Seattle Seahawks: Tony McDaniel

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.
A little good news for Seattle Seahawks fans. Seattle has signed defensive tackle Tony McDaniel to a new deal worth $6.3 million over two years.

Keeping McDaniel was essential after losing defensive tackle Clinton McDonald yesterday to Tampa Bay, but McDonald would have been the better option of the two. He signed a four-year deal for $12 million with the Buccaneers, so Seattle could have kept him for the same $3 million per year if they had been willing to go with a longer commitment.

And here's a move that isn't likely to get the fans jumping for joy, but the Seahawks have signed former Jacksonville receiver Taylor Price, several outlets are reporting.

Price in, Golden Tate out. Not exactly equal value in terms of what Seattle lost Wednesday and what it has gained.

Price, who is 26, played college football at Ohio. He was a third-round draft choice by New England in 2010 and never lived up to expectations. Jacksonville signed him in December of 2011 and he spent the last two seasons injured.
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Mission accomplished. The Seattle Seahawks did what they wanted to do and kept the man they really wanted to keep.

Michael Bennett, possibly the No. 1 defensive lineman among this year's free agents, signed a four-year deal with Seattle on Monday that will pay him $28.5 million-plus, including $16 million guaranteed and $10 million for 2014.

“It was close, but I'm happy to be coming back with the Seahawks," Bennett said. “I have a good situation, so why would I want to change it? And I got as much guaranteed as any other contract out there. This is a great team and great organization. I want all our guys to come back."

Seattle general manager John Schneider said all along that re-signing Bennett was a top priority, along with keeping the core of the Super Bowl-winning team together.

Bennett was the team's best defensive lineman last year after signing a one-year contract for $5 million. He had 8.5 sacks and was a constant disruptive force with his ability to play tackle or end.

So the question is, can the Seahawks still re-sign their other top free agents after spending this much money on Bennett? Does this signing mean wide receiver Golden Tate is gone? Does it mean they can't keep defensive tackles Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel? Does it impact the ability to re-sign kicker Steven Hauschka?

Not necessarily.

The Seahawks were able to keep Bennett for less money than some people thought it would take for him to stay. Some thought Bennett would get as much as $40 million over four years.

What Seattle is paying Bennett is similar to what they would have paid defensive end Red Bryant this year if they had kept him.

Tate is probably Seattle's next priority. The Seahawks released receiver Sidney Rice to free up money to try to keep Tate. But Tate believes he can get more than $7 million per year, possibly from the New York Jets. If so, he is probably gone. If the Seahawks can keep him in the $5 million range for four years, he could return.

Top kickers in the league are getting $3 million or more, which is what Hauschka will want in order to stay. He's worth it. Hauschka missed only two field goals all season, and one of those was blocked.

The Seahawks probably will need to choose between McDonald and McDaniel. If so, they should keep McDonald. He made only $592,000 last year and had a breakout season with 5.5 sacks.

So the price was right for keeping Bennett, who turned down more money from the Chicago Bears. They offered Bennett $32 million over four years. However, Illinois has a state income tax and Washington doesn't, so it's probably a wash.

Bennett said the contract details did play a small part in his decision, but not a big part. The fact is that Bennett wanted to stay in Seattle, despite his earlier words that “this isn't Costco” when asked about giving a hometown discount.

"It's about the fans, the team and the city," he said. "I think this is the No. 1 football city in America."



Bennett also said Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman begged him to stay and influenced his decision.

The Seahawks also are likely to make a couple of more moves with veteran players to add salary-cap space. Defensive end Chris Clemons, whose cap value is $9.6 million in 2014, probably will be released, but could re-sign for less money. Tight end Zach Miller, with a cap value of $7 million this year, probably will need to restructure his contract in order to stay.

Once again, Schneider is showing he is the master manipulator on salary-cap issues. He managed to keep one of the defensive stars of a Super Bowl-winning team, and did so for less money than many thought it would take.

Don't count the GM out when it comes to keeping most of the other key free agents who helped Seattle win a championship.
NEW YORK -- The talk is over, and the day finally is here: Super Bowl Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good advice. If the Seahawks follow it, that should be enough.
RENTON, Wash. -- Of Seattle's 24 starting players, including kicker Steven Hauschka and punter Jon Ryan, only one will participate in a playoff game for the first time.

Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel never played on a playoff team in his first seven seasons in the NFL -- three at Jacksonville and four at Miami -- before signing with the Seahawks this year.

Defensive linemen Michael Bennett, a virtual starter since he plays as many snaps as anyone on the defensive front, also is playing in his first playoff game after spending his first four NFL seasons at Tampa Bay.

The Seahawks have 39 players on the 53-man roster who have taken part in a playoff game, and 32 of those did it here last year. All the starters, except McDaniel, were on Seattle's 2012 playoff team.

