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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.
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September 30, 2007

Injury updates

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 6:28 PM

Offensive lineman Ray Willis apparently suffered a knee injury. He was icing the injury and then wearing a brace and had crutches in the locker room.

Running back Alvin Pearman suffered a knee injury and left the locker room on crutches.

Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard suffered an injury to his leg in the first half, but returned without missing a series.

Game wrap-up

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:25 PM

The Seahawks didn't shut down Frank Gore because he averaged 4.9 yards per carry, right?

Well, that's true. He finished with 79 yards rushing, 42 yards receiving and showed why he is such a dangerous back in the NFL.

But the Seahawks controlled this game at the front, and the 49ers had some very serious pass-protection problems. It was more than just the six sacks. The 49ers were penalized nine times in the game, seven against the offensive line. San Francisco was penalized for holding three times and tripping once. On one play, a lineman flat-out tackled nosetackle Craig Terrill.

Coach Mike Holmgren wanted to see more pressure on the passer from his front seven and that's exactly what he got on Sunday.

First-half observations

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:37 PM

This is exactly like Seattle's game in San Francisco except it's the exact opposite. Do I have to pay a copyright fee to ESPN.com's Bill Simmons for that? Or if I credit him is that enough?

The Seahawks trailed 17-0 at halftime in last year's game down here [Editor's note: Actually it was 20-0]. This season they lead 13-0. The problem is it should be way more when you consider the 49ers -- who rank No. 29 in the league in passing offense -- are down to their backup quarterback and didn't pick up a first down until the final half of the second quarter.

Given the flow of the game, Seattle really should have a bigger lead. The Seahawks settled for field goals twice in the red zone in the first half.

It might not matter. Seattle's defense has dominated the line of scrimmage in the first half. The Seahawks had five sacks in the first half, more than double the total of two from the previous two games combined.

Seattle forced five fumbles in the first half, but the Seahawks managed to recover only one of them.

Alex Smith's return questionable

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:16 PM

San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith suffered a right shoulder injury when Rocky Bernard sacked him on third down of the 49ers' first possession. His return was announced as questionable. Trent Dilfer replaced Smith during the 49ers' second possession.

Men on the run

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:35 PM

What will the 49ers do on Sunday? You don't need to do the math, I will. The 49ers rank No. 29th in passing yardage in the NFL, and the only thing that stopped Frank Gore against Seattle was the final whistle.

Seattle's run defense figures to be the key to this afternoon's game. That aspect of the Seahawks defense was a strength in 2005 and really fell apart the second half of last season. Here's a breakdown of the past two seasons, separated into first and the second half:

Games
2005   
2006   
2007
  1-8 9-16 1-8 9-16 1-4
Rush yds 105.5 83.3 101 152.6 102
Avg. carry 3.9 3.3 3.9 5.3 3.9
100-yard rushers 0 1 2 5 1

Sunday's inactives

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:29 PM

The 45-man active roster for the Seahawks has been announced.

WR Courtney Taylor is inactive for Seattle as Ben Obomanu will be available for the first time during the regular season. Also, Ellis Wyms will be inactive.

Inactive roster: WR D.J. Hackett, TE Ben Joppru, DE Jason Babin, G Mansfield Wrotto, T Tom Ashworth, WR Courtney Taylor and DT Ellis Wyms. Charlie Frye is the No. 3 quarterback, in uniform but available only in an emergency.

The 49ers inactive roster: S Dashon Goldson, G Tony Wragge, TE Vernon Davis, WR Jason Hill, DE Ray McDonald and Shaun Hill is the emergency quarterback.

Davis is out with a sprained knee. The 49ers announced TE Billy Bajema/TE Delanie Walker will replace him in the starting lineup. That really narrows it down. Yes, the 49ers starting tight end is injured so one of the two other tight ends will replace him.

September 28, 2007

Friday with the Seahawks

Posted by Jose Romero at 1:19 PM

Practice just ended and the Seahawks were a loose and confident bunch in the locker room with the most important game of their season to date two days away.

Coach Mike Holmgren said the team finished a good week of practice.

WR Ben Obomanu has completed his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury suffered more than four weeks ago and appears ready to play Sunday.

RB Maurice Morris was back to practice after missing Thursday's session. Morris was given Thursday off from practice to rest soreness from a hard day of work the day before, as he had not practiced for some time before that, Holmgren said.

"They're valuable guys to us, and everybody goes through injuries and little things during the season, and it's good to have them both back because they fill a good role for us," Holmgren said.

LB Will Herring is still dealing with a sore knee and didn't practice Friday. He'll be a game day decision after missing two days in a row.

TE Ben Joppru, the team's third tight end, has an ankle injury that will likely cost him at least a couple of more weeks.

In practice today, CB Josh Wilson dropped an interception and took some heat from Holmgren. Then FS Deon Grant chimed in with a "Get off the field," and "Do some pushups." Nothing combative or confrontational, though. Wilson obliged and performed his pushups after jogging off the field.


The weight debate

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:16 PM

In San Francisco the Seahawks are going to face the 49ers mountain of a guard, the 325-pound Larry Allen who usually lines up next to a 335-pound tackle in Jonas Jennings.

That's a big load, right?

"It's hard to find a bigger line than last week's," defensive end Patrick Kerney said.

Heaviest offensive lines Avg. weight
1. Cincinnati 333.2
2. Buffalo 332.2
3. Philadelphia 330.2
4. Jacksonville 327.2
5. Miami 326
6. Detroit 324.6
7. Minnesota 324
8. Dallas 323.8
9. San Francisco 319.2
10. N.Y. Giants 315.2

True enough. A little research showed the Bengals starting five along the offensive line last Sunday was the heaviest of any starting line in the league in Week 3 (see chart to the right).

Those numbers are based off the rosters on NFL.com, which means that the numbers might be only slightly more reliable than the weight listed on a woman's driver's license. Bigger players always want to be listed lighter, smaller players always want to be listed heavier, but the rankings give a general idea of which teams have the biggest bodies up front.

But Kerney also pointed something else out to me. Seattle has two defensive tackles who check in at about 300 pounds, Darryl Tapp is about average for the size of a right end and Kerney is a little bigger than most left ends.

Yet the Seahawks get characterized as being small. And they are, in general. Eight teams are lighter -- on average -- across the defensive front, but the Seahawks aren't exactly a bunch of Lilliputians, either.

"Reggie White kind of set the standard for the defensive line and there's not going to be another one of him for another century," Kerney said.

How Seattle's defensive line holds up against the 49ers offensive line is going to be something to watch closely on Sunday. The Cardinals were able to push Seattle around in Week 2 despite starting an undrafted rookie at center, a second-year player at guard and rookie Levi Brown at right tackle.

But last week the Seahawks stymied the Bengals' rushing game. Starter Rudi Johnson carried 13 times for -3 yards in the first half despite the fact the Bengals were much bigger than Seattle up front.

So how did the Seahawks hold their own that game?

"Just holding our gaps," Kerney said. "That will be the same thing any week you're successful because you're holding your gaps. Guys tending to their own land, not trying to do too much."

September 27, 2007

Alexander: wrist was cracked in Week One

Posted by Jose Romero at 3:27 PM

Shaun Alexander spoke publicly today for the first time since coach Mike Holmgren revealed that he had a crack in his left wrist, which Holmgren announced on Monday.

Alexander said he thought the crack happened in the second quarter of the Seahawks' Week One win over Tampa Bay, which would make it two season openers in a row in which he was injured. X-rays after the game must not have shown the crack, but they did after last week's game.

The Seahawks originally called Alexander's injury a sprained wrist. Alexander said he's "way ahead of the curve" in terms of the wrist healing and doesn't think he'll have to wear the protective cast over the wrist much longer. He was wearing it in practice Thursday.

It appeared that Alexander further injured the wrist just before halftime last week when he came off the field holding his left arm in pain. But Alexander said he was hit higher up on the arm.

"It takes sometimes two weeks for a crack to show up," Alexander said when asked about the most recent X-rays.

A very special game ball

Posted by Jose Romero at 3:20 PM

The Seahawks typically hand out game balls from a win the previous week at the end of Friday's practice, but they did so today because of a special circumstance.

Defensive coordinator John Marshall received the game ball for the defense for the adversity he overcame on Sunday -- calling the defensive signals after learning that his mother had passed away. With Marshall headed to central California tomorrow for his mother's funeral, the team awarded game balls today.

Other recipients were Will Herring for special teams and Deion Branch for offense.

Herring did not practice Thursday because of a knee problem, nor did RB Maurice Morris, who has been dealing with a hip injury that forced him out of the past two games. He did practice Wednesday.


September 26, 2007

Wednesday practice attendance

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:05 PM

Seahawks Status Injury
D.J. Hackett Out High ankle sprain
Ben Joppru Did not practice Ankle
49ers Status Injury
TE Vernon Davis Out Knee
G Larry Allen Did not practice Team decision
CB Tarell Brown Did not practice Hamstring
WR Jason Hill Did not practice Hamstring
S Mark Roman Did not practice Elbow
UT Bryant Young Did not practice Team decision
CB Walt Harris Limited practice Team decision
T Jonas Jennings Leg strain

Seattle's weather vane

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:30 PM

Steve Kelley's column today takes a square look at Shaun Alexander's personality, and how it doesn't quite fit the mold that some expect. It's a great portrait of Alexander's personality.

Here's a more by-the-numbers painting, looking at his production so far this season, and breaking it down in terms of direction.


 
Left         
Middle             
Right           
  Carries Yards Carries Yards Carries Yards
Game 1 7 20 7 59 13 26
Game 2 4 24 10 32 4 14
Game 3 8 64 5 -5 7 41
Totals 19 108 22 86 24 81


And now here's an even tighter focus on the directional success, breaking it down to the specific gaps with the qualification that it is based on the play-by-play description of the games. That makes it imperfect since not all stats crews evaluate all games the same way. Think of it more like a rough sketch.

L. End L.Tackle L.Guard Middle R.Guard R.Tackle R.End
Car. Avg. Car. Avg. Car. Avg. Car. Avg. Car. Avg. Car. Avg. Car. Avg.
7 3.4 6 8.5 6 5.5 22 3.9 3 3.7 14 4.4 8 1.1

Maurice Morris, Ben Obomanu to return

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:36 PM

Coach Mike Holmgren just finished his half-hour press conference, and he said running back Maurice Morris and wide receiver Ben Obomanu are expected to return to practice.

He also gave an estimate at D.J. Hackett's return, saying that it's possible he could be back around the time of Seattle's bye, which is Oct. 28.

There are no other injuries from Sunday's game. We'll check in after taking attendance at practice to see if there are any changes.

Wednesday's news pacing

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:46 AM

Coach Mike Holmgren's news conference will begin shortly, and I'll be back with a news update as usual after that. The injury status seems pretty straight forward though it's always possible someone got banged up in the game that we didn't know about.

But as of right now, Maurice Morris and Ben Obomanu are expected back this week and Shaun Alexander's status won't be affected by the cracked bone in his wrist. Next update will come by 1 p.m.

September 25, 2007

49ers TE Vernon Davis out

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:07 AM

The Seahawks won't have to worry about one of the fastest tight ends ever timed at the NFL scouting combine. The 49ers Vernon Davis suffered a sprained knee ligament and will miss the next couple games. Read that story here from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Davis suffered the injury on a hit from Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu during a play that remains a source of conversation for the 49ers. Not the hit, but the result. Officials ruled it was an incomplete pass, and the 49ers went so far as contacting the league's officiating czar about a clarification on the ruling. Here's a story on that from the Sacramento Bee.

Finally, from the bottom of this San Jose Mercury News story

September 24, 2007

Coach Mike Holmgren's answers on Shaun Alexander

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:11 PM

The crack is small, coach Mike Holmgren said, and right away he sought to temper the size of the reaction to that news.

There's no comparison to last season, Holmgren said. Alexander suffered a cracked bone in his foot last year, which cost him six games.

National reading material

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:27 AM

Sports Illustrated's Peter King ranked the Seahawks 15th among his top 15 teams, tied with Carolina.

I just don't like the way this team is playing. Not at all. But I'll go by what I saw in training camp, when I thought this was a better version of the Seahawks than the team that made the Super Bowl two years ago.

Also included in King's piece is a note about the touchdown that Indianapolis scored against Houston when safety Michael Boulware failed to bump tight end Dallas Clark at the line of scrimmage.

Monday morning reading guide

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:45 AM

I saw Seahawks backup tight end Will Heller in the Seahawks locker room after the game and told him that I missed a good story during the week leading up to the game. I should have written about Seattle's Ocho Cinco. Heller smiled and gave what would best be described as a chuckle. Not a full laugh, but a little amused. Hard to think of two players more different wearing the same number. Heller is a tight end used more for his blocking. A player who started out as a walk-on football player at Georgia Tech and studied civil engineering. Johnson joked last week he didn't remembering attending a class at Oregon State after the first week.

Well, columnist Steve Kelley found someone even more antithetical to Ocho Cinco -- and more important in the overall outcome -- Seattle's Ocho Uno. Here's a link to that column right here on Nate Burleson.

Jerry Brewer focused on Shaun Alexander's Jekyll-and-Hyde Sunday. Coach Mike Holmgren said on his radio show Monday morning he thought the boo-birds were out for the offense in general. Sounded to me like they were particularly focused on Alexander in that first half, but he really came through in the second half.

My favorite story from the paper today is on the pair of players who converged on the hit that stripped Cincinnati of both the football and its final possession. Greg Bishop wrote about Alvin Pearman and Lance Laury, who combined on the hit that forced a fumble in the final minute. Seattle acquired Pearman eight days before the season started. He didn't find an apartment until Friday, staying at spare bedrooms of teammates for his first three weeks in town.

I knew that Josh Brown's field-goal fluttered like a winged bird. I didn't know why, though. A defender got a hand on the ball, Brown told José Miguel Romero.

