NFL Nation: K.J. Wright

NEW YORK -- The talk is over, and the day finally is here: Super Bowl Sunday.

Here are five things the Seattle Seahawks must do well to defeat the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium:

1. Pressure Peyton Manning: It’s a mammoth task against a quarterback who gets rid of the football so quickly, but it isn’t so much about getting sacks as it is putting enough pressure on Manning to take him out of his comfort zone.

Everyone knows Manning is a classic pocket passer. He likes to step up in the pocket to make his throws. That will make it difficult for a talented edge-rusher like Cliff Avril to get to Manning.

Bryant
So the Seahawks have to get pressure up the middle with their defensive tackles -- Brandon Mebane, Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel. Big Red Bryant will also get a push in the middle sometimes, and they might use some stunts with end Michael Bennett rushing up the middle when he lines up outside. Also, look for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to blitz a couple of times.

"There’s no certain way to get to Manning," Bennett said. "It comes down to doing what we do and beating your man."

2. Let the quiet Beast loudly rumble: It’s been a strange and somewhat stressful week for Marshawn Lynch, having to do media sessions on three consecutive days. Not his cup of tea, and a distraction the Seahawks could have lived without, but that is all behind them now.

Lynch
Lynch was successful on runs up the middle in the first two playoff games this season, but the Seahawks should try more off-tackle runs and toss sweeps against Denver. The Broncos have Terrance Knighton at nose tackle, a mountain of a man at 340 pounds. He’s a run-stuffer.

When asked what his biggest concern was regarding the Denver defense, Lynch didn’t hesitate. "Pot Roast," he said, which is Knighton’s nickname. "He’s a big boy."

The Seahawks might use a third tackle with Alvin Bailey, as they did against the 49ers, to line up with tight end Zach Miller and use a muscle push to run Lynch off the edge of the line and hope he goes Beast Mode.

3. Keep the Broncos guessing with Harvin: The Seahawks need to make the most of their X factor in receiver Percy Harvin. The Denver defense can’t know exactly how to account for a guy who played only six quarters this season, but they know he’s faster than a cheetah with its tail on fire.

Harvin
So make them worry about Harvin on almost every play by putting him in motion and lining him up in different spots. Get the ball to him early so Denver will know he’s part of the plan. Someone for Denver will have to spy him, meaning someone else on the Seattle offense -- receivers Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin -- will get free.

"We’re excited to have Percy back, because he brings more to the table," Tate said. "He's going to open it up for other guys more."

4. Punish the Broncos on crossing routes: The Seattle defense can’t allow Manning and his receivers to nickel-and-dime them to death with short passes over the middle and quick slants.

Chancellor
And if receiver Wes Welker wants to try a pick-play block, have strong safety Kam Chancellor waiting to greet him. Linebackers Malcolm Smith and K.J. Wright also have to get physical on these plays and let the Broncos know there is a price to pay every time they catch a pass in the middle of the field.

"We are a physical bunch," Chancellor said. "We like to be physical. We like to be hands-on. We like to make you feel our presence. That’s how we operate."

5. Play with poise: This is the most important point. Seattle is the more talented team overall, but the Seahawks must play smart and not get over-amped in the biggest game of their lives. Careless personal fouls and false starts can be the difference in the game, and too much emotion can cause a player to make a mistake he wouldn’t normally make.

Sherman
The Seahawks did a great job of controlling their emotions in the NFC Championship Game against the hated 49ers. Well, until the end when cornerback Richard Sherman went on testosterone overload after the game-saving play. But the game was decided at that point, so have at it.

The same is true in the Super Bowl. Play your game and don’t give the Broncos a freebie. Do what you did to get here.

"Respect the journey," said Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. "But at the same time, enjoy the moment. Take it all in. It is real. Just be poised and respect the process. I’m going to play with a smile on my face and just go for it."

Good advice. If the Seahawks follow it, that should be enough.
RENTON, Wash. -- Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said receiver Percy Harvin would not practice Wednesday and was seeing doctors in the afternoon to further evaluate his status after suffering a concussion in the playoff win over New Orleans last weekend.

Harvin must go through the NFL concussion protocol all week before a determination is made about his ability to play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Carroll also said that outside linebacker K.J. Wright, who had surgery one month ago to repair a foot fracture, returned to practice. Wright suffered the injury Dec. 8 at San Francisco.
RENTON, Wash. -- Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright had surgery to repair a fractured foot only a month ago, but he could play in Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.

Wright
Harvin
"He has a chance," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "He ran well [Monday]. We'll take a look at him Wednesday [in practice] and see where he's at. But he definitely has a chance to play. We'll have to wait and see.”

Carroll said the status of receiver Percy Harvin, who suffered a concussion in the first half of the playoff game Saturday against New Orleans, depends on how he makes it through the concussion protocol procedure this week.

