NFC West: Stephen Williams

RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows his receivers don’t get a lot of love for their skills, and he doesn’t really care.

In Carroll’s view, all that matters is they get the job done.

“I’m not concerned with how much credit they get, but we have good catchers,” Carroll said Monday.

There was a lot of gloom-and-doom talk when Seattle lost Percy Harvin to hip surgery last month, a labrum tear that could keep him off the field until late November. Harvin thinks he'll be back sooner.

It was a bit weird to miss something you’ve never had, but Harvin was the off-season acquisition expected to make the Seahawks offense more explosive. The returning receivers were viewed by many people as average or a little above.

They looked above-average Sunday in the 12-7 victory over Carolina. Doug Baldwin had seven catches for 91 yards, including one highlight-reel grab on a desperation sideline throw from Russell Wilson.

[+] EnlargeJermaine Kearse
AP Photo/Paul JasienskiJermaine Kearse's leaping 43-yard TD catch was the most noteworthy play turned in by Seattle's receiving corps Sunday at Carolina.
Golden Tate added four receptions for 51 yards, and returned four punts for 48 yards. Sidney Rice, who didn’t play in the preseason while nursing a knee injury, caught two passes for 35 yards in limited play. And Jermaine Kearse had the play of the game, a 43-yard touchdown on a deep sideline pass in the fourth quarter.

That score came one play after receiver Stephen Williams was wide open down the sideline for a sure touchdown, but Wilson slightly overthrew it.

“Stephen has shown us he can get behind guys,’’ Carroll said. “And Kearse has done a wonderful job. That was a fantastic catch he made [Sunday]. He can play every [receiver] position for us.”

Carroll went on to list the assets of all his receivers, one by one. First was Baldwin, the third-year player from Stanford.

“He has great quickness,’’ Carroll said of Baldwin. “He has the ability to change directions that makes him extremely quick. That suddenness is what gets him open. But it’s also the savvy he has and the extra time he has spent with Russell, so those guys are seeing the same things.”

Carroll also was pleased to see Rice have two receptions, one of 21 yards, in his return to the field.

“We planned on easing him into it,” Carroll said. “We spaced out his time to keep him fresh, but I was really pleased with what it did.”

Next up on Carroll's praise list was Tate.

"Golden’s catch-and-run ability is really unique,” Carroll said. “He has extraordinary athletic sense. He plays golf and he played baseball in college. He’s just a very gifted natural athlete. He has a great space awareness and sense for making guys miss.”

Carroll said a big asset of his receivers is understanding what is asked of them. For example, all the Seattle receivers are aware they need to improvise at times to extend plays with a mobile quarterback like Wilson. The Seahawks had several big plays Sunday against Carolina that came after Wilson was forced to scramble out of the pocket.

“Scrambling is inherent to the way we play,’’ Carroll said. “We deal with the scramble opportunities and maximize those. There’s a lot of big plays in those situations that we are trying to make part of our offense. We made some big plays off that yesterday.”

Whether planned or caused by the opponent’s pass rush, it’s part of what makes Wilson effective.

“He’s just so good at it, so the receivers have to be adaptable and demonstrate good effort,” Carroll said. “Our guys know it’s a big play waiting to happen, and it’s hard to deal with on the other side of the ball.”

So don’t tell Carroll about his receivers getting no respect.

“It’s a nice group whether they get recognition or not,” he said.

Hamstring limits Seahawks' Browner

September, 4, 2013
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In a surprising development, Seattle Seahawks starting cornerback Brandon Browner was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice because of a strained hamstring. Browner played in all four preseason games without a problem.

Wide receivers Sidney Rice (knee) and Stephen Williams (concussion) were back as full participants.

Defensive end Chris Clemons (knee) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (biceps) did not practice, and neither is expected to play in the season opener Sunday at Carolina. Rookie offensive lineman Michael Bowie (shoulder) also did not practice Wednesday.

Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel (both with groin injuries) were limited participants. They are listed as the two starters on the depth chart. Defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring) also was limited in practice. Avril said before practice that he hopes to play on Sunday.
RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks starting defensive end Chris Clemons will practice Wednesday for the first time since offseason surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament, but coach Pete Carroll said Clemons will not play Sunday in the opener against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.

Clemons
“He’s had a great preparation to get back,” Carroll said after Monday’s practice. “It’ll be light on Wednesday, but he’s been really busting it [in rehab drills]. We’ll bring him along and take our time and make sure he’s ready to go. But he’s not in consideration for this weekend. We’re just excited he’s back out there.”

Clemons, who led the Seahawks with 11.5 sacks last season, suffered a torn ACL in the playoff victory over the Washington Redskins. The Seahawks placed him on the active roster Saturday, which indicated they expect he’ll be ready to play before the sixth game of the season.

