NFL Nation: Bruce Irvin

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The way Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy sees it, Seattle is the perfect place for Bryan Bulaga's first game in nearly 22 months.

And he might be right.

Bulaga
The last time Bulaga played against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, it was perhaps the low point of his career. The right tackle was responsible for two of the eight first-half sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the Packers' 14-12 loss to Seattle in Week 3 of the 2012 season on Monday Night Football.

Bulaga had allowed just one sack in 12 starts the previous season and didn't have another game in which he allowed more than one sack the rest of the 2012 season.

Several demons from that night in the Seattle still torment the Packers (see Mary, Fail), and Bulaga's uncharacteristic performance remains one of them, in part because of what he went through in the two years that have followed.

"I think Bryan needs to go back to Seattle, just like we all do," McCarthy said Tuesday, two days before the Packers open the season against the Seahawks.

Seemingly on the way to becoming one of the premier right tackles in the NFC, Bulaga's career path changed significantly shortly thereafter. He has not played in a regular-season game since Nov. 4, 2012, when he sustained a season-ending hip injury that was followed by a knee blowout the following summer that cost him the entire 2013 season.

Although he insisted this week that he has not given the last Seattle game much thought, it's hard to forget just what the Seahawks did to Bulaga and the rest of the Packers' offense in the din of the boisterous crowd at CenturyLink Field. The problems started almost immediately. On the Packers' third play from scrimmage, then-rookie Bruce Irvin tossed Bulaga aside like it was nothing and sacked Rodgers 2.5 seconds after the ball was snapped.

As if to show it was no fluke, Irvin beat Bulaga on the next series with an up-and-under move and got to Rodgers in 3.4 seconds for his second sack.

When the night was over, Bulaga had been charged not only with the two sacks but also with another quarterback hit and eight hurries allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

"I really don't go back [two] years and look at game tapes, I really don't," Bulaga said. "Obviously it needs to be better than what it is; I knew that after the game, but I really don't compare years to years, especially single games. But yeah, overall individually, I definitely do [need to protect better] and as a group, we just need to be more solid. The more time we can give Aaron the better."

Against the Seahawks, even that might not be enough given how well their secondary covers. On four of the sacks in that game two years ago, Rodgers held the ball longer than 3.5 seconds (including longer than 4.8 on two of them).

Bulaga wasn't responsible for any of the four sacks Chris Clemons had that day, and Clemons has now moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but there's still plenty of motivation for Bulaga -- and the rest of the Packers' offensive line. The environment will be just as difficult, as loud or louder than it was in 2012, and the opponent just as capable. The Seahawks fielded the league's top-ranked defense last season on the way to their Super Bowl title.

"That game is a great example of getting out of your fundamentals, and when those things happen, it can snowball on you," Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. "That's certainly a lesson learned."

This is the start of an important season for Bulaga, the 25-year-old, fifth-year tackle. The former first-round pick is in the final year of his contract. According to McCarthy, Bulaga has come back in better shape than ever -- "He's 15 pounds heavier," McCarthy said -- while Campen insists Bulaga's level of play is back to where it was before the injury.

"He looks better than he did," Campen said.

And what better place to show it than in Seattle.

Packers could learn from Seahawks

February, 20, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- You'll never see a picture of a shirtless Ted Thompson wearing a championship belt, but the Green Bay Packers' general manager might do well to emulate his counterpart with the Seattle Seahawks, John Schneider.

And we're not talking about questionable fashion decisions.

[+] EnlargeTed Thompson
AP Photo/Morry GashAt 61 years old, Ted Thompson said he's not ready to retire as Packers GM anytime soon. "I'm feeling good and ready to go," he said.
For five years in Green Bay, Thompson listened to Schneider's opinions about all things personnel -- free agency, the draft, trades, waiver claims ... you name it. Not that Thompson, conservative by nature, always acted on Schneider's suggestions, but it was the protege's job to offer opinions and suggestions from his office down the hall at Lambeau Field.

Now, they sit more than 1,900 miles apart, competitors, not colleagues. Yet as Thompson faces one of the most important offseasons since he took over the Packers' personnel department in 2005, there are things he could learn from the man who put together a Super Bowl-winning roster.

Not that Thompson doesn't know how to do that; he built much of the roster that won Super Bowl XVL. But since the Packers' last championship, they have won just one playoff game -- against the Minnesota Vikings, who were forced to start backup quarterback Joe Webb at the last minute.

If there's a common denominator in their playoff exits, it's that their defenses failed them.

