NFL Nation: Raheem Brock

Highlights and interpretations from coach Pete Carroll's news conference following the Seattle Seahawks' first practice of training camp Saturday:
  • Pass-rush thoughts. The Seahawks think their pass rush will be vastly improved with defensive end Bruce Irvin taking over Raheem Brock's old role opposite Chris Clemons in passing situations, and with Jason Jones rushing from the interior. Carroll: "Out of all of the aspects of our football team, I'm most excited about our potential to improve there." Perhaps it would be better for the team if Carroll were most excited about the possibilities at quarterback. Then again, Carroll is a defensive-minded head coach, so he might be inclined to think about defense first.
  • Proceeding with caution. The Seahawks, much like the Arizona Cardinals with Beanie Wells, are taking a conservative approach to rehab with one of their top offensive players. Receiver Sidney Rice is wearing a non-contact jersey in practice. The team has bet big on Rice and doesn't want to do anything to risk injury as Rice returns from surgeries on both shoulders. Carroll: "I just think he’s had enough that he’s been through that it warrants taking our time here and not rushing him back."
  • Closing the door: The law prohibits burial of the living, but Carroll broke out a figurative shovel when asked about recently released receiver Mike Williams. Carroll: "First off, it was just time to move on. Mike had come back and he had done some good things for us, and I just felt like it was time to just go ahead and move on. Mike had probably topped out what he was going to do for us at this place. Hopefully, he'll get another chance to do something somewhere else."
  • Forgotten contributors: Cornerback Walter Thurmond's return from a leg injury appears less important to the team now that the secondary has placed three starters in the Pro Bowl and a fourth, Richard Sherman, with similar ability. Carroll thinks Thurmond will need a month or longer to get back on the field. Carroll: "We think he’s unique on this team with his quickness and style; he’s a very aggressive kid. If he comes back to us in four weeks or six weeks whenever it is, when he does come back to us that can be a heck of a boost for us." Byron Maxwell is another nearly forgotten cornerback with the ability to make an impact, health permitting.
  • DUI fallout: Carroll shed no light on expectations for running back Marshawn Lynch, who could be subject to NFL discipline -- most likely a fine, possibly a suspension -- following a DUI arrest this offseason. The team doesn't know how the league might proceed. The NFL can act in the absence of a legal judgment, but that could be less likely in the absence of aggravating circumstances. And so the Seahawks wait.
  • Setting up the roster: Carroll pointed to new contracts for Lynch, Clemons, Red Bryant and Max Unger as a signal to the locker room that the organization will take care of productive players. Carroll: "We’re working really hard to have a really well structured roster, and if you guys take a look at it and look at the offensive side of the ball, how complete it is right now. There are not many question marks going forward contractually. We're very solid defensively, it’s very much the same. We’re committed to our guys and we want to demonstrate that whenever we can."

The Seahawks are holding their second camp practice Sunday at 10 a.m. PT.
Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones was my choice for the Seattle Seahawks after trading down in the ESPN Blogger Mock Draft.

The long-armed pass-rusher seemed to represent good value with the 27th overall choice, acquired from New England in our mock.

The reality, of course, is that Seattle enters the NFL draft Thursday with the 12th overall choice, not the 27th pick. But in speaking with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc., Jones could be a logical consideration in that spot as well.

Sando: OK, Steve, you liked where San Francisco and Arizona stood in this draft. I'm sensing a trend here.

Muench: The Seahawks are in good shape, yes. The interesting thing about this draft is that Quinton Coples is going to drop. I think Coples or Chandler Jones would make sense for Seattle. The Seahawks are going to get an edge rusher and those guys are two of the bigger defensive ends/edge rushers in this class.

Sando: Right, but every time I speak with an NFL scout about Coples, the response is less than enthusiastic.

Muench: Some are concerned with his work ethic. From what I've seen on film, he's a hard worker. With everything that went on at North Carolina, if the kid had any inclination of being a troublemaker, it would have happened there. He was dominant at the Senior Bowl, by far the best defensive lineman there. I understand why people say, 'No, is he going to work.' They say where there is smoke, there is fire. I haven’t been able to find it.