Overall, the Seahawks' injury situation appears much improved from how things looked at the end of last week. Some key players are set to return:
  • Carroll said wide receiver Stephen Williams, who suffered a concussion in the preseason finale Thursday against the Oakland Raiders, will practice Wednesday. Williams still must pass a series of tests before he’s cleared to play at Carolina.
  • Also returning to practice Wednesday are defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel, the projected starters. “We’ll see how they handle the work,” Carroll said.
  • Starting wide receiver Sidney Rice will practice Wednesday and is expected to start the opener.
  • Defensive end Cliff Avril's status remains uncertain because of a strained hamstring. “But he ran pretty well [Monday], so we'll see what happens later in the week,” Carroll said.
  • Rookie offensive linemen Michael Bowie, who suffered a shoulder injury in the final preseason game, is expected to return to practice Wednesday. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett also will return after undergoing a minor procedure on one of his toes.
  • Carroll said rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who has a strained shoulder, is improving faster than expected. “He’s feeling way better and getting closer. I don’t know when he’ll be back, but it’s not going to be a long time.”

In other news Monday:
  • Carroll said second-year player Derrick Coleman, who spent the end of the 2012 season on Seattle’s practice squad, earned the job as the team’s starting fullback.

“He outlasted the competition to go into the opener as the starter,” Carroll said of Coleman, who is legally deaf. “That’s a big accomplishment. He came through in a beautiful way and also sent a big message about special teams. We know he can carry the ball if we need him to and he catches the ball really well.”

Carroll said the Seahawks were willing to part ways with veteran fullback Michael Robinson because of how well Coleman and rookie Spencer Ware played in the preseason.

“We had a real high opinion of Spencer coming in and he didn’t disappoint us at all,” Carroll said. “He was aggressive, he was tough and he can catch the football. He was physical on every snap he had. Plus, he can play fullback and tailback. He’s a good learner and he demonstrated he’s the real deal.”
“We wanted to get him on the practice squad,” Carroll said of Harper, the team’s fourth-round draft choice. “We hoped to develop him and bring him along, but that’s the gamble that you take, and they picked up a good football player.”

On 49ers' move to add ex-Seahawk Harper

September, 2, 2013
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The San Francisco 49ers emerged from the 2013 NFL draft with one of the four wide receivers selected in the fourth round. They could wind up with two of them after moving to sign Chris Harper from the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. But with Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com saying the Seahawks are making a last-ditch effort to keep Harper, the heated rivalry between these teams figures to get even warmer.

Harper did not show enough during training camp and the preseason for the Seattle Seahawks to keep him on their initial 53-man roster. Surprisingly strong camps from Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams pushed Harper off the roster despite his draft status. Seattle signed Harper to its practice squad and hoped to develop him, but now the Seahawks could wind up facing Harper as early as Week 2, depending upon how the receiver pecking order shakes out in San Francisco.

The Seahawks drafted Harper from Kansas State with the 123rd overall pick. The 49ers used the 128th choice for Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton. Harper caught four passes for 39 yards during the preseason and struggled to make an impact. Patton came on strong as the preseason progressed, finishing with six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Depth issues at receiver gave Patton additional opportunities, and he capitalized on them.

The 49ers are getting in Harper a receiver built similarly to their current No. 1 option, Anquan Boldin. Both are 6-foot-1. Boldin weighs 220 pounds and relies upon his strength to make catches even when closely defended. Harper is 6-1 and 234 pounds. He was considered a developmental prospect after converting from running back and quarterback to receiver only in the past few years.

"He gives us a guy that is a big, strong, physical receiver, different from the guys that we have," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the draft. "He played really in a run-oriented offense and didn't get as many balls as some of the teams that throw the ball all over the yard. He runs real well and plays the ball real well. He makes catches with guys hanging all over him, so we really like that kind of element that he brings to us."

Boldin's presence on the 49ers' roster and the team's affinity for power-oriented offense makes Harper and intriguing pickup for San Francisco. Harper could not have a better mentor than Boldin, who has made it a point to help younger players learn the game. The physical similarities between the players adds to the idea that Harper might have a better shot at developing in San Francisco.

The rivaly between the Seahawks and 49ers adds intrigue to every move the teams make, particularly when those moves involve players moving from one roster to another. We should note that the 49ers have already signed and released former Seattle receivers Ricardo Lockette and Charly Martin. If the Seahawks were determined to keep Harper, they wouldn't have released him. However, Lockette and Martin had been around a while. Harper is just starting out. He hasn't done much to this point, but he's just getting started.

Seattle Seahawks cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: Moving defensive end Chris Clemons off the PUP list and onto the 53-man roster. Clemons, who led the team with 11.5 sacks last year, has been recovering from offseason ACL surgery and has not practiced. But placing him on the active roster means the Seahawks believe he’ll be ready to play sooner than the sixth game of the year.

But the Seahawks still added some insurance on the defensive line by sending Jacksonville a conditional draft pick for defensive end D'Anthony Smith.

Winfield retires: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll sent out a tweet Saturday saying veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield has decided to retire. Winfield, 36, was signed as a free agent in the offseason. He likely would have been released had he not opted to retire. Winfield was a victim of numbers in what may be the deepest secondary in the NFL.