I wrote about the Seahawks defense, specifically the secondary, and its game against the Bengals' explosive passing attack. It's hard to offer any praise considering the number of yards given up. T.J. Houshmandzadeh came one catch away from matching the franchise record. The Seahawks matched up Marcus Trufant on Chad Johnson the whole game and he still caught nine passes. The Seahawks got strafed, but they dodged the right bullets. This is the second consecutive week Seattle allowed more than 400 yards of offense. Now, yardage can be very misleading. But the Seahawks also gave up 11 first downs on the 18 third downs they held against Cincinnati. That's a category where Seattle believed it improved itself over the offseason.

September 23, 2007

Watch it again

Posted by Jose Romero at 9:45 PM

I'm watching the highlights from today's NFL games on NFL Network, and have to say that Deon Grant's interception today for the Seahawks was one of the best ones I've ever seen. The guy caught the ball and toed the sideline like a receiver. It makes one wonder: Could Ken Hamlin or any other Seahawk safety in recent years have made a pick like that?

The Seahawks, by the way, have won 10 consecutive home games in September. The streak started on Sept. 29, 2002 with a win over Minnesota at what was then Seahawks Stadium.

For those with NFL Network on their cable or satellite systems, the channel is replaying a condensed version of the game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It will be worth seeing again. One of the best parts of last week's replay of the Seattle-Arizona game was when NFL Films miked up Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui. He was pretty funny trying to talk a little trash and get inside former USC teammate Lofa Tatupu's head.

So we'll see who's wearing a microphone in this game. Chad Johnson? T.J. Houshmandzadeh? Grant?

Not half bad

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:19 PM

  1st half 2nd half
Yards 71 204
Carries 29 37
Avg. 2.5 5.5

Shaun Alexander started the first two games of this season quite slowly with four carries for 5 yards to start games against Tampa Bay and Arizona. Well, he was even worse this week. He carried three times and lost 4 yards on Sunday against the Bengals, just part of the continued pattern of slow starts. Check out the chart to the right to see how his performances have compared from one half to the next.

Was it frustrating?

"Any tiome you play in a game, nothing is easy," Alexander said. "The Bengals were lining up in all kinds of stuff that we had never seen before. It just took us a while."

Yes, that vaunted Bengals run defense. The one that gave up 216 yards rushing to Cleveland's Jamal Lewis in Game 2 and the defense is so thinned by injuries that Dhani Jones was called onto the field after Caleb Miller suffered an injury Sunday. Jones was signed within the past week.

But Alexander picked up steam and the second half and reached 100 yards rushing for the second time in three games. He now has 275 yards, the second largest total after three games in his career. He gained 357 yards in the first three games as his second-half performances have carried him to the top 10 in the league.

Post-game observations

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:56 PM

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck put more than just air under his final pass attempt.

There was trust there, too. He threw the ball before Nate Burleson made his cut, putting faith that not only would Burleson folllow the pattern precisely but that he would beat his man.

Burleson did just that on both accounts and reeled in the game-winning touchdown in the final 2 minutes and the Seahawks won despite allowing 328 yards passing, letting the Bengals convert 11 of 18 third-down plays and not forcinng a punt in the fourth quarter.

Strange game, strange game. I'll check back with more in a little bit.

Two Bengals receivers praise Brian Russell

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:32 PM

Cincinnati's T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson are pretty familiar with Brian Russell after playing against him the few years when Russell was in Cleveland.

"Very intimidating," Johnson said. "He's not intimidating me, but he's a very intimidating player. Seriously. He's going to make a big difference back there. I've seen him coming up there laying some unbelievable hits on people. He's going to make a big difference here."

Russell intercepted one deep pass intended for Johnson.

Houshmandzadeh was even more specific in his praise.

"He's really, really smart," Houshmandzadeh said, "because he was doing some things out there he shouldn't have been doing in the coverage he was playing."

Rudi Johnson suffers hamstring injury

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:29 PM

Tailback Rudi Johnson suffered a hamstring injury. His return is questionable. Backup Kenny Watson has had more success running the ball than Johnson.

Halftime observations

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:28 PM

The two teams combined for nearly 400 yards of total offense in the first half yet only 29 of that came on the ground. That's simply amazing.

Shaun Alexander carried 9 times, gained 22 yards and he ranked among the most effective runners in the first half. Cincinnati starter Rudi Johnson carried 13 times and lost a total of 3 yards in the first half. That's pretty mind-boggling.

Deion Branch's 42-yard touchdown pass was the longest scoring reception since coming to the Seahawks in last year's trade.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught nine passes in the first half for 119 yards.

Deon Grant's read to pick off Carson Palmer's pass showed the kind of veteran savvy the Seahawks paid for this offseason. He saw the play developing in front of him, didn't rush it and waited for Palmer to make the throw on the move before cutting in front of him.

LB Caleb Miller, lower back injury

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:20 PM

The Bengals already depleted linebackers took another blow. Caleb Miller suffered a lower-back injury in the second quarter on the play when Shaun Alexander rushed for 7 yards. It was announced he is being taken in for X-rays. His return is questionable.

First quarter recap

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:50 PM

Josh Wilson began the game with a 72-yard kickoff return, Seattle's longest kickoff return since the 2002 season.

Shaun Alexander hasn't gained more than 1 yard on any of his carries so far. He had -4 yards rushing in the first period.

Cincinnati converted its first four third-down plays in Sunday's game.

Matt Hasselbeck's first interception of the season wasn't his fault. The ball deflected off Marcus Pollard's hands.

And after each offense had three possessions, the Bengals gained 172 yards, the Seahawks 72.

Sunday's inactive list

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:00 PM

Seahawks inactives: WR D.J. Hackett, RB Maurice Morris, TE Ben Joppru, DE Jason BAbin, LB Kevin Bentley, G Mansfield Wrotto, WR Ben Obomanu.

QB Charlies Frye is the eighth inactive player, but is in uniform as the emergency quarterback.

Bengals inactives: S Chinedum Ndukwe, S Ethan Kilmer, C Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Ahmad Brooks, WR Tab Perry, DE Frostee Rucker, LB Rashad Jeanty. QB Jeff Roe is the third quarterback.

September 21, 2007

"Halo 3" with Slim, Warren Moon and Adam Jones

Posted by Jose Romero at 4:40 PM

If you like Seahawks football and the "Halo" video game series on XBox 360, the Best Buy store in Bellevue is having a "Midnight Madness" event leading up to the midnight release of "Halo 3" on Monday night.

Seahawks CB Kelly Jennings (nicknamed "Slim"), Hall of Fame and former Seahawks QB Warren Moon and the Mariners' Adam Jones will be on hand to play the game against customers and talk to the fans. At 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the doors to the store will open and people can purchase the game.

Jennings appears first, according to the tentative schedule, from 9:15 to 10:15 p.m.. Then its Jones until 11:15, and finally Moon appears from 11 until midnight.

7 starters on Bengals injury report

Posted by Jose Romero at 4:22 PM

Here's the projected status for injured Bengals for this Sunday's game, from the Bengals' Friday practice report:

Key
DNP-Did not practice
LP-Limited in practice
FP-Full participation in practice
*-Starter, according to team depth chart.

Out
Player Injury
LB Rashad Jeanty * Shin (DNP)
S Ethan Kilmer Knee (DNP)
WR Tab Perry Hamstring (DNP)

Doubtful
Player Injury
MLB Ahmad Brooks* Groin (DNP)
LB Lemar Marshall Groin (DNP)
C Eric Ghiaciuc* Thumb (DNP)

Questionable
Player Injury
RT Willie Anderson* Foot (LP)
WR Antonio Chatman Hamstring (LP)
S Chinedum Ndukwe Hamstring (LP)

Probable
Player Injury
SS Dexter Jackson* Back (FP)
T.J. Houshmandzadeh* Knee (FP)
CB Deltha O'Neal* Knee (FP)
DL Bryan Robinson Foot (LP)
DE Frostee Rucker Hamstring (FP)





Friday's report

Posted by Jose Romero at 11:53 AM

The same five Seahawks who didn't practice Thursday missed today's session because of injury -- WRs D.J. Hackett and Ben Obomanu, RB Maurice Morris, TE Ben Joppru and LB Kevin Bentley.

Here's the update from coach Mike Holmgren:
Hackett is out this week with his high ankle sprain. Morris is doubtful with a hip injury. Joppru (ankle) and Obomanu (hamstring) won't play. Bentley (back) will be a gameday decision.

Holmgren expects to have Obomanu, who was running hard away from the action Friday, and probably Morris back for next week.

RB Shaun Alexander will still wear the guard over his sprained left wrist Sunday. He wants it to be white, Holmgren said, and the coach would like for it to be black.

"I think it [black] looks cooler," Holmgren said. There's no timetable for how long Alexander has to wear the guard.

Shaun Alexander vs. History

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:02 AM

Today's story on Shaun Alexander focused on the Seahawks' need for their running back to stay productive vs. the history at that position, especially in light of Alexander's decline last year.

Here's a more specific look at Alexander in a historical context from the FootballOutsiders.com. It's a site I've linked here before and it's produced by the same folks who assembled the 2007 Pro Football Prospectus.

September 20, 2007

Bengals' boo-boos

Posted by Jose Romero at 4:53 PM

And I don't mean mistakes. Shaun Alexander called his sprained wrist a boo-boo last week, so I'll borrow the term for this post. While I'm at it, I'll show some support for my crime partner Danny for all the quality postings this week. The Chad Johnson video is....something else.

As for the boo-boos, the Bengals are a hurting bunch. Going by their depth chart for this week, six players listed as starters are on today's injury report.

The good news for Cincinnati is that S Dexter Jackson, C Eric Ghiaciuc and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh had full participation in Thursday's practice after missing all or part of it on Wednesday. But starting right tackle Willie Anderson did not practice because of a foot injury, LCB Deltha O'Neal was limited with a knee problem and MLB Ahmad Brooks did not practice with a groin injury.

Tomorrow is the day when injured players' status is officially determined -- probable, questionable or doubtful.

Thursday practice

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:29 PM

Right tackle Sean Locklear returned to practice on Thursday. He missed part of Wednesday's practice because of a knee injury.

Linebacker Kevin Bentley missed practice on Thursday because of a back injury. Tight end Ben Joppru sat out because of an ankle injury. Wide receiver Ben Obomanu carried his helmet, but did not appear to participate in practice. Running back Maurice Morris (hip) and wide receiver D.J. Hackett (ankle) did not practice.

D-coordinator: No defense for Bengals' performance

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:21 AM

The good news for Cincinnati defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan: The Browns finally stopped scoring on his Bengals.

The bad news: It's Thursday and the only thing that halted Cleveland's progress was the clock. It finally stopped after the Browns ran up 51 points in a game that had the scoreboard smoking.

Here's the Cincinnati Enquirer's Q&A with the coordinator of that beleagured unit. Tom Archdeacon of the Dayton Daily News -- who's quite a fine writer -- also offered an assessment of Bresnahan's explanations. An excerpt:

Asked how he'd kept from banging his head against the wall these past few days, he [Bresnahan] managed a smile: "I keep the back of my head away from you so you don't see the stitches back there."

Also, the Bengals will be headed to Seattle on Friday, a day earlier than normal for road games. Seattle some times leaves on Friday for its longer trips to the East Coast. This will be Cincinnati's first game in Seattle since 1999 and its first at Qwest Field ever.

The Bengals signed Dhani Jones on Tuesday, and he could be part of Cincinnati's special teams in this weekend's game.

September 19, 2007

Brian Russell rocks Chad Johnson

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:23 PM

Chad Johnson remembers the play. At least now he does.

One year ago Brian Russell clobbered him on a play, knocking Johnson's helmet off like it was a champagne cork. The play resulted in an interception for Leigh Bodden, and it was a footnote in a Bengals victory, but it left Johnson woozy after the game. Just look at this video clip here.

Johnson asks the reporters, "How did Bodden do?" That's a reference to Leigh Bodden, the Browns cornerback whom tight end Kellen Winslow boasted would shut Johnson down in the week leading up to the game. Then Johnson shouts at somebody named, "Hugh." Then he winces in pain.

"It was clean," Johnson said of the hit. "I mean, I would have took the shot on me if I was him, too.

"All the trash that I talk, it was about time someone caught me clean."

And that was the only time, Johnson said.

"Let me knock on wood, I've been able to dodge mostly everything since I've been playing," Johnson said. "And that was my first legit, clean shot since I've been playing."

Russell said someone e-mailed him the video clip. As for talking about the hit, Russell said it's hard to get too excited about a play in a game his team lost.

Injury report for Wednesday

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:50 PM

Seattle Player Injury Status
  WR D.J. Hackett High ankle sprain Out
  RB Maurice Morris Hip Did not practice
  WR Ben Obomanu Hamstring Did not practice
  T Sean Locklear Knee Limited participation in practice
  TE Ben Joppru Ankle Limited participation in practice
Cincinnati Player Injury Status
  LB Rashad Jeanty Shin Out
  S Ethan Kilmer Knee Out
  WR Tab Perry Hamstring Out
  LB Ahmad Brooks Groin Did not practice
  WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh Knee Did not practice
  S Dexter Jackson Back Did not practice
  LB Lemar Marshall Groin Did not practice
  S Nedu Ndukwe Hamstring Did not practice
  C Eric Guiaciuc Thumb Limited participation
  DE Bryan Robinson Foot Limited participation

Nickname for Sunday's loss

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:32 PM

The Cardinal Sin

That's the winning suggestion, entered by two folks. Stay tuned for the next defining play when more entries will be accepted. My plan is at the end of the season to assemble some sort of poster or T-shirt and give a copy to all those who entered the chosen nicknames.

Practice roll call

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:20 PM

The Seahawks afternoon practice concluded. Linebacker Leroy Hill returned to practice after missing last week because of a sore foot. WR Ben Obomanu (hamstring), RB Maurice Morris (hip) and WR D.J. Hackett (ankle) sat out the practice as expected.