"We have to make sure we do the right thing,” Carroll said. "We're not going to stretch the limits on this. We're going to make sure he's OK.”

Carroll said they won't know until Wednesday or Thursday if Harvin is cleared to play. Carroll said there were no other injuries against New Orleans and everyone else is expected to play Sunday.
RENTON, Wash. -- Being healthy at the right time can make a big difference in the NFL, and it's rare for a team to start the playoffs as healthy as the Seahawks are now.

Outside linebacker K.J. Wright is the only starter ruled out for Saturday's playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. And Wright, who had foot surgery three weeks ago, could be back for the NFC championship game if the Seahawks advance.

However, rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill is doubtful with a groin injury and backup safety Chris Maragos is questionable with a back injury. Hill has played in only four game this season. Maragos is a valuable player with 10 special team tackles and one fumble recovery.

The big news of the week was receiver Percy Harvin returning when he came close to being placed on injured reserve two weeks ago.

But the Seahawks also have rookie tight end Luke Willson back, a bit of a surprise since he suffered a nasty high ankle sprain in the regular-season finale against St. Louis.

"They checked him out right off the bat and it looked like he had a broken leg," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "They checked him out again that night and he didn't. So all I can tell you is that it was remarkable whatever happened in there. There was a laying of hands or something. I don't know what happened, but he jumped right back and had a terrific week and he's ready to play."
 

SEATTLE -- Six weeks ago, the New Orleans Saints came to Seattle in a big Monday night showdown with the Seahawks to see which team would gain the upper hand in homefield advantage for the playoffs.

The Seahawks steamrolled past the Saints 34-7 that night. So here the Saints are again, back in Seattle with hopes of a different outcome in the playoffs.

ESPN.com Saints reporter Mike Triplett and Seahawks reporter Terry Blount take a detailed look at how these two teams match up for Saturday's NFC divisional round game at CenturyLink Field:

Blount: Mike, the Saints took it on the chin at Seattle six weeks ago. How much of a motivational factor do you think that is this week for the team?

Triplett: I'd say this game is about as big as it gets in the motivation department. That was really one of the two or three most humbling defeats in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era. I might rank it No. 1 considering how high the expectations were going into that game. But more important than those emotions is the fact that this is the second round of the playoffs -- which is pretty good motivation for any team. The Saints haven't advanced past this point since their 2009 Super Bowl season. And a big win here would instantly erase all the little regrets from earlier this season.

I'll also say this: The Saints are a very confident bunch. I think they expected to get back in this situation at some point, and they relish the opportunity. They certainly respect the Seahawks, but I think they're fully expecting a much more competitive game. As am I.

On the flip side, Terry, do you see a repeat performance coming from the Seahawks? They were pretty lights-out that night, especially Russell Wilson.

Blount: I certainly don't see a repeat performance if you mean a 27-point Seattle victory. It's hard to beat any team twice in the same season, much less two blowouts. But I do see Wilson having another strong performance. He's coming off a good game in the season finale against St. Louis and he typically plays at a much higher level at home. Obviously, having Percy Harvin on the field would help, but Wilson is battle-tested with two tough playoff games last year when he really showed a lot of people what he can do.

Mike, Wilson had one of his best games of the season against the Saints with three TD passes and 310 yards passing. He burned the Saints a couple times on their blitzes. Do you think they will have a different approach this time?

Triplett: They'll definitely tweak the approach. But I think the execution is even more important. That night, it was pretty obvious that the Saints' top priority was containing Marshawn Lynch -- which they did a good job of. But they got burned too often by play-action fakes (big pass plays and big runs by Wilson). I've never seen them have so many undisciplined breakdowns, before or since. They've been much better playing in similar-style games against the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles since. They were outstanding against both LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson last week.

The Saints defense is much better than what people saw that night -- though they did lose talented safety Kenny Vaccaro to a season-ending ankle injury since then, which hurts against both the pass and run.

A two-part question for you: When defenses have had success against Seattle's offense this year, what have they done to cause problems? And how much do you think the Saints will have to worry about Harvin in this game?

Blount: In the late-season losses to the 49ers and the Cardinals, both teams did a great job of keeping Wilson in the pocket. If Wilson was going to run, they wanted to make him run up the middle, and it worked. They didn't blitz a lot, but they made sure to cut off Wilson's outside angles. Both teams also stacked the box and did a good job of stopping Lynch and limited the running game.

If Harvin is on the field, that changes a lot of things. Seattle free safety Earl Thomas told me last week that if he had to play against Harvin, he would need to account for him on every play because of Harvin's exceptional speed. So if Harvin's out there, even if he isn't 100 percent healthy, he changes the way a defense plays. You have to pick your poison. Load the box to stop Lynch and you risk Harvin beating someone one-on-one. Pay more attention to Harvin and Lynch might break a big run. Either way, it makes things better for Wilson.

