Seattle Seahawks: Stephen Williams

RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows his receivers don’t get a lot of love for their skills, and he doesn’t really care.

In Carroll’s view, all that matters is they get the job done.

“I’m not concerned with how much credit they get, but we have good catchers,” Carroll said Monday.

There was a lot of gloom-and-doom talk when Seattle lost Percy Harvin to hip surgery last month, a labrum tear that could keep him off the field until late November. Harvin thinks he'll be back sooner.

It was a bit weird to miss something you’ve never had, but Harvin was the off-season acquisition expected to make the Seahawks offense more explosive. The returning receivers were viewed by many people as average or a little above.

They looked above-average Sunday in the 12-7 victory over Carolina. Doug Baldwin had seven catches for 91 yards, including one highlight-reel grab on a desperation sideline throw from Russell Wilson.

[+] EnlargeJermaine Kearse
AP Photo/Paul JasienskiJermaine Kearse's leaping 43-yard TD catch was the most noteworthy play turned in by Seattle's receiving corps Sunday at Carolina.
Golden Tate added four receptions for 51 yards, and returned four punts for 48 yards. Sidney Rice, who didn’t play in the preseason while nursing a knee injury, caught two passes for 35 yards in limited play. And Jermaine Kearse had the play of the game, a 43-yard touchdown on a deep sideline pass in the fourth quarter.

That score came one play after receiver Stephen Williams was wide open down the sideline for a sure touchdown, but Wilson slightly overthrew it.

“Stephen has shown us he can get behind guys,’’ Carroll said. “And Kearse has done a wonderful job. That was a fantastic catch he made [Sunday]. He can play every [receiver] position for us.”

Carroll went on to list the assets of all his receivers, one by one. First was Baldwin, the third-year player from Stanford.

“He has great quickness,’’ Carroll said of Baldwin. “He has the ability to change directions that makes him extremely quick. That suddenness is what gets him open. But it’s also the savvy he has and the extra time he has spent with Russell, so those guys are seeing the same things.”

Carroll also was pleased to see Rice have two receptions, one of 21 yards, in his return to the field.

“We planned on easing him into it,” Carroll said. “We spaced out his time to keep him fresh, but I was really pleased with what it did.”

Next up on Carroll's praise list was Tate.

"Golden’s catch-and-run ability is really unique,” Carroll said. “He has extraordinary athletic sense. He plays golf and he played baseball in college. He’s just a very gifted natural athlete. He has a great space awareness and sense for making guys miss.”

Carroll said a big asset of his receivers is understanding what is asked of them. For example, all the Seattle receivers are aware they need to improvise at times to extend plays with a mobile quarterback like Wilson. The Seahawks had several big plays Sunday against Carolina that came after Wilson was forced to scramble out of the pocket.

“Scrambling is inherent to the way we play,’’ Carroll said. “We deal with the scramble opportunities and maximize those. There’s a lot of big plays in those situations that we are trying to make part of our offense. We made some big plays off that yesterday.”

Whether planned or caused by the opponent’s pass rush, it’s part of what makes Wilson effective.

“He’s just so good at it, so the receivers have to be adaptable and demonstrate good effort,” Carroll said. “Our guys know it’s a big play waiting to happen, and it’s hard to deal with on the other side of the ball.”

So don’t tell Carroll about his receivers getting no respect.

“It’s a nice group whether they get recognition or not,” he said.

Hamstring limits Seahawks' Browner

September, 4, 2013
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.

“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.”

Seattle Seahawks cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: Moving defensive end Chris Clemons off the PUP list and onto the 53-man roster. Clemons, who led the team with 11.5 sacks last year, has been recovering from offseason ACL surgery and has not practiced. But placing him on the active roster means the Seahawks believe he’ll be ready to play sooner than the sixth game of the year.

But the Seahawks still added some insurance on the defensive line by sending Jacksonville a conditional draft pick for defensive end D'Anthony Smith.

Winfield retires: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll sent out a tweet Saturday saying veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield has decided to retire. Winfield, 36, was signed as a free agent in the offseason. He likely would have been released had he not opted to retire. Winfield was a victim of numbers in what may be the deepest secondary in the NFL.

Defensive tackle deletions: The Seahawks surprisingly cut five defensive tackles, including veteran Clinton McDonald and second-year player Jaye Howard. That must mean the coaches are confident that starters Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel (groin injuries) will be OK this week and be ready to play for the opener. It also means they think rookie Jordan Hill's shoulder injury is not as serious as first thought.

What’s next: Watching some of these players -- possible fullback Michael Robinson, tight end Sean McGrath, safety Winston Guy, cornerback Ron Parker and defensive tackles McDonald and Howard -- get picked up by other teams. Look for the Seahawks to try to add rookie Chris Harper, a fourth-round draft choice, to the practice squad if no one claims him.

Two QBs only: Seattle released Brady Quinn, so they will go with two quarterbacks -- starter Russell Wilson and backup Tarvaris Jackson.

They made it: Wide receiver Stephen Williams and rookie defensive end Benson Mayowa, the two biggest surprises of the preseason, both made the 53-man roster. Williams suffered a concussion in the final preseason game, so his status for the opener at Carolina is unknown.

Seahawks cuts: FB: Michael Robinson. QB: Brady Quinn. DT: Sealver Siliga, Michael Brooks, Dewayne Cherrington, Clinton McDonald and Jaye Howard. WR Phil Bates, Chris Harper, Bryan Walters and Arceto Clark. TE: Sean McGrath, Cooper Helfet and Darren Fells. DB: Winston Guy and DeShawn Shead. G: Rishaw Johnson and Ryan Seymour. CB: Ron Parker. LB Ty Powell

Retired: CB Antoine Winfield.

Note: LB/DE Bruce Irvin is on the suspended list for the first four games.