LB Leroy Hill expected to practice Wednesday

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:37 PM

Linebacker Leroy Hill missed last week's game because of a foot injury, but he is expected to back at practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Ben Obomanu (hamstring) and Maurice Morris (hip) are not expected to be at practice, though, according to coach Mike Holmgren.

The one, the only, Ocho Cinco

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:05 AM

Wide receiver Chad Johnson performed like a heavyweight in his conference call with reporters on Wednesday morning. He needed a round or two to warm up, and then he was rolling. A showman playing to the crowd.

Remember that cheerleader he feigned a wedding proposal to after a touchdown last season?

"She took half of everything I had," he said. "I should have never did that. Why are you laughing? I'm serious."

What? You thought the guy who raced a horse this offseason was going to be shy. He just needed a little time to get going on Wednesday morning.

How about his jump into Cleveland's stands last Sunday?

"Dude threw beer on me," Johnson said. "I didn't like that. The beer was kind of cold and it messed up my uniform. The rest of the game I smelled real bad.

"But other than that, something different, man. Pushing the envelope. It has never been done before. No one ever jumped into the opposing team's stands. And actually, they embraced me except for that one person who was drunk."

Does he remember facing Marcus Trufant in the Pac-10? Trufant was a sophomore in 2000 when Johnson played at Oregon State.

"I was only at Oregon State four months," Johnson said. "I can't remember. I was in and out. I didn't even unpack my bags."

Didn't make it too many classes?

"I don't think I made it to any," he said. "Maybe the first week."

He is an original in a league that legislates conformity right down to the length of socks and what hats a player can wear during a post-game interview. He's a man who needs an alter-ego. Remember last year when he demanded to be called "Ocho Cinco." Well here's the videoclip of that interview right here.

Now he rubs some people the wrong way. His antics are so frequent that they've lost a little originality. The checklist of defensive backs he used last season? Well, that's gone downright corporate this season. He has a Web site www.trashtalk85.com sponsored by "Degree" antiperspirant. Voting on his performance against the opponent's secondary requires a donation. Every week he makes some sort of declaration that makes waves.

But in a league where everyone does their best to talk without saying much, there's something that's at least a little amusing about Johnson.

"You've got to remember everything I do is fun," Johnson said Wednesday. "A fun and loving nature."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis conducted his conference call with Seattle reporters about 3 minutes later, which meant he had a tough act to follow.

"You guys requested him?" Lewis said when told Johnson had spoken before. "He never talks. That's amazing you got him."

Lewis was asked if he ever thought about reining in Johnson and some of his antics.

"How do you rein him in?" he asked. "Do we tell him not to score touchdowns. He's doing it when he scores touchdowns. As long as he does it on the field of play, it's fine. If he does it off the field of play that's an issue he has with the NFL."

As for the oversized gold blazer Johnson put on after he scored in the Bengals' season-opening game against Baltimore on Monday night?

"He'll never be able to get anything -- hopefully -- on our field again, contraband," Lewis said. "We're going to have the contraband spies out looking for him to try and sneak other things in."

Johnson keeps everyone on their toes. Even his coach.

Marcus Trufant: Free agent after this season

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:47 AM

This came up on a different discussion thread, but I'll clarify it here.

Cornerback Marcus Trufant will be a free agent after this season. The final year of his rookie contract is a voidable year, and he already met the requirement to void that year.

The final year has not been voided yet, but it will be once a specific future date is reached, which will be some point after the season. At that point, Trufant will become a free agent in March unless he and the team reach agreement on an extension before then.

September 18, 2007

Cincinnati reading material

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:30 AM

Things appear to be getting a little testy in Cincinnati, but that's probably to be expected after the Bengals gave up more than 50 points to the Browns on Sunday.

The reporters covering Cincinnati by and large were not impressed with coach Marvin Lewis' explanation of what went wrong in that loss. Lewis' demeanor in dealing with the questions was targeted for criticism. Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote about that in this column that includes the gem of an observation:

Marvin Lewis considers dealing with the media en masse a waste of time, like trying to teach Spanish to an English muffin.

Here's the Enquirer's more nuts-and-bolts assessment of how the Bengals will try to fix the defensive problems.

Here's the Dayton Daily News' distilled version of coach Marvin Lewis' press conference. And then the listing of five Bengal mistakes in Sunday's game.

Significance of Babineaux's extension

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:53 AM

José Miguel Romero provided the scoop this morning: Defensive back Jordan Babineaux agreed to an extension witht he Seahawks.

Babineaux is currently the team's nickelback, coming in when the defense adds a fifth defensive back. The extension reflects two things:

1) The Seahawks value his flexibility. He started games at both safety and cornerback last season.

2) He is part of the team's blueprint for the future of the defense even after the team went out and signed starting safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell. Before those signings, most expected Babineaux would move into a starting role in the secondary. The additions changed his role, but the extension shows that he is part of the team's plans moving forward and it did not want to risk losing him this offseason when he would have become an unrestricted free agent.

Babineaux is 25, a young cog in a secondary. Grant is 28, Russell 29. The next big question in Seattle's secondary will be Marcus Trufant, scheduled to be a free agent after this season.

The rest of Tuesday's links from The Seattle Times:

  • It's Sept. 18. Do you know where you're Seahawks are? Tied for second-place in the division they've held in a hammerlock the past three years.

  • More on the crossed signals that led to the fumble in the final 2 minutes of Sunday's loss in Arizona.

  • September 17, 2007

    Cameragate? Really, we can't come up with a better nickname.

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:51 PM

    Warning. What you are about to read doesn't have all that much to do with the Seahawks and really only loosely pertains to the NFL. Rather, it's the commentary of a man who got the majority of his sleep in the past 40 hours while in airplane seats, one of which refused to recline. That's not a complaint. I'm lucky enough to work a job gracious enough to not only pay me to watch and report about football games but fly me to do it in person.

    But if things get a little bit rummy from here on out, you'll have an idea why.

    I've just now realized that we're going to refer to the whole Patriots-spy-on-opponents controversy as "Cameragate." Really? We can't come up with anything better than that. Come on. We're a nation where the airplane was invented. The polio vaccine. Twinkies. And all we can do for any controversy is attach "gate" as a suffix?

    Batgate: Jason Grimsley goes on a commando raid through through a crawlspace in an ill-fated attempt to retrieve Albert Belle's corked bat.

    Skategate: Those two Canadians and their never-ending quest to remedy faulty judging. The whininess made plenty wistful over the Cold War era when certain countries getting shafted by judges from certain other countries was a fact of life and not cause to go on every morning show imaginable while wearing Roots clothing.

    There was Nipplegate at the Super Bowl, Nannygate about undocumented domestic laborgate and we even had Strippergate here in Seattle with a zoning controversy.

    And now: Overkillgate when a line in the sand was drawn. No longer should sports controversies simply have "gate" attached to them because that was the suffix of the hotel some fools broke into more than 30 years ago. We can do better than that. There's a team named the Patriots, illicit filming and the world's grumpiest coach and if the best anyone can come up with is "Cameragate," well, you don't need WASL scores to discover that our creativity when it comes to nicknames is slipping.

    But since this is a Seahawks blog, here's the challenge. Come up with appropriate nicknames for the pivotal plays of this Seahawks season starting with Sunday's fumbled exchange in Arizona. And no, you can't submit "Audiblegate." We'll start keeping a list and at the end of the season put together something that includes the best nicknames for those pivotal plays. One possibility is a custom T-shirt. Or perhaps a poster would be better. I'm going to do the homework and make the executive decision in that regard, but we've got time for that. For now, come up with good suggestions. Those who submit the winning suggestions will get whatever item decided upon gratis.

    You can post your suggestions for the nickname of the fumble in Arizona on this or you can e-mail them to me at doneil@seattletimes.com. This sort of thing depends upon people being interested and involved and there's always the danger that this idea is the result of too many recent REM cycles of mine occurring above 10,000 feet, but I have a feeling this might be fun so start submitting and we'll see where it goes.

    Hasselbeck on the final play

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:12 PM

    Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said he took the result particularly hard considering it was his signal -- a fake audible -- that led to the confusion that resulted in a fumble.

    "I take the one, I put that right on me," he said. "For not executing the play that was called."

    As for the specifics of what happened:

    "I would have been better off saying, 'Hey, we're going to run right here. The snap count is on one.' "

    Instead, he signaled in an effort to confuse the defense and resulted in confusion over what was called.

    Revisiting the miscommunication Sunday

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:43 PM

    Coach Mike Holmgren said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck feigned calling an audible on the play that resulted in the game-changing fumble. Problem was some players thought Hasselbeck did change the play, and that was more than just running back Shaun Alexander.

    "A dummy signal," Holmgren said. "And some of the guys thought it was real to boil it into a nutshell. And it wasn't just strong. Mack Strong. A couple of our wide receivers."

    Holmgren said that's the reason Arizona linebacker Gerald Hayes came into the backfield on the play, converging on Hasselbeck and Alexander as they bungled the exchange because Alexander wasn't in the spot Hasselbeck expected to be.

    Holmgren said he wished he emphasized the need to keep everything simple before his team took the field for those final 2 minutes. Nothing fancy. Just straightforward.

    "In that situation we learned a valuable lesson there," Holmgren said. "In that situation when it's loud and noisy and exciting, we just don't mess around too much. You just run the play."

    Marcus Tubbs undergoes knee surgery

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:51 PM

    The team announced Monday that Marcus Tubbs underwent surery on his right knee, which was injured in the final exhibition game. Tubbs had the anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructed. Coach Mike Holmgren said Monday Tubbs had other issues with the knee addressed during surgery.

    Tubbs underwent two surgeries on his left knee last season, first an arthroscopic procedure and then a more extensive microfracture surgery to help that knee regenerate cartilage. Tubbs played in two exhibition games before suffering the injury to his right knee.

    Tubbs was Seattle's first-round pick in 2004, and his presence -- or lack thereof -- was cited as a big reason the Seahawks rushing defense became less effective in 2006. The announcement of the surgery comes one day after the Seahawks allowed an opposing running back to gain 100 yards for the fifth time in the last seven regular-season games.

    The Seahawks are currently 16th in the league in rushing defense, tied with the San Francisco 49ers. Here's a look at how Tubbs' presence affected the run defense the previous two seasons:

     
    2006
     
    G
    Rush yds.
    per allowed
    Avg. yds.
    per carry
     
    Rush TDs
    With Tubbs 5 82 3.9 2
    Without 11 147.2 4.8 10
     
    2005
     
    G
    Rush yds.
    per game
    Rush avg.
    per carry
     
    Rush TDs
    With Tubbs 13 89.2 3.4 4
    Without 3 117 3.4 1

    The Monday after

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:47 AM

    The Seahawks' chances at a victory went slip, sliding away, and José Miguel Romero takes a look at just where things went wrong in his summary of the game, which is linked here.

    The running play in question is one of the simplest, most straightforward in Seattle's playbook. In fact, it might as well be listed between "bread" and "butter" in that playbook, that's how basic it was. Yet Steve Kelley watched as one of the most basic plays in Seattle's playbook went awry.

    The Seahawks know find themselves in unfamiliar territory in the division. Tied for second place. Actually, third if you want to start including tiebreakers.

    The national fallout from the game includes Sports Illustrated's Peter King dropping the Seahawks to No. 14 on his list of 15 best teams in the NFL.

    Coach Mike Holmgren's weekly Monday recap is this afternoon at 2:15 p.m., and I'll be in Kirkland for that.

    September 16, 2007

    Fourth-quarter folly

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:55 PM

    The Seahawks had a hold of it with both hands.

    Then they lost it.

    The play-by-play description for Seattle's final offensive play from scrimmaged doubled as a metaphor for Sunday's result when the Seahawks had the ball in Arizona territory and fumbled the ball on a botched exchange between Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander.

    "Hasn't happened before," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Probably never will happen again, but it happened today."

    Holmgren said Alexander thought Hasselbeck audibled on the play and so he was in a spot where the quarterback didn't expect him to be. Arizona linebacker Gerald Hayes was credited with forcing the fumble, but really it was the result of Hasselbeck and Alexander still trying to execute the exchange even after the botched handoff.

    That play overshadowed Seattle's 20 consecutive points to reclaim the lead in a game where they spent much fo the first half grinding gears on offense.

    Third-quarter tidbits

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:20 PM

    Edgerrin James surpassed 100 yards rushing in the first three quarters, and the Cardinals have been able to push the ball downfield against Seattle.

    The Seahawks did begin to establish a running game. Alexander gained 40 yards on his six carries in that third quarter, scoring on a 16-yard run.

    Larry Fitzgerald, probable to return

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:14 PM

    Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald suffered a head injury during Arizona's last possession. Fitzgerald was hit by safety Deon Grant on a play that resulted in an incompletion. He was obviously woozy as he jogged off the field after that play. He is probable to return, it was just announced in the press box.

    Fitzgerald returned to the field on Arizona's final possession of the third quarter, catching a pass in front of the Cardinals' sidelines.

    Halftime roundup

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:30 PM

    With 6 minutes left in the first half, Arizona gained 190 yards and scored 17 points. The Seahawks gained 60 and scored none.

    Now Seattle came back and drove 80 yards for its only score of the first half on its final possession.

    Two things jump out in the first half. On offense, Seattle is unable to run the ball. On defense, the Seahawks have been unable to sack Matt Leinart.

    If those two trends remain the same for the second half it's hard to see how the Seahawks are going to be able to come back.

    Pressure affects any quarterback, but particularly someone who's young and relative immobile like Leinart. When the Seahawks have gotten pressure, it has affected Leinart, but to be fair he's also done a good job hanging in the pocket and taking the hit to deliver a pass. He completed a big throw to Bryant Johnson on third down as Darryl Tapp had ahold of him in the second quarter and he stood up to a hit from Rocky Bernard in the first period to deliver the ball.

    The bigger issue is Alexander. He gained 5 yards on four carries in the first quarter, and 5 yards on four carries in the second quarter. Consistent? Yes. Consistently poor.

