The Seahawks (11-4) just got off the practice field, after taking Christmas Day off. Coach Pete Carroll said after it that wide receiver Jermaine Kearse is out for Sunday's game against St. Louis (6-9) with his hamstring injury. Doctors have cleared left tackle Russell Okung to play after he returned from one week out with a bruised lung. The coach made it sound still iffy whether center Max Unger (high-ankle sprain) will play Sunday for the first time in six weeks, though he practiced today. Tharold Simon's recovery from a shoulder that popped out of place late at Arizona last week has been quicker than the team expected. Carroll said tight ends Cooper Helfet and Tony Moeaki are both "banged up."
Russell Wilson meant Christmas, Sunday's game against the Rams being at home, a win meaning the NFC West championship and (as long as Green Bay and Detroit don't tie) the top seed in the conference playoffs that begin next week.
The last time Wilson faced the Rams, Oct. 19 at St. Louis, he became the first NFL player to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 in a game. He is 11-2 is December game, part of his NFL-record 35 victories in the first three seasons of his career. He set a regular-season high with 339 yards and two touchdowns passing. His 5-yard touchdown run last week at Arizona was remarkable -- but got overshadowed by Marshawn Lynch's even more remarkable score.
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--The Seahawks announced today they released seldom-used defensive tackle Travian Robertson. They had signed him off Atlanta's practice squad Nov. 18. He played in just one game and was inactive for the last four.
--It might be third-stringer Ryan Lindley or rookie Logan Thomas at quarterback for the Cardinals' playoff games. According to NFL Network injured quarterback Drew Stanton had to have arthroscopic surgery for an infection.
QB Russell Wilson
December 24, 2014
(On the difference between the first seed and the fifth seed and what it means to him) Well, I believe the biggest difference between being a first seed or a fifth seed – I mean obviously you basically won a playoff game and that really helps – gives yourself a bye week and allows you to play at home. Playing at home in CenturyLink – there’s nothing like it when you have the 12s right there rooting you on when you’re playing a tough game it makes a huge difference.
(On not making the Pro Bowl) I’m grateful to be on the list – grateful to be able to play in the National Football League and to have an opportunity to play and fight for a Pro Bowl spot. Just to be the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks is a tremendous honor and there are so many great players. All the quarterbacks on the list had unbelievable years. It’s been an awesome year for everybody and I’m excited to have the potential to play in the Super Bowl hopefully so that’s kind of where my focus is.
(On what a bye week would mean for his body and mind) A bye week for my body – my body feels pretty good right now so I’m hanging in there for sure but in terms of your mind it allows you to take a week off and study what you guys have been doing really well I think and taking advantage of that opportunity to have some time off and to really learn what we’re doing really well and what we can get better at and then move on to the next week and see who we’re playing and get excited about the opportunity and playing like I said, playing at home – there’s no place like home so that’s the exciting part.
(On what the Pro Bowl voting means to him) It doesn’t mean everything. I think it means something in terms of the Pro Bowl because it’s awarding some of the best players in the National Football League. It’s a real thing but at the same time, ultimately, I’m trying to get to the last game where I don’t have to play in the Pro Bowl to do that though we have to win this game and you have to play one game at a time and enjoy it for what it is. We have a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.
(On the game against the Rams earlier this season) It was a battle. The St. Louis Rams always play us tough – NFC West game. We know we have a lot of respect for them and how hard they play and how physical they are. It’s going to be a fight ‘til the end and we’re going to be up for it and I’m sure they are too. It’s the last game of the regular season so we’re going to have to play great football. Every time we play the Rams it’s always a battle and we’re expecting that.
(On why the team lost to the Rams) We missed a play here and there. It usually comes down to one or two plays in a close game and for whatever reason we didn’t make those plays. We made a lot of good ones we were able to come back and make some plays but they made one more play more than us.
(On if he has improved on reading the defense pre-snap) Hopefully, the goal is to always improve and to continue to learn and to continue to learn the game and figure out where the weakness is on the defense and visualizing our matchups against their matchups. I think that’s a big part of it for me when I study film is trying to figure out what guys do really well and what they don’t do as well, what their strengths are and try to stay away from those strengths in terms of the defensive side of the ball and attacking their weaknesses. I think that our guys have so much talent. I just want to facilitate the ball to the right guy at the right time as I always say. We have so many guys that can make the plays – you think about Luke Willson having a one-hundred yard plus game on only three catches. That’s big time. He’s a great football player and we have a lot of them.
(On how much he weighs) I’m always like 212 to 215 – yeah, I’m not 206 – they catch me in the spring time when I’m 206. I don’t know why they have me at 206. If I was 206 I would probably get flown out of bounds too much so I try to have a little weight to me.
(On if he weighs more this year than last year) I don’t think so. I mean I lift a bunch. I work on my legs a lot. That’s kind of the main thing that I focus on but I don’t think I’m any bigger really, no.
