RENTON – As the Seahawks wrapped up practice for the week and gathered their gear to head to Carolina for a Sunday game against the Panthers, coach Pete Carroll recapped progress on an area of primary focus: third-down efficiency.
In their 19-13 loss to St. Louis, the Hawks converted two of nine third downs on offense and allowed the Rams to pick up 82 yards on five third-and-long conversions (almost 30 percent of their total net offense on five completions).
Carroll this week cranked up the intensity while practicing those situations.
“We made it very competitive,” Carroll said, adding that for much of the time he had the first-team offense going against the first-team defense “just to make it fast and quick and as challenging as we could – and blew the (crowd) noise at them, the whole thing.”
“I thought we were quicker with the football and very decisive,” Carroll said. “We’ll see if that carries over, but we had a very strong week in terms of emphasis there.”
Preparing to defend versatile Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was an additional challenge, given his size, speed and ability to operate some collegiate-style read-option plays uncommon in the NFL.
“Each day we accomplished the objectives and got things done,” he said. “It was a really well-orchestrated plan to get through it, (but) it was very challenging.”
On Monday, Carroll said rookie Russell Wilson would start again at quarterback after a three-interception effort at St. Louis. He gave Wilson strong grades for his performance in practice this week, and said the offense was boosted by full health at the receiver position. Doug Baldwin’s being healthy enough to practice for the second straight week was particularly important, Carroll said.
EARLY REPORT CARD
Entering the second “quarter” of the season, Carroll looked back at the Hawks’ performance in the first four games.
“My thought was, coming out 2-2, we didn’t make the kind of progress we wanted to make,” he said. “We’d like to be ahead of that right now. We were in every game; our defense and our running game can keep us with a formidable chance with anybody we play, we hope, but we weren’t able to get it done at finish time when we had to in a couple games.”
Relative to a 1-3 start in 2011, “we’re better than we were a year go,” he said. “We stand to really improve during the season. If we stay together and keep working at it, we stand to get better because we’re so young. We saw great improvement last year, so I think we’re well ahead of where we were in terms of style of play. Our execution is better, the physical nature of our team is better. We hope that translates into more wins as we go into the second quarter of the season.”
COUNT ON MEBANE
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane returned to practice Friday after resting a calf injury Thursday. Carroll said he expects Mebane to play at full speed against the Panthers.
Mebane has been at the core of the Seahawks’ defense (No. 2 in points allowed), coming up with five tackles (two for losses) and generally disrupting the Rams’ offense last week.
“He’s played really well,” Carroll said. “He came to camp in great shape and just seems to be quicker than ever, more effective. He’s been all over the place, in the backfield causing problems. He’s already got a couple sacks, which is a big improvement for him. But more important, he’s a big, big factor in the running game because he’s so quick, so tough, and he can play the whole game and you don’t have to rest him at all. So, that’s an improvement from in the past.”
Seahawks – Out: OG John Moffitt (knee), DT Jaye Howard (foot). Questionable: CB Marcus Trufant (back). Probable: DT Brandon Mebane (calf), RB Marshawn Lynch (rest). Carolina – Out: OG Mike Pollak (shoulder). LB Jon Beason (knee), CB Chris Gamble (shoulder). Questionable: OG Geoff Hangartner (knee). Probable: S Colin Jones (shoulder), DE Antwan Applewhite (knee), DE Frank Alexander (back).Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com @DaveBoling blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks