Seattle Seahawks: Brandon Mebane

RENTON, Wash. -- Here are a few observations on the defense from the first day of organized team activities (OTAs) this week for the Seattle Seahawks, along with some comments from coach Pete Carroll.

The media’s only access was Tuesday, but a few things stood out:

Whoa Mayowa: I think those 15 pounds guard James Carpenter lost were transferred over to defensive end Benson Mayowa, and that’s a good thing. Bigger and stronger (possibly 265 now) is just what was needed for Mayowa to step up and make an impact as a Seahawks pass-rusher.

He was really active in the Tuesday practice and looks up to the challenge he will face from rookies Cassius Marsh and Jackson Jeffcoat, along with Greg Scruggs, who is healthy again after missing last season with a torn ACL.

Scruggs gets praise from Carroll: Speaking of Scruggs, he had an interception on Tuesday and played with a lot of intensity.

“He’s really determined,” Carroll said. “He’s worked so hard through this offseason. He’s ready to go physically. It’s been a long haul for him. I feel really good about him being back out with us.

“It seems like he’s been a part from this for so long. I think he’s ready to max it out and he’s going to get a great chance to be a big part of it. Our expectation is he will be a factor right there in the rotation.”

Toomer the boomer: Linebacker Korey Toomer stood out in the rookie minicamp and kept it up on Tuesday in the first OTA. He had a stop in the backfield and another at the line of scrimmage on a run up the middle. Toomer was playing inside and outside, and looked good in both spots. After spending his first two years on injured reserve, it’s obvious why the Seahawks kept him around.

A battle at defensive tackle: Brandon Mebane has one defensive tackle spot locked down, but Carroll mentioned three players who are in the mix for the DT spot -- returning starter Tony McDaniel and 2013 rookies Jesse Williams (who missed last year with a knee injury) and Jordan Hill.

“I’m excited to get Tony re-signed and get him back here,” Carroll said. “He had a very good year for us in doing the stuff that we wanted him to do. I think he comes in here trying to own that 3-technique spot. That’s what he came here to do. I was really proud that he was able to accomplish that, but guys are nipping at his heels here.

“Jesse Williams will be back out in the next couple of days and working with Jordan Hill. Those guys are battling for that spot. It’s going to be really competitive and it’s going to take a long time to figure that out. There’s no rush. We’ll have to get into pads and through the preseason before we really know what’s going on with that.”

Injuries a small concern: Two of these three are on defense, so I’m listing them here as a group. Not having strong safety Kam Chancellor (hip surgery), right tackle Russell Okung (toe surgery) and outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (ankle surgery) on the field was noticeable to everyone.

All of them are expected back for training camp, but no one knows for sure until it gets here. All three men are key players for the Seahawks.
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.

There was a time, when John Elway wore a helmet at work instead of a tie, when the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks were division rivals.

From 1977 to 2001, the two teams did their football business together in the AFC West and now these former division rivals, who have gone their separate ways since -- through good times and bad -- now arrive to Super Bowl XLVIII as the matchup many wanted to see.

The Broncos' league-leading scoring offense -- which produced an NFL record 606 points with Peyton Manning at quarterback -- against Seattle's league-leading defense (14.4 points per game), a physical, brash group that led the league in scoring defense, total defense, pass defense and interceptions.

It is the first time the league's No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense have met in the Super Bowl since 1990, when the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants authored a classic, a 20-19 Giants win decided when Scott Norwood's kick drifted wide right.

ESPN.com Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and ESPN.com Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold discuss Sunday's game:

Legwold: Terry, in your mind, what are some of the major decisions John Schneider and Pete Carroll have made to put the Seahawks in this position?