Mike, I thought a big factor in the victory at Philadelphia was New Orleans' success at running the ball with Mark Ingram. How confident are you they can repeat that performance against the Seahawks?

Triplett: The Saints are still a pass-first, pass-often team. But I think they've been even better this year than usual at staying patient and "taking what the defense gives them." Last week, the Eagles were practically begging the Saints to run the ball, so they did. They'll still take their shots down the field, but they're smart enough to attack the matchups they find most favorable in any given game. It's also a pick-your-poison offense with so many versatile weapons like Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills and a deep group of running backs.

Graham, however, said Seattle's defense causes a lot of problems because the defensive backs and linebackers are all so fast (not to mention physical). Are there any weaknesses the Saints might be able to exploit?

Blount: Honestly Mike, I just don't see it. The front seven held the Rams to 13 yards rushing in the season finale. The secondary is the best I've seen in 30 years. However, one man who had a big impact in the Monday night game six weeks ago was linebacker K.J. Wright, who did a superb job covering Saints tight Graham.

Wright is out for this game after undergoing foot surgery. Malcolm Smith has played lights out in his place, but Smith is only 6 feet tall. I can't see him covering the 6-7 Graham the way Wright (a lanky 6-4) was able to do. Strong safety Kam Chancellor likely will get those duties, but Graham might make some big plays he didn't make in the first meeting.

Bruce Irvin, Hakeem NicksAP PhotoBruce Irvin and the Seahawks are beatable on the road. Can Hakeem Nicks and the Giants win?

The 11-2 Seattle Seahawks have had their playoff spot wrapped up for a couple of weeks already and have their eyes on the top seed in the NFC. The 5-8 New York Giants were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday and openly admit that they're playing for pride from this point forward. These two teams meet Sunday at MetLife Stadium -- a place the Seahawks hope to return to in early February for the Super Bowl.

ESPN.com Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and Giants reporter Dan Graziano break down the matchup between the league's best team and one of its most disappointing teams.

Graziano: Terry, let's start with Seattle's exciting young quarterback. The Giants this year have seen Terrelle Pryor, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, who are the only quarterbacks with more rushing yards than Russell Wilson has. From your standpoint, what sets Wilson apart from those other mobile quarterbacks?

Blount: Dan, there are so many intangibles about him that defy description. Some obvious ones are his character, his attention to every detail in his preparation and his underrated skills as a passer. But more than anything else, Wilson has the unusual ability to perform at his best when things appear to be at their worst. I've never seen him rattled, and he rarely makes a careless mistake. He has led the team to nine game-winning drives in his short career, and he almost did it again Sunday at San Francisco. As for his mobility, one thing that clearly sets him apart is his ability to make accurate throws downfield while he's running in either direction.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Eli Manning got off to a really rough start this season. What happened, and where is he now compared with seasons past when he was playing at a Pro Bowl level?

Graziano: Manning's biggest problem at the start of the season was his protection. The offensive line, never great to begin with, was hit with injuries to key starters and never got the kind of blocking help it received in past years from supplemental positions like running back and tight end. Manning has already taken more sacks (33) than he has ever taken in a full season, and there are three games to go. He also had no running game whatsoever for the first half of the season until Andre Brown got healthy. And top wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has had an awful season in the final year of his contract. Manning obviously could play better, and he'd admit he has missed his share of throws. But I think he's a quarterback who really needs to be comfortable with his surroundings, and this year that hasn't been possible for him.

The Seahawks are so dominant at home, but while they've been good on the road they are clearly not as good. We know about the home crowd and the advantage it gives them, but are there on-field things they don't do as well on the road?

Blount: One noticeable difference in the past three road games is that Wilson hasn't run much because defenses are trying to keep him in the pocket. Wilson had one carry for 2 yards last week at San Francisco, and only 38 yards on seven carries in the past three road games combined. They won two of those three games, however. Still, after Wilson ran for 102 yards at Indianapolis in Week 5 (ironically, one of Seattle's two road losses) teams have focused on not allowing him to beat them with his feet. He's running well at home (he rushed for 47 yards against New Orleans two weeks ago) but not so much on the road.

If the Giants pull off the upset Sunday, they'd send a message that despite a disappointing season, they still have the ability to get it done against the best of the best. Do you get the sense that they'll have a little added fire against a team that many people believe is Super Bowl-bound?

Graziano: I do. A few of the Giants have already talked about that in the wake of the loss Sunday that eliminated them from postseason contention. There's a lot of talk around East Rutherford about "playing for pride," and that's not hollow with this group. They held together after the 0-6 start and have been professional in their play and their preparation since. This isn't a team that has or will quit on its season. It's just a team that's not very good. I don't think they have the personnel to hang with the Seahawks on Sunday, but if they lose it won't be for a lack of effort.