Sando: It's interesting to me that you brought up Jones unsolicited. I had read a scouting report comparing him to Calais Campbell and pointing out Jones' extremely long arms. Right away, I thought Jones would appeal to Pete Carroll, who values players with what he describes as unique or unusual traits.

Muench: Jones is skyrocketing up boards. He didn't have a monster workout at the combine. I watched his 2010 and 2011 film, and you can clearly see him improving in terms of technique and off-the-field work ethic. He put on a lot of weight at Syracuse and it's good weight. Even though he is not as explosive as an Melvin Ingram or Fletcher Cox, he bends the edge, he’s flexible. Put him opposite Chris Clemons in pass-rushing situations and that would work for them.

Sando: The chart shows Seattle's sack leaders from last season. Clemons was the only one with more than four. The team signed Jason Jones to replace Anthony Hargrove. Raheem Brock is a free agent and not expected back. There's no question the team could use another defensive end with pass-rush ability.
Brock Huard, Mike Salk and I spent 13-14 minutes Thursday discussing where the Seattle Seahawks stand heading toward the 2012 NFL draft.

One question: Should the team focus on adding a front-line receiver to help new quarterback Matt Flynn, or should finding pass-rush help (and possibly linebacker help) stand as top priority?

I lean toward making pass-rush help a higher priority while the team finds out whether Flynn has the ability to maximize the existing weapons and make full use of additional ones.

The chart shows which players accounted for the Seahawks' 33 sacks last season.

Five of the players with at least 3.0 sacks are unsigned and/or will not return.

Anthony Hargrove has agreed to terms with Green Bay, Leroy Hill is unsigned and Raheem Brock is not expected back. Jason Jones, signed from Tennessee, should help pump up the numbers to a degree. But there's definitely room for another contributor.

Audio here.

2012 NFC West UFA scorecard: update

March, 16, 2012
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Michael Robinson's expected re-signing with the Seattle Seahawks would give the team a league-high four re-signings in the unrestricted free-agent market.

Red Bryant, Paul McQuistan and Heath Farwell previously re-signed.

Seattle and the other NFC West teams have added only two UFAs from other teams, however. I've put together UFA scorecards for each team in the division. Ages are in parenthesis. Here goes ...

Seattle Seahawks

UFA unsigned (age): defensive end Raheem Brock (33), defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson (31), safety Atari Bigby (30), quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (29), linebacker Leroy Hill (29), linebacker Matt McCoy (29), defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (28), linebacker David Hawthorne (26), running back Justin Forsett (26), linebacker David Vobora (25)

UFA re-signed: Farwell (30), Robinson (29), McQuistan (28), Bryant (27)

UFA added: none

UFA lost: tight end John Carlson (27)

Franchise player: none

Comment: Forsett has provided value, but the Seahawks will want to add a power back as depth behind Marshawn Lynch, who re-signed before free agency. Mike Tolbert, a free agent from the San Diego Chargers, could be worth a look if the running back market remains soft. Tolbert weighs 243 pounds, has 21 total touchdowns over the past two seasons, and caught 54 passes in 2012. The price would have to be right after Seattle committed to Lynch.

San Francisco 49ers

UFA unsigned: fullback Moran Norris (33), tight end Justin Peelle (33), safety Madieu Williams (30), quarterback Alex Smith (27), receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (26), guard Chilo Rachal (26), safety Reggie Smith (25)

UFA re-signed: cornerback Carlos Rogers (30), linebacker Tavares Gooden (27)

UFA added: none

UFA lost: guard Adam Snyder (30), linebacker Blake Costanzo (27), receiver Josh Morgan (26)

Franchise player: safety Dashon Goldson (27)

Comment: Randy Moss and potential addition Rock Cartwright do not appear in the listings because they were not unrestricted free agents. Re-signing Alex Smith and finding additional receiver help appear to be the top priorities. The 49ers are showing little outward urgency on either front, however.

Arizona Cardinals

UFA unsigned: defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday (36), kicker Jay Feely (35), long-snapper Mike Leach (35), outside linebacker Clark Haggans (35), outside linebacker Joey Porter (34), offensive lineman Floyd Womack (33), punter Dave Zastudil (33), tackle D'Anthony Batiste (29), safety Sean Considine (29), guard Deuce Lutui (28), safety Hamza Abdullah (28), tackle Brandon Keith (27), receiver Early Doucet (26)

UFA re-signed: none.