Blount: Jeff, first and foremost, the one decision that almost everyone will point to is selecting Russell Wilson with a third-round draft choice two years ago when so many experts felt Wilson was too short to be an effective starter in today's NFL. That led to another big decision when Carroll named Wilson the starter after the team had signed Matt Flynn to a big-money deal -- a brave move, to say the least. But pointing to one move doesn't begin to tell the story of a team that Schneider and Carroll completely revamped over the past four seasons. Only four players remain from the team they inherited in 2010. Schneider and Carroll's strengths are their trust in each other and their ability to make stars, or at least quality starters, out of players that other teams overlooked such as cornerback Richard Sherman (a fifth-round pick), slot receiver Doug Baldwin (undrafted) and guard J.R. Sweezy (a seventh-round pick). They also made one of the best trades in team history, acquiring Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo in 2010. It's an example of how Schneider and Carroll are willing to take chances on players who might have had off-the-field issues.

Let me ask you a similar question, Jeff. Elway gets huge props for convincing Manning that Denver was the place for him to end his career, but obviously, it took more than one move to get the Broncos to the Super Bowl. Aside from Manning, what has made Elway's tenure so successful?

Legwold: Elway's mission, for owner Pat Bowlen, when he took the job, wasn't just to make the team competitive as quickly as possible after the 4-12 finish in 2010, but to fix the cracks in the foundation. This meant addressing the personnel and salary-cap issues that needed to be dealt with if the team was going to succeed over the long term. Elway always says people talk to him about a "win-now philosophy," but he wants the team to win from now on.

Elway and the Broncos' front office cleaned up the cap a bit, and though Elway is a former quarterback, he thinks big picture. They've drafted plenty of defensive players -- 11 of 23 picks under Elway -- and they've made finding the guy they want more important than simply making big-ticket splashes in free agency, other than Manning of course. Signing players to one-year deals with little or no signing bonuses, such as Shaun Phillips (10 sacks), Paris Lenon and Quentin Jammer (two starters and a situational player in the defense), have made it go. Starting center Manny Ramirez was released by the Lions at one point. John Fox, hand-picked by Elway, and his staff also have gotten more from players who were holdovers such as Knowshon Moreno and Demaryius Thomas. Toss in some big-time draft hits -- Von Miller and Julius Thomas -- and you have back-to-back 13-3 finishes.

For their part, the Seahawks have played quality defense all season long. Terry, how do you think they will attack Manning?

Blount: They will line up and say, 'This is who were are and what we do. Beat us if you can.' I honestly don't think they'll change a thing. Whether it's a rookie calling the signals or one of the all-time greats such as Manning, the Seahawks don't believe anyone can outperform their defense. They are as talented a group as I've seen. Two things set them apart: incredible overall speed, especially at the linebacker spots, and a physical approach that borders on all-out violence and intimidation. Calling for crossing patterns over the middle against this bunch is asking for punishment. The one thing defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said they will do is change the wording and signals on their calls. And what they must do in this game is get a push up the middle on the defensive front and force Manning to move in the pocket. Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald have to outmuscle Denver interior linemen in this game.

Seattle's Legion of Boom secondary is an extraordinarily talented group that includes three players who were voted into the Pro Bowl. They play a lot of press coverage and almost dare a quarterback to try to beat them.

Jeff, does man-to-man coverage help or hurt Manning and his receivers?

Legwold: Man coverage almost never hurts Manning, unless those defensive backs consistently knock the Broncos' receivers off their routes, or Mother Nature brings a windy night. And not just a breeze, but something on the order of the 40-mph gusts the team faced on a frigid night at New England this season. But even then Manning was sharp and aggressive on a late drive to tie the game at 31-31. Where some defenses have had some success this season -- Indianapolis, New England and to a certain extent Jacksonville -- was when they essentially tossed aside the idea of adding pressure to try to get Manning, because he gets the ball out too quickly, and play as physically as possible against the Broncos' receivers to disrupt their routes and disrupt the offense's timing. That said, Manning still threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts to go with 295 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars. And while the Patriots held him to a season-low 150 yards on Nov. 24, Manning still looked sharp late, throwing the ball in a game in which the Broncos rushed for 280 yards because New England often left six-man fronts after dropping so many players into coverage. In the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots, who used much the same philosophy as in November, Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns. The mix for some kind of defensive success is usually to get the Broncos receivers out of sorts and find a way to pressure Manning in the middle of the field so he can't step into the throws.

