September 1, 2014 at 5:30 PM
And here's much of what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had to say to the media today:
(Opening) Well we’ve all been waiting to get this thing started. We’re honored to be playing this first Thursday and first game of the year. For everyone that loves this game so much it’s really cool to get it started. It’s a great match up; we have a fantastic opponent and a staff that we respect tremendously. It’s everything you could ask for on opening night. We’re pretty fortunate in that we’re in good shape, pretty healthy going in, a couple questions but not many. We’re all ready to get this thing started. So here we go.
(On Bruce Irvin and Kevin Norwood) We’re taking it day-to-day. Both those guys will practice today and we will see how they handle it. It really takes us, as always, to the next day and we will see how they do. We’re hopeful that they have a chance to play.
(On his overall take on J.R. Sweezy and O’Brien Schofield after both of their impressive performances in preseason) First off, OB [O’Brien Schofield] - he came in knowing he was in a real competitive situation to make the club and everything he did was exemplary. He busted his butt the whole time. He was the guy that demonstrated probably the best motor throughout the whole preseason and just had a great start to getting ready for the season so we’re thrilled about that. He has a lot of versatility. He plays linebacker on outside, plays LEO spot and [special] teams and all that so that’s a good deal for us. Sweezy has just grown. He just continues to grow up. It’s really been a fantastic process for him, a huge transition coming from defense and all of that. He’s at his best. He’s the best he’s been and it really seems to show up each game we’ve played.
(On where he sees the improvement in his team in preseason on the heels of the Super Bowl) We’re such a young football team. It seems like a number of guys, [J.R.] Sweezy is a great example; Russell Wilson is another example of guys that just continue to become more familiar and more comfortable and able to take advantage of the experience that they’ve gained. So we have so many guys that are kind of in that category of the second, third and fourth year guys. They continue to grow and that’s what we’re sensing - that we feel that we’re a little bit smarter, a little more wary, little bit more understanding, little more savvy and hopefully that will work for us.
(On how important Brandon Mebane is to the defense) It’s great whenever you guys bring up Brandon. He’s been such a steady force. He came in in great shape, probably the strongest and the leanest that he’s been in a number of years. He just had a fantastic camp and we totally count on him. He’s been here so long. He’s been a pillar for us upfront and so it’s great that he’s ready to go after having a great off season.
(On how, with the point of emphasis this year, the Seahawks came out of the preseason with three illegal contacts, two interferences and no defensive holds) Well, we literally took it right to heart that there was a big chance and that we maybe had contributed to somewhat to the focus there and that we were going to see if we could really take it to heart, understand it and then act on it on a regular basis. We’ve been through a lot in practice. We’ve done a lot of great emphasis things to get us on track. That was preseason and we still have to carry it but we’re really happy. I’m thrilled to be able to say we weren’t part of the emphasis this time around so we will see what happens. It’s a really good move, really good awareness on our club for our guys to go ahead and take the messaging and act on it.
(On if he’s seeing anything different from Richard Sherman this year compared to last year after his eventful offseason) He’s had his best camp, best offseason work, clearly. He’s so disciplined about what he’s been doing. His attitude has been perfect. He hasn’t missed a minute of practice, has done everything, taken all the reps, done everything that we asked him to do. I think he’s been his most focused. That’s why I’m saying this. He’s been on it the whole time. He’s had a great camp. He’s ready to go.
(On what it says about Richard Sherman that he can cap off a season the way he did with all the attention he got) I think there are a lot of things that Richard tells you that make him special. He shows you why he’s able to do the things he’s done and be so good for this early stretch of his career and continue to work with great focus and pointing towards having a great year this year. He couldn’t have done more for us. We’re really happy to be able to report that.
(On the addition of Kevin Williams to the defensive line group) Kevin keeps the big guys in there. He’s a really good technician. He’s a terrific, savvy player. He allows us to match up against the teams that what to load up against us when we want to get big. He gives us flexibility. He’s going to play a lot. He’s going to be all throughout it. He and Tony [McDaniel] and Michael Bennett, they’re going to be moving around in there to play there spots. But he’s just a real anchor and he’s a great kid. We’re lucky to add him to our team.
(On if the run defense is still an area he’s trying to figure out how it fits together) No, we’re in pretty good shape right now in the running game as far as what we want to do. We played a lot of young kids this preseason and it showed. We didn’t play great upfront when other guys were in there but when the first guys were up they played really well and knew what they were doing and complemented one another and got us good play. Hopefully that will carry over. It was a little shaky watching the preseason stuff. We didn’t play the running game very well.
