Wednesday in Hawkville: Demarcus Dobbs returns to step in for Jordan Hill

With Jordan Hill being placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Demarcus Dobbs’ return from missing three games with a sprained ankle is timely as he’ll fill Hill’s tackle spot in the nickel defensive line.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 7, when the Seahawks held their "Turnover Thursday" practice as they continued to prepare for Saturday night's divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field:

FOCUS ON: DEMARCUS DOBBS

When the Seahawks lost Clinton McDonald in free agency, the question was who would replace his productivity as the nose tackle in the nickel defense. Jordan Hill proved to be the answer, as he collected 5.5 sacks during the six-game winning streak to close the regular season.

With Hill being placed on injured reserve Tuesday, the question switched to who would replace Hill for Saturday night's divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field. And Demarcus Dobbs is returning after missing the past three games with a sprained ankle to provide that answer.

"Jordan has really come on as a rusher," defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said after practice, which was held on the fields along the shores of Lake Washington. "Every once in a while, you kind of have a vision of what a player can be. And I think for him, we thought with his quickness that he could be that inside nickel rusher. Through the first part of the year he had to learn on the job and grow into it. And he certainly did."

Now, it's Dobbs' turn. He was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 5 and showed flashes of what can do before spraining his ankle.

Seahawks practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center Wednesday.

"Fortunately for us, Demarcus is now back into the mix," Quinn said.

And Dobbs can't wait to get back on the field, as well.

"Ever since I was taken off the field, I was ready to get back on it. So I'm pretty excited," he said. "It's hard when you come to a new team and you get in the game and then you get hurt and take that leave. You feel you're not contributing. Especially when the team is successful, you always want to contribute."

And the Seahawks need his contributions because of the player Dobbs is replacing.

"With Jordan going down, it's a big role," he said. "Jordan has been doing great, especially in the second half of the season. That's the way this team works though. Each time somebody goes down, the next man has to step up and be able to contribute.

"I'm excited. We've got a good opportunity ahead of us with Carolina. I'm going to try and take care of business."

INJURY REPORT: MARSHAWN LYNCH RETURNS, BYRON MAXWELL SITS OUT

STAT DU JOUR: BACK-TO-BACK COMPARISON

The Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch and Panthers' Jonathan Stewart have been two of the hottest running backs in the league for two of the hottest teams in the NFL down the stretch. But how have they fared in head-to-head meetings the past five seasons?

Marshawn Lynch
Season Att. Yards Avg. TD
2010 21 83 3.9 3
2012 21 85 4.0 0
2013 17 43 2.5 0
2014 14 62 4.4 0
Total 73 273 3.7 3

Jonathan Stewart
Season Att. Yards Avg. TD
2010 21 92 4.4 1
2012 4 16 4.0 0
2013 did not play
2014 16 79 4.9 1
Total 41 182 4.4 1

Note:The 2010 game was played in the Seattle; the games in 2012, 2013 and 2014 where played in Charlotte.


The first official report of the week, as released by the team:

Did not practice
DL Michael Bennett (not injury related)
S Jeron Johnson (elbow)
CB Byron Maxwell (illness)
TE Tony Moeaki (calf)

Full participation
DE Demarcus Dobbs (ankle)
TE Cooper Helfet (ribs)
WR Jermaine Kearse (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
CB Tharold Simon (shoulder)
C Max Unger (knee/ankle)

Lynch was back after sitting out Tuesday's practice. With Maxwell ill, Simon worked at right cornerback with the No. 1 defense.

For the Panthers:

Did not practice
WR Corey Brown (shoulder)
DT Star Lotulelei (foot)

Limited in practice
S Thomas DeCoud (hamstring)
CB Melvin White (ankle)

Full participation
LB A.J. Klein (ankle)

Lotulelei has a fractured bone in his foot and will not play on Saturday night. Panthers coach Ron Rivera discussed Lotulelei's situation during a conference-call interview and Seahawks.com's Tony Drovetto has the details.

OPPONENT WATCH: THE OFFENSIVE LINE

When the Seahawks played in Charlotte in Week 8, the Panthers' line was in a state of injury-induced flux.

Rookie free agent Andrew Norwell was making his first start at left guard and Fernando Velasco, who also entered the league as a rookie free agent in 2008, was at right guard. And the starting tackles also were once rookie free agents – Byron Bell on the left side and Nate Chandler, a former defensive tackle, on the right side.

But the Panthers have had the same starting unit the past six games: Bell and Norwell on the left side; center Ryan Kalil; rookie Trai Turner at right guard; and Mike Remmers, who was signed off the St. Louis Rams' practice squad in late October, at right tackle.   

"We've kind of settled on our offensive line," Rivera said.

And it has helped the Panthers win their past five games, including Saturday's wild-card playoff victory against the Arizona Cardinals.

"The O-line is looking real good," said linebacker K.J. Wright, the Seahawks' leading tackler. "I've noticed them climbing up to the second level. I believe our D-line has to do a good job of trying to keep them off of us, so we can scrape and get over the top. And the linebackers, we've got to come downhill so the double-teams can come off (the linemen). We've all got to work together as far as keeping their O-line unsuccessful."

A HAIR-GROWING EXPERIENCE

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson stopped getting his hair cut during last season's run to the Super Bowl, and his locks are getting longer by the game this season. Wednesday, Wilson took off his hat during his media session to show everyone just how long.

"It's the same as last year. It's out," Wilson said. "The funny thing is, we were in the huddle against Carolina (in Week 8), first play of the game. And Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse were standing next to me in the huddle, and Marshawn (Lynch). And Doug looked at me and said, 'Hey, what's going on with that hair? Are you going to grow it out this year or what?'

"I said, 'I may just have to. We got a lot of wins last year.' So sure enough, that's what I've been doing all year since then."

And since then, the Seahawks have won a lot of games – nine of 10, including their last six during the regular season.

Is Wilson superstitious? "I'm not a superstitious guy," he said. "I did it in high school, my junior year in high school, and we won the state championship and that was our best season. … And I did it last year. So might as well go with it."

ALL-PRO REDUX

Free safety Earl Thomas was named All-Pro on Friday for the third consecutive season. Before you ask, it never gets old.

"It's legacy," Thomas said. "I'm grateful for everything that this game brings. Obviously, I love it. I put my heart in everything I do when it comes to football. And I'm reaping the benefits of it."

UP NEXT: "NO REPEAT FRIDAY"

YOU DON'T SAY

"I really think their quarterback should be considered seriously for league MVP. I mean, all he's done is win."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera on Russell Wilson


The players will hold their final full practice on Thursday, which this week is "No Repeat Friday" because the game against the Panthers is on Saturday night.

The Panthers have not played in Seattle since 2010, so playing in the din generated by the 12s at CenturyLink Field will be one of the elements they'll have to deal with.

"Unnerving," All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said when asked to describe the team's home-field advantage. "If you've never been here and never played here, I guess people can tell you a lot of things about how loud it is and how disruptive it is. But until you get out there at a crucial part of the game and you can't hear and you can't communicate and you can't talk and you've still got to play at a high level, there's really no way to feel it, to experience it."

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