Staying at quarterback, Terry, how do you think Wilson, certainly well-known for his poise and maturity, will handle his first Super Bowl behind center?

Blount: I realize it's a lot to ask of any second-year quarterback to enter this setting and not have it effect his performance, but Wilson is an extraordinary young man. I've said all season that he has the unusual quality of being at his best when things appear to be at their worst. He thrives on the big stage. I've never seen him rattled, and when he does make a mistake (such as fumbling on the first play in the NFC Championship Game), he acts like it never happened. And I've never seen any athlete who prepares with the time and detail that Wilson prepares. You can't fool him. People often compare him to Fran Tarkenton because of his scrambling ability, which is true. But in some ways, I see him more of a Bart Starr-type quarterback, a man who had the ultimate respect of his teammates, understood the skills of the men around him and made them better. Wilson said his goal every game is to be the calm in the storm and stay in the moment. Well, there's no moment like this one. It's cliché to say, but I think he truly believes he was born for this moment.

Jeff, there has been a lot of talk about how extreme weather conditions could benefit the Seahawks and hinder Manning's ability to throw the football the way he normally would. Do you think that's overblown?

Legwold: There may be no more overblown idea circulating around than Manning's ability to play in the cold. The cold-weather stats are always tossed around, but there are at least two of those games in some of the totals people are using when Manning played only one series because the Colts had their playoff position wrapped up. One of those was in Denver to close out the 2004 regular season (32 degrees at kickoff; Manning threw two passes in the game). The wind has been a far-bigger deal for Manning. Post-surgery, he has had to make some adjustments to his game because of some grip issues in his right hand. He wears a glove on his throwing hand in a variety of temperatures now. This season, he wore it in New England (22 degrees, wind chill of 6 degrees), against Tennessee (18 degrees), as well as in Houston (kickoff temperature was 58 degrees) and at Oakland in the regular-season finale, when the kickoff temperature was 70. And with the glove on his throwing hand in 10 games this season, including both of the Broncos' playoff wins, Manning has thrown 33 touchdown passes to go with five interceptions. He's had four 400-yard games and six games when he attempted at least 40 passes. People have scrutinized every wobble of every pass this season, but somehow he threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. And wobbles or not, Manning has not been sacked and the Broncos have punted only once in this postseason.

In the Seahawks' defense, Terry, how big of an impact did signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in free agency have on that group?

Blount: It's this simple: The Seahawks would not be playing in the Super Bowl without them. Seattle's big weakness last year was the lack of a consistent pass rush and a lack of depth on the defensive line. Not anymore. Along with those two, Seattle also signed veteran defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, a mountain of a guy who has been a disruptive force inside. Bennett may be the most underrated defensive linemen in the NFL. He has been everything the Seahawks hoped for as a hybrid down linemen who can play end or tackle effectively. He is a relentless, high-motor guy who never takes a play off. Avril is a gifted speed-rusher whose claim to fame is his uncanny ability to knock the ball out of a quarterback's hands and force a fumble, something he has done five times this season and 13 times over the past three years.

Jeff, everyone talks about the matchup between the Seahawks' No. 1 defense against the Broncos' No. 1 offense, but how do you think Denver's defense matches up against Seattle's offense and its power-running game with Lynch?

Legwold: Since Champ Bailey's full return from a left foot injury he originally suffered against the Seahawks in the preseason -- Bailey played in just five games in the regular season and was shut down for several weeks after a failed return in early December -- the team has played far better. It's surrendered 17 or fewer points in each of the past four games, including both playoff wins. And while Denver's numbers, as well as its play at times for that matter, haven't always been pretty, the Broncos do play better out of their base defense.