(On if having Percy Harvin affects his offensive philosophy and how important it is to keep him healthy all year) It does affect us because he’s a unique football player. We’re always looking for uniqueness and he has it in a lot of ways. He’s going to have a significant role, like a lot of guys, he has his role and everybody else has got their own. He will have a chance to do a lot of stuff. The background that Darrell’s [Bevell] had with him really helps us. We’re very familiar with the range of things that he can do. It will be very important to keep him healthy. He’s not a big kid. He’s built of steel but he’s not a big guy. We’re going to try to do a great job of managing how he plays and the work that he gets, the same thing that we’ve done all the way along this offseason. It’s been so much different. Last year we really didn’t get much accomplished at all. We’ve had a great offseason. He’s been there every day for us and really done a great job.
(On if Earl Thomas will return punts) Yeah.
(On how the trade for Marcus Burley came about) We’re always looking for corner depth. He had a very good preseason. We really liked him. We watched him carefully. He’s got a lot of versatility to him. He can play inside, play outside, was a special teams player too. He’s real fast. We like his mentality. He’s a good physical tackler too. He seemed to fit.
(On what led him to keep seven receivers on the roster) They’re good players. We’ve been saying it the whole time. It was really competitive. We had eight or nine guys that we thought could play because of that we had the opportunity to keep them so we’ve done that.
(On Jeremy Lane’s status for this weekend) He’s practicing today so we will see what that means. Again, we will have to look at what happens tomorrow.
(On Tharold Simon playing Thursday) He can jump in. He’s a little banged up going in. We will have to see how he makes it through the week. He secured our confidence. He played really well. He played very well technique wise. We love the range that he has. His ability on the deep ball was really demonstrated throughout camp and in the offseason. We feel very comfortable with him playing.
(On how important continuing rushing four is) It’s always crucial, always crucial. We like playing coverage. We like cutting our guys loose. We have a lot of guys that move around well on the back-end, linebackers included. We love to rush with four. We pressure too but it’s crucial that you get your four guys going. We have different combinations of guys and different ways that we will play them. In hopes of finding in the game plan the good match ups and things like that. But it’s really crucial because we love playing base defense.
(On if Christine Michael is okay) He’s banged up. We will figure it out later on in the week.
(On the defensive line changes, is there any switches based on the personnel) Yes.
(On if there is a challenge for this game, having focus and the hype surrounding the game) There’s a challenge every game particularly opening game. After coming off the offseason and all that, there’s always a big challenge. Yeah, I’d take every one of them in huge fashion, it’s a good indication. I think that when we played at home, here in preseason, that our guys were focused and all that. I don’t think that anything that’s going on that has to do with last year, has anything to do with what’s going on right now. Our guys don’t exhibit that at all. As weary as I can be of the mental state of our team anytime we are playing. Hopefully as hyped as it can be and I see no reason to be concerned for things lingering from the past. We are looking down the road. We are really tuned in right now and excited to play the packers.
(On Kevin Pierre-Louis and Cassius Marsh getting hurt) Cassius [Marsh] practiced yesterday, will practice again today he is in good shape. Kevin pulled a hamstring in the game.
(On having more speed in the receiver spot with Percy Harvin and Paul Richardson, what will that do with the offense) Well hopefully it helps. We are really thrilled about both those guys. Percy of course and Paul [Richardson] had a great camp for us and really showed the down field cut type of speed and great catching range. So we are really excited about having him playing, he will be in the game. We have no hesitation having him play. We’re just trying to mix a really good offense at you. We are going to be balanced. We are going to run the football like crazy if we are fortunate to and use our guys. They all have their rolls to play now and we feel very comfortable about what they can do even at this early stage. I think that will carry over and hopefully we can get them in the right spots and they can come through and makes their plays. There’s nothing like being really fast, there’s nothing like it and our level and when our speed guys out there and going you can feel it. So hopefully we can get the ball to them and they can execute well and it will be a factor to help us move the thing on offense.