They do have a tendency to seek and drum up external motivation, and Seattle's excellent record will provide some of that. Tom Coughlin said Monday that they looked forward to measuring themselves against a team like this. The only dissenter so far is wide receiver Victor Cruz, who said he'd be "even more disappointed" if the Giants won this game, since it would tell him they had the capability to play with top teams all year and just didn't.

San Francisco had a strong game on the ground Sunday, and the Giants' run game has been considerably better in the second half. Is it possible to run on the Seahawks, or was that a one-game fluke by Frank Gore?

Blount: Some Seattle fans might say it was a one-play fluke, the 51-yard run by Gore on the final drive that set up the game-wining field goal. Take that off the table and the Seahawks did OK against the 49ers' rushing game. However, one stat is a little scary. Of San Francisco's 163 yards on the ground, 137 were before contact, including Gore's big run. The Seahawks have been up and down on this all season. They held Adrian Peterson to 65 yards and allowed only 30 yards rushing at Arizona, but also had back-to-back games in which they allowed 200 yards rushing. Now they have to get it done without linebacker K.J. Wright, who had 80 tackles this season. He's out with a broken foot. It's hard to predict, but the Seahawks are so focused on the pass rush that they can get burned sometimes on the ground.

The Giants have struggled to stop the run, and Marshawn Lynch is one of the best backs in the league. I'm guessing the Seahawks are going to give him the ball early and often, especially if the weather is bad. Will the Giants load the box to try to stop Lynch?

Graziano: Actually, stopping the run is one of the few things the Giants have done well. They've held down some top backs, such as Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris and Eddie Lacy. Until the Chargers got 144 yards on 40 carries against them Sunday, this had been a fairly consistent strength. So they'll be keyed on Lynch for sure.

Before the Packers game a few weeks ago, I asked Justin Tuck if Lacy reminded him of anyone. He said, "a bigger Marshawn Lynch," and then complained that they had to deal with Lynch again a few weeks later. They stacked the box against Lacy that day, but they weren't scared of Scott Tolzien's ability to beat them downfield even if they used single coverage on his receivers. Wilson is likely to make them think twice about committing as much to the run as they did that day, and they'll likely rely on the guys in their strong defensive-tackle rotation to get off of blocks better than they did in San Diego.

Upon Further Review: Seahawks Week 14

December, 9, 2013
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A review of four hot issues from the Seattle Seahawks' 19-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

Penalties a problem: The Seahawks have said all year the only way they can lose is if they beat themselves. It’s true, and their Achilles' heel all season has been penalties. Seattle is one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, partially because of their physical and aggressive style of play. But the Seahawks also take way too many careless penalties. Most of the time they are good enough to overcome them, but not on the road against a good team like the 49ers. Seattle had nine penalties for 85 yards, and several of them killed big plays for the offense or kept drives alive for San Francisco. It’s the one weak area of the team that has to improve.

Lynch
Unleash the Beast: Marshawn Lynch now has gone three consecutive games without topping 100 yards rushing. He ran for 72 yards on 20 carries Sunday, giving him 171 yards rushing on 53 carries in the last three outings for an average of 3.2 per carry. Those are not Beast Mode numbers. His 11-yard touchdown run was the only rushing first down the Seahawks had Sunday, although a penalty nixed one 15-yard run. Defenses are keying on Lynch, but Seattle still needs to win the line of scrimmage and overpower teams up front

Wright hurt: Outside linebacker K.J. Wright suffered a broken foot in the first half and may be out for the rest of the season. Coach Pete Carroll said he thought it was at least a six-week recovery time, which might mean he could return for the Super Bowl if Seattle makes it. But the Seahawks will have to make a decision whether they want to carry Wright on the active roster with the hope of getting him back, or go ahead and place him on injured reserve, which would end his season. Malcolm Smith will move into the starting lineup for Wright. Smith is a solid contributor who has started four games this year and has played in all 13.

Sherman, Thomas, where are you? Free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman are the leaders of the Seattle defense and two of the best defensive backs in the league, but neither man has an interception in the last five games after picking off four each in the first eight games. The Seahawks rely on these guys to come up with big plays. They need to step up in the last three games of the regular season.

Seahawks have no fears over this loss

December, 8, 2013
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Russell WilsonCary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports"We should have won it," Russell Wilson said, echoing the Seahawks' version of events Sunday.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco 49ers got it done, winning 19-17 over the Seattle Seahawks in archaic Candlestick Park. If you think it made a statement or caused the Seahawks to shiver with fear, think again.

San Francisco was the better team on this day, but the best team lost.

The home team, playing in front a frenzied crowd in a game it had to have against its archrival to stay in good playoff position, won it with a field goal in the final minute.

“Penalties killed us today,” Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. “But you can’t make too much of it. This is a tournament, one game at a time, and the ultimate goal is the Super Bowl.”

The Seahawks still firmly believe they are on the right path to get there. Losing a close one to the 49ers didn’t place any doubts in their heads. And there’s no way the 49ers walked away from this one and honestly said to themselves, “Oh yeah, we’re better than they are.”