Defensive tackle deletions: The Seahawks surprisingly cut five defensive tackles, including veteran Clinton McDonald and second-year player Jaye Howard. That must mean the coaches are confident that starters Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel (groin injuries) will be OK this week and be ready to play for the opener. It also means they think rookie Jordan Hill's shoulder injury is not as serious as first thought.

What’s next: Watching some of these players -- possible fullback Michael Robinson, tight end Sean McGrath, safety Winston Guy, cornerback Ron Parker and defensive tackles McDonald and Howard -- get picked up by other teams. Look for the Seahawks to try to add rookie Chris Harper, a fourth-round draft choice, to the practice squad if no one claims him.

Two QBs only: Seattle released Brady Quinn, so they will go with two quarterbacks -- starter Russell Wilson and backup Tarvaris Jackson.

They made it: Wide receiver Stephen Williams and rookie defensive end Benson Mayowa, the two biggest surprises of the preseason, both made the 53-man roster. Williams suffered a concussion in the final preseason game, so his status for the opener at Carolina is unknown.

Seahawks cuts: FB: Michael Robinson. QB: Brady Quinn. DT: Sealver Siliga, Michael Brooks, Dewayne Cherrington, Clinton McDonald and Jaye Howard. WR Phil Bates, Chris Harper, Bryan Walters and Arceto Clark. TE: Sean McGrath, Cooper Helfet and Darren Fells. DB: Winston Guy and DeShawn Shead. G: Rishaw Johnson and Ryan Seymour. CB: Ron Parker. LB Ty Powell

Retired: CB Antoine Winfield.

Note: LB/DE Bruce Irvin is on the suspended list for the first four games.

Observation deck: Seahawks-Raiders

August, 30, 2013
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SEATTLE — For the second consecutive year, the Seattle Seahawks end the preseason undefeated.

That and $4 will get you a Starbucks coffee across the street from Pike Place Market, but the Seahawks will take it and use the momentum to start a season of high expectations and Super Bowl predictions from many experts and fans.

Seattle defeated the Oakland Raiders 22-6 Thursday night at Century Link Field in the typical battle of backups for the final preseason game.

What it means: The Seahawks look like a team ready to contend for the championship. The defense allowed only 36 points in the four preseason games. The biggest problem for the coaches is determining who makes the 53-man roster on what might be the deepest team in the NFL.

Stephen Williams suffers concussion: The one big downer of the night. The receiver has been the biggest surprise on the preseason on offense with his ability to out-battle defenders on deep throws down the sideline. He did it again Thursday, but this time the end result was costly.

Williams made a leaping 50-yard catch on Seattle’s opening drive, out-clawing Oakland defender Phillip Adams for the ball on the long pass from Russell Wilson. But Williams fell backward on the catch and slammed his head into the turf, resulting in a concussion.

That makes Williams’ status for the season opener uncertain. There is a protocol of tests he must go through before getting an OK to practice or play. The good news is that he has 10 days before the opener in Charlotte, N.C., against the Carolina Panthers.

No worries at kicker: Steven Hauschka was perfect against Oakland, making five field goals, including three of more than 50 yards -- a 56-yarder in the first quarter, a 51-yarder in the second and a 53-yarder in the fourth. Hauschka also had five touchbacks on kickoffs.

Jermaine Kearse sees all: Wide receiver Kearse should be the poster boy for Lasik surgery. He was close to perfect in the preseason after having the Lasik procedure in the offseason to improve his vision and end his days of wearing contact lenses. Kearse had two more receptions in the third quarter Thursday, including a 33-yard sideline catch. He ended the preseason with two touchdown catches and a 107-yard kickoff return for a TD.

What’s next: The Seahawks open the regular season at the Panthers on Sept. 8. Seattle defeated Carolina 16-12 last October in Charlotte, but the Seahawks have lost their past two season openers, both of which were on the road.

Seattle is 7-5 in its past 12 season openers, but 2-5 in the past seven openers on the road. Next week’s game will be the 10th time the Seahawks have started the regular season on the road in the past 14 seasons.

What to watch for: Seahawks-Raiders

August, 29, 2013
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SEATTLE -- With one last warm-up before the regular season, here are four things to watch -- and one you won’t get to watch -- Thursday night in the Seattle Seahawks game against Oakland.

The Seahawks pass rush: Hopefully, there is one to watch. Oakland has one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. If Seattle can’t get to the quarterback in this game, it’s time to worry. And they’ll have to do with backups. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril won’t play. Neither will defensive tackles Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Michael Bennett.

Clemons and Avril probably won’t play next weekend in the season opener at Carolina. So it is increasingly important to watch Benson Mayowa and O'Brien Schofield to see if they can continue to shine as pass-rushers. Ty Powell, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, also will see some time as a down rusher.