With salary-cap space to use and holes to be filled, Thompson might want to examine how Schneider built the Seahawks' top-ranked defense.

Although Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said shortly after the Super Bowl that it would be unrealistic to expect the Packers -- or any other NFL team -- to play at the same level as the Seahawks did last season and in their 43-8 destruction of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, there are some things Thompson might be able to do to help bridge the gap between the Seahawks' dominating defense and the Packers' half-broken unit that slipped to 25th last season.

"If you're able to acquire players that can run fast and are big and are good-looking, then you've got a shot," Schneider said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine.

The Schneider formula for acquiring speed and size on defense goes like this:

  • Make your early-round draft picks count -- see outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (2012 first round), inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (2012 second round) and safety Earl Thomas (2010 first round).
  • Find gems in the middle and late rounds -- see cornerback Richard Sherman (2011 fifth round) and safety Kam Chancellor (2010 fifth round).
  • Retain key players before they hit free agency -- see defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, a third-round pick by the previous administration who in 2011 signed a five-year, $25 million contract extension.
  • Dip into the free-agent market but don't break the bank -- see defensive ends Michael Bennett, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract, and Cliff Avril, who signed a two-year, $13 million deal.
  • Work some trades -- see defensive end Chris Clemons, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Thompson has tried to employ some of those strategies. He used his first six draft picks in 2012 on defensive players with only minimal success. He signed safety Morgan Burnett to a four-year, $24.75 million contract last offseason only to see Burnett fail to come up with a single interception last season. But he hasn't touched free agency in any significant way since 2006, when he signed Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett.

With the 21st pick in this year's draft, Thompson could be looking at defensive players again. Given the copycat nature of the NFL, it's worth wondering if another team, say the Packers, could duplicate what Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll have done on that side of the ball.

"It wouldn't be very hard, I don't think," Schneider said. "Just [get] more speed. It's just about having guys that are willing to teach and play young players, and [the Packers] have that. They have a young team. They have good teachers."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week defensive coordinator Dom Capers' unit "is going to change some" and that he would "set the vision for the defense and Dom Capers and the defensive staff will carry it out."

To do so, Thompson might have to take more aggressive measures to rebuild a defense that in the Super Bowl season of 2010 ranked fifth in the NFL and ranked second in 2009.

Harvin doesn't practice Thursday

December, 5, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin did not practice again Thursday, which brings continuing doubts about the chances of him playing Sunday at San Francisco.

Harvin
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Harvin would run on his own before practice Wednesday and they would evaluate where he was in terms in practicing Thursday.

Harvin made his season debut Nov. 17 against Minnesota but did not play Monday night against New Orleans because of soreness in his surgically repaired hip.

Linebacker Bruce Irvin, who has a thigh injury, also has not practiced this week, but Carroll said Wednesday that he expected Irvin to play this weekend.

Cornerback Brandon Browner, who was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, did not practice Thursday. Browner has a strained groin, but he is also awaiting word from the league in his appeal of a possible one-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson missed practice because of an illness. Tight end Kellen Davis (strained neck) was limited.

Receiver Golden Tate and running back Marshawn Lynch returned to full practice participation.

Five Seahawks under the radar

November, 24, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- The Seahawks have their share of limelight players who receive plenty of recognition nationally, like quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas.

Here are a few players who don't receive that type of praise but who have contributed to the 10-1 record:

Best rookie: Tight end Luke Willson was a steal as a late fifth-round pick. Few people had heard of the 6-5, 250-pound Canadian who played college ball at Rice -- another example of GM John Schneider's ability to find quality players other teams overlook.

Willson
Willson has 12 receptions for a 14.2-yard average per catch. The Seahawks knew he could catch and had good speed, but he has performed better as a blocker than most people expected.

He started two games when Zach Miller was out with a hamstring injury, but officially, Willson has started seven games because the Seahawks opened with a two-tight end set, showing their confidence in Willson.

He is an all-around athlete who played, hockey, soccer and baseball in high school, including a stint on the Canadian Junior National Team, along with football. But he also is a brainiac (typical of Rice grads) who had a 4.0 GPA.

Best new position: It's Bruce Irvin moving from defensive end to outside linebacker. After missing the first four games due to a PED suspension, Irvin stepped into his new spot and made an immediate impact with a sack in his first game back.

Irvin
Irvin's speed has enabled to do things at linebacker that he didn't do at defensive end, like intercepting a pass 30 yards downfield in the game at St. Louis.

Irvin has 28 tackles (20 solo), two sacks, five quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Irvin loves playing linebacker and believes he can do more things without constantly taking on huge offensive tackles.