But only 11 of them have participated in a home playoff game at CenturyLink. Those 11 were part of the 2010 team that defeated the New Orleans Saints 41-36 in the game that included the famous Beast Quake touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said it has to help having so many players who have gone through a playoff atmosphere.

"It makes a huge difference," Baldwin said on 710 ESPN Seattle radio. "We all can say, ‘Been there, done that.' So going into this postseason, it's nothing new."

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner started in the playoffs as a rookie last season, so he's 2-for-2 in playoff seasons, along with quarterback Russell Wilson, right guard J.R. Sweezy, cornerback Jeremy Lane, receiver Jermaine Kearse, running back Robert Turbin and linebacker Bruce Irvin.

"We know what the playoffs are like," Wagner said. "Last year, there were lot of questions about a lot of us. Now we've not only been through it, but we went through it together."

Wagner said you just can't quite understand the difference until you're been out there in a playoff game.

"During the season, it's like win or lose, you've got that next game," Wagner said. "But if you have a bad game and lose now, you have to wait until the next year to get that bad taste out of your mouth. Believe me, that definitely amps it up a little bit."

Five Seahawks under the radar

November, 24, 2013
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RENTON, Wash. -- The Seahawks have their share of limelight players who receive plenty of recognition nationally, like quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas.

Here are a few players who don't receive that type of praise but who have contributed to the 10-1 record:

Best rookie: Tight end Luke Willson was a steal as a late fifth-round pick. Few people had heard of the 6-5, 250-pound Canadian who played college ball at Rice -- another example of GM John Schneider's ability to find quality players other teams overlook.

Willson
Willson has 12 receptions for a 14.2-yard average per catch. The Seahawks knew he could catch and had good speed, but he has performed better as a blocker than most people expected.

He started two games when Zach Miller was out with a hamstring injury, but officially, Willson has started seven games because the Seahawks opened with a two-tight end set, showing their confidence in Willson.

He is an all-around athlete who played, hockey, soccer and baseball in high school, including a stint on the Canadian Junior National Team, along with football. But he also is a brainiac (typical of Rice grads) who had a 4.0 GPA.

Best new position: It's Bruce Irvin moving from defensive end to outside linebacker. After missing the first four games due to a PED suspension, Irvin stepped into his new spot and made an immediate impact with a sack in his first game back.

Irvin
Irvin's speed has enabled to do things at linebacker that he didn't do at defensive end, like intercepting a pass 30 yards downfield in the game at St. Louis.

Irvin has 28 tackles (20 solo), two sacks, five quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Irvin loves playing linebacker and believes he can do more things without constantly taking on huge offensive tackles.

Most underrated player: This one will surprise you. I'm going with punter Jon Ryan, the other Canadian on the Seahawks. Ryan doesn't rank among the league leaders in yards per punt, which is a misleading stat in regard to a punter's value.

Ryan's success comes from how high he kicks the ball. Returners appear to wait forever for the ball to come down, so they don't get many opportunities to gain any yards after the catch.

Only 11 of his 44 punts have been returned. But here's the eye-popping numbers. The 11 returns totaled a measly 15 yards. And one of those was 10 yards, so the other 10 totaled only 5 yards.

Eighteen punts were downed inside the 20. Ryan completely shut down the best punt returner in the league -- Marcus Sherels -- last week against Minnesota. All Sherels could muster was three fair catches. On the other two Ryan punts, one was downed at the 7 and the other went out of bounds at the 20.

Ryan is a major field-position asset for the Seahawks.

Best offseason acquisition: Now this is a tough one because Seattle has three new players -- Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel and Michael Bennett -- who have made a big difference on the defensive front line, but I'll go with Bennett at defensive end.

Bennett
Bennett is tied with Avril for the team lead with 6 1/2 sacks, but he also has 16 quarterback hurries and 20 tackles.

Avril missed the first game of the season with an injury and feels like he's just starting to find his rhythm. He has three forced fumbles, including one on a sack in the Minnesota game.

But McDaniel also is a good pick from his defensive tackle spot. He has 44 tackles, including tying his season-high with seven against Minnesota when coach Pete Carroll singled him out as having his best game.

Honestly, I'm good with picking any of these three guys. They have dramatically improved the defensive front for Seattle, which was one of the team's top priorities after last season.

And, of course, I haven't even mentioned receiver Percy Harvin, who could win this category by the end of the season.

Best return: Some would say defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, whom I listed earlier this week as the most pleasant surprise on defense this season since he came back in Week 2 after being released at the end of preseason.

But my pick here is fullback Michael Robinson. He has helped throw some key blocks for Marshawn Lynch in the last three games, but maybe just as important is his leadership in the locker room and the respect he has from all his teammates.