UFA added: Snyder (30)

UFA lost: cornerback Richard Marshall (27)

Franchise player: defensive end Calais Campbell (25)

Comment: The Cardinals have been in a tough spot. They would have faced criticism had they declined to pursue Peyton Manning. They could now face criticism for sacrificing the first week of free agency while waiting for Manning. The reality is that Arizona probably wasn't going to be all that aggressive in the market this offseason, anyway. It did hurt losing Marshall to the Miami Dolphins after coordinator Ray Horton called him the Cardinals' defensive MVP.

St. Louis Rams

UFA unsigned: cornerback Al Harris (37), quarterback A.J. Feeley (34), offensive lineman Tony Wragge (32), linebacker Brady Poppinga (32), punter Donnie Jones (31), offensive lineman Adam Goldberg (31), guard Jacob Bell (31), receiver Brandon Lloyd (30), cornerback Rod Hood (30), running back Cadillac Williams (29), defensive tackle Gary Gibson (29), receiver Mark Clayton (29), tackle Mark LeVoir (29), tight end Stephen Spach (29), safety James Butler (29), tight end Billy Bajema (29), quarterback Kellen Clemens (28), running back Jerious Norwood (28), linebacker Bryan Kehl (27), linebacker Chris Chamberlain (26), cornerback Justin King (24)

UFA re-signed: none

UFA added: cornerback Cortland Finnegan (28)

UFA lost: none

Franchise player: none

Comment: The Rams are not looking to re-sign many of their own free agents. They want to turn over the roster, and that is happening in a big way. The team's failure to secure playmaking help for quarterback Sam Bradford stands out as the biggest theme to this point. Finnegan was a welcome addition, but he isn't going to score many touchdowns.

The chart below shows a general overview.

NFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 8, 2012
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AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

Free agency begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET

Arizona Cardinals

Key free agents: DE Calais Campbell (franchise tag), CB Richard Marshall, OLB Clark Haggans, WR Early Doucet, T Brandon Keith, G Deuce Lutui, K Jay Feely.

Where they stand: A strong finish to the 2011 season on defense gives the Cardinals a glass-half-full feel heading into free agency. Going from 1-6 to 8-8 was an impressive achievement. Arizona does have serious concerns on its offensive line. The situation at tackle is particularly questionable even if Levi Brown returns (and maybe especially if he returns, depending on your view). The line concerns might actually dissipate some if the team lands Peyton Manning, a quarterback with the ability to beat pressure with quick throws. But tackle is still an area that needs addressing for the long term. Injuries throughout the offensive backfield raise questions about that area as well. Kevin Kolb (concussion), Beanie Wells (knee), Ryan Williams (knee) and Anthony Sherman (ankle) missed extensive time or played at a diminished level for stretches.

What to expect: The Cardinals are one of the teams chasing Manning. That pursuit could consume them for the short term. Landing Manning would signal the end for Kolb in Arizona. The Cardinals have until March 17 to exercise a $7 million option on Kolb, the quarterback they acquired from Philadelphia for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a fat contract. I'm expecting a resolution to Manning's situation before the Kolb bonus comes due simply because interest in Manning should be high enough to accelerate the process. The Cardinals had about $3 million in salary-cap space entering the week, according to ESPN's John Clayton. That figure could increase substantially once the team releases Brown or reworks his contract. Arizona still has strong coaching ties to Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball, but it's an upset if the Cardinals seriously pursue any of the aging veterans recently released by the Steelers. Developing young talent is the priority now. Re-signing Marshall, who fared well at corner, should be a priority. Does free-agent linebacker Stewart Bradley still factor prominently into the team's plans, particularly at such a high price?

St. Louis Rams

Key free agents: WR Brandon Lloyd, G Jacob Bell, CB Justin King, OL Adam Goldberg, LB Chris Chamberlain, G Tony Wragge, TE Billy Bajema, WR Mark Clayton, DT Gary Gibson, P Donnie Jones.