They will be in their base defense against the Seahawks if Seattle chooses to pound Lynch out of a two-tight-end or two-back set. They inserted a veteran, Lenon, into the middle linebacker spot down the stretch in the base to add some bulk. With Lenon, Nate Irving and Danny Trevathan at linebacker, they have speed to the ball if their defensive end can consistently set the edge. Against some of the power teams they have faced this season, including those with some read-option things in the offense such as Washington and Oakland, the Broncos showed a little more of a 3-4 look on early downs. It will be intriguing if the Seahawks -- seeing the Broncos have done far better in the heavier looks -- try to run against the nickel and dime packages and how the Broncos respond.

Terry, if the Seahawks win, what players beyond Wilson will have had the biggest roles to make it happen?

Blount: Probably the defensive linemen we mentioned earlier: Bennent, Avril and the defensive tackles getting pressure on Manning. If they do, the Legion of Boom will shine and come up with an interception or two that could change the outcome. No matter how well this rugged defense performs, it won't matter unless Wilson can throw effectively. Having receiver Percy Harvin on the field could help, but it really comes down to the same story all season. If Lynch has a punishing day running the ball, someone will be open for a big play in the passing game.

Jeff, if you had to pick one thing that Denver must do to win this game what would it be?

Legwold: Overall, they have to manage the moment. Teams don't win the Super Bowl as they go through all the build-up, but plenty have lost it when they got distracted by the bright lights and attention only to forget why they were in the Super Bowl city in the first place. As Phillips put it: "If guys want to party in New York, New York will still be there next week." But on the field, they have to keep Manning clean, give him some space to work in the pocket and with that their receivers have to play with an edge, fight for both their real estate and the ball.

RENTON, Wash. -- With Percy Harvin declaring his ready to go, it appears the Seahawks will be close to full strength for the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.

Receiver Doug Baldwin and running back Marshawn Lynch didn't practice Thursday, but both should be fine for the game on Feb. 2.

Baldwin has a hip pointer, but said Thursday that he's fine. Lynch is listed as having a knee injury, but his non-participation in practice is more about getting rest.

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who has a sore ankle, returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. He also should be full speed for the Super Bowl.
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and receiver Doug Baldwin did not practice Wednesday, but all three are expected to play in the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2.

Lynch was getting his usual Wednesday day of rest. He had a bruising 109-yard rushing performance on 22 carries in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Mebane has a sore ankle and Baldwin has a hip pointer, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday that both men should be fine by Super Bowl Sunday.

As expected, receiver Percy Harvin was a full participant in practice after missing Sunday’s game with a concussion.
RENTON, Wash. -- The division title and home-field advantage are on the line Sunday for the Seahawks against the Arizona Cardinals, but you wouldn’t know it talking to the Seattle players. Feeling pressure is not their nature.

[+] EnlargeSeattle Seahawks
Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesEarl Thomas had some good-natured criticism for teammates Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell.
This is one loose bunch going into the most important game of the season so far.

Some of the topics of conversation are celebrations dances and TV commercials of the players, along with hairstyles.

“It’s all about having fun,” said free safety Earl Thomas. “Every game this year we’ve taken a championship opportunity, so when a game like this one came around we’d be ready for it.”

Thomas was on a roll when he spoke to reporters Wednesday. First, he had a message for cornerback Byron Maxwell, the new sensation in the Legion of Boom with three interceptions in the last two games.

“Byron is very humble,” Thomas said. “He wants it and he gets it. He’s very familiar with this system. But one thing I need to say about him. He needs to cut his hair. He’s getting to look like a caveman out there.”

Thomas had long hair until this season, when he cut his dreadlocks.

Thomas also wanted to talk about the best dancer on the team, especially among the defensive linemen. Brandon Mebane has his belly roll after a sack and Michael Bennett has his provocative pelvic thrust, similar to Elvis Presley.