Most underrated player: This one will surprise you. I'm going with punter Jon Ryan, the other Canadian on the Seahawks. Ryan doesn't rank among the league leaders in yards per punt, which is a misleading stat in regard to a punter's value.

Ryan's success comes from how high he kicks the ball. Returners appear to wait forever for the ball to come down, so they don't get many opportunities to gain any yards after the catch.

Only 11 of his 44 punts have been returned. But here's the eye-popping numbers. The 11 returns totaled a measly 15 yards. And one of those was 10 yards, so the other 10 totaled only 5 yards.

Eighteen punts were downed inside the 20. Ryan completely shut down the best punt returner in the league -- Marcus Sherels -- last week against Minnesota. All Sherels could muster was three fair catches. On the other two Ryan punts, one was downed at the 7 and the other went out of bounds at the 20.

Ryan is a major field-position asset for the Seahawks.

Best offseason acquisition: Now this is a tough one because Seattle has three new players -- Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel and Michael Bennett -- who have made a big difference on the defensive front line, but I'll go with Bennett at defensive end.

Bennett
Bennett is tied with Avril for the team lead with 6 1/2 sacks, but he also has 16 quarterback hurries and 20 tackles.

Avril missed the first game of the season with an injury and feels like he's just starting to find his rhythm. He has three forced fumbles, including one on a sack in the Minnesota game.

But McDaniel also is a good pick from his defensive tackle spot. He has 44 tackles, including tying his season-high with seven against Minnesota when coach Pete Carroll singled him out as having his best game.

Honestly, I'm good with picking any of these three guys. They have dramatically improved the defensive front for Seattle, which was one of the team's top priorities after last season.

And, of course, I haven't even mentioned receiver Percy Harvin, who could win this category by the end of the season.

Best return: Some would say defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, whom I listed earlier this week as the most pleasant surprise on defense this season since he came back in Week 2 after being released at the end of preseason.

But my pick here is fullback Michael Robinson. He has helped throw some key blocks for Marshawn Lynch in the last three games, but maybe just as important is his leadership in the locker room and the respect he has from all his teammates.

As this young team heads toward a possible Super Bowl run, having a veteran leader like Robinson is a big asset to keep everyone pointing in the right direction.

Irvin making big moves at linebacker

October, 31, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- A lot of surprising things happened Monday night at St. Louis, but maybe the biggest shocker was seeing linebacker Bruce Irvin do his cornerback imitation.

And it was a good one, coming up with an interception on a deep sideline pass, just like his buddy Richard Sherman often does.

Irvin was step-for-step with Rams receiver Brian Quick, who came out of the backfield to force Irvin to cover him on a speed route outside. Irvin was right there for the pick, not bad for a guy who was seen only as a pass-rushing specialist.

[+] EnlargeBruce Irvin
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesBruce Irvin's interception Monday night showcased the versatility the Seahawks first saw in him.
“I played quarterback in high school,” Irvin said. “I just waited for my opportunity to show I could be more than a rush end.”

The Seattle Seahawks gave him that chance by moving him from defensive end to linebacker this season. But Irvin missed the first four games while suspended for violating the league's performance-enhancing-drugs policy, so no one knew for sure how the move would work out.

A lot of doubts about Irvin’s ability to play linebacker were erased in St. Louis when he had nine tackles, a sack and a forced fumble to go with his surprising interception.

“Bruce had a fantastic game for us,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He was all over the place. He just looked really comfortable playing the position and all of the different things that we’re doing with him.

"If there was a thought that this was an experiment at one time, it’s totally working out and we’re really excited about what he’s doing. He’s a gifted athlete.”

The Seahawks took a lot of criticism when they drafted Irvin in the first round last year. Many experts said it was a reach and a gamble on a player who had a troubled past before he made it to West Virginia as a major college player.

“But Pete has recruited me out of junior college,” Irvin said. “He saw a kid that had a lot of baggage and personal issues, but a guy that if he surrounded him with a lot of positive things, he could get great production out of him. I will always thank Pete for taking a chance on me. He believed in me, and that means a lot.”

Irvin was seen as a bit of a ‘tweener’’ by many draft experts – too small to play defensive end and too bulked up to play outside linebacker.

“In the process of him getting prepared for the draft, some scouts worked him out at linebacker,” Carroll said. “The results were them saying he doesn’t have what it takes to play linebacker. They said he was uncomfortable with it and a fish out of water.”

Irvin doesn’t remember that workout, but Carroll never believed it, anyway.

