I wouldn't sound alarms just yet, but, yes, three-fifths of Seattle's starting offensive line didn't practice today.
RG J.R. Sweezy spent much of last weekend’s win over the 49ers seeming to drag his leg behind him after someone fell on it during a play. Wednesday he did not practice with what the team listed as an ankle injury.
As for two-time Pro Bowl C Max Unger, coach Pete Carroll said the twisted knee and high-ankle sprain that has kept Unger out the last four games didn’t respond well to him practicing on a limited basis last week. With Russell Okung (bruised lung, more tests pending) out -- but not yet ruled out to play Sunday by Carroll -- 60 percent of the starting offensive line didn’t work four days before the game against Arizona’s blitzing.
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TE Tony Moeaki did not practice. He “banged” his shoulder against San Francisco, Carroll said.
TE Cooper Helfet was full go after being out three weeks with a sprained ankle.
RB Marshawn Lynch took his customary Wednesday off to rest his back.
--For recreational purposes only, of course: oddsshark.com lists the Cardinals as 9½-point underdogs and says that’s the largest underdog for an 11-3 team in NFL history.
Here is all of what Carroll said today:Head Coach Pete Carroll
December 17, 2014
(Opening) Well like we had hoped I think somewhere in the middle of the year we come down to the final part of the season with a lot at stake, a lot at hand, tremendous match ups across the league and we have a great one in our division coming up on Sunday night. This is a game that’s going to call for everything. They’re tough, they’re winning, they have confidence, they get after you, and at home they’re going to have a great crowd, noise and all that stuff. It’s a great challenge for us. Our guys are–not to surprise you—but really excited about this opportunity to go do this, but we know we’re up against it. I think these are kind of the classic NFC West matchups. Defense is going to get after it and try to run the football both sides and all that, we’ll slug it out and see what happens. We’re looking forward to it.
(On any better feel for QB Ryan Lindley than on Monday) Well we’ve done homework and we’ve watched his plays and done everything we can to dig back when we played before. So yeah, he’s a big, strong-armed guy and he’s been around enough so I’m sure they’re going to stay very much like they’ve been. Very much on the attack in the throwing game and when he came in they didn’t change that so we expect to see the same.
(On how impressive the Cardinals have been with all of the injuries) Yeah they lost guys before they even started. They came up short on a couple guys right out of the shoots. They haven’t wavered the whole year and they’ve done it with a great formula, one that we really respect, playing defense and teams and getting after the football, the turnovers have been a huge factor for them this during this year so whatever losses they had to endure, they have and they’ve handled it really well. Bruce [Arians] has done a great job to keep these guys on track and their style has not altered at all. They’ve been within the same formula throughout and it’s been obviously very successful.
(On how having Larry Fitzgerald back changes their passing game) He’s one of the best that’s ever played so that changes everybody. It affects them in what they can do and what they hope to do and it also affects us too. We have tremendous respect for him and his play and he’s an all-around football player. He does everything. He blocks well, and catches well, runs well, can make big plays and all of that so he’s a great asset to any team.
(On what the unique challenges are to the Cardinals defense) They’re probably more willing than anyone else that we’ve played to be aggressive and go after you and really just call the pressures in situations where some teams wouldn’t do it, they’re very bold. Todd [Bowles] does a great job of getting after it. They’re attitude is part of their style. You can see it in their players and the way that they play the chances that they take and all of that and they’ve given problems all year long. Later in the game the more aggressive they get and they’ve had great success in the fourth quarter because of that.
(On Russell Okung’s availability for Sunday) No, but he’s still in the mix. He’s going to have some stuff done tomorrow that will let us know where he sits and all that. He’s not out of the plan yet.
(On why his team is so good in prime time games) I don’t know. I don’t know. We’ve worked real hard to be comfortable in those situations. We don’t change to play in those opportunities and I don’t want that kind of a moment to change what we are, who we are, so we work hard to understand that. But I don’t know. That’s just me guessing how it works. I don’t know.
(On how big this game is) I think it matters. These guys have been through a lot of big games and they’re excited about knowing how hard this one is and the challenge of it. That’s what you hope your team feels like and these guys get that. We talk throughout the calendar about each game we approach it like it’s a championship game, sometimes you play a championship game at home and sometimes you got to play them on the road and you have to be ready for both. This is what this one is all about. This is going to be a great setting; it’s going to be very difficult. They couldn’t be more fired up and they should be like that with the great season that they’ve had. It presents us with the opportunities that we’ve felt before. We got to excel and do all the things like we normally do. Hopefully we’ll do that.