(On how he feels Russell is doing considering having 13 possessions in preseason and scoring on 11 of them) He’s in great control of what’s going on. He’s very, very comfortable. He’s playing faster than he has at any time. He understands better of what we want. He really can play on the expectations of getting the ball out of his hands quickly and making sure that he can control rushing that regard. He’s in-tune with that better than ever. We have a large package of stuff that we can bring into a game plan that we’ve feel like we have command of. We will see, and he’s had a near perfect preseason. Preparation and the way he has worked, we almost scored every time. We donked a field goal, we might have had twelve in a row there. That was preseason, this is the real deal. At least we’ve done a lot of great things and he’s been right in the middle of all of it.
(On expecting quarterbacks to grow, did Russell Wilson take a bigger leap than expected) I’m thrilled about what we are seeing. I didn’t know how much farther he would go from that year to this year. It seems like he is really, really in control of what’s happening so we will see if that translates and it should. I would think he’s been so sharp, I hate to tell him that I’m a little surprised of him doing well but maybe that’s the case.
(On if the defensive line is deeper than it was a year ago) We’re versatile like we were. You look at how things got replaced. We are in pretty good shape right now. It’s really going to be good to see Jordan Hill play, he’s ready to go. He wasn’t available for us last time around. [Greg] Scruggs he’s available to us and Cassius Marsh has brought a real nice element too. We have a lot of flexibility so I don’t know if that’s more, I don’t know how you would measure that but we are in good shape. We are looking forward to see how it fits when the games roll out, we will see how they play.
(On how Russell Okung played during the preseason) He played really well in this last game. He really showed that he was back. We left him in there to get his plays, we only gave him about twenty plays. He was in the game for quite a while and handled it fine conditioning wise. Probably I was most excited about the way he played last week out of anybody. That he really looked like he was back. So hopefully that will carry over.
(On if we would have to give Russell Okung a break and put Alvin Bailey in) We are ready to do whatever. We are ready to do what we have to do. I would think not. I would think he would be fine. He worked really hard to get to this time even before he got back on the field. He is in good shape, he has to get football shape rolling, but he really demonstrated that in the last two weeks that he is okay but we are ready to do whatever.
(On Garry Gilliam making the roster) One of the most improved guys, really. He came a million miles. This is a guy who was a tight end just two years ago. He played tackle last year at Penn State. We thought that he had marvelous quickness and athleticism. Gosh, He’s just taken to it. He’s just made great strides so we see a really bright future for him.
(On Packers RB Eddie Lacy) He’s a hammer. He’s a really good football player. All the stuff we saw in college, he can dominate games, running tough and physically. He’s carried over to the league in what we have seen. We have a lot of respect for him. Good catcher too and you really have to wrap him up. He’s really calling for us to tackle well in this game.
(On how much Eddie Lacy really changed the Packers offense) He’s an obvious element now. He’s a big deal now. They have him throughout their early downs, and on third down he’s a good player too and they don’t mind throwing it to him. He can get tough yards, he can break tackles, he makes long runs, he does not go down easily. I think he’s a big improvement for anybody’s offense, he is that good.
(On when he installed the game plan for the Packers) We’ve been working on game plans for opponents that have unique styles throughout the offseason, really. We’ve been working on stuff. We don’t ever point at a team before a week that it’s time to play. We’ve been working on stuff the whole time.
(On Jordy Nelson) Yeah, he’s a fantastic play maker. Gosh, you put the ball anywhere near him and he’s likely to come up with a way to make the catch. He plays big. Great chemistry with the quarterback just famous chemistry with the quarterback. We know that we can be covering him, be all around him and all over him and he still can make the play and that makes him very special. Not many players have that obvious element, he’s done it for a long time so he’s big time.
September 1, 2014 at 5:27 PM
Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin met the media prior to practice today and reiterated what he has said a number of times throughout camp --- he could hardly feel better physically.
"It feels tremendously good right now,'' he said. "I’m blessed to be healthy right now. We’ve been together since OTAs so we all feeling good right now and just really to put it all together and put a great game together.''
He added later that "this is probably the healthiest I’ve been in a while. I don’t know if any athlete can say they’re 100 percent all the time, but I’m feeling very good right now and I’m ready to start the season.''
The best news possible for the Seahawks when it comes to Harvin, who it goes without saying will have a big role in the Seattle offense this season. Just how big, one thinks, has probably been kept a little under wraps so far but will surely be revealed Thursday against Green Bay.
You can see some video of Harvin's media session today below:
September 1, 2014 at 4:54 PM
The Seahawks released their first official injury report of the season today in advance of Thursday's opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Five players were listed as not participating: TE Cooper Helfet (knee), RB Christine Michael (hamstring), G Lemuel Jeanpierre (neck), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) and CB Tharold Simon (knee).