    Can he pick it up as he did a week ago against Tampa Bay. He averaged 3.3 yards in the first half, 4.4 yards in the second, but he also showed a pulse before halftime against the Bucs with a 16-yard gain in the second quarter. Alexander hasn't gained more than 3 yards on any play this game.

    First quarter recap

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:39 PM

    Seattle's first three plays from scrimmage resulted in three completions gaining a total of 29 yards. Then came back-to-back false-start penalties that not only stalled the drive but left Seattle's offense high-centered the rest of the first quarter.

    The Seahawks' next nine plays from scrimmage produced a net total of 16 yards and no first downs.

    The only points in the quarter came after Arizona's Sean Morey blocked a punt by Ryan Plackemeier, the first punt blocked against Seattle since Atlanta's Demorrio Williams in the regular-season finale of the 2004 season.

    Deion Branch caught a pass on Seattle's second play from scrimmage.

    Inactive Seahawks Sunday in Arizona

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:54 AM

    The inactive players for Sunday's game were announced.

    WR D.J. Hackett, RB Maurice Morris, LB Leroy Hill and WR Ben Obomanu are all inactive. Hackett was out for this game. Morris, Hill and Obomanu were listed as doubtful.

    The other inactive players are DE Jason Babin, G Mansfield Wrotto and T Tom Ashworth. QB Charlie Frye is the emergency quarterback so he is in uniform, but on the inactive list.

    LB Kevin Bentley will start in place of Hill at outside linebacker.

    Inactive players for Arizona: FB Tim Castille, C Al Johnon, C Nick Leckey, G Brad Badger, DT Alan Branch, WR Jerheme Urban, DE Quentin Moses, DT Ross Kolodziej.

    September 14, 2007

    Friday's injury report

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:39 PM

    Seattle Player Injury Status
      WR D.J. Hackett High ankle sprain Out
      LB Leroy Hill Sprained foot Doubtful
      RB Maurice Morris Hip Doubtful
      WR Ben Obomanu Hamstring Doubtful
      DT Brandon Mebane Shoulder Probable
    Arizona Player Injury Status
      DT Ross Kolodziej Knee Out
      C Al Johnson Knee Out
      DT Alan Branch Hand Out
      WR Bryan Johnson Hamstring Limited

    Mike Holmgren's comment on New England's punishment

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:40 PM

    Coach Mike Holmgren was asked about the punishment enacted against the Patriots for filming the hand signals of Jets defensive coaches. Specifically, he was asked if the $750,000 in fines and forfeiture of draft pick(s) was appropriate. His reponse:

    "Yeah. I think it was a lot of money and draft choices are very, very important to every team. The commissioner had to make a decision, he made the decision. The only thing I want to say on that whole thing is from what I've read and heard, you know, too often a comment is made that, 'Well, everybody does it.' Well that's not true. That's flat not true. Everybody doesn't do that. I don't us as an organization or me personally to get lumped into that kind of thinking because we don't do that. The rules are rules, and play by the rules."
    --Mike Holmgren

    Shaun Alexander wearing cast on left wrist

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:32 PM

    Shaun Alexander doesn't appear on Seattle's injury report because he hasn't missed any practice time and there is no doubt that he will play Sunday.

    But Alexander practiced wearing a cast on his left hand on Friday, and coach Mike Holmgren said Alexander suffered a sprained wrist.

    "We're being real careful with that," Holmgren said. "He sprained his wrist, and he feels really good about playing with that thing. He feels better and so they're going to rig something up for him during the game and allow him to play."

    Holmgren said it's a small cast, the injury occurred during the game Sunday.

    "I think it does affect him certainly," Holmgren said. "But I told him, 'Heck, maybe we'll put a cast on the other hand and things will get better.' "

    In other injury updates:

  • WR Ben Obomanu (hamstring), LB Leroy Hill (foot) and RB Maurice Morris (hip) did not practice and are doubtful for the game. Holmgren said a final decision will be made Sunday.

  • WR D.J. Hackett (ankle) is out.

  • Rookie WR Courtney Taylor is expected to play as Seattle's fourth receiver if Obomanu is unable to play.

  • Reading Cards

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:11 AM

    Two years ago, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin caught more than 100 passes apiece. Combined, they averaged 12.8 receptions and 185.3 yards receiving per game. On Monday in San Francisco, the duo totaled seven receptions, but only one of those gained more than 10 yards. Boldin finished with 22 yards receiving, Fitzgerald with 20.

    The Cardinals longest completion of the game went to running back Edgerrin James and gained all of 15 yards. This story from the Arizona Republic talks about the need for better reads down the field from quarterback Matt Leinart:

    There were guys that were open downfield that we didn't see."
    --Coach Ken Whisenhunt

    This will be something to watch on Sunday. Boldin is 6 feet 1, 217, and Larry Fitzgerald is 6-3, 226, and so big that his helmet looks extra-small. Seattle doesn't have much stature at its corners, and one thing to watch will be if there are times Grant comes up to cover Fitzgerald.

  • The story from the Arizona Republic also includes this tidbit. Defensive back Eric Green kicked himself after the Monday night loss for trying -- and failing -- to recover a fumble in the end zone that would have sealed a win for Arizona. Some said he should have batted it out of the end zone. Well, the Republic heard from the NFL's director of officiating Mike Pereira directed the team to the rule that it is illegal to bat a loose ball in any direction in the end zone. "I feel a little bit better," Green said when he heard.

  • Linebacker Karlos Dansby moved to the middle of Arizona's defense. He's a real excitable type as he showed on Monday night. The kind of guy who's very demonstrative and the Cardinals seem pretty excited about his performance in the middle of their defense, according to this story from the East Valley Tribune.

  • Here's a profile of Lyle Sendlein, the undrafted rookie center from Texas who went to high school in Scottsdale, Ariz., and will start on Sunday for the hometown NFL franchise.

  • Revisiting Branch's reception-less Sunday

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:00 AM

    "It's not you. It's me."

    Everyone has heard it. Some have even said. It's the easy way out. The explanation that's usually more like an escape hatch to a long, potentially tear-inducing, conversation.

    Well coach Mike Holmgren sounded almost like that Monday except he was a coach talking about his starting flanker not a guy trying to call things off with a ladyfriend who demands tweezing to tweeze his eyebrows or snorts when she laughs or has a burgeoning crystal-meth habit.

    But here's what Holmgren said when asked whether Deion Branch's lack of a reception Sunday was the result of the individual or the offense: "It's not him. It's not him. It's me."

    Come on. We've all heard that one before. Some have even used it. So what was the real reason?

    "Really, I would say it's Tampa's fault," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "We were calling plays for him, and they're rolling up to his side or having a safety to his side."

    True enough, the Bucs do indeed possess both the personnel and the game plan to force opposing receivers to the inside and Hasselbeck reasoned correctly that an error-free game was more important than forcing the ball downfield against a Bucs team that never did put the ball in the end zone.

    So instead of throwing the ball downfield to the teeth of Tampa's game plan he dumped the ball off to fullback Mack Strong or tight end Marcus Pollard and even threw three passes to Shaun Alexander, who managed to catch two of them.

    Branch was listed as the intended target on three passes. A quick slant was broken up by a defender, a lob was over his head in the corner of the end zone and there was one more opportunity and that was his day.

    "He had a good game," Hasselbeck said, "he just didn't catch balls. There's a lot more to it then catching passes."

    You know, "It's not him, it's me."

    But still. Zero catches? None. This is a guy who hasn't finished without a catch since November 2002 when he was a rookie out of Louisville, not a Super Bowl MVP.

    This is the guy the Seahawks traded a first-round pick for last season. The one they signed to a big-bucks contract that had Darrell Jackson writing, "I want D.B. money" on his shoes for one game after Branch joined the Seahawks.

    But here's the thing. Branch didn't act like a No. 1 receiver. Not last Sunday, and that's not a knock on him, but a comment on the position that employs the divas of the NFL. Guys who shout for the ball in the huddle and imagine touchdown celebrations in advance.

    Terrell Owens didn't catch a pass in the first half of the Cowboys' game on Sunday night against the Giants and then referred to the first two quarters as a matinee. Randy Moss caught nine passes for the Patriots and proved beyond any doubt that he didn't even bother to lick the stamp to mail in his performances last season in Oakland, instead using premetered postage.

    No. Branch isn't like that.

    "I'd say the best thing about Deion," Hasselbeck said, "just the most pleasant, is he didn't catch a pass, and if no one had told me that, I don't know if would have known. He's in a great mood. He's happy the team won. He's not pouting."

    Oh, it was a little tough for Branch. In the beginning at least. When the Seahawks were down 6-0 and couldn't move the ball much on their first three possessions.

    "Once we started moving the ball, everything was cool," Branch said.

    Really? Even after he finished with no catches on the stat sheet?

    "That stuff happens," Branch said. "You know what I'm saying? Me as an offensive player, as a receiver, I would like [the ball]. But sometimes the defense does certain things."

    That's not how most receivers act. They stash extra-large gold blazers on the sideline predicting Hall of Fame appearances. They bark for the ball in the huddle. They scream about being open even when they're double-covered and after the game they're liable to throw a hissy-fit if they didn't get enough opportunities because how's playmaker supposed to make plays if no one throws him the ball.

    If you're looking for someone to be indignant, look somewhere else. Branch's streak of games with a consecutive reception ended at 55 on Sunday, but he wasn't counting.

    "I'm not worried about how many games streak I was on," he said. "I really don't know so I really don't care. The biggest thing is that we won. That's the most important thing."

    That doesn't mean the Seahawks have lost their urgency to getting Branch the ball, though.

    "I must get him the ball," Holmgren said. "I'll figure out ways. I don't want him to have games where he doesn't have a catch."

    In other words, "It's not him, it's me." A line of thinking everyone can understand.

    September 13, 2007

    Practice update

    Posted by Jose Romero at 3:44 PM

    WR D.J. Hackett, RB Maurice Morris and LB Leroy Hill missed another day of practice Thursday.

    WR Ben Obomanu, who just returned from a hamstring injury to practice this week, was limited today. And the latest addition to the non-participatory list was rookie DT Brandon Mebane, whom the team said has a shoulder injury.

    Mebane got "Stick of the Week" recognition on special teams for crashing into Tampa Bay's B.J. Askew on a return last Sunday. But Mebane admitted feeling dizzy after the hit and was unable to describe anything more than a head-to-head collision.

    CB Kevin Hobbs, who is on the practice squad, got a "Good play, Hobbs," from coach Mike Holmgren after knocking away two Matt Hasselbeck passes for the scout team defense. And CB Josh Wilson ended practice with an interception for the No. 1 defense in the two-minute drill.

    Shaun's "boo-boo"

    Posted by Jose Romero at 3:36 PM

    Shaun Alexander has worn a cast over his left hand and wrist in practice the past two days, but downplayed any notion that it's serious.

    Alexander has been taking part in practice so does not have to be on the team's daily injury update. He was asked about the cast.

    "Dude, it's everything," Alexander said with a smile. "No, it's just football. We're just making sure that we're OK."

    Alexander wouldn't say how he got hurt, calling it "the weirdest thing."

    "I woud call it a boo-boo. That's what I use on my daughter," Alexander said. "Boo-boos are good."

    "A boo-boo with a boo-boo protector."

    The fact that Alexander is practicing indicates that whatever is wrong must not be major. But you never know. Alexander cracked his foot in the first game of last season and played on it for three games before it got worse. Then he missed the next six games.

    The Seahawks aren't required to list any player's availability status until tomorrow.

    Reading Cards

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:44 AM

    Who's to blame for the Cardinals' 102 yards worth of passing offense on Monday night in San Francisco? Coach Ken Whisenhunt says it's him in this story from the Arizona Republic. The gameplan was too big. Quarterback Matt Leinart says it was him. He has to do a better job studying and understanding that game plan. Left unsaid is that everyone apparently agrees upon one fact: That 102-yard performance was a stinker.

    Also, the Cardinals have a pair of hometown kids starting on the offensive line this weekend. Guard Deuce Lutui is a second-year player from Mesa, center Lyle Sendlein is an undrafted free agent who went to high school in Scottsdale. They even met on a recruiting trip while in high school. Oh. That's downright heartwarming. Here's their story from the Rebublic.

    Well, the Cardinals are 0-1 again just as they have been in 16 of the 20 seasons since moving to Arizona. Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic begins his hand-wringing over the season-opening loss with a mention of divine signs:

    The Cardinals have a Pope on their roster. They also have a Moses. And should they ever draft a player named Noah, they've already got his Shipp in tow.
    September 12, 2007

    Wednesday practice attendance

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:00 PM

    Seattle Player Injury Status
      WR D.J. Hackett High ankle sprain Out
      LB Leroy Hill Sprained foot Did not practice Sept. 12
      RB Maurice Morris Hip Did not practice Sept. 12
    Arizona Player Injury Status
      DT Ross Kolodziej Knee Out
      C Al Johnson Knee Out
      DT Alan Branch Hand Did not practice Sept. 12

    Cardinals to start rookie center

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:06 PM

    The Cardinals will to start rookie Lyle Sendlein at center this week, Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Sendlein was undrafted out of Texas.

    Starter Al Johnson suffered a knee injury in Arizona's Monday night game against San Francisco. Whisenhunt that Nick Leckey may not be completely recovered from a sprained knee.

    Arizona signed Chukky Akobi, a backup center in Pittsburgh the past couple years with Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt.

    Seneca stays put ... for now

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:39 PM

    There was plenty of conjecture that Charlie Frye's addition to Seattle's roster would pave the way for Seneca Wallace to return punts or catch passes.

    That could happen, coach Mike Holmgren said.

    "That could happen," Holmgren said. "In the future, though. Now let's all just slow down here just a little bit on that one ... that's somewhere down the road there."