Where they stand: The Rams have no interest in staying the course from a personnel standpoint after going 15-65 over the past five seasons. They will seek fresh talent almost across the board as Jeff Fisher's new coaching staff seeks players for its schemes. The Rams are seeking playmakers in particular, starting at wide receiver. The offensive line needs addressing, although the Rams might try to minimize the turnover at offensive tackle for the short term, figuring they cannot afford to create new needs. But former starting center Jason Brown, benched last season, appears unlikely to return. The team also needs two starting outside linebackers, starting defensive tackles and perhaps two starting cornerbacks on defense.

What to expect: Mass roster turnover. I could see the team retaining as few as one or two players from its list of 21 projected unrestricted free agents. The Rams have a disproportionate amount of their salary cap tied up in recent high draft choices Sam Bradford, Chris Long and Jason Smith. The rookie wage scale will provide them cap relief even if the team remains among the teams picking very high in the 2012 draft. Bradford and Long are cornerstones. Smith could stick around at a reduced rate. The team still has hope for him under new offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan and defensive lineman Jason Jones, both free agents from Tennessee, have ties to Fisher and could make sense for the Rams. Despite the need for playmakers on offense, the Rams did not use the franchise tag on Lloyd, their most talented receiver. Questions persist about how effective Lloyd might be outside Josh McDaniels' offense.

San Francisco 49ers

Key free agents: QB Alex Smith, CB Carlos Rogers, FS Dashon Goldson (franchise tag), G Adam Snyder, WR Ted Ginn Jr., WR Josh Morgan, G Chilo Rachal, FB Moran Norris, LB Blake Costanzo.

Where they stand: Coach Jim Harbaugh has said it's a bit unsettling heading through the offseason with his starting quarterback unsigned. Smith and the 49ers are expected to reach agreement eventually. This relationship will almost certainly continue even if Smith does reach free agency without a deal in place. Smith would not fit nearly as well anywhere else. Harbaugh likes to use the word "equity" when describing players he wants to keep. The 49ers would rather bring back Smith than invite the disruption that Manning would bring, were they able to land him. The team needs help at wide receiver and possibly cornerback, depending upon what happens with Rogers. Getting Goldson at the relatively reasonable franchise rate ($6.2 million) was a plus for the 49ers' continuity in the secondary.

What to expect: Not a whole lot, most likely. The 49ers were a good team last season after taking a low-keyed approach to the free-agent market. They will presumably show interest in Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace and any high-profile, productive receiver with the talent to upgrade their offense. It's a small upset if the 49ers land one of them, however, because their philosophy is built on a measured approach resistant to overpaying. They will have to address the receiver position in free agency one way or another, however. Re-signing Morgan would help. Pierre Garcon, Marques Colston, Mario Manningham, Plaxico Burress and Robert Meachem are among the other options in free agency. An upgrade at right guard would help the line, but the 49ers might be apt to develop 2011 draft choice Daniel Kilgore after investing first-round choices in their left tackle (Joe Staley), left guard (Mike Iupati) and right tackle (Anthony Davis).

Seattle Seahawks

Key free agents: DE Red Bryant, LB David Hawthorne, LB Leroy Hill, OL Paul McQuistan, DE Raheem Brock, DL Tony Hargrove, FB Michael Robinson, RB Justin Forsett, QB Charlie Whitehurst, LB Matt McCoy, TE John Carlson, LB Heath Farwell.

Where they stand: The Seahawks' long-term quarterback situation hangs over them as they head toward the 2012 draft with only the 12th overall choice. The team has built up the rest of its roster to a point where sticking with Tarvaris Jackson as the primary starter could hold back the team to a degree it did not through much of last season. Upgrading the pass rush is another priority for the Seahawks. With defensive end Raheem Brock publicly stumping for Seattle to land Manning, his former teammate, I couldn't help but wonder which one of them had a better shot at earning a roster spot with the team in 2012. It might be Manning, even if the Seahawks are relative long shots for his services. Brock failed to provide the pass-rush push Seattle needed opposite Chris Clemons. Linebacker is another position the Seahawks need to address, whether or not Hawthorne and Hill return.