Penalty flags: Just keeping the yellow flags under double figures and less than 100 yards would look decent at this point. The Seahawks haf 14 penalties for 182 yards last week in the 17-10 victory at Green Bay. Seattle has 354 yards on 34 penalties in the three preseason games.

“We just want to be really disciplined with our offense and make sure we’re not getting any penalties,’’ quarterback Russell Wilson said Tuesday. “That’s our No. 1 focus.”

Coach Pete Carroll has harped on this for the past two weeks.

“We have to show progress before we head into the opener in terms of getting out of our own way,” Carroll said. “We have to comply and we’re a little out of compliance. The guys know. They don’t want to play like that. They just have to make better decisions.”

Pass blocking: The Seahawks offensive line struggled to stop the blitzing Packers last week. That has to improve, along with cutting down on holding calls and false starts. James Carpenter finally will get back on the field at guard, which could help. This is a good line overall, especially in run blocking. But a better showing on pass plays needs to happen tonight.

Bubble boys: No team in the NFL has tougher roster cuts to make than the Seahawks. The depth on this team is extraordinary and the coaches have difficult decisions to make after this game.

Some players need to shine to earn a spot. Receiver Stephen Williams probably already has done so, but one more good game wouldn’t hurt. Rookie receiver Chris Harper needs to step up. Will the Seahawks keep three fullbacks -- Michael Robinson (who won’t play tonight) rookie Spencer Ware and Derrick Coleman?

The toughest cuts will come in the secondary, where some of the backups could start for many NFL teams. Cornerback Ron Parker needs a good game. So does Winston Guy and DeShawn Shead. The coaches really like rookie linebacker John Lotulelei, but is there room for him?

No Matt Flynn: Some Seattle fans probably were looking forward to seeing quarterback Matt Flynn play against his former Seahawks teammates, but Flynn will watch from the sideline because of a sore arm.

He's probably got a few other sore places considering he’s been sacked seven times in the preseason. Flynn hasn’t played well, so it’s possible he could lose out on the starting-job competition for the second consecutive year. Terrelle Pryor will start against Seattle. He’s much better at running and avoiding the rush than Flynn, which is important with the Raiders porous offensive line.
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.

Seattle winning despite penalties

August, 24, 2013
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Penalties, lots of penalties, haven’t kept the Seattle Seahawks from winning in the preseason.

Seattle now has an unimaginable 34 penalties for 354 yards in the first three games, but the Seahawks won each of them. That includes a 17-10 victory Friday night at Green Bay when the Seahawks were flagged 14 times for 182 yards.

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
AP Photo/Tom LynnPete Carroll's Seahawks were penalized 14 times for 182 yards on Friday against Green Bay.
It looks worse when you realize coach Pete Carroll made the penalty problems his main point of emphasis entering the Green Bay game. Instead of getting better, it got worse.

“There were a lot of distractions in the game with 180 yards of penalties,’’ Carroll said. “It’s hard to deal with, and we are focused on cleaning that up. You never want to give your opponent anything, and we gave them 180 yards. That’s makes it difficult to win.”

The Seahawks won anyway. Here are a few observations from the game:

1. The defense does it again: Seattle’s defense has allowed only 30 points in the first three preseason games, and only three touchdowns, one in each game.

Tony McDaniel looked good in his first start at defensive tackle, stuffing the middle and posting two tackles along with one pass defensed.

Sealver Siliga, the defensive tackle Seattle acquired last week when guard John Moffitt was traded to Denver, had a strong first game with the Seahawks. Siliga had two tackles, including a sack.

2. Wow Mayowa: The man on defense who continues to stand out is rookie free agent Benson Mayowa, a defensive end from Idaho. Mayowa’s quickness makes it seem like he’s everywhere on the field. He had four tackles Friday night, including one tackle behind the line. Mayowa had a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery.

Maybe his most impressive play Friday came when Green Bay had a 31-yard gain. Running back Alex Green got around the left end and was off to the races down the sideline, but Mayowa ran him down from behind.

Mayowa (6-3, 255) was a longshot to make the team when training camp started. Now he appears to be a lock. He has 10 tackles in three games and 2.5 sacks. He also has five quarterback pressures.

3. Big-play Williams: Lanky receiver Stephen Williams, another man fighting for a roster spot, now has three long touchdown receptions in the first three games, one in each game.

Williams (6-5, 210) had a 42-yard touchdown catch Friday, pulling the ball away from the defender at the goal line on a pass from Brady Quinn. Williams came close to another long touchdown Friday on a play that could have been called interference on Green Bay defender Brandon Smith.

With Percy Harvin out until at least late November, it seems unimaginable now that Seattle wouldn’t keep Williams as a deep threat with the height to out-leap defenders for the ball.

4. One tough Aggie: Christine Michael, Seattle’s second-round draft choice from Texas A&M, had his best game of the preseason, rushing for 97 yards on 11 carries. Michael (5-10, 220) has shown a knack for breaking tackles and hitting the hole quickly at the line of scrimmage.

Seattle rushed for 166 yards on 27 carries (a 6.1-yard average) against the Packers.

