NFC West: Seattle Seahawks

RENTON, Wash. -- Quarterback Russell Wilson is the ninth player for the Seattle Seahawks to make ESPN.com's countdown of the top 100 offensive and defensive players, coming in at No. 26.

Wilson moved up 21 spots from his 2013 ranking, which one would expect after leading his team to a Super Bowl victory in only his second NFL season.

And he would garner a better ranking if not for the unfair perception by some people that he is only a game manager, sort of a point guard on the field who gets the ball to the right people and rarely makes a mistake.

Wilson certainly does those things, but he is also a pin-point accurate passer with a strong arm and is a dangerous runner who makes things happen with his ability to avoid pass-rushers.

ESPN Stats & Information shows Wilson was fourth in the NFL last season in yards per pass attempt at 8.3, and had the most scrambling yards at 434.

Few quarterbacks in NFL history has accomplished as much as Wilson in their first two seasons. His 24 victories are the most in league history for a quarterback's first two seasons. His .750 regular-season winning percentage (24-8) is second best among all active QBs. Only New England's Tom Brady is better with a .775 winning percentage (148-43).

Wilson is the fourth offensive Seahawk on the ESPN.com countdown, joining center Max Unger (84), offensive tackle Russell Okung (65) and receiver Percy Harvin (50).

The five defensive players listed so far are defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (94), outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (87), defensive end Cliff Avril (57), middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (41) and defensive end Michael Bennett (34).
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RENTON, Wash. -- If you were to name a half dozen NFL teams that play it old-school in practice by getting rough and rowdy at risk to players, the Seattle Seahawks would not be one of them.

That's why it's surprising to learn the Seahawks are being fined and are losing two 2015 minicamp practice sessions for violating the no-contact rules in offseason workouts. The combined total of the fines for the franchise and coach Pete Carroll exceed $300,000, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The Seahawks are as cautious as any team in the league when it comes to protecting injured players and limiting their time on the field until they are fully recovered.

Receiver Percy Harvin might be the best example of that. The Seahawks took every precaution last season until they were convinced Harvin was in no danger of damaging his surgically repaired hip. He played in only one regular-season game.

The team also usually ends its practice sessions earlier than the time allowed by the league, but a practice session in June got out of hand and the team has paid a heavy price.

The Seahawks did not address the issue Tuesday. Carroll is expected to talk to reporters following Wednesday's walk-through practice.

The fine is a result of excessive contact from a mandatory veteran's minicamp practice session June 18 when cornerback Richard Sherman and wide receiver Phil Bates were involved in a fight.

It isn't the fight that caused the fine. It's the contact in drills that led up to the fight. The violation was for permitting the players to engage in excessive levels of on-field physical contact.

The 2011 collective bargaining agreement bans physical contact between players during the offseason. Specifically, the rule states: "There will be no contact work (e.g., "live" blocking, tackling, pass-rushing, bump-and-run) or use of pads (helmets permitted) at minicamps."

The fight was the headline of the day, but not the main violation. Both Sherman and Bates landed blows to the other's head. Neither player was injured. Obviously, coaches can't control whether a fight breaks out. That's not the issue.

The altercation began one play earlier when receiver Bryan Walters made a diving catch on the sidelines while being closely covered by free safety Earl Thomas, who fell over the top of Walters after the play.

Walters injured his right shoulder and was in obvious pain on the sideline. Receiver Doug Baldwin was clearly angry, believing Thomas had landed on Walters in the no-tackling scrimmage.

Sherman was playing press coverage on Bates the next play. They grabbed each other at the snap, and neither man let go. Sherman ripped off Bates' helmet and punches flew before Sherman also lost his helmet.

Moments later, Carroll briefly halted practice and called everyone to the middle of the field.

"He just told us we needed to regain our focus and remember why we're out here," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said afterward. "Things got a little out of hand, but it was a lot of fun. I loved it. It felt like a game out there. And I felt like the defense won.”

The NFL later requested tapes of the practice session to determine if a violation occurred. The Seahawks appealed the penalty and lost.

It's the second time in the past two years the Seahawks have been penalized for violating offseason contact rules.

While the fine may seem excessive, the financial loss isn't the biggest problem for the Seahawks. Losing two days of practice sessions in next summer's minicamp is a big deal to the coaches.