What to expect: The Seahawks have roughly $30 million in cap space, according to Clayton, and will make every effort to land Manning. They feel they've got a shot as long as they can persuade him to get on a plane and check out what they have to offer in terms of the roster, coaching, facilities, ownership and more. If Manning goes elsewhere, I would expect the Seahawks to consider Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn. Securing him at a price lower than what Arizona paid for Kolb would be the goal. As badly as the Seahawks want to upgrade the position, they have said they will not panic. Overpaying for Flynn could represent panic in their eyes. On the pass-rush front, I'm increasingly skeptical the team will shell out for Mario Williams. The price could be too high for a player Houston has decided to let hit the market. Re-signing Bryant is a priority, but using the franchise tag for him was never an option given the $10.6 million price. A deal slightly north of the one teammate Brandon Mebane signed seems likelier if Bryant returns.
The Seattle Seahawks' top priorities in free agency appear clear, at least when it comes to their own players.

Re-sign running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant.

Lynch's agent of record, Mike Sullivan, recently took a job with the Denver Broncos. That would not affect negotiations as much if Lynch remained with Octagon Worldwide. The agent game can be an unpredictable one, however. That is something to file away.

Bryant has said he strongly wants to re-sign with Seattle.

The charts below expand upon Brian McIntyre's lists. I've added offensive and defensive snap counts from ESPN Stats & Information. The final column shows what players earned per year on their most recent contracts.

The second chart shows restricted free agents. Teams can retain rights to RFAs by making one-year qualifying offers.

NFL Twindex: Cleveland WR takes crown

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
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Mohamed MassaquoiTom Cammett/Getty ImagesMohamed Massaquoi tops this week's Twindex.

It was a good week for pictures from NFLers on Twitter.

We had tourist shots of Larry Fitzgerald at the Lincoln Memorial and at The White House, a picture of Antonio Garay driving a Hello Kitty car, a shot of a receipt showing off just how much Michael Huff’s dad spent for groceries on his son’s credit card and a freeze frame of Josh Scobee’s locker on TV.

We at the NFL Twindex are in favor of all sharing. We seek insight into football lives, and do our best to weed through a lot of junk to find it.

If you see good humor, good explanations or yes, good pictures from an NFL player or coach or mascot or anyone on Twitter, please make sure we see it by calling our attention to it. Twindex headquarters can be found at @ESPN_AFCSouth and @PaulKuharsky.

To our new edition.

Was Brock's hit on Big Ben legitimate?

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
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Seattle Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock beat Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert with a spin move to the inside.

What happened next cost Brock $15,000 while imperiling Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Brock struck Roethlisberger near the right knee right after the quarterback delivered a pass to the other side of the field. That much, everyone can agree upon.

Whether or not Brock committed a foul is open to interpretation. I've gone through the rules on roughing the passer and can make the following observations:
  • Brock did not violate the "one-step rule" preventing defenders from taking more than one step and striking a quarterback after the ball was released. He barely took any step at all. His right toe and knee hit the ground before the ball had traveled even 3 yards from Roethlisberger's hand. There were no additional steps before contact.
  • Brock might have violated the rule stating, "A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked [or fouled] into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him."

That last part -- whether Brock could have avoided Roethlisberger -- is open for debate. Once Brock beat Gilbert with the spin move, Gilbert extended his left leg across Brock's path. It appeared to me as though Gilbert, knowing he'd been beaten, might have been trying to trip Brock. That would be tough to verify.

When in doubt, the NFL will err on the side of protecting quarterbacks, especially big-name ones.

Halftime: Steelers 17, Seahawks 0

September, 18, 2011
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PITTSBURGH -- Here are some thoughts at the break at Heinz Field:

  • Everything was going smoothly in the first half for the Steelers until quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a shot to the knee from Seattle's Raheem Brock with 3:08 left in the second quarter. The diving Brock delivered the blow to the side of Roethlisberger's right knee. After laying on the ground in pain, Roethlisberger limped off the field. He returned to the drive after missing a couple of snaps but still seems to be in pain. Don't be surprised if Charlie Batch gets playing time if the game continues to play out this way.
  • As many expected, the Steelers took out their frustrations from the season opener on Seattle, which struggled in tackling and running the ball. The Seahawks have perfected the diving at the feet technique. It's 17-0 at halftime, and it doesn't even feel that close.
  • The Steelers' offense was back on track after managing one touchdown in the season opener in Baltimore. After getting stopped at the goal line on fourth down, Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns and a field goal on its final three drives of the half. The Steelers dominated time of possession, controlling the ball for 20 of the half's 30 minutes.
  • Running back Rashard Mendenhall ran for 51 yards and one touchdown. He didn't have much success up the middle, but he was effective bouncing to the outside.

