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Tuesday in Hawkville: Seahawks seeing red as they prepare for Cardinals

Posted Oct 15, 2013

Scoring more in the red zone, especially touchdowns, is a point of improvement during this short week as the Seahawks prepare for Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Oct. 15, which was Tuesday on the calendar but a combination of Wednesday and Thursday for the Seahawks because of Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona:

WORDS OF THE DAY: THE RED ZONE

And that’s not just because the Seahawks are playing the Cardinals on Thursday night in Arizona. Improving their performance inside the opposition’s 20-yard line has been a topic the past two days because the Seahawks feel they’ve been leaving too many points on the field by settling for field goals.

In Sunday’s 20-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans, the Seahawks produced two touchdowns on five red-zone possessions – on runs of 1 and 3 yards by Marshawn Lynch. On the other three, they settled for two field goals and the field-goal attempt that turned into the Titans’ only touchdown.

During their 5-1 start, the Seahawks have 11 touchdowns and eight field goals on 22 red-zone possessions. Their TD percentage of .500 ties them for 15th in the league. Their scoring percentage of .864 ties them for 18th.

“We can do better in the red zone, obviously,” quarterback Russell Wilson said before practice. “Two of five is not good enough for us. We don’t believe that. So that’s our focus this week.”

How can Wilson improve once he gets the offense so close to the other team’s end zone?

“Maybe be a little bit quicker on some reads here and there,” he said. “The protection is always crucial. You’ve always got to have great protection. I just think we’ve got to make a couple plays here and there. We’re so close.

“It was similar to last year, but we’re a lot better, obviously. It’s just one of those things where if we hit it, it’s going to hard to stop us.”

Last season, the Seahawks had six TDs (35.3 percent) and nine field goals (88.2) on 17 red-zone possessions heading into their Week 7 game – also on Thursday night, but against the 49ers in San Francisco.

So Wilson is right, this year’s offense is doing a better job. It’s just not as good as what the players and coaches expect, especially in the passing game. Of their 11 red-zone TDs, six have been runs – five by Lynch, the other by backup QB Tarvaris Jackson. Of Wilson’s five TD passes, three came in the Week 3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Everything happens faster, windows are smaller, we have to throw to our spots,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after practice when asked about improving the passing game in the red zone. “We know all the things that we need to do, we just continue to work on it and execute.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as released by the team:

Did not practice
DE Chris Clemons (elbow)
OT Breno Giacomini (knee)
RB Marshawn Lynch (hip)
MLB Bobby Wagner (ankle)
RB Spencer Ware (ankle)

Full participation
TE Zach Miller (hamstring)

Miller missed the past two games, but it’s looking more like he’s ready to return to the lineup on Thursday night. Coach Pete Carroll said on Monday that Clemons’ status is related to “pain tolerance,” because of the elbow he hyperextended against the Titans. With Clemons out, Cliff Avril worked at the Leo end spot with the No. 1 defense, while K.J. Wright continued to replace Wagner at middle linebacker.

For the Cardinals:

YOU DON'T SAY

“He did look like the Monopoly man, but he was smooth.”

Richard Sherman on fellow cornerback Walter Thurmond, who was wearing a top hat and tails when he left the locker room after Sunday’s game against the Titans

Did not practice
WR Brittan Golden (hamstring)

Limited participation
LB John Abraham (shoulder)
DE Calais Campbell (neck)
LB Karlos Dansby (quadriceps)
WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring)
TE Rob Housler (ankle)

Full participation
LB Kenny Demens (hamstring)
TE Jim Dray (quadriceps)
S Rashad Johnson (finger)
DE Ronald Talley (wrist)

The remarkable recovery of Campbell continued, as the player who was taken off the field on a stretcher during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the 49ers was able to practice on a limited basis. “It’s a scary thing anytime a guy is down there and they take him off on a stretcher,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said during a conference-call interview. “But he’s looking better and better and we have our fingers crossed that he’s going to be available for us.”

STATS ’N STUFF: EARL THOMAS, RICHARD SHERMAN TIED FOR SECOND IN INTERCEPTIONS

Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman each have three interceptions, which ties for second most in the NFL.

STAT DU JOUR: SEAHAWKS LAG

The Seahawks aren’t just 5-1 for the second time in franchise history; their first five opponents are 0-5 the week after playing the Seahawks. Here’s a look at how that has unfolded:          

Opponent    Following week
Panthers L, 24-23 to Bills
49ers L, 27-7 to Colts
Jaguars L, 37-7 to Colts
Texans L, 34-3 to 49ers
Colts L, 19-9 to Chargers
Titans Sunday vs. 49ers

Marshawn Lynch ranks third in the league in rushing (487 yards), fifth in total yards (661) and seventh in first downs (31). He also has scored 36 points, which is tied for fifth among non-kickers. Steven Hauschka is fourth among kickers with 57 points, and also tied for seventh with 22 touchbacks on his kickoffs.

Golden Tate is fifth in punt return average (11.8). Doug Baldwin is tied for ninth with 11 third-down receptions. Wilson is 10th in passer rating (92.6).

As a team, the Seahawks are second in the league in average yards allowed (290.2), passing yards allowed (188.3) and rushing yards (157.7). They’re also 11th in average rushing yards allowed (101.8), 10th in average yards (372.7) and 24th in passing yards (215.0). The Seahawks have produced 17 turnovers, which ties for second in the NFL; and they’re plus-7 in turnover differential, which ties for third.

UP NEXT: DESTINATION, THE DESERT

The players will practice on Wednesday before the team flies to Phoenix for Thursday night’s game.

The flipside of this short week comes on the other end, as the players will have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off before returning next Tuesday to begin practicing for their Oct. 28 game against the Rams in St. Louis on “Monday Night Football.”