6. The penalty culprits: The running game looked strong despite a bad night for the Seahawks' offensive line. It allowed four sacks and was penalized five times for holding. Starting right J.R. Sweezy was penalized three times in the first half -- two for holding and once for a personal foul.

The bottom line is the Seahawks managed to get the job done despite all the miscues and yellow flags. But that isn’t likely to continue in the regular season unless the team cleans up its act.

Mailbag: Overreaction on A.J. Jenkins

August, 13, 2013
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Brad from Visalia, Calif., thinks his fellow San Francisco 49ers fans need to calm down regarding receiver A.J. Jenkins.

"In the age of instant analysis and gratification, seemingly everyone thinks the 49ers should cut A.J. Jenkins," Brad writes to the NFC West mailbag. "While I admit the situation is far from ideal given his lack of production, it seems to me that people need to take a deep breath and just let the guy develop."

Wait, you mean 35 regular-season snaps and 16 regular-season pass routes aren't enough to fully analyze a first-round NFL draft choice? I'm with you on this one, Brad. Jenkins hasn't done much to this point, but it's not like the 49ers have a long list of promising young wideouts commanding roster spots.

We should expect Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams and Quinton Patton to stick on the 53-man roster. We know Michael Crabtree will remain on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Mario Manningham could remain on that list as well. Neither would count against the 53-man roster while on PUP. That would leave room on the roster for Jenkins and one or two others. Players such as Marlon Moore, Ricardo Lockette, Kassim Osgood, Austin Collie and Chad Hall would presumably be factoring for those spots based on a factors including special-teams value.

Jenkins and five other 49ers wideouts logged snaps on offense but not on special teams during the 49ers' exhibition opener. Osgood played nine special-teams snaps in that game. Hall and Lockette played three special-teams snaps apiece. If Osgood earns a roster spot, special-teams contributions will factor disproportionately.

The 49ers presumably are not going to base a Jenkins decision on his relevance as a gunner or coverage player. They drafted Jenkins to play offense. They must consider what he has shown on the practice field (not much so far), their reasons for drafting him (potential), their available alternatives (also undefined) and salary commitments (guaranteed money through 2014).

Three exhibition games remain for the 49ers. Jenkins could conceivably play his way out of a roster spot over that span. I don't think he's done that to this point. The 49ers could use Jenkins, but they don't necessarily have to make a final decision on him after just 35 regular-season snaps. They appear better off with what he might one day offer rather than what they know they could have instead.

Think of it another way. If every current 49ers wide receiver beyond Boldin were suddenly available to sign at low cost, which ones would the other 31 teams scramble to sign first? I have to think Jenkins would rank at or near the top of the list as a young player with potential who hasn't played enough for analysts to judge accurately.
Good morning, NFC West.

The three division teams with exhibition openers Thursday night appeared to come through without season-altering injuries to key players.

The St. Louis Rams are hopeful right tackle Rodger Saffold suffered only a minor shoulder injury. Saffold left the Rams' opener against Cleveland after just two plays. That injury stood out as a concern simply because Saffold has had a hard time staying healthy in general.

Rams receiver Chris Givens picked up where he left off last season with a 59-yard reception and a 3-yard scoring catch. Another second-year player of note, running back Isaiah Pead, lost a fumble on one of his three carries. I thought quarterback Sam Bradford was sharp while completing 5 of 8 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.

The San Francisco 49ers sounded pleased with first-round pick Eric Reid, who is fighting for the starting job at free safety. I thought the 49ers' second-round pick, tight end Vance McDonald, also made a positive impact despite dropping a short pass at one point. The team is going to need more from receiver A.J. Jenkins, who fumbled following his lone reception.

The Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, showed off their depth at wide receiver and cornerback. Stephen Williams and Jermaine Kearse each caught touchdown passes, validating the progress they have shown in camp. Tarvaris Jackson's 128-yard, two-touchdown passing performance left the impression Seattle has the best backup quarterback in the division.

Next up: The Arizona Cardinals' exhibition opener at Green Bay.
RENTON, Wash. -- It happens every summer in the NFL. Young wide receivers flash ability during training camps, but something doesn't quite translate to the preseason games.

What's the key to these summer disappearing acts? How can young wideouts such as the Seattle Seahawks' Jermaine Kearse, Stephen Williams, Chris Harper and Phil Bates, among others, maintain the momentum they've built in camp when the preseason opener arrives Thursday night?

[+] EnlargeRussell Wilson
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonRussell Wilson says consistency and conditioning are keys to success for young receivers.
"There are two things in terms of playing receiver that you have to be able to do," Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said after practice Tuesday.

Consistency over countless practice reps, play after play and day after day, is No. 1 on Wilson's checklist for wideouts (assuming, of course, that they can catch the ball, run fast and meet the basic requirements for the position).

"When things aren't going well, when you drop one, how can you keep coming back?" Wilson said. "That is what Sidney Rice does well; that is what Doug Baldwin does well; that's what Golden Tate does really well; that's what Percy Harvin does really well when he's here. Those guys are just relentless competitors, and they want the ball again."