The Seahawks, now 11-2 and still needing only one victory in the final three games to clinch the NFC West crown, walked away firmly believing they’re the better team, despite the slight hiccup Sunday.

And they’re right. San Francisco (9-4) did nothing more than hold serve, barely, thanks to some sloppy play by the team that had beaten them by a combined score of 71-16 in the previous two meetings.

All this game proved is that Seattle can’t have nine penalties for 85 yards and get a punt blocked, and still beat a strong team on the road.

“It was a terrific, hard-fought football game, just a slugfest,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It was one of those types of games where one play can make a big difference. But we couldn’t get out of our own way with the penalties. That dictated the flow of the game.”

Seattle entered the game with a seven-game winning streak. They now have lost twice this season, by a total of eight points.

“We should have won it,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “The penalties really hurt us offensively and got us off schedule. We play so physical that sometimes those calls are going to go against us. But we have to eliminate that.”

Neither team led by more than six points Sunday. The lead changed hands six times. Seattle led 17-16 before a 51-yard run by Frank Gore gave the 49ers the field position they needed to set up a winning field goal, a 22-yarder by Phil Dawson with 26 seconds to go.

“We fought hard all the way, but they got the big run at the end that gashed us,” Seattle free safety Earl Thomas said. “We didn’t take care of the little things today, and when that happens, anyone can beat you. We just were not disciplined enough against a good team. But you can’t let a game like this one define you, and it doesn’t.”

In the locker room afterward, the Seahawks kept saying the same thing over and over.

“All our goals are still in front of us,” defensive end Red Bryant said, a nine-word statement that was the theme of the moment. “It was a great game to be in and you have to give them credit. They made the plays to win the game, but we can handle it. We’ll lick our wounds and be just fine.”

In other words, no big deal. The 49ers won it. A soft “congratulations” came from the Seahawks, but with a look in their eyes that said, “Now, catch us if you can.”

“It’s good to get this out of the way now,” Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin said. “We knew it would be a hard-fought battle because they are a good football team. But it’s really about us taking care of our business now. That’s all that matters.”

Cornerback Richard Sherman, who was called for defensive holding twice (one of which was declined), sat at his locker without the least bit of concern.

“This doesn’t change anything for us,” Sherman said. “They got some fortunate penalty calls and that was the difference. It happens sometimes. When you lose like that it’s hard to be upset.

Maybe the worst news of the day for Seattle was that linebacker K.J. Wright suffered a broken foot, an injury that Carroll said likely would sideline him at least six weeks.

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesMarshawn Lynch scored a touchdown in the first half, but for the game he was held to 3.6 yards per carry.
And guess what his teammates were thinking? That Wright could return for the Super Bowl.

“The season wasn’t going to end today, one way or the other,” Carroll said. “Everything is still out there for us.”

Unless the Seahawks have a total collapse in the final three games, including the last two at home against Arizona and St. Louis, they are going to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. Seattle has won 14 in a row at CenturyLink Field.

Had the Seahawks come to Candlestick and stunk up the place, as New Orleans did last week at Seattle, maybe they would have some concerns. That didn’t happen. Aside from the penalties, they played pretty well in a tough environment. The defense gave up one touchdown. Wilson completed 15 of 25 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown. His only interception was a desperation deep throw at the end of the game.

This was like one hitless game in a season in which your slugger has a .350 average and 30 homers.

“We’re still in great position,” Wilson said. “There’s no panic. We just need to stay positive.”

Keeping a positive attitude is not a problem for this team.

“You can’t win them all,” Wilson said. “The goal is winning the last one.”

Locker Room Buzz: Seattle Seahawks

October, 18, 2013
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Observed in the locker room after the Seattle Seahawks' 34-22 win over the Arizona Cardinals:

High-fives for the defense: Seattle had a season-high seven sacks among eight players. “We’re taking advantage of all our depth,’’ said linebacker K.J. Wright. “The rotation is really good. Everybody is getting a piece of the action.”

Browner
Praise for Wilson: Receiver Golden Tate is amazed at what he continues to see from Russell Wilson, who threw three touchdown passes despite being under constant pressure. "He’s grown tremendously," Tate said. "I’m very proud of him and very happy to be playing with him. He’s such a dangerous quarterback with his speed and his arm. He’s definitely our leader.”

Sherman teases Browner: Richard Sherman was giving fellow cornerback Brandon Browner a hard time about stumbling and falling down before reaching the end zone on what would have been a 50-yard pick-six. "I’m giving his knees a hard time," Sherman said, looking at Browner. "His knees collapsed on him. But that’s my boy. He’s known pay dirt before, so he wanted to let Marshawn [Lynch] get another touchdown."

Camp Confidential: Seattle Seahawks

July, 30, 2013
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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.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have picked their spots very carefully with outside veterans.