Three things: Seahawks-Raiders

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
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Three things to watch for in the Seattle Seahawks' preseason home game against the Oakland Raiders at 10 p.m. ET:

1. Pass protection: The Seahawks want their offensive line to make strides in preparation for the regular-season opener at San Francisco. Starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has taken seven sacks and avoided several others. The pressure has played a role in his 3.8-yard average per attempt. The Raiders have only four sacks through three exhibition games, including zero in first quarters and only one in first halves. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a healthy 7.9 yards per attempt against Oakland overall. The 49ers' Alex Smith, under siege against New Orleans and Houston this preseason, completed 8 of 13 passes for 136 yards with no sacks when facing the Raiders. The Seahawks will remain without starting left tackle Russell Okung, their best lineman. But they should still expect improvement in pass protection against this opponent. Right tackles James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini are in the spotlight for this game.

2. Golden opportunity: Lame cliched lead-in, I know, but at least it's an accurate one. Receiver Golden Tate should expect to play more reps than usual. Seattle is missing a few receivers to injury in this game. The team would like to accelerate Tate's development following a condensed offseason. Tate, chosen in the second round of the 2010 draft, has four receptions for 24 yards to this point in the exhibition season. He dropped a pass against Minnesota, leading to a turnover. Tate does not appear to be fighting for a roster spot, but neither has there been signs he's going to factor into the offense as much as coach Pete Carroll has said he expects.

3. Young defensive players. Wait, that covers pretty much everyone, come to think of it. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, linebacker K.J. Wright and free safety Mark LeGree are the youngest players on the Seahawks' defensive roster. Safety Jeron Johnson and cornerback Richard Sherman aren't far behind. I'll be attending this game and hope to get a better feel for the young depth on defense, to the extent that is possible in a fourth preseason game. Oh, and there are five Seattle defenders in their 30s: Raheem Brock, Junior Siavii, Colin Cole, Marcus Trufant and Jimmy Wilkerson. Only one, Trufant, starts.
RENTON, Wash. -- Thoughts and observations after watching the Seattle Seahawks practice Wednesday:

  • Marshawn Lynch jogged on his sore ankle without much trouble. He did not practice, but the injury does not appear serious. Reports of the Seahawks' expected visit with veteran free-agent running back Clinton Portis appear unrelated to Lynch's health. Portis, whose cousin Josh is Seattle's No. 3 quarterback, has been trying to line up visits with teams in an effort to revive his career. The Seahawks appear set at the position for now with Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington.
  • Washington has embraced the way assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable instructs running backs to read their keys, which includes making cuts properly in relation to defenders' alignment. It's pretty clear Washington will command additional touches on offense this season. He's healthier and more confident.
  • Rookie receiver Ricardo Lockette made one of the more spectacular leaping catches I've seen, snatching the ball for a touchdown while intertwined with safety Earl Thomas. Lockette has phenomenal athleticism, but he's raw and struggling with the things rookie receivers tend to struggle with: mastering the playbook, running crisp routes, catching the ball consistently, etc. Lockette dropped a routine pass after making the spectacular grab.
  • Right tackle Breno Giacomini continues to split first-team reps with rookie first-round choice James Carpenter. Giacomini looks the part at 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds. He also plays with toughness. Giacomini's aggressive tactics incited strong reaction from defensive end Chris Clemons during practice. The two battled hard during and after plays. Giacomini more than held his own. Carpenter continued to have some problems with speed rushers, notably Raheem Brock. The Seahawks will decide by Week 1 whether or not Carpenter is ready for regular-season action right away. He'll be the starter sooner or later. It's just a matter of when. Getting left tackle Russell Okung back from injury would give the team greater flexibility in helping out Carpenter in difficult situations.
  • Okung saw limited work in practice with the second team. The Seahawks hope to have him back from an ankle injury in Week 1.
  • Receivers Isaiah Stanback, Ben Obomanu, Sidney Rice and Mike Williams missed practice. Williams participated in individual drills before resting a sore toe. With so many receivers resting injuries, second-year pro Golden Tate figures to get additional opportunities in the final preseason game Friday. Tate's roster spot appears secure, but he could use a strong performance after a rough preseason.
  • Tight end John Carlson watched practice wearing shorts and his uniform top. He has not yet undergone the shoulder surgery that will end his season. Losing Carlson diminishes the Seahawks' options. Cable likes to use an H-back type, and Carlson was a candidate to fill that role.
  • Receiver Deon Butler did some running and cutting after practice. He remains on the physically unable to perform list and could stay there to open the season.

