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The Offensive Line, Pete Carroll's Energy, Injury Updates and More in This Week's Seahawks Q&A

You had Seahawks questions, we have answers.

It's Tuesday, which means it's time once again to answer questions from you the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to submit a question, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.

@TheCrappyTotals asks, "How much did the absence of center Justin Britt affect the overall performance of the offensive line?" @ImTheSaiyanGod, @A_Walk145, @Noy3s and @TruthisTold2U also ask about the offensive line.

A:Not surprisingly after Sunday's loss in which Russell Wilson was sacked six times, questions about the offensive line dominated this week's Q&A. First off, nobody is going to try to convince you that was a good performance for the line, not after Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that "physically and technically we didn't do well as we need to…Nobody played very well. We had problems."

But I don't think one game is cause for panic, not after the line and the offense as a whole showed a lot of growth in recent weeks leading up to the game. As Carroll put it, “it was a tough day” for the Seahawks, but that doesn't mean they can't clean things up and finish the season strong.

First off, let's give some credit to Tampa Bay's line, which gave the Seahawks issues, in particularly with the stunts the Buccaneers ran to create free rushers; and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive end Noah Spence were a handful. Getting Justin Britt back from an ankle injury will certainly help. That's no knock on rookie Joey Hunt, who filled in admirably in his first start, but Britt has arguably been Seattle's best and most consistent offensive lineman this season, and his presence is felt not just in what he does physically, but in how he helps the players around him from a communication standpoint. The Seahawks also have some competition brewing at right tackle now that Bradley Sowell is fully healthy, so while it remains to be seen how that plays out, the line should be better in the long run if players either because he does enough to win the job or because Garry Gilliam plays well enough to hold Sowell off.  

Which brings us to…

@AGarrett90 asks, "Do you expect competition the reset of the way at the two tackle spots?" And @Dah_knee asks, "Do you see Rees Odhiambo getting more reps at tackle?"

A: As mentioned in the last answer, Sowell's return creates some competition at tackle, and the Seahawks liked what they saw out of rookie Rees Odhiambo when he filled in for George Fant in Week 11 when Fant briefly left the game with a shoulder injury. Offensive line coach Tom Cable often talks about wanting to get the best five players on the field, and as everyone knows, Carroll is all about competition, so the Seahawks aren't afraid to tinker, even in season, but there's also value in continuity when it comes to offensive line play, so that's always the balancing act that's in play when it comes to in-season changes.

Asked about his tackle spots on Monday, Carroll said, "Brad is back. He proved to us that he could play. Last week we thought we had a shot, he was close but couldn't do it. This week he's back playing. George has a hard time this game. He had a harder time, after last week playing really well, it was harder on him. That guy Spence gave him a good go during the game. We'll see how it goes. Everybody needs to get better, we're all going to work at it and it's good to know we have everybody healthy there now."

On Odhiambo, who has worked at both guard and tackle in practice, Carroll said the rookie will "play more tackle," but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll do so in games—it could just mean he'll practice there more to be ready if needed at tackle.

@TablerDotCom asks, "Can we expect Thomas Rawls to get more carries as the season progresses?"

A:After carrying the ball 14 times for 57 yards in his first game back from a fibula injury that caused him to miss seven games, running back Thomas Rawls was pretty beat up last week, limiting what he could do in practice, and Carroll noted that Rawls "looked not quite as dynamic" against the Buccaneers as a result. Both Carroll and Rawls said he came out of this game feeling a lot better physically, so yes, I do think as the year goes on and Rawls' body gets used to the pounding that comes with the position, we'll see him increase his workload a bit.

@julieinduvall asks, "Where does Pete Carroll get his energy from?"

A: That's one of the great mysteries about Carroll, who at 65 is the oldest head coach in the NFL, but who has the energy of somebody half his age. Most likely, it's just a good combination of genetics and taking care of himself physically, but whatever Carroll is doing, it's working. And here's the thing about Carroll's energy and enthusiasm, it's completely genuine. He isn't somebody who's "on" when cameras are on him; that's who he is all the time. That's something players have said surprises them after they've played for Carroll for a while. They see him on TV from afar and think there's no way he can keep that up all the time, but then when they play for him, they realize that's just who he is. Oh, and Carroll maintains that energy level without drinking coffee. Meanwhile I'm getting ready for my third cup of the day as I write this.