The team will have a single practice session on the final day of minicamp. The players still will be paid for the canceled practice sessions.

In an era where every precaution is taken to protect players' safety, the NFL is sending a clear message here, not just to the Seahawks, but to every team. Excessive contact will not be tolerated.
Most significant move Tuesday: Nothing surprising on the seven moves Tuesday to get to the 75-player limit after making eight roster moves Monday. However, moving rookie defensive back Eric Pinkins to the reserve/non-football injury list means the Seahawks could bring Pinkins back after the sixth week of the regular season. Pinkins (6-foot-3, 220) was a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State. He played safety in college, but the Seahawks coaches want to convert him to a cornerback.

Vets to IR: Of the three players placed on injured reserve, cornerback A.J. Jefferson was a bit of a surprise. Being on the IR list means a player is done for the year. Jefferson had an exceptional game in the preseason opener at Denver, but suffered a high-ankle sprain. Now the question is, do the Seahawks want to keep him around all year or just reach an injury settlement? That’s likely the plan for guard C.J. Davis, who went on IR Tuesday. MLB and special-teams captain Heath Farwell probably will have surgery to repair a groin injury he suffered Friday night against the Bears.

Seahawks moves Tuesday: Waived/injured are DT Michael Brooks, WR David Gilreath and LB Horace Miller. Placed on injured reserve are Farwell, Jefferson and Davis. Placed on reserve/non-football injury is Pinkins.
RENTON, Wash. – According to 30 NFL insiders, Pete Carroll is the second highest-rated head coach in the league.

ESPN.com Insider Mike Sando has an interesting story out Tuesday that ranks all the head coaches in tiers, based on information he received from eight general managers, four former GMs, six coordinators, four position coaches, four executives and four personnel directors.

Sando asked them to give a rating between 1 and 5 on each coach, with 1 being the best and 5 the worst.

The only coach who came out with a better overall average than Carroll was New England’s Bill Belichick. Third on the list was New Orleans' Sean Payton.

To see the entire list, click here.
RENTON, Wash. -- Defensive end Michael Bennett became the eighth Seattle Seahawks player to make ESPN.com’s #NFLRank top 100 list of offensive and defensive players in the NFL.

Bennett (6-4, 275) comes in at No. 34 on the defensive countdown. The Texas A&M product came to the Seahawks from Tampa Bay last season and was the most productive player on the defensive line with 8.5 sacks while playing both end and defensive tackle.

Bennett, 28, parlayed his 2013 season into a big-money deal with the Seahawks, who signed him to a four-year contract with $28.5 million in March.

ESPN Stats & Information says Bennett was one of two players in the postseason last year to record at least one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, joining San Francisco’s Aldon Smith.

Bennett is the fifth Seattle defensive player to make the #NFLRank countdown, joining defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (94), outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (87), defensive end Cliff Avril (57) and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (41).

The offensive players on the countdown list so far for the Seahawks are center Max Unger (84), offensive tackle Russell Okung (65) and receiver Percy Harvin (50).
RENTON, Wash. -- Quarterback Terrelle Pryor returns to Oakland Thursday night to play against the team he wanted to leave before being traded to Seattle.

Pryor
"I told them I wanted to be traded," Pryor said Monday. "It took a while for them to trade me."

Oakland traded Pryor to Seattle on April 21st for a seventh-round draft choice.

"At first they didn't want to, but at the end of the day, I'm here," Pryor said. "Now I have an opportunity to go play against some [former] teammates and friends and some good players. That's what I look forward to."

Thursday could be a make-or-break moment for Pryor, who is trying to make the team as a third quarterback for the Seahawks.

Pryor played briefly in the second half of the 34-6 victory over the Bears Friday night, but he was 0-for-2 with an interception.

"I didn't even know I was going in," Pryor said. "I was just sitting on the bench. That's my fault and I have to own up to that. I threw a pick, even though I didn't know I was going in. It is what it is."

Pryor has a 29.9 passer rating for the preseason, ranking 111th out of the 114 quarterbacks who have taken a snap.

"I want to clean up some stuff from last week," Pryor said. "That's it. I just want to play better. I just want to make plays and not try to do too much."
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks special teams captain and backup middle linebacker Heath Farwell likely will undergo surgery this week to repair a severe groin injury.

Farwell
"It's a very, very difficult situation," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Farwell. "He had extensive damage [Friday night in the game against the Chicago Bears]. Heath is going back East to get evaluated and probably will need surgery."