“I heard that and I totally dismissed it,’’ Carroll said. “I’d already seen him do stuff that was like a defensive back playing defensive end. He showed those things in college, so I didn’t buy into that. I don’t know what happened in that workout, but it must have been horrible. I can’t imagine the drills they put him through that would show that.”

Seattle linebackers coach Ken Norton agreed with Carroll and wanted to give Irvin a shot this season at moving to linebacker. Irvin is thankful for the chance. He felt his days were numbered as a defensive end.

“In order for me to keep up with those huge linemen, I would need to put on 20 or 30 pounds,” Irvin said. “I’m a speed guy. Playing linebacker gave me the chance to use my speed and make plays. I tell Ken Norton every day, ‘You saved my career making me a linebacker.’ I just want to keep working hard so he’ll know he made the right decision.’’

That seems obvious now, but an interception on a deep sideline route was more than anyone expected. Irvin said he got a little help on that play from free safety Earl Thomas.

“He told me to look out for the wheel route,” Irvin said. “I really look up to Earl. He’s our leader out there.”

Irvin’s teammates believe in him. So do his coaches. A cornerback-like interception on a deep pass was a bonus.

“That was my first one ever like that,” Irvin said. “I think this shows I’m capable of doing more than just coming in on third down to rush the passer. I like to prove people wrong.”

Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

October, 28, 2013
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ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 14-9 victory over the St. Louis Rams Monday night at Edward Jones Dome:

What it means: The Seahawks can beat a weak opponent in a half-empty stadium on a night when Seattle's offensive line could not have played worse. But it came down to the last play when St. Louis had fourth-and-goal at the 2 but couldn’t complete the pass.

Stock watch: One big play was the difference, an 80-yard touchdown pass to receiver Golden Tate that will be remembered for his classless taunting instead of his exceptional athletic move to come up with the ball over the defender. Tate’s stock goes up by making an outstanding leaping catch on a deep throw, outbattling the defender for the ball. Then his stock goes way down as he heads for the end zone for an easy touchdown, but taunts St. Louis safety Rodney McLeod. Tate sticks his arm out and moves his fingers as if to say, “Don’t yap.” McLeod almost runs Tate down in the process. Completely uncalled for. Act like a pro.

Rice hurt: Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice walked to the locker room in the first half with a reported knee issue and did not return.

Defense can’t stop the run, but gets it done: The Seahawks gave up 200 yards rushing, but kept St. Louis out of the end zone and came up with two interceptions -- one by Bruce Irvin and one by Richard Sherman, giving the Seahawks 13 picks this season.

Horrendous offensive play: Worst effort of the season by the Seahawks' offensive line. Russell Wilson was sacked seven times and under pressure every time he dropped back to throw. And the run blocking wasn’t much better. If you're grading, it was an F.

Offensive lows: With the men up front playing so poorly, the Seahawks had 38 total yards in the first half, their fewest yards in any first half since 2001. Seattle had only 42 yards before Tate’s 80-yard touchdown.

What's next: The Seahawks play at home for the first time in three weeks when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Century Link Field on Sunday. Seattle has won 12 consecutive home games.

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman feels like he missed out on a golden opportunity, a one-time chance to play against NFL legend Brett Favre.

Favre, 44, was contacted by the St. Louis Rams about coming out of retirement one more time and helping the team while starting quarterback Sam Bradford is out with a torn ACL. Favre might have started Monday night against Seattle, but he declined the offer.

“Man, that would have been so cool, just to say I did it,” Sherman said. “I would have loved that, just to have the opportunity to play against him one time.”

And what if he came up with an interception off Favre?

“Oh, that football would have been up on my mantel," Sherman said.

Seattle safety Chris Maragos, a Wisconsin native who played college ball at the University of Wisconsin, grew up watching Favre play for the Green Bay Packers.

“Man, any kid from Wisconsin would love to play against him,” Maragos said. “That would have been exciting. He had a great career.”

Defensive end Cliff Avril has a nice memory from a game he had against Favre a few years ago.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to sack him once,” Avril said. "It would’ve been cool if he was out there, but I heard about it and took all that with a grain of salt.”

Linebacker Bruce Irvin said it’s all the same to him, whether it was Favre or journeyman quarterback Kellen Clemens, who will start Monday for the Rams.

“It wouldn’t matter to me,” Irvin said. “We have the same mentality no matter who’s back there. But it would have been really interesting.”

Second-year cornerback Jeremy Lane doesn’t think Favre could have helped the Rams against the Seahawks' defense.

“I don’t think it would have made a difference," Lane said. “But it would have been kinda cool. We would have been real tough on him, but I would have wanted to meet me after the game.”