I'll be heading home here shortly, then heading to CenturyLink Field on Friday night for the Seahawks' game against Oakland.
A few thoughts on NFC West rosters after calculating age ranks for NFL teams based on the rosters I maintain:
  • The chart ranks teams from oldest to youngest, excluding special-teams players who can sometimes play into their 40s. The first column shows overall rank, counting offensive and defensive players. The third and fourth columns show where teams rank on each side of the ball. These are for starters and backups. In some cases, teams might plan to release older backups on the reduction to 53 players.

  • Arizona Cardinals: Earlier in the preseason, Kevin Kolb referred to the Cardinals as a young team. They do have young players, some of whom played extensively last season and should be better for it. But the Cardinals have the sixth-oldest roster in the league overall. Vonnie Holliday (35), Clark Haggans (34), Joey Porter (34), Paris Lenon (33), Floyd Womack (32), Adrian Wilson (31), Todd Heap (31) and Nick Eason (31) are some of them. The team has also favored veteran offensive linemen, including veteran backups.

  • St. Louis Rams: The Rams got older on purpose, adding seasoning to their defense through players added on one-year deals. Al Harris (36) is the oldest non-specialist on the team. James Hall (34) and Fred Robbins (34) remain valuable contributors. Both start. Rookie Robert Quinn will likely replace Hall at some point. Drafting a defensive tackle in the first round of the 2012 draft could make sense, too. Some of the Rams' additions could come at the expense of incumbent veterans such as Hank Fraley (34 next month) and Na'il Diggs (33).

  • San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have gotten younger this offseason, particularly on defense. They subtracted Takeo Spikes (34), Aubrayo Franklin (31 this week), Travis LaBoy (30), Brian Westbrook, Nate Clements (31), Brian Westbrook (32 next month), William James (32), Barry Sims (36) and Demetric Evans (32 next month).. Fulback Moran Norris (33) is their oldest non-specialist. The team has only six non-specialists in their 30s, half as many as the Cardinals have.

  • Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have been getting younger by design over the past two seasons. Like the 49ers, they have only six non-specialists in their 30s, with none older than 33 (Raheem Brock). They have subtracted Sean Locklear (30), Matt Hasselbeck (36 next month), Stacy Andrews (30), J.P. Losman (30), Brandon Stokley (35), Lawyer Milloy (37), Chester Pitts (32) and Craig Terrill (31). Most general managers want to make their teams younger when starting out. In Seattle, the head coach is also amendable to that approach. But a few players such as Brock (33), Junior Siavii (32), Colin Cole (31), Marcus Trufant (30) and Atari Bigby (30 next month) have kept the Seahawks defensive ranking from sinking further. Seattle is 16th oldest on that side of the ball.

I've sprouted a couple new gray hairs just typing in some of these names. Might be time to squeeze in an afternoon workout.

Reviewing Saturday's action at CenturyLink Field:

