedly limited by a strained right pectoral muscle, threw a pass 45 yards in the air to Doug Baldwin on an across-the-body throw while rolling hard to his left. Not many quarterbacks can make that type of throw. Flacco repeatedly missed receivers. He missed one potential touchdown on a deep pass and another when tight end Dennis Pitta slipped behind linebacker Leroy Hill in the end zone. Flacco overthrew both passes. He also threw into double coverage in the end zone on another play. Seattle's Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas collided while trying to make the pick, or else this would have been an interception.
  • Offensive line depth improved. The Seahawks lost starting right guard John Moffitt to a knee injury early in the game. Lemuel Jeanpierre replaced him and proved, again, that Seattle's depth along the line is not longer such a liability. The personnel department has done a good job in that area. Jeanpierre seemed to function well despite facing a formidable Ravens defensive front. He made a positive impression starting at center against Cleveland a few weeks earlier. Right tackle James Carpenter still has problems protecting. Officials flagged him for holding on a third-and-goal play from the 3. Carpenter's right foot was outside the 5-yard line before the snap in an effort to get a jump in protection, but it wasn't enough. The line's strong blocking for Lynch helped Seattle take an early lead and minimize obvious passing situations. That was huge for the line.
  • Letting Mare leave worked out OK. Seattle wanted to re-sign kicker Olindo Mare, but the Carolina Panthers made on offer the Seahawks weren't willing to match. The offer was sensational from Mare's perspective, but also above market. A contending team might have found a way to keep its kicker, but the Seahawks remained in rebuild mode. Mare has made 14 of 18 attempts this season. Steven Hauschka made all five attempts for Seattle against Baltimore. He has now made 15 of 17 attempts. Mare has more touchbacks.
  • Gallery's veteran savvy shows up. You had to watch carefully, but with about 4:17 left in the second quarter, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis inexplicably fell down while closing on Jackson in the Seattle backfield. The fall gave Jackson time to escape the pocket and throw away the ball without risking a penalty for intentional grounding. Lewis had beaten Seahawks left guard Robert Gallery on the play, but as Gallery was down on all fours, he made sure one hand snagged Lewis' right foot. Lewis stumbled, got up quickly and raised his arms in protest as if to say, "Hey, what was that?" It's tripping, but only if the officials see it.
  • Seattle needs another Lynch. At one point during the Fox broadcast, analysts said Lewis had called Lynch the Seahawks' heartbeat. Seattle lacks another big halfback on its roster, however. If Lynch misses a game, as he did at Cleveland, the Seahawks cannot play offense they way they want to play it. Lynch should have a strong second half of the season as the line continues to improve. I'm just not sure how long he'll hold up carrying the ball as much as he has in the last couple games. He has 55 carries and 61 total touches over the last two games. It'll be fun to watch Lynch and the St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson in the same game next week. Defensive players will want to keep the ice packs handy. Seattle might want to add another big back in the offseason, though.

I'm writing this from San Francisco 49ers headquarters following Jim Harbaugh's news conference and will be heading to the airport shortly. More to come once I'm settled.

2011 Seahawks Week 7: Five observations

October, 25, 2011
Five things I noticed while watching the Seattle Seahawks during their 6-3 defeat to the Cleveland Browns in Week 7:
  • All's quiet against Joe Thomas. The Browns' Pro Bowl left tackle operated with quiet efficiency against a long list of Seattle defenders. Red Bryant, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, K.J. Wright and others went against Thomas without making much headway. Brock came closest to beating Thomas around the corner. Finding another pass-rusher to pair with Clemons will presumably be a priority for Seattle in the offseason.
  • Whitehurst had man open. The Seahawks settled for a field goal after having first-and-goal from the 9 and another first-and-goal from the 2 during a critical stretch late in the third quarter. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw away the ball on one play despite having tight end Cameron Morrah open in his field of vision. Pressure on the play forced the decision to throw away the ball, but in looking at the play, this appeared to be a missed opportunity. It seemed like a touch pass would have worked here.
  • Zach Miller badly, badly missed. With Miller sidelined by a concussion, John Carlson on injured reserve and Morrah just returning from injury, the Seahawks relied heavily on Anthony McCoy at tight end. They paid a high price. McCoy dropped multiple passes. He missed a blitzing Chris Gocong, leading to a sack. The Seahawks hope to get Miller back this week. They need him. The team's relative strength at wide receiver and depth issues at tight end show up in personnel charting. Seattle has run only 84 plays with two tight ends this season, the third-lowest total in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The rest of the league averages 143 such snaps.
  • Rough game for wideouts. Seattle's wide receivers had not dropped a single pass heading into this game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Ben Obomanu and Doug Baldwin dropped passes Sunday. Throw in McCoy's two drops and Seattle suffered four in this game, one more than in the previous five games combined. Whitehurst targeted wide receivers 15 times, completing only four through a combination of errant throws and drops. Seattle had been much better in the passing game recently and I suspect they will be much better in the future. This was an unusually horrible game on that front.
  • Offensive line depth tested. The Seahawks have sought to upgrade their depth along the offensive line. They seem to be succeeding. Seattle went into this game with 24-year-old former undrafted free agent Lemuel Jeanpierre at center. Jeanpierre was making his first career start. His presence in the lineup wasn't a big deal going into the game or coming out of the game. That is a good sign. The Seahawks have been willing to continually churn their roster on the line. Tyler Polumbus was at least serviceable as a spot starter at tackle last season, but the team released him because Jarriel King, claimed off waivers from the New York Giants, has more upside. The team is also getting healthier up front, making it easier to carry fewer linemen on the roster.

It's looking like I'll be following the San Francisco 49ers quite a bit in the second half of the season. First, though, I'll be at CenturyLink Field for the Seahawks' game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8. Here's hoping the teams combine for more than nine points.