Listed as having limited participation were: WR Kevin Norwood (ankle), CB Jeremy Lane (groin) and LB Bruce Irvin (groin).
The one new injury is that of Jeanpierre's. Unclear when or how that happened.
While listed as a guard, he is also the backup center. If he can't play, the backup center role would go to Stephen Schilling, the former Bellevue High star who made the roster this year after signing as a free agent in March after not being tendered by the San Diego Chargers.
Norwood and Irvin are each on the road back after missing most or all of the pre-season. Lane is also a key one as he is the starting nickelback, but was injured in the preseason game against San Diego. Seattle's options at nickelback would be newly-acquired Marcus Burley or maybe using Byron Maxwell inside and having someone else play outside. Simon's injury, though, further thins the ranks there if he can't play. That could force DeShawn Shead into a role at cornerback. He's listed as a safety but has played ample cornerback in his career and in the preseason.
--- Meanwhile, here is Green Bay's injury report for Monday. The biggest news is the loss of center JC Tretter who will be replaced by rookie Corey Linsley. That happened last week, but worth repeating.
September 1, 2014 at 2:54 PM
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman: Seattle glad new rules emphasis is there "because it will give people less excuses''
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman held his weekly session with the media today, and among the topics was the NFL's new emphasis this season on calling illegal contact and defensive holding.
The emphasis did not impact the Seahawks much in the preseason as none of Sherman, Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas were called for any penalties, and the Seahawks were called for just three illegal contacts, two interferences and no defensive holding.
Sherman said he wasn't surprised.
"We've played the game exactly how we've been playing it,'' he said. "And the rules continued to be what they were. We didn't change anything. We were playing by the rules before and we continue to play by the rules. Every now and then you get tangled up and you get hit by illegal contact, and we had a few fluke ones in there. But for the most part I think we try to play within the rules and play within the scheme. We are happy that the emphasis is there because it will give people less excuses.''
Asked a followup if he expects the rules to affect his style of game. Sherman said simply: "Obviously not.''
You can see more of what Sherman had to say in the video below:
September 1, 2014 at 2:22 PM
Lots of personnel notes to pass along from the VMAC today from Pete Carroll's press conference today. ...
--- Carroll said WR Kevin Norwood and DE Bruce Irvin are back to practice this week and each have a chance to play Thursday against the Packers.
--- Carroll says cornerback Jeremy Lane will practice this week and "we'll see what that means.'' Lane missed the Raiders game with a hamstring injury.
--- CB Tharold Simon remains battling a sore knee, Carroll said and "we'll see how he makes it through the week.''
--- DL Cassius Marsh is back to practice after hurting his hip against the Raiders and sounds like is okay.
--- Carroll said LB Kevin Pierre-Louis has a pulled hamstring.
--- He also said that RB Christine Michael, who hurt his hamstring in practice last week, remains "banged up. We'll figure that out later in the week.''
--- S Earl Thomas, in case it needs to be stated again, remains atop the depth chart at punt returner, Carroll said. But with Bryan Walters now back in the fold, he could also factor in to those duties.
--- Speaking of Sherman, Carroll heaped praise on him today saying that he has had the best camp of his four here with the Seahawks.
--- Carroll also spoke glowingly of the camp for veteran DT Kevin Williams calling him "just a real anchor'' on the team's defensive line.
--- Carroll said Russell Okung made it through the Oakland game well and that the way Okung played was the most exciting thing he got out of the game against the Raiders.
September 1, 2014 at 2:07 PM
Seahawks roster changes: Walters comes back to 53-man roster, and Seahawks add DE Warmsley and DB Aubrey
The Seahawks announced a few changes and additions to its practice squad today, including the return of receiver Bryan Walters to the 53-man roster, with the team releasing receiver Phil Bates.
Walters was released in the cutdown to 53 on Saturday with Bates one of seven receivers on the initial 53-man roster.
And for what it's worth, there doesn't appear to be any sort of financial incentive to having brought back Walters now and waiving Bates as opposed to just keeping Walters in the first place.
Coach Pete Carroll said today that the team had "eight or nine'' receivers he would have liked to have kept before keeping seven. And now Walters is one of those seven, likely to be used in a role as a returner.