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman feels like he missed out on a golden opportunity, a one-time chance to play against NFL legend Brett Favre.

Favre, 44, was contacted by the St. Louis Rams about coming out of retirement one more time and helping the team while starting quarterback Sam Bradford is out with a torn ACL. Favre might have started Monday night against Seattle, but he declined the offer.

“Man, that would have been so cool, just to say I did it,” Sherman said. “I would have loved that, just to have the opportunity to play against him one time.”

And what if he came up with an interception off Favre?

“Oh, that football would have been up on my mantel," Sherman said.

Seattle safety Chris Maragos, a Wisconsin native who played college ball at the University of Wisconsin, grew up watching Favre play for the Green Bay Packers.

“Man, any kid from Wisconsin would love to play against him,” Maragos said. “That would have been exciting. He had a great career.”

Defensive end Cliff Avril has a nice memory from a game he had against Favre a few years ago.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to sack him once,” Avril said. "It would’ve been cool if he was out there, but I heard about it and took all that with a grain of salt.”

Linebacker Bruce Irvin said it’s all the same to him, whether it was Favre or journeyman quarterback Kellen Clemens, who will start Monday for the Rams.

“It wouldn’t matter to me,” Irvin said. “We have the same mentality no matter who’s back there. But it would have been really interesting.”

Second-year cornerback Jeremy Lane doesn’t think Favre could have helped the Rams against the Seahawks' defense.

“I don’t think it would have made a difference," Lane said. “But it would have been kinda cool. We would have been real tough on him, but I would have wanted to meet me after the game.”

QB Watch: Colts’ Andrew Luck

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
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A weekly analysis of the Colts’ quarterback play.

Luck
Rewind: Andrew Luck wasn’t bad against the Chargers. He was 18-for-30 passing for 202 yards. But you were left thinking about how much better his night could have been. The second-year quarterback isn’t one to blame others, but he had every right to do so Monday because his receivers failed to come through. The Colts had four drops against the Chargers, and one of them doesn’t even include Darrius Heyward-Bey not being able to get under a pass on what should have been a 60-yard touchdown in the first half. It seemed like Luck was on his way to having a good game because he connected with receiver Reggie Wayne for a 35-yard completion on a flea-flicker on the first play of the game. Luck threw for 54 yards on the first series but for only 148 yards more in eight series after that.

Fast-forward: Just like in Week 5 with Seattle's Bruce Irvin, Luck will face a linebacker playing his first game of the season after a suspension. Denver linebacker Von Miller is back in the lineup after being suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the season for violating the league’s drug policy. The Broncos may be 6-0, but they missed Miller’s presence on the field. Luck will face a Denver defense that’s 29th in the league in yards allowed (407.5) and a league-worst 337.3 yards a game through the air.

Let him go: The Colts deserve credit for sticking with being a run-first offense through the first six games because it helped them become No. 4 in the league in rushing. But it’s time for offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton to loosen things up and let Luck have some freedom through the air. Luck is too good a quarterback to be 25th in the league in passing at 224 yards a game. He’s also tied for 17th in the league in touchdowns with seven. Those aren’t the types of numbers you want to see from the best young quarterback in the league.

Prediction: The Colts will need Luck’s arm to be able to keep up with Peyton Manning and Denver’s lethal offensive attack. Manning will put up big numbers. It's his homecoming. It’s the perfect opportunity for the future -- Luck -- to prove he’s ready to go toe-to-toe against the past -- Manning -- of the Colts.
RENTON, Wash. -- The last time the Seattle Seahawks lost a regular-season game, they proceeded to go on a six-game winning streak. Can they do it again?

The Seahawks lost at Miami on Nov. 25, 2012, dropping their record to 6-5. They didn’t lose again until the playoff game at Atlanta on Jan. 13, on a field goal with eight seconds remaining. This season, Seattle won four in a row to start this season before a 34-28 loss at Indianapolis last week, when the Colts came from behind in the fourth quarter after trailing 28-23.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman both believe the team is much better now than it was 11 months ago after the loss at Miami.

“We’re more mature,’’ Sherman said Wednesday. “We pretty much have the same players, just a year older.”

That’s a little misleading. Fifteen Seahawks players were not with the team at that time last season, but 20 of the current 22 starters were.

“Now we have guys that have been to Pro Bowls and have seen a lot more ball than we did then,” Sherman said. “I think we’re just more capable. We’re more ready. We’re just better than we were them. So hopefully, the result will be the same.”