“They’re not afraid to show their jelly,” Thomas said. “It’s creative. All of it’s good because when we’re doing that, it means we’re having a lot of success.”

Bennett’s dance move is getting most of the youtube.com attention these days.

“Whatever I feel like doing, I’m just doing,” Bennett said. “But the media went crazy on the last one, so I don’t know if I’ll do it again. Mebane’s been doing his for a while, so I’m just second to his.”

Bennett said cornerback Richard Sherman probably is the best dancer on the team, but he’s not Bennett’s favorite.

“Sherm is a great dancer, but the best to me is Red Bryant,’’ Bennett said. He’s so big (6-4, 325). He’s not really a dancer, but when he does, it’s funny.”

Several Seahawks are seen regularly in Seattle on local TV commercials, including Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Max Unger and Sherman.

“They could be better actors, especially Sherm,” Bennett said.

And Bennett said he knows exactly the commercial product he wants to endorse.

“A Rolls Royce,” he said. “I’m never gonna shave, so I won’t be in a shaving commercial. But I’d be happy to be in a Rolls Royce commercial.”



Carroll praises Bryant and McDaniel

November, 20, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- Defensive linemen Red Bryant has played a lot of great games for the Seahawks in his career, but coach Pete Carroll believed Bryant’s effort Sunday stood out.

“Red played his best game he’s played for us,” Carroll said. “I don’t know if you guys noticed that, but he was really in the backfield. It was really clear how forceful he was on a number of plays.”

Bryant missed the Atlanta game the previous week because of a concussion he suffered in the Tampa Bay game. But Bryant wasn’t the only defensive player Carroll praised on Monday. Carroll thought defensive tackle Tony McDaniel had one of his best games, along with defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Clinton McDonald, who had the first interception of his career.

The Seahawks held Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson to 65 yards on 21 carries in the 41-20 victory over the Vikings.

“But it was really Tony and Red that made a big difference,” Carroll said. “Those two guys combined to really hit the line of scrimmage. Both guys got better, so it’s just another indication that there’s room for improvement. Their consistency and intensity was great, and they tackled well because of it. It was really obvious and exactly what we hoped.”

McDaniel had seven tackles, including one in the backfield. Bryant had three tackles, but that doesn’t show how disruptive he was up front all game. He had two tackles for losses and one quarterback hit.

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive lineman Michael Bennett returned to full practice participation Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Sweezy was listed with an elbow issue and Bennett was ill.

Running back Marshawn Lynch did not practice for the second consecutive day and is listed with a knee injury, but he played the entire game Monday night at St. Louis. It will be a surprise if he doesn't play Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The wait for Percy Harvin's debut continues. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed that receiver Harvin will not play Sunday.

"Percy won't play this week," Carroll said on Sirius Radio. "He's getting close, but not close enough."

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane did not practice Thursday, but it was not injury related.

Also missing practice were fullback Derrick Coleman and safety Jeron Johnson (both with hamstring injuries) and offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, who had arthroscopic knee surgery Sept. 30.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Richard ShermanUSA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesBackup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to face a stifling Seattle secondary and the league's best corner in Richard Sherman.
Sunday's game between the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks is a matchup between two winning teams coming off losses, and both are missing key players on offense.

Quarterback Jake Locker is out for the Titans. Both starting tackles -- Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini -- are out for Seattle. Tight end Zach Miller could also sit.

The Seahawks have a 10-game home winning streak on the line, hoping to rebound after their first defeat of the season, 34-28 to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Titans hope to get a stagnant running game going and find some consistency with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Paul, it looked like Fitzpatrick had a rough first outing for the Titans subbing for an injured Locker. Do you think Fitzpatrick will improve, and how difficult will it be for Tennessee to have success on offense while Locker is out?