Observation deck: Seahawks-Raiders

August, 30, 2013

SEATTLE — For the second consecutive year, the Seattle Seahawks end the preseason undefeated.

That and $4 will get you a Starbucks coffee across the street from Pike Place Market, but the Seahawks will take it and use the momentum to start a season of high expectations and Super Bowl predictions from many experts and fans.

Seattle defeated the Oakland Raiders 22-6 Thursday night at Century Link Field in the typical battle of backups for the final preseason game.

What it means: The Seahawks look like a team ready to contend for the championship. The defense allowed only 36 points in the four preseason games. The biggest problem for the coaches is determining who makes the 53-man roster on what might be the deepest team in the NFL.

Stephen Williams suffers concussion: The one big downer of the night. The receiver has been the biggest surprise on the preseason on offense with his ability to out-battle defenders on deep throws down the sideline. He did it again Thursday, but this time the end result was costly.

Williams made a leaping 50-yard catch on Seattle’s opening drive, out-clawing Oakland defender Phillip Adams for the ball on the long pass from Russell Wilson. But Williams fell backward on the catch and slammed his head into the turf, resulting in a concussion.

That makes Williams’ status for the season opener uncertain. There is a protocol of tests he must go through before getting an OK to practice or play. The good news is that he has 10 days before the opener in Charlotte, N.C., against the Carolina Panthers.

No worries at kicker: Steven Hauschka was perfect against Oakland, making five field goals, including three of more than 50 yards -- a 56-yarder in the first quarter, a 51-yarder in the second and a 53-yarder in the fourth. Hauschka also had five touchbacks on kickoffs.

Jermaine Kearse sees all: Wide receiver Kearse should be the poster boy for Lasik surgery. He was close to perfect in the preseason after having the Lasik procedure in the offseason to improve his vision and end his days of wearing contact lenses. Kearse had two more receptions in the third quarter Thursday, including a 33-yard sideline catch. He ended the preseason with two touchdown catches and a 107-yard kickoff return for a TD.

What’s next: The Seahawks open the regular season at the Panthers on Sept. 8. Seattle defeated Carolina 16-12 last October in Charlotte, but the Seahawks have lost their past two season openers, both of which were on the road.

Seattle is 7-5 in its past 12 season openers, but 2-5 in the past seven openers on the road. Next week’s game will be the 10th time the Seahawks have started the regular season on the road in the past 14 seasons.

What to watch for: Seahawks-Raiders

August, 29, 2013
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.

Seattle winning despite penalties

August, 24, 2013
Penalties, lots of penalties, haven’t kept the Seattle Seahawks from winning in the preseason.

Seattle now has an unimaginable 34 penalties for 354 yards in the first three games, but the Seahawks won each of them. That includes a 17-10 victory Friday night at Green Bay when the Seahawks were flagged 14 times for 182 yards.

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
AP Photo/Tom LynnPete Carroll's Seahawks were penalized 14 times for 182 yards on Friday against Green Bay.
It looks worse when you realize coach Pete Carroll made the penalty problems his main point of emphasis entering the Green Bay game. Instead of getting better, it got worse.

“There were a lot of distractions in the game with 180 yards of penalties,’’ Carroll said. “It’s hard to deal with, and we are focused on cleaning that up. You never want to give your opponent anything, and we gave them 180 yards. That’s makes it difficult to win.”

The Seahawks won anyway. Here are a few observations from the game:

1. The defense does it again: Seattle’s defense has allowed only 30 points in the first three preseason games, and only three touchdowns, one in each game.

Tony McDaniel looked good in his first start at defensive tackle, stuffing the middle and posting two tackles along with one pass defensed.

Sealver Siliga, the defensive tackle Seattle acquired last week when guard John Moffitt was traded to Denver, had a strong first game with the Seahawks. Siliga had two tackles, including a sack.

2. Wow Mayowa: The man on defense who continues to stand out is rookie free agent Benson Mayowa, a defensive end from Idaho. Mayowa’s quickness makes it seem like he’s everywhere on the field. He had four tackles Friday night, including one tackle behind the line. Mayowa had a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery.

Maybe his most impressive play Friday came when Green Bay had a 31-yard gain. Running back Alex Green got around the left end and was off to the races down the sideline, but Mayowa ran him down from behind.

Mayowa (6-3, 255) was a longshot to make the team when training camp started. Now he appears to be a lock. He has 10 tackles in three games and 2.5 sacks. He also has five quarterback pressures.

3. Big-play Williams: Lanky receiver Stephen Williams, another man fighting for a roster spot, now has three long touchdown receptions in the first three games, one in each game.

Williams (6-5, 210) had a 42-yard touchdown catch Friday, pulling the ball away from the defender at the goal line on a pass from Brady Quinn. Williams came close to another long touchdown Friday on a play that could have been called interference on Green Bay defender Brandon Smith.

With Percy Harvin out until at least late November, it seems unimaginable now that Seattle wouldn’t keep Williams as a deep threat with the height to out-leap defenders for the ball.

4. One tough Aggie: Christine Michael, Seattle’s second-round draft choice from Texas A&M, had his best game of the preseason, rushing for 97 yards on 11 carries. Michael (5-10, 220) has shown a knack for breaking tackles and hitting the hole quickly at the line of scrimmage.

Seattle rushed for 166 yards on 27 carries (a 6.1-yard average) against the Packers.

6. The penalty culprits: The running game looked strong despite a bad night for the Seahawks' offensive line. It allowed four sacks and was penalized five times for holding. Starting right J.R. Sweezy was penalized three times in the first half -- two for holding and once for a personal foul.

The bottom line is the Seahawks managed to get the job done despite all the miscues and yellow flags. But that isn’t likely to continue in the regular season unless the team cleans up its act.