Wilson said the team has a better sense of its capabilities than it did 11 months ago.

“I think our team is much more competitive,” Wilson said. “I believe we know who our guys are, who our leaders are and what we need to do to be successful.”

Maybe the biggest difference is Wilson. He was a rookie with only 11 NFL starts when Seattle lost at Miami last season. Three other current starters -- offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy, outside linebacker Bruce Irvin and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner -- were in their first season, too.

But even as a rookie, Wilson doesn’t think he was ever flustered.

"I don’t remember the last time I was ever flustered," he said. "I think the biggest thing for me is just I stay composed. I know that I’m still really young. It’s my second year in the league. I’m just starting. I understand that there’s going to be a process to learn the whole thing.

"We understand that playing in the situations, you learn from them. You grow from them, whether it’s good or bad. It’s one of things that you use each situation to try to understand it the best way that you can."

Whether Seattle can put together another six-game winning streak after a regular-season loss remains to be seen. But Wilson and Sherman are convinced this team is better prepared to do it now than it was 11 months ago.
INDIANAPOLIS -- In a bit of a surprise move, the Seattle Seahawks released wide receiver Stephen Williams Saturday in order to place linebacker Bruce Irvin back on the active roster.

It’s no surprise that Irvin was activated after a four-week suspension for performance enhancing drugs. But releasing Williams means Seattle enters Sunday game against the Indianapolis Colts with only four wide receivers -- Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice and Jermaine Kearse.

Williams was signed in the offseason as a free agent who spent two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Williams, 27, had a strong preseason with three long touchdown receptions that showcased his speed and his ability to outjump defenders for the ball by using his 6-foot-5 frame. But Williams did not have a catch in the first four games and didn’t help much on special teams.

The fact that Seattle did not release an offensive lineman (10 are on the active roster) may mean that starting center Max Unger isn’t likely to play Sunday. Unger, who missed last week’s game with a triceps injury, is listed as questionable. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday that Unger, along with tight end Zach Miller (hamstring), would be game-time decisions.

Roster move coming to activate Irvin

October, 4, 2013
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Linebacker Bruce Irvin will play Sunday, which means the Seattle Seahawks will have to make a roster move before then. Irvin is returning from a four-week suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and the Seahawks must let someone go before they can activate Irvin.

Irvin
“He’s done really well,” coach Pete Carroll said Friday about how Irvin has looked in practice this week. “It’s just a little rough around the edges on some stuff, but he’s in great shape and he’s ready to go. He’s really charged up and he’s done a lot of studying over the time that he was out. He has come back ready to take advantage of this. He doesn’t want to wait another game to get going.”

The Seahawks also will have safety Jeron Johnson back this weekend; he’s been out with a hamstring injury. But the problems on offense could be worse than last week. Tight end Zach Miller and center Max Unger are listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Indianapolis.

Cornerback Jeremy Lane is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Carroll said rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill (shoulder injury) is ready to go after practicing this week, but they plan to hold him out one more week.
RENTON, Wash. -- It’s hard to tell who is more exciting about Bruce Irvin coming off of suspension, Irvin or Seattle Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.

Norton was asked if Irvin will make a difference for the Seahawks' defense.

Irvin
“Absolutely,’’ he said. “I’m mean, that’s Bruce Irvin, a first-round pick. That guy does everything. They are going to be chanting his name. You are going to see what we’ve been missing.”

Norton believes Irvin is a bit of a changed man since his four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

“He really understands what he did wrong, and he’s very happy to be back,” Norton said. “Sometimes absence make the heart grow fonder. He appreciates this game a little bit more. He was in the building at 6 [Wednesday morning] studying. It’s great to see him with that type of attitude. Sometimes things have to happen to you in life to appreciate it.”

Norton said the team has no plans to ease Irvin into the mix.

“We’re gonna put him right in there,” he said. “There’s no waiting. He’s gonna jump right in there and we’re exciting to get him going. It’s like having a new toy.”

But Irvin, who led all rookies last season with eight sacks, is learning a new position, moving from defensive end to strongside linebacker.

“This is his first year playing linebacker, so there’s still some development,'’ Norton said. “But when you look up 'linebacker' in the dictionary, his face shows up. He’s gonna do it all. He’s gonna rush the passer, he’ll play the run and he’ll be buzzing to the flat and flying around. We’re expecting a lot of him. We have a plan for him and he’s gonna shine.”

Seahawks sign a quarterback from the 49ers: The Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers are now even this fall when it comes to claiming each other’s draft choices.