Former Green Bay linebacker Desmond Bishop may be one of those spots.

Per Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, the Jaguars are interested in Bishop.

Bishop’s been an inside guy in the Packers. Over at the NFC North blog, Kevin Seifert considers how Bishop would fit in Minnesota, with the Vikings a primary suitor.
"…[F]rom a football standpoint, I don't see how anyone could argue against making Bishop the Vikings' middle linebacker and using [Erin] Henderson and Chad Greenway as the outside linebackers. That's how good Bishop is when he's healthy."

Jacksonville, too, is a 4-3. But while the Vikings would move people to get Bishop in the middle, the Jaguars would put Bishop outside, leaving Paul Posluszny in the middle.

Currently, Geno Atkins and Russell Allen are in line to start as the Jaguars' outside linebackers. Bishop would push one out of the starting trio.

I asked ESPN.com's resident scout, Matt Williamson, about Bishop playing outside.

"My initial thought was no, but thinking about Seattle's D, which I assume Jacksonville will employ, maybe Bishop can play the every-down K.J. Wright role at strongside linebacker," he said. "Bishop is a real good, productive football player when healthy."

I suspect Minnesota, and perhaps even Chicago, will be a stronger suitor than Jacksonville. But it’s definitely of interest that the Jaguars are curious.
We interrupt ongoing coverage of Michael Crabtree's surgically repaired Achilles tendon to continue our recent discussion on average ages for projected 2013 NFL starting lineups.

Offense went first. Defense is up next.

The chart ranks teams by average ages for defensive starters.

I've recalculated the numbers and you can see just how close some of them are -- indistinguishable, in some cases. One change to the projected starting lineup could affect the order by several places.

The way the ages are calculated -- number of days since birth divided by 365.25 to account for leap years, then rounded down to the tenth of a year and averaged -- can cause slight changes to the order from one day to the next. That happened with the defenses for New England and Baltimore over the past couple days, for example. They actually switched places from a couple days back because the calculation for Tommy Kelly's age changed from 32.3 to 32.4.

For that reason, I'm more interested in the extremes from one end of the rankings to the next. A few spots here or there? No big deal.

The gradual changes add up through the range of teams, and we can see why the Chicago Bears weren't all that excited about bringing back Brian Urlacher to a defense that has the oldest starting linebackers without him.

A few thoughts on the defensive numbers for NFC West teams:
  • Arizona Cardinals: Arizona released veteran safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes primarily to shed their contracts. Had getting younger been the priority, Arizona wouldn't have signed 35-year-old Yeremiah Bell as a replacement. His presence on the roster pushes up the average age in the secondary. Parting with Paris Lenon, 35, made the Cardinals younger at linebacker. This team had too many older backups in the past, I thought. That is changing. Note that the Cardinals had the NFL's third-oldest starting defense entering the 2010 season. That group averaged 29.3 years old. The current one averages 27.8 even with Karlos Dansby projecting as a starter over Kevin Minter. I listed Dansby and Daryl Washington as the starters at inside linebacker despite the four-game suspension Washington must serve to open the season.
  • San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers had the NFL's oldest starting defensive line last season. That will not be the case in 2013 now that Isaac Sopoaga left in free agency. Replacing Sopoaga and free safety Dashon Goldson with younger players has brought down the 49ers' average age across the defensive lineup. And if the draft secured an eventual successor for 33-year-old Justin Smith, the 49ers should be set up on defense for years to come. Note that strong safety Donte Whitner is entering his eighth season, but he won't turn 28 until July.
  • St. Louis Rams: The Rams own the second-youngest projected starting defense in the NFL. Their starting defensive backs, defensive linemen and linebackers all rank among the NFL's five youngest at their position groups. That is much younger than the Rams were on defense a few years ago. The biggest question initially is whether the Rams' young safeties, including rookie third-round draft choice T.J. McDonald, are ready to play prominent roles. Signing a veteran safety for insurance could make some sense, but this is looking like a season when youth will be served throughout nearly all the Rams' roster, save for portions of the offensive line. There's much to like about a young defensive front featuring Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn and veteran Chris Long.
  • Seattle Seahawks: There was some projecting at work in putting together a lineup for Seattle. I plugged in Malcolm Smith at linebacker and went with a defensive line featuring Red Bryant, Tony McDaniel, Brandon Mebane and Cliff Avril. That line would hardly be ancient, but it would rank among the older third of projected starting lines. Bruce Irvin's suspension and Chris Clemons' knee injury limit the options. We could see rookie Jesse Williams at defensive tackle over McDaniel, who has mostly been a rotation player. The Seahawks would have the youngest projected starting linebackers in the league if Smith joined Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in the lineup. The starting secondary ranks seventh youngest. However, nickel corner Antoine Winfield is 35 years old and could wind up playing half the snaps, or more.
You might recall our March discussion from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference regarding NFC West team-building strategies.

