Seattle Seahawks: Chris Harper

The Seattle Seahawks had 11 draft picks in 2013, but only one of them is likely to get much playing time in the season opener at Carolina.

Back-up tight end Luke Willson, a fifth-round selection from Rice, will be on the field in Seattle’s two-tight sets and probably have a few passes thrown his way after his impressive showing in the preseason.

But other than Willson, don’t look for much action from the other draft picks. That’s a big difference from a year ago.

As a rookie, Russell Wilson started every game at quarterback. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner started 15 of 16 regular season games at middle linebacker. J.R. Sweezy started the season opener at guard.

First-round pick Bruce Irvin played in every game at defensive end and led all NFL rookies with eight sacks. Running back Robert Turbin played in all 16 games as the backup to Marshawn Lynch.

The verdict is out on the 2013 draft choices, but it’s clear they won’t contribute as much as some of the 2012 picks did at the start of the season.

Three seventh-round picks in 2013 -- offensive linemen Ryan Seymour and Jared Smith, along with linebacker Ty Powell, were placed on the practice squad.

Here’s a rundown on the other seven 2013 draft choices:
  • Second-round pick Christine Michael: He showed his talent and had some flashes of explosiveness in the preseason, rushing for 200 yards on 40 carries, including a touchdown on a 43-yard run. But he’s the No. 3 running back for now behind Lynch and Turbin.
  • Third-round pick Jordan Hill: The defensive tackle from Penn State has a sprained shoulder and won’t play this weekend. When he does return, Hill probably will be a back-up and the 3-technique tackle spot.
  • Fourth-round pick Chris Harper: He’s long gone. Harper, a wide receiver from Kansas State, was a big disappointment in camp. However, the Seahawks wanted to place him on the practice squad before the San Francisco 49ers added him to their 53-man roster. The 49ers are considering converting Harper (6-1, 235) to a tight end.
  • Fifth-round pick Jesse William: The defensive tackle from Alabama is out for the season, placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
  • Fifth-round pick Tharold Simon: The cornerback from LSU still is recovering from a fractured foot in spring practices. He’s on the PUP list and isn’t likely to contribute until midseason, if at all in 2013.
  • Sixth-round pick Spencer Ware: The LSU product looked good enough in the preseason games at fullback and running back for the Seahawks to part way with veteran fullback Michael Robinson. But Ware is the backup fullback to Derrick Coleman for now, and the fullback spot won’t get a ton of plays anyway in the Seahawks offense.
  • Seventh-round pick Michael Bowie: The offensive lineman from Northeastern State in Oklahoma is listed as a third-team tackle for now. He suffered a slight shoulder injury in the final preseason game.

However, the Seahawks are likely to receive meaningful contributions this weekend from two undrafted rookies. Benson Mayowa, a defensive end from Idaho, is expected to see significant playing time Sunday after an impressive preseason when he had 3.5 sacks. And John Lotulelei, an outside linebacker from UNLV, probably will see some action backing up K.J. Wright.
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.”
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Maybe the San Francisco 49ers just needed another wide receiver and they honestly felt rookie Chris Harper was the best option available to add to their roster.

It’s a sensible conclusion, but for many Seahawks fans, that won’t be the perception. The move by the 49ers (first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN) that kept the Seattle Seahawks from placing Harper on their practice squad, will be viewed as another example of the bad blood between the NFC West rivals.

This is starting to look like the Hatfields and McCoys of the NFL. These two teams don’t like each other and they don’t hide it. The two coaches -- Pete Carroll at Seattle and Jim Harbaugh at San Francisco -- have issues dating back to their days in the Pac-12.

Now the 49ers have thrown another iron on the fire by signing Harper, Seattle's fourth-round pick from Kansas State. Harper did not look good in training camp or the preseason games. He dropped two passes, (one of which would have been an easy touchdown) against the Oakland Raiders in the final preseason game last week.

And Harper was beaten out for the fifth receiver spot by free agent Stephen Williams, who caught seven passes for 236 yards in the preseason, including three long touchdowns. Williams suffered a concussion in the final preseason game and his status for the opener is unknown.

Despite Harper's poor showing, it was unusual for Seattle to release him. He was one of only two fourth-round draft picks to get released -- the other being quarterback Tyler Wilson at Oakland.

But the Seahawks thought Harper (a big receiver at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds) had potential to improve and wanted to add him to the practice squad. The 49ers kept that from happening.

San Francisco has two of its top receivers -- Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham -- on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start the season, so the 49ers need help there. But they kept five receivers on the roster after the cut to 53 -- Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Jon Baldwin, Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore.

Whether Harper can help them early is questionable. But the rivalry between these two Super Bowl contenders just got a little more heated, and it isn’t long before they meet on the field.

The Seahawks play host to the 49ers at Century Link Field in a Sunday night game in Week 2.

What to watch for: Seahawks-Raiders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Training camp has officially ended, cuts are coming and the final preseason game for the Seahawks is Thursday night at home against Oakland.