Kuharsky: Fitzpatrick is certainly capable of playing better than he did in the loss to Kansas City, when he had three very bad quarters and one good one. I'm not sure what the Titans can do to help him if they are unable to run the ball. If they can bring some balance with Chris Johnson (and maybe Shonn Greene, who's still trying to get back after knee surgery), it could be a lot less difficult. Fitzpatrick hardly has Locker's excellent speed, but he scrambled around pretty well against the Chiefs. With Locker in the first four games, the Titans didn't turn the ball over and overcame their deficiencies running the ball. Without him, they need Fitzpatrick to imitate the mistake-free youngster. But Fitzpatrick is more of a gunslinger than Locker and is streakier, and that's probably too much to ask.

Terry, the Titans pledged to be a great running team. It hasn't really panned out that way. Last time Johnson was in Seattle, he had a 2,000-yard season. What's the run defense going to be like?

Blount: It's been all but impossible to run up the middle on the Seahawks. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is as strong a run stopper as there is the NFL, and it takes two blockers to handle 325-pound Red Bryant. If that fails, it's tough to get past middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. But Wagner probably won't play Sunday because of a high ankle sprain. Nevertheless, it's difficult to establish a running game on the Seahawks. Seattle is an aggressive outside pass-rushing team, so occasionally a back can get yardage outside, but not often.

Paul, Locker told us on the conference call Wednesday what a disappointment it is that he won't get to play this weekend in front of family, friends and University of Washington alumni who love him for all he did to help turn around the Huskies football program. He is a beloved guy here and a huge hero in this community. How is he viewed in Nashville?

Kuharsky: Nothing close to that yet. People who have given him a chance know he's an eminently likable guy, a hard worker and a well-respected leader, but plenty of fans called talk radio over the offseason talking about why Fitzpatrick would be a better choice or how it should at least be a camp competition. Even after Week 2's overtime loss in Houston, when he overthrew a wide-open Kenny Britt on a crucial third-and-1 late in the game, there were calls for change. (It's a throw he's got to make.) The game-winning drive against San Diego showed people what he can do. Locker also had a fantastic two-plus quarters against the Jets, which seems to have done a lot to win more people over. In playing style and development arc, I think he is a lot like Steve McNair so far. If that holds true, impatient fans will wind up happy.

Terry, home field is viewed as such a giant advantage for the Seahawks. Can you give us a tangible feel for just how loud and crazy the atmosphere is there?

Blount: In the San Francisco game, where the outdoor stadium decibel record was set at 131.9, it was so loud that it was difficult at times to even hear people talk in the enclosed press box. I know every team believes its stadium is one of the loudest, and I've been to most of them, but trust me, there is nothing like CenturyLink Field. It's deafening.

Paul, cornerback Alterraun Verner is off to an outstanding start this season with four interceptions and 11 passes defensed. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman is viewed by some as the best corner in the NFL, but is Verner the most underrated?

Kuharsky: He could have had another two picks last week on balls he didn't manage to haul in. Verner has been really good. The team wasn't sure what it had in him. The Titans knew they got a good football player out of UCLA three years ago. But as they revamped this offseason, with Gregg Williams joining the coaching staff and the Titans determined to get more aggressive, they figured a big increase in press-man coverage would move them away from Verner's strengths. They wanted Tommie Campbell, a faster and bigger guy to win the job. (Some wrote about how Campbell has some of what makes Sherman so good.) But Campbell didn't catch on and bombed in training camp, and Verner proved to be better. If Coty Sensabaugh hasn't recovered from his concussion for Sunday, Verner will start in base and move into the slot in nickel, with Campbell replacing him outside.

The Titans rush pretty well, and Verner is getting his hands on balls all over the field. Who has had the best success slowing Russell Wilson and how?

Blount: Even though Seattle came back and won the game, the Texans had the most success because of their talented defensive front and all-everything defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Both Houston and Indianapolis took advantage of Seattle missing starters on the offensive line and teed off on Wilson on third down. Nevertheless, Wilson is the best I've ever seen making the most of a bad situation and finding the opening the defense gives him. Anticipating when Wilson will roll out and cutting off his running lanes is the key, but it is far easier said than done.