St. Louis Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff, addressing conference attendees, noted that his team expected to stock its roster with young, affordable talent.



"When we did the RG III trade a year ago, we looked out and said, 'In 2014, we will have 12 players who were first- or second-round picks under the new rookie wage scale,' " Demoff said at the conference. "Twelve of our best players will make less than $25 million combined in 2014, which meant on the remainder of our team, we could overpay a few guys in free agency, we could make a few mistakes here or there and we would have a pretty good nucleus."

The thinking is sound. And as the chart shows, the Rams have selected eight players in the first two rounds since the wage scale went into effect for 2011. That figure ranks tied for the NFL lead with the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots.

The Rams' plan to have 12 such players on their roster in 2014 requires a slight revision. The team is scheduled to have 11 such players on its roster after trading its 2013 second-round choice to the Buffalo Bills in the move to acquire Tavon Austin with the eighth overall choice.

I find it interesting to see the Seattle Seahawks listed so low in the chart, with only four players selected in the first two rounds since 2011. They're known for building effectively through the draft, but they have selected players with only two first-round picks and two second-rounders under the new labor agreement.

Seattle has used a league-high 26 picks in the final five rounds during the period in question. Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright and Russell Wilson were among the players they selected with those choices.

Can a team beat the system by stockpiling later-round picks? I don't know if that's a sustainable strategy. It might not even be a strategy in this case. The trades Seattle made could have appealed to the team for unrelated reasons. Either way, it's pretty tough to question the Seahawks' drafting results.

Whatever the case, the contrast between Seattle and two of its division rivals, St. Louis and San Francisco, has been pronounced.

The 49ers have still managed to use 21 picks in the final five rounds over this span, allowing them to have it both ways, in some aspects. The Rams have used 17 picks and the Arizona Cardinals 19 of them over the final five rounds since 2011.

Seattle traded its 2013 first-rounder to the Minnesota Vikings in the Percy Harvin deal. The Seahawks traded their 2011 second-rounder to Detroit with the 157th and 209th picks for the 75th, 107th, 154th and 205th choices. They took John Moffitt, Kris Durham, Sherman and Pep Levingston with those selections.

We'll think through this one a little more. First, though, a diversion courtesy of Sherman, who has outlived his fifth-round status on the field and on Facebook.
Our post-draft amendments to pre-draft positional rankings continue with Matt Williamson, NFL scout for ESPN.com.

Up next: linebackers.

NFC West teams drafted six of them if we count the San Francisco 49ers' Corey Lemonier and the Arizona Cardinals' Alex Okafor as 3-4 outside linebackers, which we will do for the purposes of this exercise. We probably should have counted Seattle Seahawks seventh-rounder Ty Powell with the defensive linemen given that he projects to the "Leo" position, but there is some crossover with the linebackers as well.

The six draftees: Alec Ogletree (30th overall pick) to the St. Louis Rams; Kevin Minter (45th) and Okafor (103rd) to the Cardinals; Lemonier (88th) and Nick Moody (180th) to the 49ers; and Powell (231st) to the Seahawks.

Matt and I pick up the conversation from there.

Sando: I see you're keeping the rankings at linebacker in the same order even though the Rams added a potentially dynamic player at the position in Ogletree.

Williamson: The 49ers have to stay No. 1, of course. They have the best linebackers in the league and they added Lemonier. He is a fast, long, skinny edge guy who doesn’t hold up real well against big guys. He gets off the ball well, not real fluid, doesn't change direction great, but beats you with speed and eats up space with long strides. A good looking prospect.

Sando: The race for No. 2 has to be closer after this draft.

Williamson:
Those three are pretty close now. You look at the Rams vs. Seattle. I look at two of the Rams' three starters as being strong, even Pro Bowl types now. James Laurinaitis and Ogletree vs. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. I would give the edge to Seattle because I think Wagner is the best of the bunch and we do not yet know whether Ogletree will be a Pro Bowl-type player.

Sando: The Cardinals are fourth?

Williamson: It’s not easy. Minter compliments Daryl Washington extremely well. He is a real heady, tough guy and a leader. He stuffs the run better than average and looks like a two-down player who could possibly play more than that. I could see him on the field as an every-down guy while Washington is suspended. Ideally, though, he comes off. Washington is a total stud if he can stay out of trouble. Those two could form one of the better inside linebacker pairings in the league, but I still put them four.

Sando: It gets back to what you think of their outside linebackers.

Williamson: We have to operate under the assumption Arizona is a 3-4 team and they are still light as 3-4 outside linebackers. Nobody there scares me. They have a bunch of No. 2s. I liked Okafor as a late-second or third-round prospect, but not as a real difference maker. If you are going to be a 3-4 team, your outside linebackers are still a negative.

Sando: There is some uncertainty as to how the Cardinals are going to tweak this defense. It really could be more of a 4-3.