    Holmgren talked about Wallace getting a larger role in the offense if the team could find someone it's confident of as the third-string quarterback. Picking up that veteran has been tough, though, because he would come to Seattle to be the third-string quarterback, a role most veteran quarterbacks see only as a last resort. Seattle brought in David Carr on a free-agent visit this offseason, but he signed to be Carolina's backup. The Seahawks also talked to Drew Bledsoe, who subsequently retired.

    Now, Frye comes in one week after he was the starting quarterback for the Browns to be the third-string quarterback.

    "My hope has always been that I could bring in a third quarterback who I felt could come in and play," Holmgren said. "I mean really play in which case that would free up Seneca to do some other things.

    "Now, maybe we are in that situation, but it won't be for a while. It will not be for a while. So we just have to wait."

    Injury updates: Hill, Hackett, Morris not expected to practice

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:41 PM

    Linebacker Leroy Hill suffered a sprained foot. He was on crutches on Monday and he is not expected to practice. Coach Mike Holmgren indicated the sprain was not serious, but did not know about Hill's availability for this weekend.

    Wide receiver D.J. Hackett won't play this week. He suffered a high ankle sprain, which Holmgren reiterated is not in danger of being a season-ending injury, but the recovery schedule is uncertain.

    Morris' injury was not disclosed. He was limping after Sunday's game.

    September 11, 2007

    President Tim Ruskell explains rationale of Tuesday's trades

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:24 PM

    President Tim Ruskell just concluded a conference call with local reporters concerning Tuesday's trades, and he discussed the speculation that acquiring quarterback Charlie Frye would create opportunities for Seneca Wallace to move to a position other than backup quarterback.

    "This is not about replacing Seneca," Ruskell said. "Anybody that would come in and develop, that would certainly take time. That's not why Charlie's here."

    The Seahawks acquired Frye because they wanted to have three quarterbacks on the roster. Ruskell said Seattle was looking at Frye or Ken Dorsey, the quarterback Cleveland signed to its roster to fill the spot vacated by Frye.

    "He was the best guy out there that still would be available that had some experience," Ruskell said of Frye.

    The trade of defensive end Bryce Fisher was a decision that was difficult to make, Ruskell said.

    "A model in terms of what we want a Seahawk to be," Ruskell said. "That's what made it very hard to do."

    The decision was made in large part because of the development of Baraka Atkins, the fourth-round pick from Miami who was on the inactive roster in Sunday's season-opener. Also, the addition of Ellis Wyms, who can play both tackle and end, created a glut of numbers along the defensive line and the Seahawks opted to clear the path for a younger player like Wyms.

    As for the draft picks involved, those have not been specified, but Ruskell did say they were two picks that were in the same range. Presumably, the Seahawks acquired a second-day choice for Fisher and dealt a second-day pick for Frye.

    Resetting the dominos

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:44 PM

    The Seahawks announced the pair of trades they completed on Tuesday, sending Bryce Fisher to Tennessee and acquiring Charlie Frye from Cleveland. The team's announcement is linked here.

    Now, let's analyze how this shakes out in its impact on the team. Plenty of people are connecting the dots between Frye's acquisition, the ankle injury to D.J. Hackett and the always-alluring possibility of using Seneca Wallace as a receiver or a punt returner.

    That may be true. Eventually. But it will be weeks, and more likely months before Frye is well-versed enough in Seattle's offense for coach Mike Holmgren to feel comfortable risking his backup, Wallace, in that way.

    That observation is not based on any definitive statements from the team in the wake of the deals, but more of an informed inference.

    Losing Hackett hurts. He was a starter, a player who's strong getting to balls in the air and he has done nothing but be extraordinarily productive with the opportunities he got over the past two seasons.

    But his injury does not leave the Seahawks hamstrung at that position. A lot was made of Seattle's depth at receiver during training camp. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said this was as deep top to bottom as the receivers have ever been and Holmgren said on Monday that wide receiver Ben Obomanu was in the team's plans to be used in the season opener until his hamstring injury. The expectation is Obomanu can play this Sunday in Arizona.

    Two years ago, the Seahawks were hamstrung by injuries at receiver. Bobby Engram suffered broken ribs, Darrell Jackson injured his knee -- requiring surgery -- and tight end Jerramy Stevens kept suffering dislocated fingers. Seattle was running out of guys to catch passes by the end of an overtime loss at Washington in October 2005. Holmgren didn't resort to using Wallace at receiver the next week so it seems an illogical stretch to think that one injury at a time when the Seahawks are very deep at the position now will prompt a shift.

    Incorporating Wallace in those ways might be a long-term possibility if Frye develops into the kind of backup quarterback Holmgren wants, but moving Wallace out from under center is not going to be some short-term fix.

    The Seahawks needed a third quarterback. It's what Holmgren is comfortable with, and it's also good business. The Packers developed backups like Aaron Brooks and Matt Hasselbeck, eventually getting assets for those players. And a third-string quarterback is how the Seahawks developed Seneca Wallace from a fourth-round pick into a backup quarterback who went 2-2 as a starter in place of Matt Hasselbeck.

    The Seahawks cut David Greene before the regular season concluding after two seasons that the 2005 third-round pick was not going to develop into an NFL-caliber quarterback. Now, Seattle acquired another third-round pick from that 2005 draft, and they'll see if has the potential to develop into a quarterback capable of contributing. That's a long-term plan, not a stop-gap solution.

    Browns announce Charlie Frye to Seahawks

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:53 PM

    The Cleveland Browns announced the trade of Charlie Frye to the Seahawks for an undisclosed draft pick on the team's Web site.

    Frye was drafted in the third round in 2005, the same year the Seahawks chose David Greene in the third round. Seattle cut Greene in September before the regular-seasonn began.

    Coach Mike Holmgren never entered a season with only two quarterbacks before, and that was not going to be the long-term status. The acquisition of Frye ends the question of who would be the third quarterback.

    Bryce Fisher on his departure

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:03 PM

    Defensive end Bryce Fisher has a weekly radio show on KJR-AM on Tuesday with Dave Mahler. Usually, Fisher hosts the show in person. This week, he called in over the phone and he'll be flying to Tennessee later Tuesday to join the Titans.

    Fisher was asked about the reason for his departure on KJR-AM:

    "Well, I can't speak for Mr. Ruskell or coach Holmgren or the people upstairs. The only thing I can say is they feel comfortable with what they have. I mean there's a log jam at the position. I mean, anybody who has paid attention to our team the last couple of months or so, we've been adding defensive ends like they're water. So somebody had to go, and obviously they thought it should be me."

    Fisher started at left end the past two years, a spot now filled by Patrick Kerney. Darryl Tapp won the spot at starting right end with strong play during the exhibition season. The development of fourth-round pick Baraka Atkins also figures into the decision as does the addition of Ellis Wyms, a defensive lineman who can play both end and tackle.

    Fisher was the third defensive end in the Seahawks opener, and was on the field for about 15 plays by my count. That role may have been reduced as Wyms familiarizes himself with Seattle's defense and Atkins continues to develop.

    Fisher believes he has the talent to start at defensive end in the NFL, but losing that starting spot wasn't going to affect his energy on the field or attitude about the team.

    Midseason trades: A historical primer

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:16 AM

    Football is different from the country's other two largest professional sports leagues. Midseason trades in the NFL aren't just the exception, they're an aberration, but they have become more frequent. This is the second consecutive season the Seahawks completed a deal between the first and second game. Last year, they acquired wide receiver Deion Branch, giving up a first-round pick to the Patriots and a brand-new contract for Branch. Here's a breakdown of all regular-season trades completed by Seattle in franchise history:


    Player Date From For
    WR Deion Branch Sept. 11, 2006 Patriots First-round pick
    WR Jerry Rice Oct. 10, 2004 Raiders Conditional pick
    WR Darryl Hobbs Sept. 30, 1997 Saints Conditional draft pick
    S Vann McElroy Oct. 16, 1990 Raiders 8th-round pick
    LB Fredd Young Sept. 8, 1988 To Colts For two 1st-round picks
    TE Dan Ross Oct. 15, 1985 Bengals 4th-round choice
    T Steve August Oct. 9, 1984 To Steelers For 5th-round choice
    G Tom Lynch Oct. 13, 1981 To Bills For 3rd-round choice
    RB Theotis Brown Oct. 13, 1981 Cardinals Two 4th-round choices
    RB Horace Ivory Sept. 25, 1981 Patriots 3rd-round choice
    DE Ernie Price Sept. 27, 1978 Lions DT Bill Cooke, 8th-round pick

    Follow-up on the deals

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:35 AM

    The Seahawks are expected to complete a trade for Charlie Frye later on Tuesday, but nothing has been announced by either team. Frye started Cleveland's season-opener against Pittsburgh.

    Secondly, the Seahawks are not going to disclose the draft pick received in the acquisition of defensive end Bryce Fisher.

    Report: Seahawks acquire QB Charlie Frye

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:12 AM

    The Seahawks acquired Charlie Frye, the Browns quarterback, in a trade, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.

    Frye started Sunday's season-opener at quarterback for Cleveland, but there were indications on Monday the Browns were bringing back Ken Dorsey in anticipation of making a change at quarterback.

    Coach Mike Holmgren indicated last week he had never began a season with only two quarterbacks as he did this year with only Seneca Wallace behind Matt Hasselbeck on the depth chart. Holmgren indicated the Seahawks would add another quarterback at some point during the season.

    Presumably, Frye will take the roster spot vacated by Bryce Fisher, the defensive end who was traded to Tennessee for a draft choice on Tuesday.

    More changes coming?

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:52 AM

    Tuesday's trade of Bryce Fisher probably isn't going to be the last move the Seahawks make on Tuesday. It's likely they were clearing a roster spot for another player. Stay tuned. We'll see if they add a quarterback.

    Also, for salary-cap information. Fisher's base salary for 2007 was $2.4 million. The Seahawks pay one-sixteenth of that total. He had one year remaining on his contract.

    He goes to Tennessee where Mike Reinfeldt is the general manager. Reinfeldt worked in the Seahawks front office when Seattle signed Fisher so he's familiar with the player.

    Bryce Fisher traded

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:39 AM

    Defensive end Bryce Fisher has been traded to the Tennessee Titans for what a future draft choice.

    Fisher's agent, Peter Schaffer, confirmed the deal. It is unknown the specifics of the draft choice.

    Fisher started at left defensive end for the Seahawks the past two years. The Seahawks signed Patrick Kerney this offseason, meaning Fisher move to the right side. Darryl Tapp won the starting spot at that end position during training camp. Fisher played both end spots in a reserve role in Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.

    This was not a trade Fisher asked for, but his agent emphasized that Fisher understands the realities of being under contract and the possibility that contract can be assigned to another team.

    "The one thing that I think that everybody knows about Bryce Fisher is if you were to look in the Webster's dictionary for a professional, it's a picture of him," Schaffer said.

    "His time in Seattle, as he told me, was the greatest years of his professional career because he not just helped the team to the Super Bowl."

    Fisher did numerous activities in the community. He helped fund raise for Gilda's Club and also hosted a golf tournament each of the past two seasons.

    September 10, 2007

    Linebacker Leroy Hill, on crutches for precautionary reasons

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:15 PM

    The Seahawks do not practice Mondays, but linebacker Leroy Hill was on crutches, something described as a precautionary measure. Hill's foot is sore.

    Hill is a third-year player starting at outside linebacker for the Seahawks.

    QB or not QB

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:23 PM

    Was Mike Holmgren serious when he brought up Seneca Wallace as a wide receiver?

    Probably not.

    Was he joking? Nope. Not entirely.

    Holmgren brought up Wallace with regard to what the Seahawks will do with D.J. Hackett out with an ankle injury. Holmgren expects second-year receiver Ben Obomanu will be available after missing last week's game because of a hamstring injury and the Seahawks could also use rookie Courtney Taylor on the active roster.

    "My ace in the hole, Seneca Wallace, is always around," Holmgren said.

    Is that a realistic possibility?

    "Might be," Holmgren said.

    Not with only two quarterbacks on the roster. That situation is expected to change, though. The Seahawks likely will add a third quarterback. Who? Holmgren wasn't saying. He was asked if the Seahawks would bring any quarterbacks in for workouts this week.

    "I don't know," he said. "I don't think so. When we do it, we'll just do it. We know most of the quarterbacks."

    Stay tuned on that one.

    D.J. Hackett, high ankle sprain

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:53 PM

    D.J. Hackett suffered a high ankle sprain while making his only reception in Sunday's game. Coach Mike Holmgren said Hackett was on his toe, pivoting when he was hit.

    A high ankle sprain is different from a player rolling his ankle, which coaches refer to as a "basketball ankle sprain." That type of sprain is an injury to the ligament on the outside of the ankle joint and is more a week-to-week situation.

    A high ankle sprain involves the ligament above the ankle joint. It does not cause swelling and can not be reinforced with a brace and the recovery period is tougher to determine.

    Holmgren did not render a guess on when Hackett could be back. Holmgren was asked if he could be out a month, and Holmgren said yes.

    Wide receiver Ben Obomanu missed this game because of a strained hamstring, and Holmgren said he's hopeful Obomanu can play this week. He could be practicing on Wednesday. The Seahawks also have rookie Courtney Taylor from Auburn on the 53-man roster. He was inactive on Sunday, but figures to be available this week.

    I'm headed down to talk to players now. I'll post more this afternoon.

    National perspectives on the Northwest

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:39 AM

  • ESPN.com's Mike Sando looks at how Sunday's game changed after Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia was knocked out of the game.

    Garcia was down. The Bucs' season was in jeopardy of going down with him.

    Tampa Bay trailed by four points when Garcia left midway through the third quarter. The Bucs trailed by 14 when he returned midway through the fourth. The Seahawks won, 20-6.

    The Bucs didn't need a refresher course on life without a viable quarterback, but they got one.