For Farwell, 32, this could mean the end of his NFL career. Farwell was in a tough battle for a roster spot at linebacker, especially with the emergence of rookie Brock Coyle as a Mike linebacker and special teams contributor.

The good news at middle linebacker was the return of starter Bobby Wagner, who has missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury.

"It has been a long haul for him waiting it out," Carroll said of Wagner. "But he's ready to go and looked very good [Monday]."

Wagner did not play in the first three preseason games, so he said he would like to get on the field some in the final preseason game Thursday night at Oakland.

"I feel great," Wagner said Monday. "I really got tired of watching everybody else. I'd like to get out there to get a feel for the game, but I've been doing this a long time, so I think I'll be fine."

Cornerback Jeremy Lane, who had his best preseason game Friday with five tackles and an interception, did not practice Monday because of a sore groin.

"We don't know how serious it is," Carroll said of Lane's injury. "We checked it out and it looks like it's going to be OK. But he has to respond and come back, so we don't know. We'll check him again [Tuesday]."

Tight end Cooper Helfet did not practice Monday after suffering a bruised knee in Friday's game.

Carroll said outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (hip surgery) and rookie wide receiver Kevin Norwood (foot surgery) still are a week away from returning to practice.
Most significant move: It's a bit of a surprise Jackson Jeffcoat didn't make it to the Seattle Seahawks' last cut. Jeffcoat, the son of former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, was an All-American last season at defensive end for Texas. It was surprising he didn't get drafted, but the Seahawks signed him as a rookie free agent immediately after the draft. Jeffcoat (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) was seen as a possible rush end at the Leo spot for the Seahawks, but they moved him to outside linebacker three weeks ago, believing it would give him a better chance to make the team. However, Jeffcoat struggled learning the position. And he had no chance to make the team at defensive end with rookie Cassius Marsh and veteran O'Brien Schofield playing well as backups.

Some will return: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear he would like to bring a few of these players back, which probably means they would add a couple of them to the practice squad if they clear waivers. "They invested in us and we've invested in them," Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle. "We talk to them about where they may fit in our future." Rookies who could be practice-squad candidates are Jeffcoat, running back Demitrius Bronson and wide receiver Kevin Smith, the University of Washington product who showed good hands in practice. The Seahawks brought in veteran offensive lineman Wade Smith to possibly add depth up front, but Smith was expendable when the team saw good things from Stephen Schilling, who has played guard and center. CB Terrell Thomas, a seven-year NFL veteran who played for Carroll at USC, may catch on with another team.

Seahawks' cuts: Terminated veteran contracts of G Wade Smith and CB Terrell Thomas. Waived OLB Jackson Jeffcoat, OT Cory Brandon, RB Demitrius Bronson, S Mike Dobson, WR Kevin Smith and CB Thomas Wolfe.
Wagner
Harvin
RENTON, Wash. -- It's pretty impressive when a player can miss almost the entire 2013 season and still end up No. 50 on ESPN.com's top 100 countdown of offensive and defensive players in the NFL.

Such is the case for Seattle Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin, who did enough the few times he was on the field last season, including an 87-yard kickoff return for TD in the Super Bowl, to get the respect of the ESPN voters.

And Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner finally is starting to get the respect he deserves, coming in at No. 41 on the defensive countdown.

Harvin had hip surgery last summer to repair a torn labrum and played in only one regular-season game, facing his former Minnesota Vikings teammates in November. He had a 58-yard kickoff return that day to give Seahawks fans a glimpse of what he can do.

Harvin played only 59 snaps last season, with 42 of those coming in the playoffs. Along with his TD run in the Super Bowl, Harvin also was the leading rusher that night for the Seahawks with 45 yards, including a 30-yard run on an end around.

Harvin is 100 percent healthy now and has shown signs in the preseason of just how explosive he can be, especially his elusiveness after he makes a catch. In his four seasons at Minnesota before the trade to the Seahawks, Harvin ranked second among wide receivers with 1,857 yards after the catch. Wes Welker was first over that span with 2,508 YAC.

Wagner, who is starting his third NFL season, is the glue in the middle of the Seattle defense. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wagner has 309 tackles in his first two seasons in the NFL, including the postseason. The only players with more during that span are Carolina's Luke Kuechly (330) and Cincinnati's Vontaze Burfict (311).