Williamson: If they trend to a 4-3, two of their three starters are very strong, like with the Seahawks and Ramss. If we pretend Seattle, St. Louis and Arizona all line up in a base 4-3, each would have two really good starters. I would rank those players in order as Washington, Wagner, Laurinaitis and Wright, then Ogletree and Minter. All six could go to the Pro Bowl, although it is a stretch to say that with Minter right now.

Sando: Earning league-wide honors as a linebacker from the NFC is tough duty. The 49ers had four linebackers earn spots on the Associated Press All-Pro teams last season. Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were first-team selections. Ahmad Brooks was a second-team choice. The Cardinals' Washington was a second-team choice. I noticed you left off the Rams' Jo-Lonn Dunbar when listing the six non-49ers linebackers you liked.

Williamson: I like Dunbar -- not a ton, but he is serviceable. That position is not a hole for them.

Sando: We alluded to some uncertainty with how the Cardinals will play defense. I think Seattle is in transition at linebacker to some degree as well. The Seahawks appear likely to give Cliff Avril and possibly Bruce Irvin work at strong-side linebacker, in which case Wright would shift to the weak side. We'll have a better idea what Seattle and Arizona have in mind once training camps get going.
RENTON, Wash. -- Tis the season for NFL general managers to talk about the upcoming draft without tipping their hands.

The Seattle Seahawks' John Schneider and the San Francisco 49ers' Trent Baalke took their turns during pre-draft news conferences Wednesday. I was able to attend Schneider's session, which the team also streamed live on its website. A few notes and observations:
  • Personalities: Schneider's occasional references to movies such as "Step Brothers" and "Tommy Boy" show why he fits so well with coach Pete Carroll, who counts comedian Will Ferrell among his buddies and occasional visitors to team functions (including, presumably, any Catalina Wine Mixers). These guys like to have fun. Schneider joked that he was hoping to spend the draft's first round at Dino's Pub across the street from team headquarters until team officials talked him out of it. Seattle doesn't have a first-round pick after trading it to Minnesota for Percy Harvin. Schneider said the revised first-round plan was to watch Harvin highlights on YouTube while other teams made their picks.
  • Draft lessons: Schneider, asked about the boom-and-bust nature of players the team has drafted in the fourth round or thereabouts, pointed to a couple draft-related missteps he hoped to avoid in the future. Comparing a draft prospect to a veteran player with similar attributes has backfired in the past, he said, because it's tough to measure what's in a player's heart. Schneider also said it's a mistake to let a prospect's excellent production in college lull a team into asking fewer questions about the player. Schneider indicated that had happened to him in the past. He did not name names, but Kris Durham, E.J. Wilson and Mark LeGree were three underwhelming players the team selected in those rounds. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright were among the success stories.
  • Clemons' health: Schneider sounded optimistic about defensive end Chris Clemons' recovery from ACL surgery. He noted that Clemons proved to be a quick healer from foot/ankle surgery years ago. Clemons has a reputation on the team for being exceedingly tough when it comes to playing through pain. However, the team appears in position to carry Clemons on the physically unable to perform list, buying additional time before working Clemons into the lineup during the season. Adding Cliff Avril in free agency added flexibility.
  • Carpenter's confidence: James Carpenter is a wild-card player for the Seahawks on their offensive line. The team would love for him to emerge as a starting guard. Health is the No. 1 concern. Carpenter has struggled to regain quickness and range after suffering a serious knee injury. Schneider said Carpenter is the strongest player on the team, but the challenge will be for Carpenter to regain confidence and flexibility in his legs. Carpenter did stay in the Seattle area this offseason, which should help from a conditioning and rehabilitation standpoint.
  • 49ers watching: Fans and reporters have been paying close attention to the moves Seattle and San Francisco have been making since finishing one-half game apart in the standings last season. Schneider said he doesn't get caught up in what other teams are doing, but he did say he thought the 49ers fared well in adding Anquan Boldin, Glenn Dorsey and Colt McCoy specifically.
  • Winfield fit: Seattle announced cornerback Antoine Winfield's signing. The Seahawks see Winfield as a slot defender whose addition fills a specific need while improving the team's defense against run and pass alike. He said Winfield's agent was very aggressive in pushing for a deal with Seattle. Schneider considered that an indication players are eager to join a strong Seattle defense. He theorized that Carroll's reputation for treating players as men has gotten around the league, making Seattle a more attractive destination.
  • Grading the draft: Seattle and Washington are the only teams without first-round picks. Teams grade players differently, of course, and there will usually be players graded as first-round talents still available in the second round. Schneider said the number is usually two or three in a given year. He said there will usually be five to 15 players his teams gave second-round grades still available in that round. When the Seahawks used a 2010 second-round choice for receiver Golden Tate, they said at the time they had him rated as a first-round player.

That's it from here. Time to dive into that rush-hour traffic for the trip home.

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