  • Sports Illustrated's Bucky Brooks listed Seattle's front seven on his bullish market of six stocks that rose on Sunday:

    The Seahawks dominated the Bucs' offensive line on the way to five sacks. DEs Patrick Kerney (1.5) and Darryl Tapp (0.5) provided the pressure off the edge in the base defense, but it was Julian Peterson who changed the tempo of the game by sacking the Bucs' QB twice from his nickel edge rush spot. The Seahawks hounded the Bucs' quarterbacks all day and their mix of zone dogs completely disrupted the timing of the Bucs' passing game.

  • Sports Illustrated's Peter King concluded the NFC stinks given the opening week of the season when conference heavyweights New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle and Philadelphia had a combined total of three offensive touchdowns and went 1-3. King ranks Seattle seventh in the league, second-highest of any NFC team:

    Shaun Alexander, healthy, 27 carries for 105 yards. Alexander said in our NFL preview issue that Eric Dickerson's 2,105-yard NFL rushing record and Tomlinson's record of 31 touchdowns in a season are his goals. Well, 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns to go, big fella.
  • Holmgren on Hackett:"My hope is that it wasn't as bad as they thought last night."

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:25 AM

    The only significant injury the Seahawks suffered on Sunday was wide receiver D.J. Hackett, who went down with an ankle injury.

    Coach Mike Holmgren said on his Monday morning radio show on KIRO that Hackett underwent tests on Sunday evening and will know more about the injury later today. Holmgren said Hackett will be back this season -- meaning there's no fear the receiver suffered a season-ending injury -- but that it may take some time.

    "My hope is that it wasn't as bad as they thought last night," Holmgren said.

    The Seahawks were down to three wide receivers after Hackett's injury in the first half.

    No. 5 receiver Ben Obomanu has been limited by a strained hamstring and rookie Courtney Taylor was among the eight players the Seahawks declared inactive on Sunday. Expect to see one or both of those receivers step into the rotation at receiver over the next week.

    "We have young receivers who I think are ready to step in and play," Holmgren said. "We have a little more depth at that position."

    Obomanu excelled during the exhibition schedule before suffering the strained hamstring that kept him out of the final exhibition game.

    Holmgren will have a more precise update on Hackett when he talks to reporters at 2:15 this afternoon in Kirkland.

    A word of warning about season-openers

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 7:33 AM

    Tampa Bay may be unambiguously terrible this season. That's a qualifying statement that should be copied and pasted next to any analysis of Sunday's game.

    The Seahawks pass rush generated five sacks without calling that many blitzes, but the Buccaneers might be awful as cod-liver oil.

    Seattle's defense gave up only five first downs in all of the second half, but Tampa Bay's offense may turn out to be dangerous as a pet rock.

    And now that those little tidbits are out of the way, let's continue gushing about a defense that didn't give up a touchdown and knocked Carnell Williams and Jeff Garcia out of the game at least for a little while.

    A great deal of time was spent this training camp talking about the defense, which is stocked with six players picked on the first day over the past three drafts and big-budget additions like Julian Peterson, Patrick Kerney and Deon Grant. Is this the year Seattle's defense proves more capable than its offense? Looked that way on Sunday.

    Ooooooh. That was my reaction to seeing a replay of Lofa Tatupu's hit that knocked Tampa Bay running back Carnell Williams. That hit would have dented any Cadillac, and Williams left the game with a rib injury.

    Jerry Brewer wrote about the impact of Kerney and the performance of the rebuilt defense on Monday in a colum you can find right here. This is a unit that finished 19th in total defense last season, and Jerry says it must finish in the top 12 this year. Seattle invested too much to have the performance tail off, but that's just what happened the past four seasons. Seattle allowed 10 points or fewer in three of the last four season-openers and in each case tailed off after that.

     
    2006    
    2005    
    2004    
    2003    
      Game 1 2-16 Game 1 2-16 Game 1 2-16 Game 1 2-16
    Points 6 22.3 24 16.5 7 24.4 10 21.1
    Rush yds. allowed 38 132.7 119 92.7 74 130.5 151 107.2
    Yards per rush 2.2 4.7 3.8 3.6 3.9 4.5 4.6 3.8
    Pass yds. allowed 213 202.9 243 221.1 207 225.5 119 224.1
    Sacks 3 2.5 3 3.1 2 2.3 3 2.4
    September 9, 2007

    A final thought

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:18 PM

    Maurice Morris' 34-yard touchdown catch didn't give Seattle the lead like Shaun Alexander's 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. It didn't turn the momentum like Nate Burleson's 56-yard punt return, either.

    But the pass to Morris was the most decisive play in Seattle's victory, its impact magnified because it was so unexpected.

    The intended target on the play was Bobby Engram, who said Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber forced him toward the inside and double coverage. That left Morris alone on the outside with linebacker Derrick Brooks chasing him. You could listen to Engram talk about that aspect of the play in this link that was right here, but it was taken down to comply with the rules of the National Fascist Football League.

    I can't quite close this entry without pointing out the possibility that Tampa Bay might truly be terrible. Now, the Bucs defense won't ever be awful because Monte Kiffin is one of the better coaches in the league and any team with Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber still showing a pulse isn't going to be terrible, but the Seahawks defense will face much more difficult tests than the offense the Bucs rolled out there on Sunday.

    Offense: Good, bad and ugly

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:02 PM

    The good: Shaun Alexander did not start the game well. He carried four times in the first quarter for a total of 5 yards and never gained more than 2 yards on any of those carries. In the second quarter, he looked downright slow when he got the ball moving to his right on third-and-goal at the Tampa Bay 7 and lost three yards. But he averaged 4.4 yards per carry in the second half, and his running was a big reason Seattle grabbed hold of the game's tempo. He finished with 105 yards rushing and one proverbial tip of the cap from his quarterback. "I thought he ran hard on that first drive [of the second half] where we got it going," Hasselbeck said.

    The bad: Deion Branch failed to catch a pass for the first time since November 2002, his rookie season. Now, there was a lot of talk about this after the game and the defensive adjustments the Buccaneers made. Hmmm. Don't know if I buy all of that. Branch played four years with the Patriots, and I'll bet he went up against some pretty good defenses and innovative game plans in that time and he never got a goose egg tossed at him his final three seasons in New England. Coach Mike Holmgren went out of his way to say that Branch was anything but disappointed and frustrated on the sidelines. Well if one of the biggest stories of this training camp was an improved rapport between Hasselbeck and Branch and one of the biggest questions is who would be the team's top wide receiver without Darrell Jackson, consider this something to keep a close eye on.

    The ugly: The Seahawks failed to convert only one third-and-1 play all season in 2005. Well, they're already 0-for-2 this year. Ronde Barber made the stop on the first one, and Alexander fumbled on the second one. Hardly a good sign for that being an area the Seahawks improved over a year ago.

    Defensive: Good, bad and ugly

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:59 PM

    The good: The Seahawks were able to generate pressure on the Buccaneers without calling a lot of blitzes. Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said there were only two or three times that Seattle brought extra pressure. Still, Seattle finished with five sacks, and showed a new nickel alignment in which Patrick Kerney moved in from end to tackle next to Rocky Bernard while Darryl Tapp and Julian Peterson lined up as ends. In essence, the Seahawks put their best four pass rushers on the field in that play. There were times it seemed Bucs quarterbacks held onto the ball too long. Coverage sack: That's a term not heard to often in these parts over the past few years.

    The bad: The Seahawks had two roughing-the-passer penalties. The first one against Leroy Hill gave Tampa Bay a first down after the Seahawks stopped the Bucs on third-and-7. The second penalty against Rocky Bernard nullified a fumble recovery by the Seahawks. Replays showed Bernard run into Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia though Bernard said he was pushed into him. "I did try to pull up, but when you've got a 350-guy pushing on you, it's hard to slow," Bernard said.

    The ugly: The Seahawks gave up a 49-yard reception to Joey Galloway in the first quarter. This was exactly the type of big play the Seahawks defense was revamped to avoid. Kelly Jenning was caught in one-on-one coverage against Joe Galloway, who is still one of the very fastest players in the league.

    D.J. Hackett's ankle injury, no timetable for return

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:36 PM

    Coach Mike Holmgren said Hackett was the only Seahawk injured on Sunday.

    "I can't give you a time on his return," Holmgren said.

    Holmgren said he expects he will know more about Hackett's status on Monday. Matt Hasselbeck said the absence of Hackett took away a lot of options from the Seahawks on Sunday because after his injury Seattle was down to three wide receivers.

    "Losing four wides changed things a little bit," Hasselbeck said. "Changed a little bit of what we were trying to do, especially in the red zone we had some things."

    Quick recap

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 6:08 PM

    That resounding thud heard on Sunday afternoon in downtown Seattle was the sound of Seattle's defense putting a good, solid licking on Tampa Bay.

    The Buccaneers lost their starting running back and starting quarterback in the third quarter. Jeff Garcia left with about 7 minutes left in the third quarter after a 3-yard scramble.

    "I just got my bell rung," he said afterward.

    He returned with about 7 minutes left in the game, the Bucs down 14 points.

    Williams suffered a rib injury and Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden was unsure of the severity.

    The Seahawks offense wasn't that aggressive. Matt Hasselbeck threw more underneath. Deion Branch didn't catch a pass and tight end Marcus Pollard led the team in receptions. The players attributed that to Tampa Bay's defense.

    "They kind of force you to different things because they play such a sound scheme," wide receiver Bobby Engram said of Tampa Bay. "You don't want to get frustrated."

    Engram led the Seahawks with 64 yards receiving, and his 49-yard catch was one of the few times Seattle looked deep in this game. That was a read by Engram. Usually on that play, Engram runs a hook. This time he stretched it deep, and Matt Hasselbeck admitted afterward that if he made a better throw the play would have resulted in a touchdown.

    But the Seahawks didn't need to keep looking for an over-the-top performance. Their defense provided the foundation for a by-the-numbers victory.

    Deion Branch, no catches through three quarters

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:38 PM

    He doesn't have a catch and has been the intended receiver just three times by my count, one of them what appeared to be a fade route to the corner. Now Branch has a lot of selling points, but one of them is not an ability to go up and get the ball over a defensive back in the far corner of the end zone. We'll see if the Seahawks start looking to him more.

    First-half observations

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:17 PM

    D.J. Hackett has not returned since injuring his ankle in the first half, which leaves the Seahawks down to three receivers since Ben Obomanu and rookie Courtney Taylor were among the inactives. In a related note, the Seahawks receivers had only three catches in the first half and only one of those was for more than 10 yards.

    The Seahawks failed to convert a third-and-1 in the first half, not a good sign since that's something the Seahawks struggled with a year ago.

    The Seahawks' nickel package is a bit different this season. The Seahawks line up with three defensive ends and linebacker Julian Peterson on the line of scrimmage, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill at linebacker and Jordan Babineaux as the fifth defensive back.

    Coaches always talk about players with a big motor. Watch Patrick Kerney to see exactly what they mean. He doesn't have a great first step, and he gets pressure on the quarterback because he doesn't stop.

    Stevens is in the house

    Posted by Jose Romero at 12:37 PM

    Well, Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden's word is good. Gruden said he expected tight end Jerramy Stevens to play, and sure, enough, I just spotted Stevens in full uniform (No. 86) on the field.

    He's warming up and catching passes. I don't know if many fans saw him because he didn't get much of a reaction.

    Stevens got back to Tampa and practiced with the Buccaneers Friday after two days in an Arizona courtroom where he was found guilty of driving under the influence. And here he is back in Seattle, where he spent the first five years of his NFL career.

    Saturday's inactives, Hackett starter

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:08 PM

    The active roster for Sunday's game has been announced.

    The Seahawks have eight players inactive: RB Alvin Pearman, DE Jason Babin, G Mansfield Wrotto, T Tom Ashworth, WR Courtney Taylor, WR Ben Obomanu, DT Ellis Wyms, DE Baraka Atkins.

    D.J. Hackett will be starting at WR, not Nate Burleson.

    Tampa Bay's inactives: QB Chris Simms, CB Anthony Madison, LB Jeremiah Trotter, DE Patrick Chukwurah, G Anthony Davis, G Dan Buenning, DT Ryan Smiths. Bruce Gradkowski is the third quarterback, in uniform but not on the active roster.

    DE Kevin Carter starts at RDE, not rookie Gaines Adams

    WR Ike Hilliard will start at WR for Maurice Stovall

    RB Michael Pittman starts at FB for B.J. Askew

    S Tanard Jackson will start at FS for Will Allen.

    September 7, 2007

    WR Ben Obomanu doubtful because of hamstring

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:41 PM

    The week's final injury reports were released on Friday afternoon, and the Seahawks and Buccaneers each have one player on it.

    Seattle WR Ben Obomanu is doubtful because of a strained hamstring. He has not practiced this week.

    Tampa Bay DE Patrick Chukwurah is out because of a knee injury. That is not a surprise. He has not practiced and on Wednesday coach Jon Gruden said Gaines Adams would start in his place.

    Bucs tight end Jerramy Stevens missed practice this week, but he is not on the team's injury report. Neither is WR Joey Galloway who was held out of some portions of the team's practices during the week.

    Tapp or Fisher? Hackett or Burleson?

    Posted by Jose Romero at 2:02 PM

    "I'm not telling you," coach Mike Holmgren said just a short while ago when I asked him if he's made decisions on who starts at receiver and defensive end this Sunday along with Deion Branch and Patrick Kerney.

    Looks like it will be Tapp and Hackett, though. Burleson has earned significant playing time, however, and Fisher should see some action.

    Practice is over for today. The team has a walk-through tomorrow to prepare for Sunday's game, then it's time to get the season started.

    Holmgren thinks the Seahawks' captains will be wearing embroidered letter "C's" on their jerseys. That's a nice touch for those six players.

    WR Ben Obomanu did not practice Friday and is not expected to play Sunday after missing all week with a hamstring injury.

