December 18, 2014 at 6:41 PM
Here's video of Seattle safety Earl Thomas talking to the media Thursday:
December 18, 2014 at 4:19 PM
Seattle again was missing three-fifths of its starting offensive line for practice on Thursday, while also adding a new name to the injured list --- receiver and kick returner Paul Richardson.
Richardson was one of seven players who did not participate, sitting out with a hamstring issue, presumably suffered in practice Wednesday as he had not been listed on Wednesday's practice report.
The other six players who were DNP Thursday were the same six who also sat out Wednesday --- center Max Unger, left tackle Russell Okung, right guard J.R. Sweezy, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, tight end Tony Moeaki and running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch had his usual sore back/rest day.
But the fact that three-fifths of the starting offensive line was out for a second straight day has to at least raise an eyebrow. Coach Pete Carroll does not talk to the media on Thursdays so we did not get additional details.
Unger remains out with ankle/knee issues and is working less this week than he did last week.
Okung is dealing with a bruised lung suffered against the 49ers Sunday. Carroll had said Wednesday he would have some work done today that might clarify his status for Sunday. It's unclear if that happened or the results, but he did not practice today.
Sweezy was DNP with an ankle injury suffered Sunday against the 49ers.
Alvin Bailey will replace Okung if needed, as he did Sunday when he played the second half after Okung was sidelined.
As for the other two spots, the players would almost certainly be Lemuel Jeanpierre and Patrick Lewis. Each is listed as a center but Jeanpierre also has played lots of guard through the years and one option could be to move him to guard and have Lewis play center. Lewis has started twice this season, including in the first game against the Cardinals.
Dobbs (ankle) appears out this week while it's unclear the status of Moeaki (shoulder).
TE Cooper Helfet was again listed as a full participant and appears on track to play for the first time since the first Cardinals game when he suffered a sprained ankle on the final series.
As for Arizona, the Cardinals' injury report revealed something of a surprise --- QB Drew Stanton listed as participating on a limited basis.
He's been assumed out for this week with a knee injury suffered last Thursday against the Rams, and it's probably still a longshot that he would play. But being on the injury report as limited instead of DNP or out is at least something to consider.
Here's the official Arizona team website with some info on Stanton practicing today.
December 18, 2014 at 2:47 PM
In today's Extra Points video, Bob Condotta talks about Seattle today extending the contract of linebacker K.J. Wright:
December 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM
Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said he was a little bit curious what he might have been worth on the open market.
But Wright's preference was to stay in Seattle. And when the Seahawks came through with a four-year deal worth $27 million, Wright quickly and happily agreed to stay with the team through the 2018 season.
In fact, Wright said the contract was higher than the dollar figure he had in his head.
"It's just a blessing to know that the Seahawks want me here for a long period of time,'' Wright said. "Coach (Pete) Carroll called me the night before and explained how much I mean to the team, being a leader. .... I love it here. They drafted me and this just feels like home.''
Wright had been considered a priority for the team to re-sign in the off-season, when he would have been an unrestricted free agent after being taken in the fourth round in 2011.
Wright had said last summer that he hoped to stay with the Seahawks but said in recent days he had started wondering if it would get done. He said talks intensified in recent days and that everything was signed on Wednesday night.
"I started getting a little worried that it wasn't going to get done and I might be a free agent,'' he said. "But they came to me and we worked something out and everybody is happy.''
Wright is working on the final year of his rookie contract, due to make $1.389 million this season.
While the Seahawks had identified Wright as a priority to get done, that task became easier when the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin in October, shedding the rest of his salary for the season ($6.47 million).
Seattle last off-season extended Earl Thomas, Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman and also re-signed free agent Michael Bennett. In 2013 they extended Kam Chancellor, all part of the team's goal of keeping its young, core players together.
Wright said staying with core group was a priority.
"We play so well together and we get along so good,'' Wright said. "We've just got to keep these guys around. It only makes sense to have the guys you drafted here to keep growing and developing as football players so I'm glad that they chose me to stick around and I'm going to be nothing but the best player on and off the field.''
And that he won't find out what he might have been worth on the open market, he said, is just fine.
"I'm not going to lie,'' he said. "It would have been nice to see what other teams thought of you, see what your value was like. But like I said, I love it here. I didn't want to go anywhere else. I didn't want to.''
Now, he won't.
Seattle's priorities this off-season now become quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. The team can extend each this year after they complete the third year of their four-year rookie contracts. Byron Maxwell, Cliff Avril and Malcolm Smith, among others, will also be free agents.