Minnesota Vikings 20, Seattle Seahawks 7

Preseason record: 1-1

Of interest: A fumbled punt return and a defensive touchdown left the Vikings' first-team offense with one possession, a three-out and-out, in the first quarter. Its second drive was more encouraging, an 82-yard jaunt that began at the Vikings' 1-yard line and ended with Ryan Longwell's 36-yard field goal. Starters have produced three points in two games for the Vikings, but quarterback Donovan McNabb without question got in a groove in Saturday's second possession. His 20-yard timing pass to receiver Michael Jenkins was especially noteworthy. ... Second-year cornerback Marcus Sherels fumbled the aforementioned punt return, but he made up for it by intercepting a tipped Tarvaris Jackson pass and dashing 64 yards for a touchdown. ... One concern: Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock got a free lane to sack McNabb when left tackle Charlie Johnson missed his assignment. ... The same thing happened to Vikings defensive end Jared Allen in the first quarter, but he missed a free shot on Jackson. ... Other than that, the starting defense had a nice night. Jackson was under pressure and couldn't establish any timing even when running his usual plate of bootlegs and screens. ... The second-team defense also had a powerful goal-line stand in the second quarter, stuffing four consecutive goal-to-goal runs. ... Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder played it pretty carefully during a 2-minute drill to end the first half, focusing mostly on checkdowns.

Local coverage: Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "For all of the questions surrounding the Vikings' offense entering camp, the one that lingers most prominently at the preseason's midpoint remains along the line. Look no further than coordinator Bill Musgrave's heavy reliance on the short passing game for evidence he knows which unit needs protecting." Sherels on the fumble/interception, via Pelissero: "I felt like I let my team down. Everyone was just saying, 'Just forget about it and play the next play.' I felt I had to make a play. Got a lucky bounce and happened to score." Cornerback Cedric Griffin made his first start since his second ACL injury last October, notes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was eager to watch the film of what he thought was an encouraging outing, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.

Up next: Saturday vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Seattle Seahawks have tried linebacker Aaron Curry at defensive end and even as an inside pass-rusher while seeking to maximize his value.

They went into the 2010 season determined to expand his role beyond that of strongside linebacker. But with Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock providing purer pass-rush abilities, Curry never emerged in that area. Re-signing Brock and adding veteran defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson in free agency gave Seattle pass-rush options beyond Curry this season.

Coach Pete Carroll offered his latest thinking on Curry when speaking with reporters Saturday:
"We know how to utilize him now. I think we understand it. Last year, we tried to figure out how much we should pass-rush him and move him around in pass-rush situations. He’s really an outside linebacker and he does a really good job of doing that. He’s playing first-team in the nickel package right now, and that’s something as a linebacker that he didn’t do before. That’s a good upgrade for him. He’s comfortable with the passing game. He’s just having a fantastic camp. He really seems like a different kid out here."

Sometimes highly drafted players feel pressure to meet expectations early in their careers. Defensive end Chris Long, chosen second in the 2008 draft, fell into this category through his first and into his second seasons. He blossomed in 2010 after moving to the left side. He seems to be having much more fun playing football now that he has settled into a role comfortable to him.

Curry, the fourth player chosen in the 2009 draft, could be following a similar path. One difference: Teams value pass-rushing defensive ends such as Long more than they value solid all-around strongside linebackers. Overall, it's logical to think Curry would benefit from narrowing his focus. At the very least, Curry must be a good linebacker.

"He's more confident, he’s looser, he’s more comfortable, just everything about him is on the upswing and he’s having a blast out here," Carroll said of Curry. "I’m really happy to see that. Obviously, we knew he’s a terrific athlete, so he’s off to a great start for us."
The St. Louis Rams' contract agreement with veteran guard/tackle Adam Goldberg restores experienced depth to the offensive line.

NFC West teams have done well to bring back a few key role players at reasonable rates:
  • Raheem Brock, Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks wanted him back, but they weren't going to offer a long-term extension for a 33-year-old situational pass-rusher. Brock had nine sacks last season. He can still play. The team managed to bring back Brock on a one-year deal even after signing veteran Jimmy Wilkerson from New Orleans.
  • Deuce Lutui, Arizona Cardinals: Lutui reached agreement with Cincinnati, but the deal fell apart when Lutui failed a physical for being overweight. Arizona had signed versatile veteran Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack in the interim. Lutui then re-signed with Arizona. He appears likely to re-emerge as the starting right guard.
  • Goldberg, Rams: The Rams landed Harvey Dahl in free agency to replace Goldberg in the lineup at right guard. Goldberg remained valuable as a backup at guard and tackle. Goldberg has embraced mentoring roles with the team's younger linemen. Adding Dahl without losing Goldberg was a win-win.

Those three came to mind immediately. The San Francisco 49ers brought back Alex Smith and Ray McDonald, among others, but those fell into different categories. Who am I missing?

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