What isn't factored into that stat is that Wagner missed two games last season with a high ankle sprain, but he was so anxious to get back that he probably returned too soon and didn't play well the first couple of games.

Once his ankle was healthy again, Wagner was a tackling machine, including 34 tackles in the three playoff games.
SEATTLE -- Earl Thomas is going to hear about from his teammates after getting tackled by the punter Friday night.

Of course, he already had raced 59 yards up the field before that happened, one of the highlights of the Seattle Seahawks' 34-6 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Thomas
Thomas, Seattle’s All-Pro free safety, proved he is a viable option to take over the punt returning duties, even though some people fear he might get hurt doing it. Thomas has said all along he’s serious about doing it.

“Eventually, people are going to start believing what I’m saying,” Thomas said. “I don’t have any fear. I’m just happy to be back there and I want to make something happen. That’s why I rarely will fair catch.”

It’s that tendency to play with reckless abandon that worries some fans, and even a few teammates. Strong safety Kam Chancellor, who looks at Thomas like a brother, said last week he doesn’t want Thomas back there on punts, believing it’s too big a risk.

Thomas doesn’t look at it that way. He lives for big plays like the one Friday night.

“It’s about staying true to yourself and knowing what you can do,” Thomas said. “I just want to help impact the game. But it wasn’t just me. It was the team. They open up the holes for me. I made the right [moves] when I had to, initially on the takeoff. But if it wasn’t for that big gap, I wouldn’t be able to do anything."

Thomas is one of the fastest players on the team, a man with extraordinary athletic gifts. But he’s still going to hear about Chicago punter Pat O'Donnell stopping him. Even quarterback Russell Wilson brought it up.

“I’m surprised [Thomas] got tackled, actually, and I think it was by the punter,” Wilson said smiling. “So I’m going to pick on him. But he’s so talented. He’s so agile and so quick.”

Which is why the coaches have Thomas back there doing his thing. They believe it’s worth the risk.
SEATTLE -- Coach Pete Carroll was thrilled about how well his Seattle Seahawks starters played in the 34-6 victory over the Chicago Bears Friday night, building a 31-0 halftime lead. But he pointed out one positive area that many people may have overlooked.

Carroll
Carroll
“A note that I’m really fired up about is when the first unit’s on the field, we’ve had two penalties,’’ Carroll said. “It’s really good execution for us. It’s a big step in the right direction and hopefully we can keep that going.

“I’m really happy with those guys and their attention to the details to get that done. That will help us down the road.”

One year ago, the Seahawks had 34 penalties for 354 yards in the first three preseason games, including 14 for 182 yards in a 17-10 victory at Green Bay in the third game where most of the starters played three quarters.

And careless penalties have hurt the team at times in the regular season, as well. That’s why seeing the team play such disciplined football is important to Carroll, along with the fact that the starting offense has scored 55 points in the first half of the past two games.

“They’re as ready as I can get them right now,” Carroll said of his starters. “We did just what we wanted.”

That included a controversial decision Friday night to have quarterback Russell Wilson and the starting offense play the first series of the third quarter, which seemed an unnecessary risk considering the score. But Carroll explained his reasoning.

“We wanted them to come out in the second half and make the transition from halftime, so we forced them back out there a little bit,” Carroll said. “We could have substituted, but that was the plan. Everybody hung on to that one.”

 
RENTON, Wash. -- Defensive end Cliff Avril, who had eight sacks last season and forced five fumbles, is the fifth Seattle Seahawks player to make ESPN.com’s countdown of the top 100 NFL players on offense and defense.

Avril
Avril, 28, checks in a No. 57. He was everything the Seahawks hoped he would be in his first season in Seattle. Avril (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) came off the bench as a pass-rush specialist, consistently disrupting the opposing team’s passing game.

Avril’s initial step off the edge is as quick as any player in the league, but his specialty is his ability to slap the ball out of the quarterback’s hands.

ESPN Stats & Information says Avril was one of two defensive ends last season with at least five sacks and five forced fumbles. The other was St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn.

Including the postseason, the only player with more forced fumbles over the past three seasons than Avril (15) is Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (17).

The other four Seahawks who appeared on the countdown were defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (No. 94), linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin (No. 87), center Max Unger (No. 84) and offensive tackle Russell Okung (No. 65).