Seattle now has a third quarterback, having claimed rookie B.J. Daniels, the 49ers' seventh-round draft pick out of South Florida, off of waivers Wednesday. To make room, the Seahawks released rookie linebacker John Lotulelei.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh made it clear the 49ers valued Daniels and his future with the team, and had every intention of signing him to their practice squad. “We have a plan for him,” Harbaugh said.

Apparently, so do the Seahawks, and they know the feeling of losing a guy they wanted to keep around. Before the season began, Seattle released receiver Chris Harper, a fourth-round draft pick, hoping to add him to the practice squad. But the 49ers added him to their 53-man roster.

Double Coverage: Seahawks at Texans

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
12:00
PM ET
Matt Schaub and Russell WilsonGetty ImagesMatt Schaub and Russell Wilson have combined to throw 12 touchdowns through Week 3.
When they saw each other at the Pro Bowl earlier this year, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt told Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson that if Watt had just stayed another year at Wisconsin, they might have won a national championship together.

“I wish I knew he was coming,” said Watt on Wednesday, who left Wisconsin after his junior year, just as Wilson arrived.

Sunday at Reliant Stadium, they might see a lot of each other. The matchup between the Texans and Seahawks will pit the league’s two best defenses against each other. But Wilson won’t be easy to contain for a Texans’ defense that gave up only 236 yards in last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are coming off such a dominating win over the Jacksonville Jaguars that Wilson didn’t need to finish the game.

Texans reporter Tania Ganguli and Seahawks reporter Terry Blount take a look at the matchup.

Ganguli: So Terry, what makes Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman special?

Blount: Preparation, enormous athleticism and confidence are what makes him special. I know many people outside of Seattle just see Sherman as a arrogant guy with a big mouth. That's a big mistake. Sherman is an extremely hard worker who spends hours studying film of every receiver he faces. Consequently, he rarely gets fooled on a play, and the few times when he does, he has the athletic ability to react quickly, overcome it and get back to the ball.

Tania, how do you think Andre Johnson will do against the talented Seattle secondary, and especially a head-to-head matchup with Sherman?

Ganguli: The Texans are considering Johnson day-to-day right now. He didn’t look right when he tried to play Sunday after suffering a shin bruise in Baltimore and ultimately recognized that it was better for him to leave and heal than play hindered by the injury. If they don’t have him, the Texans will look to rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a budding star who has shown talent from the moment he arrived in Houston, but also improved steadily as a rookie.

And speaking of young players, how has quarterback Wilson changed in his second year?

Blount: Wilson is willing to take a lot more chances on difficult throws now because he understands what his receivers are going to do and where they will be. In the Jacksonville game, he made what appeared to be a dangerous throw in the middle of the end zone when Sidney Rice had three defenders near him. But Rice had signaled Wilson to toss it up high and Rice would get it, which he did. Wilson knows the offense now and has complete confidence to make plays at clutch moments, and his teammates believe in him.

Wilson is at his best when he scrambles and improvises, often resulting in big plays downfield. Can the Texans defense contain him?

Ganguli: The most mobile quarterback they faced so far this season was Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who threw two touchdown passes but had a QBR of 44.3 against the Texans. They haven’t faced a quarterback who is such an accurate passer while having the ability to use his legs and improvise. Wilson’s numbers have been among the best in the league this season. That will be a challenge for a defense that wants to be the best in the league.

You wrote that the loss of left tackle Russell Okung didn’t hurt much against the Jaguars, but how do you see it impacting the Seahawks going forward?

Blount: Tania, this has to be Seattle's biggest concern entering the Texans game. The Seahawks may be the deepest team in the league, but the offensive line, and particular the tackle spots, is a thin area. They are no match for J.J. Watt. Paul McQuistan moved from guard to left tackle to replace Okung, but the team is weaker without Okung on the field. Right tackle Breno Giacomini probably won't play because of a knee injury. That means rookie Michael Bowie, a seventh-round draft choice, will have to go head-to-head with Watt. Bailey is talented, but he has a lot to learn. Throwing him out there this week against Watt is truly scary for the Seahawks.

I know the Seahawks have major concerns about trying to stop Watt and keeping him off Wilson. Do you see Watt having a big game Sunday?

Ganguli: Watt has a keen ability to exploit weaknesses in inexperienced players. And if he doesn’t know it right from the start, he figures it out eventually. He’s a player with work ethic to match his talent, which isn’t always the case with athletes of his caliber. Watt has been the third most effective player at disrupting opponents’ passes since he entered the NFL. He ranks behind San Francisco’s Aldon Smith and Minnesota’s Jared Allen. Watt has played very well this season and he’s determined to have a better year than he did last year when he led the league with 20.5 sacks and 16 batted passes.