Wilson sees conditioning as the second key for receivers -- before and particularly after the reduction to 53-man rosters. Receivers run, run and run some more. They run during practice and during games, whether or not the ball is coming their way. Some of them must run on special teams, too.

"You gotta be able to keep your conditioning up," Wilson said. "You really only keep 5-6 receivers, maybe. During a game and during the season, you have to be able to run those routes and continue to keep your legs fresh and take care of your body."

Wilson offered specifics when asked about Kearse and Bates in particular.

  • On Kearse: "We went down to California together, and Jermaine was one of the guys that really stood out. Kearse, he looked unbelievable down there. He has looked unbelievable since we've been training here in Seattle all offseason together. He just has great hands, great instincts. He has great hips in terms of moving and adjusting to the football. I'm really excited to see where he goes this year. He can do it all."
  • On Bates: "Phil is more and more aggressive every day. That is one of the things I've been trying to push him with and talk to him about, because he has huge hands. He has long arms. He is a strong kid. He goes and just attacks the football and has that mentality of, 'I'm going to get to this every single time the ball comes to me.' ... He has really attacked the football, and it has taken a lot of dedication to that. We have worked at it every day. I'm really proud of him."

Rookie fourth-round pick Harper is another young receiver trying to stick with Seattle. I didn't get Wilson's take on him, but I did see Harper step in front of cornerback Jeremy Lane to make a touchdown grab in the red zone during practice Tuesday. The 6-foot-1, 234-pound Harper is easy to spot for a height-weight ratio generally associated with fullbacks or linebackers, not wide receivers.

Another receiver, 27-year-old Stephen Williams, has had arguably as strong a camp as any other Seattle wideout. He flashed ability with Arizona in past offseasons but never quite broke through. Following Wilson's advice wouldn't hurt.

The Seattle Seahawks' depth at wide receiver is suddenly a little shallow, but for how long? No one seems to know.

The latest from coach Pete Carroll: Sidney Rice went to Europe for a non-surgical procedure on his knee, while Percy Harvin was in New York getting a second opinion on his sore hip (nothing new to report there).

This situation is ripe for overreaction. Harvin was running at full speed within the past week or so and did not, as far as we know, suffer a new injury. Rice has been practicing and did not, as far as we know, suffer a new injury. But at the very least, there's a chance both receivers will be managing injuries throughout the 2013 season.

Harvin missed seven games to an ankle injury last season. Rice did not miss a game in 2012 after having a surgery on each shoulder. He missed seven games in 2011 and 11 the year before that.

Rice played through knee soreness last season without missing time. He scheduled this overseas treatment previously and with the team's knowledge. The timing wasn't in relation to any aggravation of the injury. Rice was functioning as normal and practicing. The team does not expect him to miss practices or games when he returns.

Harvin and Rice figure prominently into the Seahawks' plans on offense. Their contracts also figure prominently. The chart shows projected salary-cap charges for Harvin, Rice, Zach Miller, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Golden Tate. Harvin's new deal buys him security for the next couple seasons. The team could more easily free itself from Rice's contract. Tate is entering the final year of his contract, adding another dynamic to the position.

Those are issues to resolve in the future. First, the Seahawks need to find out more about Harvin in particular, and also Rice.

Seattle currently has 12 receivers on its roster: Harvin, Rice, Tate, Doug Baldwin, Chris Harper, Stephen Williams, Jermaine Kearse, Brett Swain, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Greg Herd and Arceto Clark.


Camp Confidential: Seattle Seahawks

July, 30, 2013
7/30/13
11:30
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RENTON, Wash. -- This training camp marks the Seattle Seahawks' first since 2009 without some form of a starting quarterback competition. So comfortable, mature and in command is Russell Wilson this summer that you'd swear he's been the starter for a decade.

It's sometimes as though Wilson is 24 years old going on 42.

Wilson naturally took the driver's seat in the van Seattle players used when shuttling to the offseason practices Wilson organized in Los Angeles. While teammates joked around in the back like kids on a field trip, Wilson was their chaperone.

Asked during this camp what he knew of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick from their time together shooting a commercial and appearing at the ESPYS, Wilson, nearly 13 months Kaepernick's junior, described his rival as someone who loves football and is a good person to be around.

"Great kid," Wilson added.

Reporters can forget about prying a colorful quote from the player teammates have nicknamed "the robot" for his methodical approach to the job. Wilson has been known to favor coachspeak even inside Seattle's quarterback meeting room.

"We joke around all the time," backup Brady Quinn said. "There are some times when he'll state the obvious. We try to make sure he realizes that is a given. Like, for example, 'Hey man, guys gotta stay healthy this year.' Well, yeah. They always need to stay healthy. That's a big part of a team doing well, people not getting hurt. Times like that, you've gotta keep him on his toes, make him laugh a little bit, give him a hard time."