    Between now and Sunday morning the coaches must decide who starts and what eight players on the 53-man roster will be inactive for the game. Candidates to be deactivated are LB Will Herring, WR Courtney Taylor (who made a great twisting catch in practice today), OG Mansfield Wrotto, OL Ray Willis, Obomanu, either DE Jason Babin or DE Baraka Atkins, RB Alvin Pearman and SS C.J. Wallace.

    Execs in uniform

    Posted by Jose Romero at 11:54 AM

    No, Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke and chief financial officer Martha Fuller aren't putting on the pads Sunday. But they will be in uniform as event staff at Qwest Field when Seattle hosts Tampa Bay in the regular-season opener.

    Six team executives will sell programs and concessions, offer Jones Soda samples, paint faces and scan tickets before the game. Leiweke will conduct the Blue Thunder drum line at the stadium North Plaza steps at 12:20 p.m.

    Other participating executives are chief operating officer John Rizzardini, vice president-community Mike Flood, vice president-general counsel Lance Lopes and vice president-corporate partners Ron Jenkins.

    Jerramy Stevens found guilty of driving under the influence

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:42 AM

    Jerramy Stevens' trial in Scottsdale, Ariz., concluded, and the jury found him guilty of driving under the influence, according to Caron Close with the Scottsdale prosecutor's office. The judge also found him guilty of some civil traffic infractions.

    The most serious of the charges was for extreme DUI, which is driving with a BAC greater than 0.15. Stevens' BAC was measured at more than 0.20 after a blood test when was arrested in March while a free agent. Under Arizona law, an extreme DUI carries a mandatory-minimum sentence of 30 days in jail. Up to 20 days of that sentence can be suspended for alcohol treatment, but Stevens will have to serve 10 days of that jail sentence in Arizona.

    No sentence was imposed and there is no date for sentencing.

    The question now is whether the verdict will affect Stevens' status for this game. He previously pled guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving in 2003 after he was arrested for driving under the influence while with the Seahawks so he could face league discipline.

    Stevens now plays for Tampa Bay, which plays at Seattle on Sunday. We'll keep monitoring to see if anything happens in that regard.

    Safety first? No. Safeties first.

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:55 AM

    Strong safety Deon Grant and free safety Brian Russell are two of the biggest reasons the Seahawks think their defense is improved this season and you get a double-barrelled look at those two in Friday's paper. Steve Kelley looks at what convinced Grant this was the best situation here in Seattle, namely linebacker Lofa Tatupu. Probably not a coincidence that those two players were elected captains of the defense.

    Russell is profiled right here, looking at how the new quarterback of Seattle's defense was a quarterback, period, in college.

    One of the people I interviewed for the story was Willie Shaw, Russell's defensive coordinator up in Minnesota. Shaw had a comparison. Someone Seattle fans will be familiar with. Shaw thought Russell reminded him of Paul Moyer, both in his play and his understanding of the game. Shaw coached Moyer at Arizona State and always wanted to get him in the pros, too.

    September 6, 2007

    Jerramy Stevens' drunk-driving trial to continue to Friday at least

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:04 PM

    Jerramy Stevens' trial in Scottsdale, Ariz., concluded its second day, and Caron Close of the Scottsdale prosecutor's office said the proceeding will continue to a third day when it's expected to conclude.

    Here's a link to the story from the Arizona Republic after the first day of the trial.

    Thursday in practice

    Posted by Jose Romero at 3:57 PM

    Not much to speak of in practice today. WR Ben Obomanu is still not practicing because of a hamstring injury but is running on his own.

    In Arizona, former Seahawks TE Jerramy Stevens' trial for drunk driving charges continued today. Stevens is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and his coach, Jon Gruden, expects to have him available to play this Sunday. But as the days pass, that seems less likely. The Orlando Sentinel has this story about Stevens.

    The media had hoped to talk to Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander after practice today, but because practice lasted two hours and five minutes, players were rushing off to position meetings and the session with Alexander has been either postponed or delayed. I'll update if he is made available.

    September 5, 2007

    Big Walt is back

    Posted by Jose Romero at 10:32 PM

    This entry is supplemental to Danny's a little while ago. Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones, as expected, is back to practice, taking part in all parts of today's workout except for a brief trip back into the team facility early in practice.

    Jones hit people. He got hit. He ran around and did what he does best, which is block anyone in his path. Most importantly, he took part, which means that barring anything unforeseen with the shoulder he had been resting, Jones will be good to go for Sunday's season opener against Tampa Bay.

    "I feel great," Jones said today after putting on the pads for the first time since the first exhibition game at San Diego Aug. 12. "Just being able to come back and be with the fellas...it feels great. Just to get out there and bang around. It's kind of warm and it will be a warm day going into the game, so it feels kind of good."

    Practice updates protocol re: Walt Jones

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:06 PM

    otb Baby asked the question regarding how Walter Jones looked at practice on Wednesday.

    His health has been the concern bubbling below the surface for many fans considering he missed the final three exhibition games. Is he really that hurt? Why isn't he practicing? Is he just playing safe? Or is this the sign of things to come?

    One practice isn't going to answer all that, but he looked good. It's not like anyone blew by him. That comes with this caveat. I couldn't pick up the difference the way the Immortal Walt practiced during his dominant 2005 season and the practice performance of Just Very Good Walt who played for the Seahawks in 2006. The difference comes out on Sunday when the Seahawks put their faith -- and Hasselbeck's blind side -- in his hands. We'll have more to talk about with Walt on Thursday, I'm sure, given our NFL preview section.

    Watch for the 12

    Posted by Jose Romero at 6:33 PM

    In case you didn't know or hadn't heard, the Seahawks are calling this week "Seahawks Kickoff Week."

    There was a rally today at Westlake Park downtown. A 12th Man flag flyover along the Interstate 5 and I-405 corridors is set for tomorrow and Friday.

    An aircraft will carry a 3,000-square foot flag over the area tomorrow at noon, and again on Friday from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m., 11-1 p.m and 4-6 p.m. The flag will be seen all over the Seattle area from Renton to Bothell and will fly two circles around Qwest Field just after noon.

    Something to mention from practice today: The Seahawks piped in artificial crowd noise while their No. 1 defense was on the field in order to prepare the unit for the Qwest Field din while making signal calls. While the crowd can be a disruptive force for the opposing offense, the defense also has to communicate through any wild noise.

    A salute to the captains

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:35 PM

    Neglected to mention this earlier. The Seahawks elected team captains this week, two from each of the three units on the team. Matt Hasselbeck and Mack Strong from offense, Deon Grant and Lofa Tatupu on defense and special teams Niko Koutouvides and Josh Brown.

    WR Ben Obomanu misses practice

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:03 PM

    Wednesday's injury report now includes only a notation on which players did not practice or were limited in practice.

    The Seahawks missed Ben Obomanu, who did not practice because of a hamstring injury.

    The Bucs missed DE Patrick Chukwurah because of a knee injury. Coach Jon Gruden said Chukwurah will not play.

    TE Jerramy Stevens also missed practice, a personal decision because of his drunk-driving trial in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    WR Joey Galloway had limited participation in practice, which was not described as an injury but a team decision.

    Noon conference update

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:13 PM

    How can you tell the regular season arrives this weekend? Lips are officially zipped when it comes to injuries.

    NFL teams no longer must give a player's injury status on Wednesday. In a league where teams offer up information on a need-to-know basis, that means no one needs to know about the Seahawks' health yet. Coach Mike Holmgren said he expects everyone to practice this afternoon. The player we'll keep an eye out for is cornerback Josh Wilson. He suffered a hip injury in the exhibition finale and we'll update his practice status after practice.

    As for the starters, Holmgren was mum on whether Darryl Tapp or Bryce Fisher is starting at defensive end and if it's D.J. Hackett or Nate Burleson who will start at wide receiver opposite Deion Branch. Holmgren even said the receiver competition is so close it could be a situation where the starter changes depending on the game.

    The beginning of a D-end discussion

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:05 PM

    The question was innocuous, coach Mike Holmgren asked about the different assets that Darryl Tapp and Bryce Fisher bring to the field at defensive end.

    Holmgren said he doesn't want a dropoff when personnel changes at that position.

    "What I have to see from Tapp is the consistency from a young player," Holmgren said. "We know he's quick. We know he can rush the passer. He's got to be good
    against the run. And he's an excitable young man, as you might suspect,
    but he's just got to play and be consistent."

    As for Fisher?

    "Probably the other way," Holmgren said. "In the preseason, I felt Bryce -- and it happens -- he didn't start a couple games and all of a sudden it's a preseason game and he didn't show so well in the game.

    "I know he's a better player than that. I've seen him do it. And I suspect he will crank it up on Sunday. I have to see that. I have to see that extra juice on Sunday. That's what I want to see on that."

    Tapp started the third exhibition game at right end instead of Fisher. In the final exhibition game, both Tapp and Fisher started because Patrick Kerney did not play.

    For Fisher, the exhibition season entailed a switch from the left end to the right side after Kerney's arrival and then watching Tapp start in front of him against Minnesota.

    "It has been frustrating a little bit moving around a little bit, and then not starting," Fisher said. "But Brian Russell told me, 'Pride's a hard pill to swallow, but it will go down.'

    "I'm just looking forward to the season."

    The Seahawks have not announced who will start at right defensive end, and Fisher said he's doing his best not to think about it.

    "I try my best not to," Fisher said. "Only thing I can do is when I play, is do what I do. As long as I've been in the league, that's been good enough."

    Buc DE Gaines Adams facing a tall task

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:20 AM

    Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks completed a conference call with Seattle reporters on Wednesday morning, and one question is whether Bucs rookie Gaines Adams knows what's in store for him.

    Adams, the fourth overall choice in April's draft, will start across from Seattle left tackle Walter Jones.

    "To me, there's no bigger stage and no bigger challenge coming out the box to make a statement of where you want your career to go," Brooks said.

    Bucs personnel update

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:52 AM

    Tampa Bay has only one injury this week, coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday morning. DE Patrick Chukwurah will miss Sunday's game with a knee injury. Rookie Gaines Adams, the fourth overall pick in last April's draft, will start in Chukwurah's place, opposite Seahawks tackle Walter Jones.

    Gruden said he expects Jerramy Stevens to play in Sunday's game. Stevens won't be at Bucs practice on Wednesday because his trial on charges of drunk driving began this morning in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    September 4, 2007

    Boulware: "Nothing to prove"

    Posted by Jose Romero at 4:45 PM

    The Houston Chronicle ran a story today about former Seahawks safety Michael Boulware, who was traded on Saturday to the Houston Texans for DE Jason Babin. Boulware has some interesting comments.

    "Jackson doesn't practice." Sound familiar?

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:06 AM

    Here's a note from the bottom of a Sacramento Bee story on the 49ers competition for No. 3 wide receiver: "[Darrell] Jackson (hamstring) ... did not take part in the full session." Hmmm. Now where have we heard that before?

    Allen Iverson didn't care for talking about practice, and Jackson isn't much for taking part in it. At least he wasn't for much of his last season in Seattle.

    Tampa Bay links

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:45 AM

    DE Gaines Adams was the fourth player chosen in last April's draft. His first NFL assignment is a large one: Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones. Adams will start at right end because Patrick Chukwurah is injured. Here's the story from the Tampa Tribune.

  • Bucs coach Jon Gruden tried the, "Look it's Elvis" strategy on Sunday. Tired of talking about the saga of Chris Simms, Gruden said he wanted to start talking about his starting quarterback. The Orlando Sentinel indulged Gruden's wishes in this story right here.

    Here are the facts. Garcia is playing for his fifth team in five years, Brett Favre is the only NFL starting QB older than him and backup Luke McCown hasn't attempted an NFL pass either of the past two seasons. Other than that, everything looks great for the Bucs under center.

  • Seahawks defensive turnover

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:43 AM

    Here's a link to the story from Tuesday's paper about the transformation of the defensive personnel over the past two years.

    Twenty of the 25 defensive players on Seattle's roster were acquired after Tim Ruskell became president in February 2005. That's pretty amazing.

    Even more striking is what happened to the players the Seahawks drafted in rounds 1-3 from 2001-2004. These are the first-day picks. The players expected to step into the lineup sooner rather than later and become bricks in the foundation of the team moving forward.

    The Seahawks chose 14 players on the first day of the draft from 2001-'04. Only four remain with the team. I'm currently putting together a look at how that compares to other teams around the league, but at face value, it's pretty striking.

    Now some of that is the result of the change in the front office. A new president doesn't have as much invested in players not drafted under his watch making it easier to cut bait in some respects. Some of it is the fact that Robinson, Stevens and Hunter all had citizenship issues during their time in Seattle and each was involved in a legal incident right about the time the team cut ties with them.

    2001 Player Now
    1. WR Koren Robinson Released, June 2005, now in Green Bay, suspended from NFL.
    1. G Steve Hutchinson Left as restricted free agent 2006. Now with Minnesota.
    2. CB Ken Lucas Left as unrestricted free agent 2005. Now with Carolina.
    3. FB Heath Evans Not re-signed, 2005. Now with New England.
    2002 Player Now
    1. TE Jerramy Stevens Not re-signed, 2007. Now with Tampa Bay.
    2. RB Maurice Morris Re-signed 2006. Still with Seahawks.
    2. DE Anton Palepoi Released, Sept. 14, 2004. No longer in league.
    3. CB Kris Richard Traded to Miami, August 2005.
    2003 Player Now
    1. CB Marcus Trufant Still with Seahawks, one year left on rookie contract.
    2. S Ken Hamlin Not re-signed 2007. Now with Dallas.
    3. OL Wayne Hunter Released, June 2006.
    2004 Player Now
    1. DT Marcus Tubbs Still with Seahawks, placed on injured reserve.
    2. S Michael Boulware Traded to Houston, September 2007.
    3. OL Sean Locklear Still with the team, signed one-year contract this offseason.

    September 3, 2007

    Jordan Babineaux working at cornerback

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 7:07 PM

    A couple more notes, I've been listing Jordan Babineaux as a safety, his primary position last year. He's playing cornerback right now and is a candidate to be the team's fifth defensive back in nickel packages. Also, defensive coordinator John Marshall said no decision has been made on the team's starting right defensive end, which has been a competition between Darryl Tapp and Bryce Fisher.