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks defensive ends Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril returned to full participation at practice Thursday, but starting cornerback Brandon Browner still did not practice because of a hamstring injury.

Browner missed the opener last week against Carolina. The Seahawks could use his 6-foot-4 frame on Sunday night to help cover San Francisco 49ers veteran Anquan Boldin, one of the strongest wide receivers in the NFL. Boldin had 13 receptions for 208 yards in a season-opening victory over Green Bay.

It appears likely that Avril will play for the first time in Seahawks uniform. Avril came from Detroit as a free agent and was Seattle’s top offseason acquisition on defense, the man who coaches hoped could improve the team’s pass rush. But he missed the preseason with foot and hamstring injuries and did not play at Carolina.

Clemons, whose 11.5 sacks last season led the Seahawks, is recovering from offseason ACL surgery. His status for Sunday is unknown, but it’s clear he will return soon.

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was a limited participant in practice Thursday after missing practice Wednesday with an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel did not practice because of a groin injury. Backup safety Jeron Johnson has not practiced this week after injuring a hamstring in the season opener.

Carroll hopeful Browner, Avril can play

September, 11, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, who has a hamstring injury and didn’t play in the season opener, did not practice Wednesday. But coach Pete Carroll is hopeful Browner can play Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers in the Seahawks' home opener.

Avril
Browner
“He is going to run today and he’s going to practice [Thursday],” Carroll said. “He’s been running all week. It looks like he’s got a good chance to make it back. We will try to do it right and not push it too soon. But tomorrow will be a big day for us to understand [if Browner is ready], and we will go all the way to Friday to see how he responds. So we won’t know for a while.”

Defensive end Cliff Avril, who also missed the season opener with a hamstring injury, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. Carroll also is optimistic about Avril’s chances of playing Sunday.

“Cliff is good possibility if he makes it through the week,” Carroll said. “He practiced well enough last week. He was very close to playing [at Carolina]. We are planning on him being part of it this week unless he has some kind of setback we can’t foresee. So that would be a nice little boost to get him back in the game.

“But I thought O.B. [O’Brien] Schofield did a very good job playing the Leo [defensive end] spot for us. He rushed well, had a nice sack and a couple of good pursuit plays. He really did a good job starting for us for the first time.”

Defensive end Chris Clemons, the team’s leading pass-rusher last season who is recovering from offseason ACL surgery, returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.

“He’s still working his way into that position right now,’ Carroll said before Wednesday's session. “He’s going to practice today and it’s the first time that he’ll go and get live snaps.”

Brandon Mebane was a bit of a surprise on the injury list Wednesday with an ankle problem. He did not participate in practice.

Wide receiver Sidney Rice (knee) was limited in practice, but he is expected to play Sunday. Rookie tight end Luke Willson, who is listed with an oblique injury, was a full participant in practice, but the Seahawks signed veteran tight end Kellen Davis Wednesday as a third tight end if needed.

Hamstring limits Seahawks' Browner

September, 4, 2013
9/04/13
7:47
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In a surprising development, Seattle Seahawks starting cornerback Brandon Browner was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice because of a strained hamstring. Browner played in all four preseason games without a problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril, the projected starters at the defensive end spots, probably won’t be ready for the opener at Carolina on Sept. 8. Starting fullback Michael Robinson, recovering from a virus, also may not play in the opener.

The Seahawks already know defensive end/linebacker Bruce Irvin won’t play the first four games because of a suspension, reportedly for PEDs.

Two other starters -- defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and receiver Sidney Rice -- won’t play Thursday night against Oakland in the final preseason game. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, a possible starter at the 3-technique spot, also won’t play Thursday because of a groin pull.

Mebane suffered a groin injury in practice Monday. Coach Pete Carroll hopes Mebane and McDaniel will be ready for the opener.