Below is some video of Wright's session with the media today:
December 18, 2014 at 12:12 PM
The Seattle Seahawks announced today they have signed linebacker K.J. Wright to a four-year contract extension. Wright (above in Sunday's win over the 49ers) could have been a free agent at the end of the season and was regarded as a player the team considered a priority to re-sign. Sources had said the team might have a chance to speed up the signing of Wright after the trade of Percy Harvin, which cleared out some salary.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport is reporting that it is for $27 million.
"In the offseason, we identified K.J. as one of our core players moving forward and aimed to keep him as a part of the Seahawks family for a long time," said Executive Vice President & General Manager John Schneider in a statement released by the team. "The timing of this signing gives us the ability to keep as many of our core players together as we possibly can. Since Day One, K.J. has been a true professional in his daily approach and we are excited for K.J., his family and the 12s to keep him in the organization."
Said coach Pete Carroll in a statement: "K.J. is the epitome of a team guy. We are excited to reward a player of his caliber for all the hard work he has put in over the years to become an important piece of our defense."
This season, Wright has started all 14 games and tallied a career-high tying 96 tackles (66 solo) and career-high tying 2.0 sacks.
"I’m hoping something gets done,’’ he said then. “But if it doesn’t, then I’ll be fine. This place I really like and enjoy, but you know, good guys leave. Golden (Tate), Walter (Thurmond), those guys had to walk. If they want me here, they will find a way to keep me.”
Today they did.
December 18, 2014 at 11:48 AM
Another Seattle player who would be challenged greatly Sunday by Arizona's defense is rookie right tackle Justin Britt.
I wrote today about Arizona's pass rush and the troubles it gave Seattle in the first game.
Britt was far from the only one who had some issues in that game. But as a tackle, the spotlight often finds him a little more greatly than others on the offensive line. And that he has been forced to learn on the job this season as a rookie has been obvious --- Pro Football Focus rates Britt 78th of 79 tackles in pass blocking, with a season grade of minus-20.6 (interestingly, he had only a onus-0.1 for the first Arizona game).
Britt said Wednesday he hopes a little experience going against Arizona will pay off the second time around.
"They blitz more than any other team,'' Britt said. "They bring it inside or outside or both. So it's just keying on what's going on and moving the protection that way.''
Britt said another key for him is "just doing what I've been coached. Not making anything up. Just doing the technique.''
Britt was take in the second round out of Missouri, expected to compete with Michael Bowie for the spot vacated when Breno Giacomini signed with the Jets as a free agent.
But Bowie's injury and then surprise waiver claim by the Browns basically gave the job to Britt (Seattle also signed veteran Eric Winston, if you recall, but released him at the cutdown to 53 giving the job to Britt).
"I've come a long way,'' Britt said. "I still have a long way to go, but Ive come a long way. There's been rough times, but there's been a lot of things that I have done really well. So I'm just going to focus on the positive and work on getting better every day.''
December 18, 2014 at 9:41 AM
What is maybe the most obvious challenge for the Seahawks in Sunday's NFC West showdown is how they will protect Russell Wilson.
That was the focus of one of my stories for the Thursday paper, which you can read here.
I didn't get much of what offensive line coach Tom Cable or some of the players said into the story, so here's some of what they had to say.
When Cable was asked the key to dealing with all of Arizona's blitzes and pressures, he said simply "handle their numbers. Got to be able to handle zero pressure (meaning no safety), got to be able to handle zone pressure. Be able to check it (the quarterback making the protection call at the line) when they have too many.''
Cable didn't go into real detail about how the line will look up front, with some of the injury stuff still being in question.
But he said that if Alvin Bailey has to play left tackle this week in place of Russell Okung that he's confident he'll get the job done, especially considering that he should get all the work this week in practice.
"What he has been is a really good one-on-one pass protector, and in the run games he's had a few chances and been pretty decent at it,'' Cable said. "So if that's the opportunity and ow we go, it'll be okay. He'll get all the work this week. He looked really good today, so it's just getting that work in.''
Coach Pete Carroll said that Bailey "got through'' Sunday's game, noting that he hadn't gotten much work at left tackle in practice last week.
Bailey spoke similarly, saying "Sunday was a little rough for me but I was able to make some good plays and I had some bad ones, too. But luckily I get a week of practice going into this game so I will be able to fix some things.''