One year after Wilson won a three-way competition against Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson, the player receiver Sidney Rice sometimes calls "the president" is running unopposed at this Seahawks camp.

"He's a champion when he steps out there on that field, even in practice," Rice said. "I’ve seen him run, I believe, 80 yards on one play on a scramble to try to get away and get us a first down. He is going to do whatever it takes. You have seen him running down the sideline blocking for Marshawn [Lynch] numerous times. That is the kind of guy you want leading your team."

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargePercy Harvin
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenThe Vikings aren't sure what to expect from their former receiver, Percy Harvin, who is expected to be in Seattle's lineup on Sunday.
1. Percy Harvin's health. The Seahawks were already a good team before they acquired Harvin. They became a popular pick for the Super Bowl once the versatile receiver and return specialist joined their roster in March. Now, with Harvin seeking a second opinion that could lead to season-altering surgery on his sore hip, those projections seem a little more tenuous.

How Harvin will proceed from here is not clear. His sometimes rocky past in Minnesota invites questions and fuels his critics. Is he smartly erring on the side of caution, as coach Pete Carroll seemed to suggest in initial remarks about the injury? Or, is this another one of those tough-to-explain Harvin plot twists like the ones that seemed to pop up regularly during his Minnesota tenure? With Harvin set to seek that second opinion Tuesday, Carroll noted that safety Kam Chancellor played through a similar injury last season. Was he saying Harvin should do the same?

"Guys around here trust [Harvin] and believe in him," Rice said. "It's nothing like coming out here and taking days off and doing his own thing. I don’t think he’s that type of person. You get that perception from people that don’t really know what's going on, and they just hear stuff and they just create their own [impression]."

Harvin is, by all accounts, plenty tough and competitive. If this is an injury Harvin can manage, it appears he'll do so on his terms, not on the Seahawks' terms. That surely wouldn't surprise the Vikings, even though Rice, himself an ex-Viking, said his teammate is misunderstood.

2. Bruce Irvin's position. There has been some confusion, at least on my end, regarding the role Seattle envisions for 2012 first-round draft choice Irvin. The team drafted Irvin with plans to use him initially as a situational pass-rusher, and later as the successor to Chris Clemons in the "Leo" position as a stand-up rusher in Carroll's defense.

Irvin collected eight sacks as a rookie in the situational role, as planned. He'll continue to play that role within the nickel defense while adding responsibilities as an outside linebacker in base packages. It's not so much that Irvin will be playing the strong side or weak side. Rather, he'll be one of two outside linebackers positioned on the line of scrimmage in what will look like a 3-4 scheme. He'll be asked to set the edge in the running game, rush the passer, match up man-to-man or cover the flat.

First, though, Irvin will have to serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

3. Depth on the offensive line. The Seahawks drafted offensive lineman James Carpenter 25th overall in 2011 when they could have taken a quarterback such as Andy Dalton or Kaepernick. Finding Wilson a year later absolved the team from second-guessing on the quarterback front, but the Carpenter selection was still looking like a regrettable one heading into this camp. Injuries were threatening Carpenter's career, and he wasn't exactly dominant even when healthy in his rookie season.

Perceptions are beginning to change after Carpenter reported to camp in good enough shape to participate fully from the beginning. I noticed Carpenter running from one drill to the next when he could have jogged. It seemed like evidence Carpenter was feeling good and was eager to salvage his career. He's been working with the starting unit at left guard between Pro Bowlers Russell Okung and Max Unger. Adding a healthy Carpenter to the mix would upgrade the line's longer-term prospects.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

Seattle has one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, best running backs and best defenses. That's a winning combination just about every time. Last season, Wilson struggled through his first few games while hamstrung by remedial game plans. He did not start to hit his stride until Week 8 at Detroit. Wilson did not break out all the way until leading 97- and 80-yard touchdown drives to win at Chicago in Week 13. That's the quarterback Seattle will have behind center from the beginning this season. That is why the Seahawks like their chances.

REASON FOR PESSIMISM

Potential depth issues at tight end, offensive tackle, weakside linebacker and defensive end (for now, while Clemons rehabs and Irvin faces a suspension) probably aren't serious enough to send the Seahawks plummeting into mediocrity. However, the margin for error within the NFC West figures to be small. Harvin, at his best, was supposed to put Seattle over the top. Now, the Seahawks can't be sure they'll have him for the regular season.

OBSERVATION DECK
    [+] EnlargeRed Bryant
    Steven Bisig/USA TODAY SportsRed Bryant, who had treatment for sleep apnea this offseason, says he has better stamina in practices.