(On what accounted for the seven sacks between the Seahawks and Cardinals) They’re really good up front, they come after you, and they take shots at you and we miss some, some pickups, and then they beat us on some stuff but we’re not going to change our style of play for them. We don’t do that for anybody and so we have to play a lot better. Seven sacks in a game like this one could mean the difference in the game so we’re taking account of that and hopefully fix it.
(On the quicker-rhythm passing game and how important it is) It’s important all the time. We’re just trying to get better at it. It’s just showed up in the last few weeks like we’d like to see it and hopefully we continue to get it done. Stay on rhythm you know and not give their rush and their games and their stunts a chance to really formulate. So we’ll see what happens, it’s real important to us and an important part of our throwing game that we’d like to excel at more so than we are now.
(On how Alvin Bailey played) He made it through it. He could play a lot better. He’s played better earlier in the year. I think he’ll play better in preparation if Russell [Okung] can’t go. The prep during the week, the added reps, and communications and stuff like that will help him. He does a lot of stuff for us, so during the course of the week he plays different positions all the time that’s what he did last week, and this will really help.
(On the update of Max Unger) Max [Unger] won’t practice today. He had a tough recovery from last Friday’s practice so he’s gonna be not going today, so we’ll see how he is tomorrow. We’re taking it one day at a time now. It’s close enough where we have a chance.
(On the work being put into Bruce Irvin and if it’s a continuation of his skills) We always thought he was a really versatile football player. Remember we brought him in to rush to passer which he’s doing on third down and we wanted to find out what he could do with his other stuff. In his workouts coming out he kind of hammered that he didn’t look like a linebacker to a lot of the scouts to other teams and that was kind of the work on the street and we needed to find out. We think that we’re using him in a way that allows him to use all of his stuff. He’s really quick, he can run really fast, he’s a really natural cover guy, remember he was a safety in junior college you know so, he has all of the skills that you want so we think that we can use all and still get him as a feature third down guy. It’s worked out and he’s learned his position well, he’ll continue to improve though. He’s still young at it. But we’re happy with the progress that he’s made and he’s really playing much more physical at the point of attack on the edge like we like him and he’s taking pride in that. So he just continues to develop. He’s got a couple more years at really growing at the position before he’ll really reach the top of his game.
(On 4th time in five years having the division championship in sight in December and leaning on that experience then and now) Well I think it’s important that if you’re going to play at your best and perform at a high level you need to be comfortable with the setting. If you’re uncomfortable and you’re not sure, it can make a difference and distract you some. We have that going for us. We feel very good about that. We know we’ve been in winning situations in December and it’s been the chance for us to do some really good things and we’ve come through for a good part of that. We have a good history, a good background that we feel confident that we can get it done. We’re not going into this game thinking that we’re unfamiliar with it or it’s going to be something that we don’t know how to handle or what’s up. We don’t feel like that at all. That comes with years of experience and being through it and a bunch of young guys coming through who are pretty well experienced at these kinds of times and the timing of these games.
(On TE Tony Moeaki’s status) No. He was out there today but it’s one day at a time. He’s got to show us that he can play. Coop [Cooper Helfet] will practice at full speed today, which is good so we have some choices there.
(On Bruce Arians) Well I didn’t know him, but I did know about him because some of my friends had coached with him and everyone really talked highly of him from way back. He’s a real obvious candidate for coach of the year. I think he’s done all the things you hope to see a guy do, he’s shown consistency, style, and the ability to endure hardships and issues—he’s done a great job. What I like about Bruce is that he’s got a great style—it’s not just the hat, he’s more than that. He’s got great style about his football and I really admire that.
(On his style of coaching that negates distractions) Well there are a lot of things that we do that try and create a little bit of chaos so that we get comfortable—there’s noise, music, and there’s a lot of things—our guys have to learn how to shift gears well and handle the serious times, fun times, getting their butt chewed, or whatever it is. There is all kinds of things that we go through that gets them in the right mentality to handle a lot of things at the same time. I’d like us to be multidimensional as a team—not be distracted, not be confused by what’s going on on the outside. So if that’s what you’re getting at, then that’s something that we attempt to get done.