Carroll said Rice will play in the opener, but had an unusual comment: “He’ll be ready unless there is a setback next week at practice again.”

A setback again? When was the first practice setback? Rice flew to Switzerland four weeks ago for a 20-minute platelet-enriched plasma treatment on his knee. But he later returned to practice and didn’t show any problems. He has not played in the preseason.

The biggest concern for the Seahawks is the defensive line. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett also won’t play Thursday because he having a procedure done on an injured toe. Carroll expects Bennett to play in the opener.

Rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill is out with a shoulder injury and fellow rookie defensive tackle Jesse Williams is on injured reserve with a knee injury.

The Seahawks hoped to shore up their pass rush this season, but two key cogs are iffy in Clemons and Avril. Clemons, who led Seattle with 11.5 sacks last year, still is recovering from off-season ACL surgery.

“He’s making great progress,” Carroll said of Clemons. “We have a big decision to make there.”

The decision is whether to place Clemons on the reserve/ physically unable to perform (PUP) list or to place him on the 53-man roster. If Clemons goes to the PUP list, he can’t play until Week 6. Either way, it’s doubtful he plays in the opener.

Avril, Seattle’s top free-agent acquisition in the offseason for the defense, has a hamstring injury and hasn’t played in the preseason. His status for the opener is tentative at best.

“As of this morning he’s feeling better and we’re hoping he will be able to go next week,” Carroll said. “But we won’t know until we get there.”

Even if Avril does play, how effective will he be after missing so much time?

On the bright side, starting tight end Zach Miller will play Thursday and guard James Carpenter also will see action in the Oakland game.

“It’s necessary for him to get out there and play again,'’ Carroll said of Carpenter. “He was really making some progress and missed a couple of weeks here, so it will be great to get him out.”

But the injury problems, especially on the defensive line, are worrisome. The Seahawks may have to rely on two players who weren’t part of the picture a month ago -- free agent defensive ends Benson Mayowa and O'Brien Schofield.

Both have looked good in the preseason, especially Mayowa, an undrafted rookie from Idaho. He has 2.5 sacks and 10 total tackles in three preseason games. Schofield, who played for the Arizona Cardinals the previous three seasons, has a sack, force fumble and fumble recovery in the preseason.

If needed, starting defensive end Red Bryant can move inside and play tackle. Bryant has seen quite a bit of action inside during the preseason.
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said defensive end Cliff Avril will not play Thursday against Oakland in the final preseason game, and Carroll doesn’t know if Avril will be ready for the season opener against Carolina.

Avril
Avril was one of Seattle's top off-season acquisitions and a free agent from Detroit who was viewed as a player that could help improve the Seahawks' pass rush. But he aggravated a hamstring injury last week and has not played in the preseason.

“That was a whole week ago, way back when,” Carroll said after practice Monday. “That’s why he isn’t practicing. We don’t know if he’s going to be ready [for the opener].”

Starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane suffered a groin injury in practice Monday, but Carroll didn’t know if Mebane will miss any practice time.

Tight end Zach Miller was back practicing full speed and said he wants to play Thursday, but Carroll is being cautious.

“Zach is ready to go and could play this weekend,’’ Carroll said. “He wants to play, but we’ve been shooting for the opener all along.”

Starting fullback Michael Robinson continues to miss practice with an unspecified illness.

“He’s better, but he was really sick,” Carroll said of Robinson. “There still are some concerns with whatever he’s got. I don’t know a lot about it.”

Defensive end Chris Clemons, who had ACL surgery in the off-season, continues to rehab his knee, but when he’ll return to the field isn’t known.

“Chris had a terrific workout for 40 straight minutes [Sunday],” Carroll said. “He’s making great progress. He feels really good and he’s not favoring the knee, but I don’t know how many games or how many weeks away he is.”

Guard James Carpenter returned to practice Monday after being out with a foot injury. If Carpenter is healthy, he could get in the mix for one of the starting spots at guard.

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