The Seahawks secondary gets the most attention, but how has their defensive front played and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Blount: This was an area of needed improvement at the end of last season, so the staff made a major effort to bring in veterans who could help with the pass rush. It worked. Defensive linemen Michael Bennett, a free agent Seattle signed after he spent four years in Tampa Bay, has been a force up front. Cliff Avril, the biggest offseason acquisition, was hurt all preseason, but is back now and just starting to contribute. Defensive end Chris Clemons, the team's top pass-rusher last season, returned last week after offseason ACL surgery. And O'Brien Schofield, who was released at Arizona, has been strong at linebacker and defensive end. This is a much stronger, deeper and quicker group than it was a year ago, and it still doesn't have Bruce Irvin. He returns next week after a four-game suspension for PEDs.

Tania, these teams have two of the best running backs in the NFL in Arian Foster in Houston and Marshawn Lynch at Seattle. Which running back do you think will have the upper hand on Sunday?

Ganguli: The running back situation has been interesting in Houston this season. The Texans eased Foster into the season after he missed the entire preseason and in the meantime backup Ben Tate has played very well. Tate is in a contract year and if he keeps up the way he’s started, he’ll be making some money after the season. His yards per carry have been strong and even better have been his yards after contact, 4.5 yards, the best in the NFL. If we’re talking fantasy numbers, Lynch will definitely have the upper hand on Sunday. Foster will be sharing his load with Tate.

Last question from me: What is one name Texans fans might not know that they will after Sunday’s game?

Blount: Great question. I'll pick a couple. First might be middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, a second-year player who is growing into one of the best linebackers in the league. Another is slot receiver Doug Baldwin, an exceptional possession-type receiver who has a knack for making the big catch on third down.

And finally, everyone talks about how the Seahawks have the best home-field advantage in the NFL, but I’m a Houston native who has seen some pretty rabid fans down there, as well. How much of a factor can the crowd be Sunday at Reliant Stadium?

Ganguli: They are a rabid bunch and have the added benefit of a perpetually closed roof that keeps their rabidity trapped like a greenhouse gas. They’ve been frustrated recently, but if their team plays well on Sunday, it will be loud.

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Upon Further Review: Seahawks Week 3

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
2:00
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An examination of four hot issues from the Seattle Seahawks' 45-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

[+] EnlargeSidney Rice
AP Photo/Stephen BrashearSidney Rice pulled in two touchdown passes in a 45-17 rout of the Jaguars.
A cleaner and better offense: The Seahawks offense accomplished two big goals Sunday of cutting down on senseless penalties and getting off to a better start, especially in the passing game, than in the first two games. Seattle had only three offensive penalties for 20 yards. Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes, including three in the first half, and Tarvaris Jackson also had a touchdown throw.

Was Pro Bowl tackle Russell Okung missed?: Well, not much when you play a team as weak as the Jaguars, but the real question is whether it will hurt the Seahawks in coming weeks against better opponents. First up are the Houston Texans and monster defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Paul McQuistan had some good moments and some bad moments Sunday in Okung's left tackle spot. “He did alright and hung in there pretty nice,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of McQuistan. Carroll was happy rookie tackles Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey got to play in the lopsided game. “To have a chance to get them in the game was awesome,” Carroll said. “They got significant playing time.”

An abundance of riches on the defensive line: With the return of defensive end Chris Clemons, who looked good in pressuring the quarterback on passing downs, the Seahawks have a scary bunch up front. The coaches had a goal in the offseason to shore up the pass rush with free-agent acquisitions, and it worked. Defensive end Michael Bennett has been sensational. He had 1.5 sacks Sunday and a tackle for loss. O'Brien Schofield has been a solid contributor, starting at linebacker Sunday for injured Malcolm Smith. And defensive end Cliff Avril is another pass-rush specialist who adds to the attacking defense. Defensive end/linebacker Bruce Irvin will add to the depth in two weeks when he returns from suspension.

Staying focused: The Seahawks pounced on the Jaguars from the outset, not allowing for any type of letdown or lack of effort against a lesser opponent. Seattle led 31-0 before Jacksonville scored. The Jaguars had only 20 yards rushing in the first half and only 44 yards passing. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch had 55 yards rushing in the first quarter on nine carries. Seattle came out smoking and had the game won by halftime, when they were up 24-0. The final score is misleading because the Seahawks were playing mostly reserves in the second half, and all of Jacksonville points came in garbage time long after the outcome was decided.

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