  • Defensive end Red Bryant appears more comfortable, for good reason. Bryant had treatment for sleep apnea this offseason after former trainer Sam Ramsden, now the Seahawks' director of player health and performance, recommended testing for larger players. Bryant, who wears a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask when he sleeps, says he's feeling refreshed and has better stamina later in practices. This is a pivotal season for Bryant, who struggled with a foot injury last season after signing a $35 million extension. At Carroll's suggestion, Bryant has recommitted to his identity as a dominant run-stuffer after feeling pressure to improve as a pass-rusher upon signing his new contract.
  • Rookie fourth-round receiver Chris Harper didn't seem to be a factor in the first couple days of camp. The first time I really noticed him was when he caught a touchdown pass on the third day of practice. Perhaps not coincidentally, that was also the first day this summer that the Seahawks practiced in pads. Harper, oddly proportioned for a receiver at 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds, relishes the physical part of the game. Some young receivers flourish in shorts and struggle in pads. Harper might have it the other way around.
  • The Seahawks claimed off waivers former Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield despite a $1.3 million salary and a history of injuries. Seattle had a middle-rounds grade on Schofield entering the 2010 draft even though Schofield was rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered in Senior Bowl practices. The Cardinals used a fourth-round pick on Schofield just ahead of the range where Seattle was considering taking him. The Seahawks are continually looking for "Leo" defensive ends in the 6-3 and 245-pound mold. Schofield, 26, fits the profile and has a chance to earn playing time in a rotational capacity while Clemons recovers from knee surgery and Irvin serves a suspension.
  • Irvin's speed showed up in practice when he chased down rookie running back Christine Michael to force a fumble some 40 yards past the line of scrimmage. Michael ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at the combine. He has appeared to be one of the more explosive players in camp. Irvin caught him despite outweighing Michael by about 25 pounds, 245 to 220. Raw speed isn't the question for Irvin. He has plenty. The question is whether he can handle some of the coverage and run-stopping responsibilities associated with his evolving role.
  • Remember those offseason stories about Lynch skipping chunks of the voluntary offseason conditioning program? They're pretty much irrelevant now, as anticipated.
  • Nothing has changed the perception that Jackson will beat out Quinn for the No. 2 job behind Wilson. Trading Jackson a year ago was tough in some respects because Jackson was so popular among teammates. I see no reason for the Seahawks to make the same decision again unless Quinn vastly outplays Jackson.
  • Between the practice field and the locker room sits a cart with a laptop connected to a sensor atop a stand. The setup from GPSports allows teams to monitor player performance in real time. Team owner Paul Allen's other professional Seattle sports team, Sounders FC, has used the technology. The GPSports website says systems include a GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, heart rate sensor and a wireless transmitter. The company says its product can "accurately measure distance, speed, acceleration, heart rate, bodyload and impacts all in real time."
  • Former Cardinals receiver Stephen Williams is doing what he sometimes did while with Arizona: impressing during camp by making spectacular leaping catches. Williams has the talent, but he has been unable to make it transfer to the regular season. Working with a top NFL quarterback cannot hurt. Williams arrived in Arizona the year after Kurt Warner retired.
  • Linebacker K.J. Wright has stood out in past camps, but not so much in this one, except for the big hit he delivered on rookie fullback Spencer Ware.
  • Speaking of Ware, he has some work to do before making veteran fullback Michael Robinson expendable, at least from early indications. The offense didn't look the same or as good with Robinson and tight end Zach Miller sitting out. Robinson and Lynch have a special feel for one another. Ware, more of a halfback type for most of his college career, has dropped a few passes and is still adjusting to the physical nature of the position.
  • The offseason buzz about rookie Jesse Williams possibly starting at defensive tackle seems to have subsided for the time being. Veteran Tony McDaniel and 2012 fourth-rounder Jaye Howard have stood out more.
  • Is that really assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable? He has dropped a significant amount of weight since having back surgery, and he said after one practice, "You can’t imagine how nothing hurts on me. It’s awesome."
  • Richard Sherman, although sometimes combative when facing receivers, projects unfiltered joy other times. He is the player most likely to groove along to the music Carroll plays at practice. Sherman thrilled the crowd during one practice when he picked off a pass and lateraled to Earl Thomas during the return. Football is fun to Sherman, and it shows.
  • There aren't many open passing lanes in practice against the Seattle defense. This team is stacked at cornerback. If this keeps up in preseason, and there's enough depth that it should, Seattle could be in position to trade one of its backups.
NFC West teams are collecting wide receivers from their division rivals' discard piles.

It happened Friday when the San Francisco 49ers claimed Charly Martin off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks. In April, the Seahawks signed former 49ers receiver Brett Swain. Earlier, Seattle also signed former Arizona Cardinals receiver Stephen Williams.

These sorts of signings lend themselves to rivalry narratives, but it's not like Martin, Swain or Williams are striking fear in their former teams. They are developmental players who ran their course with one team and could benefit from new opportunity. They'll be fighting for roster spots. The 49ers think receiver Ricardo Lockette, formerly of the Seahawks, could become one such success story.

San Francisco has been seeking receiver depth this offseason while Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham recover from injuries. Brandon Carswell suffered a torn ACL in his first practice after the 49ers signed him. Martin, 29, fills that roster spot. He has five receptions, two for first downs, on seven targets while with Seattle and Carolina.

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