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
AP Photo/Tom LynnPete Carroll's Seahawks will have to work on cutting down the penalties after a preseason chock full of them.
Here’s a quick look at some of the high, lows and truly unusual moments over the last month.

Best surprise on offense: Receiver Stephen Williams. He’s been nothing short of spectacular. The former Arizona Cardinal leads all NFL receivers in the preseason with 186 yards on six receptions, including three long touchdowns and four catches of 20-plus yards. At 6-5, 210, the lanky Williams has long arms and has shown the ability to out-leap defenders for tough catches down the sidelines.

Best surprise on defense: Defensive end Benson Mayowa. The undrafted rookie from Idaho has stood out at practice and in the games with his quickness and ability to rush the passer. At 6-3, 255, he was a long shot to make the team when training camp started. Now he appears to be a shoo-in. He has 10 tackles in three games and 2.5 sacks. He also has five quarterback pressures and a fumble recovery.

The humble celebrity: Quarterback Russell Wilson, of course. This town is in a Wilson frenzy. Probably not since the heyday of Ken Griffey Jr. has any athlete captured the heart of the city like Wilson. But Wilson’s growing status as an NFL celebrity reaches far beyond the Pacific Northwest. He was the cover for ESPN The Magazine’s NFL preview issue and recently was featured in GQ Magazine. In Russ We Trust is the hottest slogan in Seattle, but Wilson takes it all in stride and handles his popularity with quiet dignity.

Biggest disappointment: Losing receiver Percy Harvin before he got started. The 67 million-dollar man was Seattle's biggest off-season acquisition, the dynamic receiver who could give the Seahawks' offense its one missing piece as a game-breaker and consistent deep threat for Wilson. But a torn labrum required hip surgery that will keep him off the field until at least late November. How can you miss what you never had? The Seahawks will find out soon enough.

Best moves for a big man: Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, all 6-2, 300 pounds of him, showing off his popping dance moves to the music during a walk-through practice. Maybe he can earn a spot on "Dancing With The Stars."

Fat man in some little shorts: OK, he’s not really fat, just big, but I kept thinking of the old "Tommy Boy" line by Chris Farley every time guard John Moffitt walked on the practice field in the shorts that looked like he was ready to play a 1975 NBA game. I wonder if he is wearing mini-shorts now in Denver, and what Peyton Manning has to say about it if he is?

Cuts all teams will watch: Those will come in the Seattle secondary, a spot where two or three of the back-ups could start for most NFL teams. The Seahawks literally are three-deep at all four spots. The reductions among the defensive backfield will be some difficult decisions for the Seattle coaches, but other teams probably are salivating waiting to see which of these DBs hits the waiver wire.

Most disappointing draft pick: Chris Harper. The fourth-round pick from Kansas State just hasn’t done anything to stand out, other than being big and strong at 6-1, 235.

If at first you don’t succeed: It took two tries over 24 hours, but Moffitt ended up in Denver after first being traded to Cleveland. That deal was voided when the Browns had concerns over a previous knee injury. Apparently, the Broncos were OK with that, shipping defensive tackle Sealver Siliga to Seattle for Moffitt within minutes to the deal falling through with Cleveland.

Yellow Seahawks: Not yellow, as in cowardly lion. Yellow as in penalty flags. It’s been a sea of yellow for the Seahawks in the first three preseason games -- 34 penalties for a whopping 354 yards. But Seattle managed to win all three games and has outscored its opponents 88-30. Coach Pete Carroll isn’t happy about it and knows this trend has to end.

Don’t call me ChrisTEEN: It appears the Seahawks have done it again with an early draft pick that had many experts shaking their heads. Seattle didn’t have a pick until late in the second round. When the pick came, it stunned many observers to see the Seahawks take a running back, not exactly a weak spot for the team. But Texas A&M’s Christine (pronounced KRIS-ton) Michael, has looked sensational. Michael leads the NFL is preseason rushing yards with 186 yards on 27 carries in two games for a 13.5-yard average, including a 43-yard TD run at Green Bay.

Swiss timing: Receiver Sidney Rice flew across one continent and one ocean to get a knee treatment that took 20 minutes. Hey, whatever works. Rice had a platelet-enriched plasma procedure (whatever that is) on his knee, something that isn’t done in the U.S. He returned two days later and has looked fine on the practice field, but hasn’t played yet in the preseason.

Two plays, two TDs and 213 yards: You could watch a thousand NFL games and not see this happen again. The Seahawks have a 107-yard touchdown (Jermaine Kearse’s kickoff return) and a 106-yard TD (Brandon Browner’s fumble recovery in the end zone) in the first half of the Denver game Aug. 17.

People everywhere: It was a training camp festival every day at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The Seahawks had 2,500 tickets available for each practice at camp and they sold them all. Heck, they probably could have sold 10,000 each day if they had the space at the V-MAC. The Seahawks' facility is one of the most picturesque settings in the NFL, sitting on the eastern banks of Lake Washington. There’s a hill overlooking the field and the lake where fans sit to watch practice. It was packed every day.

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