Cable, recall, challenged the offensive line pretty sternly at halftime last week when the Seahawks had just 39 yards rushing. The OL responded to lead the Seahawks to 152 for the game.
"I don't know if I really went off on them,'' Cable said Wednesday. "I just talked to them about what I didn't see and their response was perfect. We didn't change anything --- they just played harder. And that's really the difference. We have a certain standard of how we play and we weren't really doing that the first half.''
The task this week will be doing it the entire game against one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL.
In other news this morning. ...
- Times columnist Larry Stone writes about Seattle's success in big games under Carroll.
- Arizona is now as much as a 9.5-point underdog and Oddsshark.com says that is the biggest spread ever against an 11-3 team.
- Seahawks.com recaps Wednesday in Hawkville and also reviews the history of Ryan Lindley.
- Cardinals.com says the game can't get any bigger.
- Rolling Stone on Russell Wilson's preparation.
- The AP on the Seahawks thriving with the same weekly approach.
- The Sporting News picks the Seahawks 20-13.
- ESPN wonders if the Cardinals are forcing the Seahawks to prepare differently by saying backup QB Logan Thomas will play some.
- ESPN on Lindley.
- Recapping Arizona's injury situation.
- ESPN on Wilson's durability.
- ESPN with more on Wilson changing agents.
- FoxSports with a preview.
- NFL.com wonders if the Cardinals can win with Lindley.
December 18, 2014 at 9:09 AM
The Seahawks figure to have some offensive challenges against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. What do the Seahawks have planned? You can hear and read what offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had to say to the media after practice Wednesday:
(On the protection issue from the last game) Well we’re practicing to improve the things we need to improve. We just have to block better. We have to get the ball out quicker. We got to get open on time. I mean we have the conversation kind of all the time on how they all work together and we have to be on point all the time particularly this opponent that we’re playing. They bring tons of pressure. They can bring it every single down if they so choose so we have to be prepared for it.
(On not being shy about the pressure and working it against them) Well you try to hit them and they do such a great job because they change up their pressures from week to week and they bring all different kinds of combinations of those pressures. We’re going to have to really be on it to block them well.
(On if he has seen Russell Wilson grow in the quick passing game area) I think we’re getting better all the time. We have so many different things that we do in the passing game, so many different styles of passes whether it’s you spread them all out and empty them out or you straight drop back, whether you do play action passes off of it. There’s so many different kinds and it kind of depends on how the game’s going. The better we run the ball the more that you can rely on the play actions and the movement types of plays, you know those types of things. It’s all dictated a little bit on the game but we’re working every day tirelessly out here to try to get better and be better with our reads, be quicker with our reads, be better in our protection to give us that little extra measure of time, just to get all of that to come together.
(On what has allowed them to do that better in the last two weeks) I mean we’re practicing all the time. We’re working hard to try to make every part of our game better and our guys have really come together, done a nice job as of late. I think Russell [Wilson] has been on it as of late and kind of understanding what we’re asking him to do and understanding our issues that we might be having. We’re also changing up some of the things we’re doing with styles of passes and those types of things. I think you’ll see some more balls down the field and some quick ones and some move–it kind of all goes together and it really depends on the game.
(On taking risks and being patient as a play caller against Arizona Cardinals) Well I think that there is a risk both ways, whether we’re running the ball—those runs can come out the other side. If they have all their first level defenders that are coming, you break out the other end then you’ll get a nice big play out of that. Also in the pass game, obviously if you pick up some of those and you block, then you have mostly one on one opportunity most of the time down the field. So I think both of them can really be to your advantage. If we’re able to run the ball and able to do it consistently—getting to threes and fours, then it’s not hard to be patient in those times. When you’re sitting at second and ten, second and eleven all day, that’s when it gets tiresome and tough to stay patient.
(On Russell Wilson’s durability) It’s so remarkable I probably don’t want to talk about it—knock on wood.
(On getting comfortable knowing that Russell Wilson will play every game) Yes—I’ve been so fortunate in my career. I was able to coach a guy that was able to play forever and ever, and you expected him to be at every game regardless. I think we have a similar guy in Russell, he’s taken some hits, but the best thing that we talk about him every time is the decisions that he makes. Most of the time, he keeps himself out of harm’s way and he’s able enough to escape some things. When he gets out and runs, he gets down or he gets out of bounds—so all those decisions really help him to be able to stay in there. Of course, during the week that helps our preparation—to count on him if he’s going to be in there, we can improve the things that we need to improve on and we can focus on the things that he need to work on.
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