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Sunday in Hawkville: Little things comprise day’s biggest plays
The Seahawks and the Panthers have faced off 11 times, including three postseason matchups. The Seahawks currently own seven wins in the series and will play the Panthers again this Sunday at CenturyLink Field during Week 13 on Sunday Night Football. View
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Offense: Russell Wilson looked to his right. Nothing was there. The second-year quarterback then glanced to his left. Still nothing. He checked the right side again, and then the middle of the field. Not an open receiver in sight.
With his receivers covered in the 7-on-7 drill, Wilson rolled to his left, saw McGrath covered along the sideline and motioned to him to spin away from the defender. McGrath did, Wilson hit him and the offense had a first down.
"We practice it every day. The offseason gave us a great opportunity to work together and to get the feel for it," McGrath explained. "Russell is a very mobile quarterback. So anytime we can get the scramble drill rockin' and rollin', he doesn't have to run as much, we're on the same page and we're gaining yards and scoring touchdowns."
So instead of panicking in a pressure situation, pitcher and catcher maintained their poise to make something out of what appeared to be nothing.
"I wish they all could be that easy, right?" McGrath said. "That's how you draw it up. We practice those situations and the coaches do a great job of putting us in those situations." Read
|YOU DON'T SAY
"You've got to love having the pads on. We haven't had the pads on since we played Atlanta (in January's divisional playoff game). To be able to pop guys and move around and really feel like you're playing a game almost. The way we practice is so fast it really does feel like a game. So when you get to game time it really slows things down." – QB Russell Wilson on practicing in pads for the second consecutive day Read
Defense: It was another play where it appeared nothing was happening, as Wilson surveyed the field, checked it again and then re-checked for an open receiver against the Seahawks' No. 1 secondary and linebackers in the 7-on-7 drill.
In fact, one sideline observer offered, "Well, nothing happened on that one."
Except that the defense gave Wilson nowhere to go with the ball, no matter how long he looked.
"It's not as good as intercepting a pass, but it's fun," said All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
As Wilson is fond of saying, "The separation is in the preparation." And that also works for what Sherman, fellow cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Antoine Winfield, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright were able to do with their blanket coverage.
"It's just trying to amp practice up," Sherman said. "Trying to make it a game-like situation where everybody's hyped up, the adrenalin is going and everybody wants to win. Russell wants to beat me, because I'm sitting there talking all that nonsense to him. So I want to amp it up because everybody's got to be on their P's and Q's to stop him."
And don't give Sherman any of that "it was only a 7-on-7 drill" talk.
"It's 7-on-7, so there's no (pass) rush, there's no anything," Sherman said. "He can stand back there and scramble as long as he wants. So we had to have tight coverage to stop him, because any inkling of a play he would have drilled it in there."
Special teams: It was the final play of practice, as Steven Hauschka hit a 52-yard field to cap another solid day by the incumbent kicker. Hauschka also kicked two shorter field goals to supply the only points in the two-minute drill following drives engineered by Wilson and QB Brady Quinn and hit both his kicks during the special teams portion of practice. Read
POSITION WATCH: NICKEL DEFENSIVE LINE
Today's practice drew the biggest crowd so far – 2,825 fans, including the VIP and ADA guests. And those fans occupying the berm along the shores of Lake Washington were decked out in the jerseys of their favorite players – past and present.
Past players represented included Steve Largent (80), Shaun Alexander (37), Matt Hasselbeck (8), John Carlson (89), Walter Jones (71), Kenny Easley (45), Marcus Trufant (23), Lofa Tatupu (51) and Cortez Kennedy, all members of the Seahawks' 35th Anniversary team; as well as Ricky Watters (32), Joey Galloway (84), Patrick Kerney (97), Michael Boulware (28) and Matt Flynn (15).
Among the current players, the jerseys of Wilson (3), All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch (24) and Thomas (29) look to be the most popular. But there were plenty of others – Sherman (25), Chancellor (31), Rice (18), Tate (81), Baldwin (89), Percy Harvin, (11), Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung (76), right tackle Breno Giacomini (68), tight end Zach Miller (86) and Irvin (51).
But the one being worn by Ramon Reyes jumped out as he stood along the fence that separates the fields from the berm where fans watch practice. It was a No. 79 Red Bryant jersey, and Reyes was quick to point out that he had his Bryant jersey made last year before they became available.
"I'm a defensive lineman, I love defensive line. And, of course who, doesn't love big Red?" said Reyes, who is from Wapato and was accompanied by his wife, Tegan, and their 18-month old son, little Ramon.
Little Ramon was wearing a Lynch jersey. "He got that jersey the day he was born," his father said. Read
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and line coach Travis Jones had said they were planning to mix-and-match their linemen during camp in an attempt to find the right combinations – especially on the nickel line used in passing situations. Today, they put those words into action, and then some.
At one time or another the following foursomes were on the field: Bruce Irvin and Ty Powell at the ends with Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel at the tackles; Jaye Howard replacing Irvin with the rest of that line; Irvin and Benson Mayowa at the ends with Michael Bennett and Brandon Mebane at the tackles; Jordan Hill replacing Mebane with the rest of that line; and Powell and Mike Morgan at the ends with McDaniel and Howard at the tackles.
And there could have been even more combinations when you consider that Leo end Chris Clemons is not practicing while completing his rehab from knee surgery and rush-end Cliff Avril also sat out today. Each is expected to contribute in the nickel this season.
"This game is about situations," Jones said. "Some people have some great skills in different areas. You want to make sure you're assessing those and getting what guys do well on the football field, and getting it more often." Read
PLAYER WATCH: BRYAN WALTERS
No one has to explain his situation to Bryan Walters, a former option quarterback at Kirkland's Juanita High School who is trying to make it with the Seahawks as a wide receiver. Walters is smart enough to know that he needs to make the most of any and every opportunity that comes his way.
And that's exactly what he did today, when Walters produced first downs on three of his five receptions.
"Got to capitalize on the opportunities, especially when you're in a spot like me," Walters said.
And that spot would be playing behind starters Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, as well as slot receiver Doug Baldwin, at a position where the team has 12 receivers when only five or six will be carried on the 53-man roster with another one or two being signed to the practice squad.
That's why Walters wasn't wasting his time replaying what he'd just accomplished.
"It's on to the next one, always," Walters said. "This game, it's a short-term memory. Forget and move forward, one day at a time.
"There's tons of things I can learn from today, things I messed up on. You make catches, but still there are a lot of things I need to do better." Read
Fullback Michael Robinson returned to practice after sitting out two days to rest a sore foot. Linebacker Heath Farwell (back spasms) and rookie defensive lineman Jesse Williams (sore knee) sat out again, and were joined by Avril and rookie tackle Michael Bowie. Read
ROSTER ROULETTE: RUNNING BACK ADDED
Running back Ray Holley was signed today and wide receiver Justin Veltung was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster. Holley, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound rookie from Louisiana Tech, signed with the Ravens after the NFL Draft but was released in May. Read
The players have their first off day Monday before returning for a morning practice on Tuesday that starts at 10:15.
"Just going over the past four days," Wilson said when asked what his focus would be on the off day. "We call it the first quarter. We just had our first quarter of practice at camp. So just looking at that and trying to figure out, OK, what did we do well in the first quarter and what can we do better in the second quarter and what can we continue in the second quarter? That's the way we're kind of thinking about it." Read