Pete Carroll met with the media on Wednesday at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center ahead of the Seahawks' first day of practice and preparation for the team's Week 11 game against the Philadelphia Eagles at CenturyLink Field.
"Here we go," the Seattle head coach began. "Getting ready for another really interesting matchup for us. New team, new coach — local coach — in Doug [Pederson], but new team to learn and to study and all that, so it's a big challenge for us. See a lot of really potent football players, man. They've got guys in a lot of great spots that are loaded up in a place where they can make plays and it's been fascinating to watch the quarterback come into the League and do such a great job. It's a hard thing to do and he's doing it in great fashion.
"We've got a great matchup and we're anxious to be back home again and looking forward to building up a great week's preparation."
Carroll expanded upon this weekend's matchup with the Eagles, which we'll review below, but he first took time to answer questions about yesterday’s roster moves that saw veteran running back Christine Michael waived and rookie running back Troymaine Pope promoted from the practice squad.
Here's three things we learned from coach Carroll:
1. Christine Michael's Release "Really About The Guys Coming Into The Opportunity"
Michael, a 2013 second-round draft pick by Seattle who was traded to Dallas last year but rejoined the team late last season, started seven games for the Seahawks in 2016, rushing for a team-high 469 yards and six touchdowns on 117 carries. But in recent weeks, rookie running back C.J. Prosise has become a larger part of the offense after missing four games with a wrist injury, and he put up an impressive performance in this past weekend's win over the New England Patriots. Second-year running back Thomas Rawls, meanwhile, who led the NFL in average yards per rush (5.6) last season, is expected to play this week against the Eagles after sitting out since suffering an injury to his fibula in Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams. With those two players returning to health and preseason standout Troymaine Pope also an option after signing to the practice squad earlier this month, Carroll said, "It's really about the guys coming into the opportunity" that led to Michael's release.
"C.J. did a really good job, he's doing the things that we like seeing in him, we'll look forward to continuing to grow with him, that's one," Carroll said. "Thomas coming back ready to play, that's two. ... We really have liked Pope from the time we had him. We missed out on getting him back when we had to release him at camp and we were disappointed in that. Now that we've got him back and he's in the fold we're anxious to see what he can do. That's why we did that."
Michael, who was claimed by the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday, had "been busting his tail the whole time he's been here," Carroll said. Carroll gave the fourth-year pro credit for carrying the load as injuries hit the running back position this year.
"Everything we've said about him has been true and real and he made a great comeback with us and he was kind of like the only guy there for a while," Carroll said of Michael. "We're really grateful to the play that he gave us. He's a good kid."
As for Pope, who took Michael's place on the 53-man active roster, Carroll said: "He's got great feet. He's so quick and so instinctive. He showed that throughout camp and in the game opportunities that he had. We thought we might be able to slip him through [to the practice squad] and it didn't happen when we released him, some other people had seen him on film too. But he's really instinctive and really natural. He's got excellent quickness. He runs a lot like Justin Forsett, a guy that we all liked around here and has had a great career. About the same size and same kind of movements and instincts. He's got a really good style to him. I like him because he's different than the other guys. All of our guys are real uniquely different."
Who will stake hold of the starting running back job this weekend remains to be seen, but Carroll made it clear the Seahawks are comfortable with where the position group is headed.
"We're going with the guys that we wanted to go with," Carroll said. "We're excited about where we're moving and think it's going to fit together really well."
2. Carson Wentz's Rookie Year "Very Similar" To Russell Wilson's
The Seahawks will face the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft this weekend when they welcome Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz to the Emerald City. Wentz has led the Eagles to a 5-4 record in his first year, but all four losses have come away from home. Still, the rookie signal caller has impressed, particularly early in the season, and to date he's passed for 2,121 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions while completing 65 percent of his passes for an 87.6 quarterback rating. Carroll compared Wentz's first year as a pro to the one Seattle's Russell Wilson -- a third-round pick (No. 75 overall) -- enjoyed back in 2012.
"He may have started faster," Carroll said of Wentz. "Those first three games they came out of the chutes and I think it was three games in a row of over 100 QB ratings. I don't think he had a pick in the first three or four games, he just started really fast. He's had to battle, they've had some issues on the road that they've fought through. He's played well despite those. He shows you the same kind of capabilities. He's got the same kind of awareness and leadership and it looks like the mentality that there's no question that he can play and play now and be effective. I'm sure they're thinking they're going to go for their division, they're going to try to win the thing with that young guy quarterback because they can believe in him. You can see all the reasons why. He's very similar."
3. Philadelphia's Defensive Front Can "Bring The Heat"
On the other side of the football for the Eagles, Carroll said one of the toughest challenges facing his football team this weekend will be Philadelphia's defensive front.
"Their front four guys are really good," Carroll said. "All the way across the board."
The group consists of defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan, as well as defensive ends Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Together the foursome has combined for 15.0 of the team's 25.0 sacks, a number that ranks tied for sixth-best in the NFL.
"They're all really loaded up," Carroll said. "They bring the heat. Their style, [Eagles defensive coordinator Jim] Schwartz really has always had his guys come off the football and rush the passer first and really attack. That's what really jumps out, is that they're really good up front."
On Graham, who leads Philadelphia with 5.0 sacks and also has two forced fumbles on the season, Carroll added: "He's on fire. He's got such a great motor, as well as the savvy and the knack, but he's got a big motor and he's really playing hard this year. It's obvious when you're watching film that he's causing problems. So we have issues there."
With Pope promoted to the active roster, the Seahawks re-signed wideout Kenny Lawler on Wednesday to fill out their 10-man practice squad.
The Seahawks and the Eagles have played 14 times, splitting their all-time series 7-7. The two teams will face off again this Sunday during Week 11 at CenturyLink Field.