W2W4: Seattle Seahawks

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
12:00
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The Seattle Seahawks (1-1) will play host to the Chicago Bears (2-0) in a preseason game Friday night at CenturyLink Field.

Three things to watch:
  1. The starters: Typically, the third preseason game is the one where the starters see significant playing time. “I’m expecting to play all the first half and probably into the third quarter,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. In the case for the Seahawks, it comes against a team that should provide a good test in the Bears, and give a good indication where both teams stand heading into regular season. Each team has one more preseason game next week, but starters play sparingly in that one while guys on the bubble have one last chance to show they belong on the roster.
  2. Christine Michael: Starting running back Marshawn Lynch will get a few carries Friday for the first time in the preseason, but the man who has something to prove is Michael. He has been viewed as the heir-apparent to Lynch, but hasn’t helped himself in the preseason with a fumble in each of the first two games. Meanwhile, backup running back Robert Turbin was sensational last week with 81 yards on 12 first-half carries against San Diego. However, coach Pete Carroll had high praise for Michael on Thursday. “I think’s he the most improved player on our team,'' Carroll said. "He’s come a long way in so many ways. He just needs to keep showing he’s growing as a football player. He’s explosive and he mind is in it. He’s really been busting his tail.” Michael has run pretty well, but it won’t matter it he puts the ball on the turf again.
  3. The Bennett brothers: Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett (28) is looking forward to facing his brother, Chicago tight end Martellus Bennett (27), Friday night. “It’s interesting to see how it plays out going against my brother,” Michael Bennett said. “Every year you get to play against some guys you know, but this time it’s my brother.” The Bennetts grew up in Houston and played for Texas A&M. The Bears also are the team that tried to sign Michael as a free agent five months ago, but he took a little less money ($28.5 million over four years) to stay in Seattle. “It’s was weird, but it’s just part of the business,” Michael Bennett said.
RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks linebacker Korey Toomer was the defensive standout in the organized team activity practices and most of minicamp, but Toomer missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

Now he has to try to make up for lost time. He returned to practice this week and is expected to play Friday night in the preseason game against the Chicago Bears.

“Time’s running out," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Toomer. “We haven’t had a chance to see him. He had a really good offseason, but unfortunately he just has not been able to get enough back-to-back time to establish where he is on the roster. More than some the guys, he has a lot to show.”

Britt
Britt
On the other end of the spectrum, rookie offensive tackle Justin Britt has shown plenty of skill while trying to earn the starting job at right tackle.

“His progress has been really solid,” Carroll said of Britt. “He’s making great strides to be the starter. His makeup really kind of substantiates that he can do this. It’s gone great so far.”

Carroll is glad the team gets a chance to hit someone else Friday night after a week of hitting each other. The team had minor scuffles in three consecutive practices.

“We’re working on our retaliation skills,” Carroll deadpanned.
RENTON, Wash. -- The third preseason game typically is the one where the starters get the most action, but a few Seattle Seahawks starters will get on the field for the first time.

Chancellor
Smith
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said outside linebacker Malcolm Smith and strong safety Kam Chancellor are expected to play Friday night against the Chicago Bears at CenturyLink Field.

It’s also possible left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger will see some playing time. Smith (ankle) Chancellor (hip) and Okung (toe) had offseason surgery. All three recently returned to practice. Unger had a groin injury but has practiced the last two weeks.

“They’re ready to play some football,” Carroll said of Smith and Chancellor. “This is the game [the starters] will play the most, so we want to see consistency and really good, smart football. We just want to see if we can keep growing.”

Running back Marshawn Lynch was in on a few plays last week but didn’t have a carry. That likely will change Friday night.

“It’s time for him to get some carries and get involved a little bit,” Carroll said of Lynch. “I could not be more pleased with the conditioning level he has and his consistency in practice. His preparation has been great.”

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner still is out with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Bruce Irvin (hip surgery) and rookie wide receiver Kevin Norwood (foot surgery) also are out, but Carroll is hopeful all three can return before the start of the regular season.

Carroll said receiver Bryan Walters will not play Friday because of bruised ribs he suffered last week in the San Diego game.

Carroll also said defensive tackle Michael Brooks had knee surgery Thursday. Rookie linebacker Horace Miller has a sprained knee and will be out for an extended period.

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