That energy level is why after Carroll signed a contract extension this summer, general manager John Schneider joked that Carroll “talks about Amos Alonzo Stagg a lot,” referencing the coaching legend who retired when he was 96. "He's just so positive and so youthful… He's just full of life and full of energy."

"He takes great care of himself, he's a bright, bright man, he's just intrigued by different ideas, he's open to a lot of things, so I think he could go as long as he wants, really … I wouldn't think (coaching five more years) would be unreasonable. I think Pete probably thinks he could live to 120 and coach until 110."

@LittleHobbitBoy asks, "Were Russell Wilson's two interceptions on him?"

A:Carroll was asked this very question both after the game Sunday and again on Monday, and in both cases, his answer was that the second interception was a case of Wilson trying to make something happen late in the game with the team down two scores, while the first was at least in part on the intended receiver, Paul Richardson.

"The last one he chucked it, he just took a shot at it, he was under pressure a little bit there," Carroll said Monday. "The other one we could have functioned a little bit better there. He was counting on something to be a little bit different than it wound up. We just weren't on the same page quite right. He was on time, ripped the ball, and it wasn't a force at all, it just didn't work out right. He thought receivers would be on the other end, and they didn't do it like he had hoped."

@kibbykibbykibby asks, "If Michael Bennett returns, how much will he play and how big of a factor could he be?"

A:The Seahawks are hopeful to get Michael Bennett back this week after a five-game absence, and obviously getting a versatile, Pro-Bowl defensive end back on the field would be a big deal for the defense. Bennett has usually seen the most playing time of any Seahawks defensive lineman over the past few years, but it is possible that in his first game back from that layoff, the Seahawks could put him on a pitch count, so to speak. Seattle has had a pretty deep line rotation this season, and Frank Clark has played well taking on a bigger workload in Bennett's absence, so there's no need to force him to play 80-90 percent of the snaps if he isn't ready to so do in his first game back. Regardless of how often he's out there, Bennett's presence should make a big difference for the Seahawks.

@Okaken300 asks, "Do you think Troymaine Pope will be able to play this week?" And @Muaaz27 asks, "Can you tell us who is and isn't playing on Sunday?"

A:Carroll noted that rookie running back Troymaine Pope "shocked the trainers" with how quickly he has bounced back from the high ankle sprain sustained in the Seahawks' Week 11 win over Philadelphia, so he has a chance to get back this week, though that likely won't be known until the end of the week or perhaps even on game day. As for the rest of the Seahawks' injuries, this story has updates on Bennett, Earl Thomas, DeShawn Shead and others.

@RAYKation asks, "Which NFL coach would make the best U.S. President?"

A:Well, if you want leadership skills and success, no head coaches have won more games in the last four years—we'll go with a presidential term for measurement—than New England's Bill Belichick and Seattle's Pete Carroll. New England is 63-21 since 2012 and has won one Super Bowl, while the Seahawks are 60-24-1 having won one Super Bowl and appeared in another, so those two coaches seem to know what they're doing (the Broncos are 62-21 in that time with two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl win, but that's under two different head coaches). And as we've covered already in this Q&A, Carroll has the energy for the job. Carroll and Belichick would probably govern differently, but they both have shown the ability to get good results. Now whether either of those two, or any other coach, would be willing to take the job is a whole different story. Just a hunch, but I'm guessing most, if not all, would pass.

@jtown asks, "What happened in the Tampa Bay game. Beating New England on the road to that result seems worrying.

A:As Carroll noted yesterday, he doesn't see the Tampa Bay loss as a “turn in the wrong direction,” but rather just a bad day at the office. And I'd be willing to bet that the Patriots felt the same way after losing to Seattle off of their bye a few weeks ago, and the Patriots bounced back with two straight wins after that loss. If the Seahawks keep losing, then it's worth being worried, but for now, it's probably better to just remember that in the NFL, a league set up to create parity, even the league's top teams suffer setbacks from time to time. It may be hard to remember after a 43-8 Super Bowl win, but the 2013 Seahawks lost two of their final four regular season games, including one at home, and had plenty of close calls throughout the season. Simply put, winning is really hard in the NFL, even for the best teams, and on Sunday the Seahawks ran into a good Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad on a day when their opponent played better than they did.

Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive behind-the-scenes images from the Seahawks' Week 12 road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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