As this young team heads toward a possible Super Bowl run, having a veteran leader like Robinson is a big asset to keep everyone pointing in the right direction.

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 receiver Percy Harvin was a full participant in practice Thursday for the first time since his hip surgery in August, increasing the likelihood that he will play Sunday against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings.

Harvin
Harvin did not speak to reporters Thursday, but he is expected to talk Friday. If he plays Sunday, it would be his first appearance in an NFL game since Nov. 4, 2012, when, coincidentally, the Vikings played at Seattle.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he doesn’t anticipate much of an adjustment period once Harvin joins the offense.

“I feel so comfortable with Percy,” Wilson said Thursday. “I threw a ton with him this offseason before the injury really popped up, so it was one of those things where we had a really good relationship before. I trust what he does.”

Wilson believes Harvin can make an immediate difference for the Seahawks.

"He’s in and out of his breaks really quickly,” Wilson said. “He’s just a great football player. You want to give him the ball as much as you can. On our offense, we have so many guys that we can use. You add Percy into the mix and he brings a whole other explosive mentality to our football team.”

Cornerback Richard Sherman returned to full participation Thursday after missing practice Wednesday with what was listed as a hip injury. Sherman said he really just needed a day to rest.

Offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini and center Max Unger also were full participants in practice, as was defensive tackle Red Bryant. Unger and Bryant missed last week's game with concussions. The Seahawks will need to make a roster move by Saturday to activate Okung.

Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (hamstring) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (thigh) did not practice. Cornerback Brandon Browner has a groin injury and will not play Sunday, but the Seahawks have not said how long Browner will be out.

Upon Further Review: Seahawks Week 10

November, 11, 2013
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A review of four hot issues from the Seattle Seahawks' 33-10 victory against the Atlanta Falcons:

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsHead coach Pete Carroll has guided the Seahawks to a five-game consecutive win streak, following Sunday's 33-10 victory at Atlanta.
Road winners: No matter what happens the rest of the way, the Seahawks are guaranteed a winning road record this year in the regular season. The last time that happened (in 2005, when they went 5-3 on the road), they went to the Super Bowl. The only other time Seattle had a winning record on the road was 1984 (they also went 5-3); during that postseason, they lost at Miami in the second round. Seattle is 5-1 on the road this season, so a win in either San Francisco or New Jersey against the New York Giants would set a team record.

Wagner gets it done: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner took some heat in the media last week as the man most responsible for the defense’s poor performance against the run in the previous two games. There was even some speculation that K.J. Wright might start in the middle for Wagner on Sunday. But Wagner was back to his usual toughness in the middle against Atlanta. He led the team with nine solo tackles, helping the Seahawks hold the Falcons to only 64 yards rushing.

Browner and McDaniel injured: It wasn’t all good news for Seattle on Sunday. Cornerback Brandon Browner left the game in the first half with a groin injury. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel left the game with a hamstring injury. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after the game he didn’t know the status of either player at this point. McDaniel's injury put the Seahawks down three defensive linemen Sunday because Red Bryant was out with a concussion and rookie Jordan Hill was out with a biceps injury.

Respectful jersey swap: Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman doesn’t think much of Atlanta receiver Roddy White, but Sherman has the utmost respect for Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who will end his legendary NFL career at the end of the season. Sherman asked for Gonzalez's jersey after the game, so they swapped shirts. “He's a [future] Hall of Famer and he's been a great player in the league for a long time," Sherman said of Gonzalez. "You always respect great players. You respect the game in that sense. It's an honor to play against him." Gonzalez chuckled about the jersey exchange: "That's what happens when you’re an old guy and they know it's your last run. I'm glad I got [Sherman's jersey]. He's on his way. He's such a good player.”
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.

Locker Room Buzz: Seattle Seahawks

September, 8, 2013
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Observed in the locker room after the Seattle Seahawks' 12-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers:

A quiet confidence: There weren't any high-fives or big boasting. The Seahawks knew they found a way to win on a day when a lot of things went wrong. It was about overcoming adversity, which is becoming a theme for these guys.

Wilson
Russell Wilson does it again: The second-year quarterback never ceases to amaze his teammates. On a day when the Seahawks had almost no running game, rushing for only 70 yards on 26 carries, Wilson completed 25 of 33 passes for 320 yards, including a 43-yard TD pass to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter that was the difference. “We always know dangerous Russ Wilson will come through for us in the end,’’ said cornerback Richard Sherman.

Praise for the big-play defense: Just when it appeared the Panthers would take the lead late in the game, Earl Thomas was credited with causing a fumble by Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams that defensive tackle Tony McDaniel recovered at the Seattle 8-yard-line. Sherman also made the hit that got the ball loose before Thomas stripped it.

Hamstring limits Seahawks' Browner

September, 4, 2013
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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.

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