(On him starting it at USC or with the New York Jets) Well, everything was chaotic at the Jets—it wasn’t just what I was trying to create. It has always been a performance thought that you want to be comfortable with a lot of stuff going on around you in my mind. So I’ve always thought it was important to try and get people comfortable in the moment when things are the most intense. So I have many more tactics now and kind of move in and out of that and really emphasized it for the most part at SC [Southern California]—that’s when it came most to the front. I was trying to do stuff way back when but I didn’t have as much order to it as I do now.
(On talking to Jon Ryan) Yes—I told him, ‘For that to have happened, it was one and a million.’ So we don’t have to worry about that because we probably won’t be around when that next time rolls up so he’ll be ok.
(On Paul Richardson is a good fit at kickoff return) One, he likes it and he really wants to do it—as does Doug [Baldwin] and some other guys. He’s got great skill and he’s really fast so when you put a guy back there and he gets a crack, and a chance to score he can go with it. He’s a very tough kid too and has a great mentality about the physical side of the game. He doesn’t look like he’d be like that because he’s a little slight but he’s got a great attitude and he’s a mentally tough, driven kid.
(On Paul Richardson getting touchdowns on kickoff return) We need to block better—we’ve had a few returns these past couple of weeks that we’ve been disappointed in. We made some mistakes upfront—it had nothing to do with him.
(On Lemuel Jeanpierre) it’s been a tremendous benefit because he really knows our system and he can communicate it really well. The shock of losing your play caller is really difficult. Patrick [Lewis] did really well when he played and did some really good stuff, but we thought that Lem could blend it all together best and he’s done a nice job of that—both those guys are capable of playing for us.
(On how often does Tom Cable get on the players at halftime) Only at the right times—it’s not out of character for Tom, or for Dan Quinn to get after the defensive guys at halftime—or myself if it calls for it. I thought Tom was right on it and he was very specific about his critique of what happened in the first half and we fixed the stuff that he addressed almost immediately and we came right out running the football. The first four or five plays, we moved the ball on the ground and the guys answered the call and really set everything in motion for that second half comeback.
(On Dan Quinn) He’s a fantastic person to work with, he’s a great communicator, he’s a gifted ball coach—he gets it, he has great sense for the game. I love working with him—communicating with Dan is flawless, we realize that in the first year when he and Gus [Bradley] were here and I knew at the time if there were ever an opportunity, he would be a great fit for us to bring him back. Gus opened the door for him and we did that. The reason I had such a great sense for him was because of the guys he’s worked with before and guys that recommended him to me. Bill McPherson with the Niners had been with him and Bill is one of my closest confidantes in football and he swore by him—that was even before I knew Dan. I just came to know him quickly and he’s an easy guy to be around. He’s done so many things right here from handling the transition to the coordinator job, handling a bunch of guys that have a pretty good opinion about themselves, about what their capable of doing and molding a bunch of young guys into a great unit in every phase and he works beautifully with the staff too.
(On his philosophy of how coordinators handle head coaching opportunities) When these guys come to work here, I tell them from the moment we start talking that I’m going to help them get any job that they want and to help them achieve the goal that they have for themselves. I work really hard for our guys to get whatever it is that they’re after and it doesn’t always work out that way—that they get the jobs they want, but I really mean that. I want them to be the best they can possibly be and if I can help them do that then I’m going to do it. I know that, at times, it makes it hard at times on us, but I want the next guy coming in to know the exact same thing. If you come here, we’re going to help you be the best that you could possibly be and that doesn’t mean it comes during recommendation time, this is in the process of trying to help guys find their best manners, the best way, their best understanding of how to present their philosophy and their approach so we work with that throughout the year. In my mind, everybody is going, everybody is moving on and I’m hoping that they get those chances. So I’ve been that way for a long time and we’ve endured it, it’s worked out, and it gives us a great chance to really have a great place for someone to come to also. I wish it would have been like that for me—sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn’t and I just decided a long time ago that I was going to help our guys in that manner.
(On the importance of his turnover philosophy) Honestly, I caught on to that my first year coaching—it was back at U of P [University of the Pacific] when I was a secondary coach my first time ever. It was second year of coaching—when I was coaching receivers my first year, when we set our sights on leading the nation in receptions at the time; I just did that for a goal. I saw that if you do it right, you can make a tremendous emphasis come to life. So I been on that ever since and later I realize how crucial that was to wins and losses. It’s become the primary philosophy about our football to take care of the football, getting after it, and it’s all about the ball. It was really indicative in the SC [Southern California] years—the numbers were tremendously in our favor and it’s always been a main statement of our program.