    Ellis Wyms, one-year deal

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:37 PM

    No contract specifics, but the Seahawks signed Wyms to a one-year deal on Monday.

    No third quarterback for now

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:29 PM

    Coach Mike Holmgren couldn't remember ever entering a season with only two quarterbacks on his active roster, but it's not a situation he expects to last too long.

    "Before too long we'll probably have three quarterbacks," Holmgren said. "I couldn't tell you right now who that's going to be, but I have never done this. But we talked about it and for right now, it's OK."

    The Buccaneers currently have four quarterbacks on their roster, and the two numbers may not be a coincidence. There was a great deal of speculation Tampa Bay was going to release Chris Simms, a quarterback drafted by the Bucs when Tim Ruskell and Ruston Webster were there in Tampa Bay. Perhaps the Bucs were worried the Seahawks might not only pick him up but pick his brain headed into the first game?

    The Seahawks are not expected to bring any quarterbacks in for a tryout early this week, but of course that could change.

    For now, Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace are the only quarterbacks on the roster. Hasselbeck said it's a little strange, having gone from five quarterbacks just a couple of weeks ago in training camp to just two, but that's also something that's not his responsibility to worry about.

    "It's my job to stay healthy and make it so we only need one quarterback," Hasselbeck said.

    Injury chart

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:20 PM

    Player Injury Date of injury Prognosis
    LT Walter Jones Shoulder Ongoing condition "It's feeling better, feeling great. I just have to go out there and do a little contact."
       -- Walter Jones, Sept. 3
    WR Ben Obomanu Strained hamstring Practice Aug. 28 "He's a little more problematic ... but he's coming along so I would rule him out right now."
        -- Mike Holmgren, Sept. 3
    CB Josh Wilson Hip Injured in exhibition game, Aug. 30 Josh will be OK. Now whether he practices Wednesday or not, I think he'll be OK."
        --Holmgren, Sept. 3
    TE Ben Joppru Uncertain Did not practice Sept. 3 Holmgren said he expects Joppru will be fine

    Practice roll call

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:10 PM

    Four players did not practice on Monday. Left tackle Walter Jones sat out, but says his shoulder feels better. Coach Mike Holmgren said he will play in this weekend's season-opener.

    Ben Obomanu missed practice with a strained hamstring. His availability for this week is less certain. Cornerback Josh Wilson and tight end Ben Joppru did not practice, but Holmgren said both will be fine.

    Russell Davis cut

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:07 PM

    The Seahawks cut nosetackle Russell Davis to make room for Ellis Wyms, the defensive tackle the Seahawks signed after he was waived by the Bucs.

    Bucs add linebacker

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:31 PM

    Tampa Bay agreed to terms with Jeremiah Trotter, according to this report from ESPN.com. Trotter is the linebacker Philadelphia let go during training camp.

    Ellis Wyms in Seattle

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:49 AM

    The Seahawks are ready to add defensive tackle Ellis Wyms, released by Tampa Bay over the weekend.

    Wyms is in Seattle today and a contract could be signed by this afternoon as it appears the parameters of the deal are already in place.

    Wyms is in his seventh season in the NFL and the Buccaneers drafted him in 2001. He bolsters the depth along a defensive line which lost tackle Marcus Tubbs to a season-ending knee injury suffered in the final exhibition game.

    The Seahawks will have to release a player from the 53-man roster to make room for Wyms, but since the contract is not signed they have not made that move yet.

    Jerramy Stevens' trial

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:07 AM

    We've been monitoring the progress of Jerramy Stevens' drunk-driving case in Arizona not just because he's a former Seahawks, but because it would affect his availability for the Bucs in the season-opener on Sunday.

    Stevens trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 5, which is Wednesday. Defense motions to suppress evidence and dismiss charges were denied last month. Stevens has not been suspended by the NFL, but could depending on the outcome of the case.

    Bucs coach Jon Gruden told the St. Petersburg Times he expects Stevens to be available for the game. A link to the paper's story is included here.

    Stevens faces a 30-day jail sentence in Arizona if convicted because he is charged with a count of extreme DUI because his blood-alcohol content was measured greater than 0.15.

    Stevens caught seven passes for 100 yards in the Buccaneers final exhibition game against Houston.

    Monday schedule

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:59 AM

    Game week has its own rhythms in the NFL, equal parts repetition and precision. It's a little bit different this week because the Seahawks aren't coming off a game so players will have a full practice instead of the usual stretching routine this afternoon. Practice is at 3, and we'll have coach and player quotes after that.

    September 1, 2007

    Good bye to Boulware

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:53 PM

    Michael Boulware was earnest and he was diligent.

    He was all concentration, no celebration and when he gave up the deciding touchdown to San Diego on Christmas Eve last year he hurt so badly that he hung a towel over his head and sat in front of his locker, wallowing in regret.

    Boulware's personality contained everything a coach could want in a player, but in three years he went from being a rookie who kept the Seahawks from falling out of the playoffs into a castoff traded for a defensive end who might not even make Seattle's team when it's all said and done.

    Boulware was traded on Saturday to Houston for defensive end Jason Babin, a swap of two first-day draft picks from 2004 who had fallen out of the plans of their respective teams. Boulware's long-term fate was sealed last season when he lost his starting job after giving up long touchdown passes in back-to-back games. When he returned to the lineup against San Diego he gave up a big play over the top, letting Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson get behind him for the decisive score.

    Boulware sat in from of his locker after that game, towel over his head and looking as shaken as I've ever seen a professional athlete after a loss. Greg Bishop's story of the game very eloquently captured his emotions:

    "He needed to shed some tears ... a very private moment in a very public place."

    In a screenplay, this would be the low point the hero rebounds from. The moment of adversity when the kid who does everything right watches it all go wrong and then discovers exactly what tough people do when the going gets rough.

    Except this isn't a screenplay. It's the NFL and when the going gets tough the team goes out and finds someone else to do the job. Seattle signed Brian Russell and Deon Grant to play safety.

    There's no disputing the football logic behind that decision. The safeties were the weakpoint of the Seahawks defense last season, one Seattle spent millions to improve in free agency.

    Boulware had a linebacker's instinct in a safety's body. He lacked the speed to make up for the fact that his first step so often took him toward the line of scrimmage when he really needed to be covering his team's back end.

    As a rookie, that flaw was masked because he played the fifth defensive back. Not really a corner, not really a safety. A linebacker with wheels.

    But as a safety, he became a liability. His first step was forward. He just couldn't help it. It was burned into his hard drive.

    Coach Mike Holmgren said as much last season. Boulware gave up a 67-yard touchdown pass to Torry Holt that cost the Seahawks their lead in St. Louis and then he gave up a 40-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Robinson the following week against Minnesota and lost his starting job.

    Two years ago Boulware was heralded as the up-and-coming member of the Seahawks defense. He had nose for the ball, an understanding of the game and a flair for the dramatic. When a defender puts himself in the right place at the right time as often as Boulware did that season, it stops being a coincidence.

    He made two game-saving interceptions. He returned an interception for a touchdown against Miami. There is an argument to be made that the rookie making the transition from linebacker to safety was one of the biggest reasons the Seahawks made the playoffs. Expectations were sky high for him, as detailed in this story from August 2005.

    Now he's gone, beaten out by C.J. Wallace, an undrafted rookie free agent from Washington, and then traded for a defensive end from Houston with 13 sacks in the past three seasons.

    The Seahawks are among those hoping things work out for Boulware. As far as personalities go, they couldn't have asked for anyone better than Boulware. It was his playing style that didn't prove to be a fit here in Seattle.

    Seahawks acquire Jacksonville RB Alvin Pearman

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 6:04 PM

    Seattle acquired running back Alvin Pearman from Jacksonville for an undisclosed, conditional draft pick, according to the Jaguars' team Web site. The Seahawks released David Greene, the third quarterback, to make room for Pearman on the roster.

    The Seahawks bring in Pearman, who caught 32 passes as a rookie in 2005 and returned punts. The conditional nature of the draft pick presumably would afford the Seahawks some protection.

    Seattle enters the season with two quarterbacks, at least for the time being. That's unusual under coach Mike Holmgren. It's also unusual to have only four running backs, and the team's hope is that Pearman could give the Seahawks some blocking oomph in third-down situations in addition to his pass-catching ability.

    As for Greene, no surprise that he's gone. He played in only one exhibition game, struggled in that. Accuracy and arm strength were both issues in his development.

    Here's a link to Pearman's profile on NFL.com.

    Offense, roster breakdown

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:18 PM

    Here's a look at the offense, which includes a list of the number of players the Seahawks have kept at each position on the final cutdown to 53 players entering the season in the past five seasons:

    Quarterbacks
    Made the team   Cut
    Matt Hasselbeck Seneca Wallace Derek Devine
        David Greene*
    Comment: *Greene technically made the first cut, and last a matter of only hours. He is expected to be let go after the Seahawks acquired running back Alvin Pearman from Jacksonville. Don't expect coach Mike Holmgren to go too long before adding a third quarterback, though.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    2 3 3 3 3 3
     
     
    Running backs
    Made the team   Cut
    Shaun Alexander Mack Strong Marquis Weeks
    Maurice Morris Leonard Weaver David Kirtman
    Alvin Pearman*   Josh Parry
    Comment: Parry's cut is a little bit surprising considering his contributions on special teams, but the addition of Pearman via trade explains that. He gives the team some blocking oomph as a third-down back. Weaver makes the team with a strong rushing performance in the final exhibition game.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    5 5 5 5 6 4
     
     
    Wide receivers
    Made the team   Cut
    Deion Branch D.J. Hackett Logan Payne
    Bobby Engram Nate Burleson Joe Fernandez
    Ben Obomanu Courtney Taylor Jordan Kent
    Comment: Taylor looked impressive the first week of training camp, but suffered a knee injury during the scrimmage. He showed enough those first few days to grab a roster spot.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    6 5 7 6 4 5
     
     
    Offensive line
    Made the team   Cut
    Walter Jones Rob Sims Steve Vallos
    Chris Spencer Chris Gray Kyle Williams
    Sean Locklear Tom Ashworth Pat Ross
    Ray Willis Floyd Womack  
    Mansfield Wrotto    
    Comment: No surprises here. The Seahawks kept nine linemen, same as every year except 2003 and even that's deceiving. They had nine, it's just one was suspended to start the season (Chris Terry).
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    9 9 9 9 8 9
     
     
    Tight ends
    Made the team   Cut
    Marcus Pollard Will Heller Joe Newton
    Ben Joppru   Leonard Stephens
    Comment: Stephens struggled that last exhibition game with penalties. Now the Seahawks are hoping Joppru will stay healthy.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    3 3 3 3 3 3

    Defense, roster breakdown

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:01 PM

    Here's an analysis of the Seahawks defensive roster after the cut to 53, including a look at how many players Seattle had at each position after the final cut down to 53 in the previous five seasons:

    Defensive tackles
    Made the team   Cut
    Rocky Bernard Chuck Darby Marcus Green
    Craig Terrill Russell Davis Eric Taylor
    Brandon Mebane    
    Comment: Any question about whether the Seahawks would carry six defensive tackles was rendered moot when Marcus Tubbs suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final exhibition game. Now the question is whether the Seahawks will be looking at run-stopping defensive tackles in the week ahead now that Tubbs is on injured reserve.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    5 5 4 5 5 5
     
     
    Defensive ends
    Made the team   Cut
    Patrick Kerney Darryl Tapp Nu'u Tafisi
    Bryce Fisher Baraka Atkins Brandon Green
    Jason Babin    
    Comment: The Seahawks averaged only one sack over the past seven games and almost one-quarter of their sacks last season occurred in a single game against the Raiders. Tapp played well in the exhibition season. Can this group apply more pressure?
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    5 5 4 5 4 4
     
     
    Linebackers
    Made the team   Cut
    Lofa Tatupu Leroy Hill Cameron Jensen
    Julian Peterson Niko Koutouvides  
    Lance Laury Kevin Bentley  
    Will Herring    
    Comment: Coach Mike Holmgren talked about the Seahawks keeping only six linebackers. Well, the team hasn't kept that few in any year going back to 2002 and they didn't keep that few this season as rookie Will Herring rounds out the group.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    7 7 7 7 8 7
     
     
    Safeties
    Made the team   Cut
    Deon Grant Brian Russell  
    Jordan Babineaux Mike Green  
    C.J. Wallace    
    Comment: Congratulations to Wallace, the only one of this year's undrafted rookie free agent to survive the Seahawks' cutdown to 53. His play in the exhibition season is what made Michael Boulware expendable in the Seahawks' eyes.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    5 4 4 3 4 5
     
     
    Cornerbacks
    Made the team   Cut
    Marcus Trufant Kelly Jennings DeJuan Groce
    Josh Wilson   Omowale Dada
        Pete Hunter
        Kevin Hobbs
    Comment: The Seahawks haven't started any of the previous five seasons with only three cornerbacks, but that's a little deceiving because safety Jordan Babineaux started at cornerback as recently as last season. Still, expect the team to be looking around for a veteran corner who could come in.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    3 4 4 4 5 5
     
     
    Specialists
    Made the team   Cut
    Josh Brown Ryan Plackemeier  
    Derek Rackley    
    Comment: There wasn't a doubt about this configuration at any point during training camp.
    2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
    3 3 3 3 3 3

    S Michael Boulware traded for defensive end

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:01 PM

    The Seahawks traded safety Michael Boulware to the Houston Texans on Saturday in exchange for defensive end Jason Babin.

    The move comes on the day the Seahawks are required to trim their roster to 53 players. The team will take a look at Babin to see if he can add some pass-rush ability from the outside. The move is a sign Boulware may have been among the cuts when the Seahawks trimmed their roster to 53 players today.

    The transaction was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.

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