Walters handled both kick and punt returns throughout the preseason, leading the team with nine kickoff returns for 229 yards, and while Earl Thomas is listed as the No. 1 punt returner, Carroll has said throughout that others will also get their turn.
Seattle also signed to its practice squad defensive end Julius Warmsley signed with Houston as an undrafted free agent who had been in camp with Houston.
Seattle also signed defensive back Josh Aubrey, who played in six games for Cleveland last season.
That gives the Seahawks a full complement of 10 players on its practice squad.
And it's worth a reminder that the practice squad is likely to change daily this time of year as rosters everywhere remain in some flux and players become available.
September 1, 2014 at 10:56 AM
I guess we can debate whether last year's stats are relevant in any way to what will happen Thursday when the Seahawks and Packers play at CenturyLink Field. But just in case, here they are:
2013 Regular Season
Record: 13-3, 8-7-1
Total Yards Gained: 5,424, 6,404
Total Offense (NFL Rank): 339.0 (17), 400.3 (3)
Rush Offense: 136.8 (4), 133.5 (7)
Pass Offense: 202.3 (26), 266.8 (6)
Points Per Game: 26.1 (T8), 26.1 (T8)
Total Yards Allowed: 4,378, 5,956
Total Defense: 273.6 (1), 372.3 (25)
Rush Defense: 101.6 (T7), 125.0 (25)
Pass Defense: 172.0 (1), 247.3 (24)
Points Allowed/Game: 14.4 (1), 26.8 (T24)
Possession Avg.: 29:57, 30:24
Sacked/Yds. Lost: 44/272, 45/270
Sacks Made/Yds. Lost: 44/298, 44/238
Interceptions By: 28, 11
Penalties/Yds.: 128/1,183, 86/801
Punts/Avg.: 76/41.6, 64/44.6
Turnover Differential: +20 (1), -3 (19)
September 1, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Here's our first look at the Packers and Thursday's game:
Seahawks opponent: Green Bay
Game time: 5:30 p.m, CenturyLink Field.
Coach: Mike McCarthy, 82-45-1 in eight years, all with Green Bay.
2013 Record: 8-7-1
Last game: Finished preseason 3-1 by beating Kansas City 34-14.
The series: The Packers lead it 8-6. But it doesn’t take much of a memory to recall Seattle’s last win, the controversial 14-12 victory in 2012 when Golden Tate came down with a much-debated touchdown reception on the final play.
The early line: Seahawks by 5.5
Key players: QB Aaron Rodgers: Now 30, Rodgers remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, hoping this season to stay healthy after missing seven games last season due to a collarbone injury. Rodgers looked in mid-season form during the preseason, completing 21-30 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns.
TB Eddie Lacy: The second-year running back from Alabama revitalized Green Bay’s running game last season, rushing for 1,127 yards in the last 13 games of 2013 and finishing with a franchise rookie record of 1,178 for the season. His emergence helped Green Bay finish fourth in the NFL last year in yards per carry at 4.7.
DE/LB Julius Peppers: The 12-year veteran signed as a free agent with Green Bay in the off-season, and the Packers are altering his role just a little bit, asking him to play in a two-point stance instead of with his hand on the ground. His objective, though, will remain the same --- to rush the passer. Green Bay also hopes that Peppers will make it harder for opponents to double-team outside linebacker Clay Matthews.
Green Bay’s keys to success: The Packers enter the season regarded by many as the team with the best chance of unseating the Seahawks as NFC Champs. Concluded SI.com’s Monday Morning Quarterback: “There’s not a deeper, more talented all-around team in the NFC.’’ Rodgers remains the key to the offense, but the emergence of Lacy, as well as a deep running back corps, has made the Packers a more-balanced offense, giving the team an able complement to the Rodgers-led passing attack. Green Bay’s ability to establish the running game --- and Seattle’s to stop it --- will be a telltale sign early. Green Bay’s 3-4 defense took a hit in the pre-season when nose tackle B.J. Raji was lost for the season with a biceps injury. But a deep group of linebackers forms the core of the defense, which also is strong in the back end, bolstered in the off-season by the signing of free agent cornerback Sam Shields and the addition of rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
BY THE NUMBERS
13 --- Green Bay’s NFL championships, most of any team --- Chicago is next with 9.
7 --- Green Bay’s NFC North titles since 2002.
400.3 --- Green Bay’s yards per game in 2013, third in the NFL behind Denver (457.3) and Philadelphia (417.3).
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