(On his rushing yards) Yeah, close to 1,000 yards. I’m not sure if I’ll get that this game – hopefully not – I’ll be out of gas. It’s been an exciting year, think about where we were as a team. We were 3-3 at one point I believe it was and to be where we are right now – that’s what we talked about – believing in ourselves, playing one game at a time and every game is a championship game. We’re in the right spot right now. We have a great opportunity to win the NFC West. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a battle. I think eliminating the distractions and really focusing on what we can do to control what we can control. Especially with Christmas going on – it’s a great Holiday obviously but also at the same time, you’ve got a lot of family around and people around – you really have to zone in on what you’re trying to do. Ultimately what we work for all year, from February 2nd or 3rd of last year until now – is trying to find ways to win games and that’s where we are right now.
(On if he ever studied Randall Cunningham) I watched him. I didn’t really study him as much but no, he’s a great football player. He can do it all and a lot of people don’t realize how good Randall Cunningham was in my opinion – one of the better quarterbacks to ever play the game.
(On the Rams defense’s aggressiveness on the field and how it ranks to other teams) To rank any defense we play – they are all at the top in terms of our division. In terms of the Rams though, it’s one you don’t necessarily look forward to all the time because they do so many different looks, they’re physical, they know how to get to the quarterback, they know how to make plays, they have a lot of great football players that play great football so like I said earlier, we have a lot of respect. Anytime you get on the field and you’re playing a great defense like that – it’s a challenge you also look forward to too. I’m look forward to the opportunity to play the game again, to get out there with the guys and hopefully win the NFC West.
(On did he think he’d have this many rushing yards) I never really look at the stats—I never really know. I just try to find ways to win games—whatever that takes, whether it’s running it, throwing it, scrambling trying to get a first down on fourth down; whatever it is, whatever it takes to win and that’s always my focus.
(On Seattle’s defense being better than last year) I think they were better than they were last year in my opinion. I think our defense is playing lights out football—we’re older, we more experience on offense and defense. I think we have a more focused team, if that’s even possible. So we’ll see what happens—I think everybody in our division and in the NFC is playing great football right now. In terms of us, I believe that we have the right mentality back in terms of—we don’t believe that we can be stopped and that’s just because of the way we practice, the way that we work every day, the way we study, and ultimately when it comes down to crunch time, we believe we’re going to make the plays.
(On how they got back to that mentality) Just communicating—I think that’s the biggest thing. We had a team meeting, a players only type deal and we just continued to talk, continued to focus on each other, not make it about us as individuals, but each other and, ‘How can I make this guy better and how can I be better for this guy on this day?’ So I think that’s where our focus has always been. I wouldn’t say that we got too far away from that, I just think we had to zone in even more because everyone was talking about us from everybody’s outside perspective, it can have an effect, but I think more than anything we squashed that and I think it’s more about what can we do for each other and we’re on the right page right now.
(On it being a different challenge than last year) I think it is a little bit of a different challenge—I don’t think it should be a different challenge but I think it is a different challenge. I think in terms of you not winning one yet, that’s sometimes the hardest thing to do, but when you’ve won one, ok now what do you do? The great thing is that now you have the formula to do it and you’re thinking, ‘Ok what did we do to get there?’ It was through our hard work, through playing great, and making some clutch plays—when you think about Richard Sherman’s pick in Houston, you think about Doug Baldwin’s catch in Houston. You think about some different plays throughout the season—Jermaine Kearse’s fourth and seven in the NFC Championship game, I mean those are the plays you have to make to win a Super Bowl and we were able to make those plays. This year I believe that we’ve made those plays too as well—we’ve hung in there and we’ve been clutch when we’ve needed too. To play a great Arizona team like we did last week and to play the style of game that we played—physical, explosive on offense, physical on defense, and lights out on defense—those are the things that you have to do, that’s the formula and ultimately it comes down to being together, playing for one another, not about being an individual, but being about the team and we’ve definitely been able to do that.
(On Patrick Lewis) Patrick Lewis has been phenomenal—all of our centers who have had to step up really have in terms of being able to communicate. I think we’ve continued to grow in that area for sure in terms of offensive line. To only have one sack against a team that had seven sacks against us the first time just shows the growth. I think Patrick Lewis—it all starts with him. He’s done a tremendous job of being able to communicate, continue to study, learn, and just have confidence. It’s not easy going up against some of the great teams that we play—it’s not going to be easy this week but he’s doing a phenomenal job and he’s just got to keep going. I know Max [Unger] is getting healthy again, which is a great thing for us—he’s a pro bowl center, but at the same time, Patrick Lewis has done a phenomenal job of stepping up.
(On how he’s gotten better against the blitz) I think throughout the season you just continue to learn, continue to try and grow, ‘How can I get the ball out of my hands?’ That’s been my goal the whole year since being in preseason and going on is how quick I can get the ball out of my hands and that’s what all the great quarterbacks do. I think that in terms of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning. So I’m trying to learn that way—I’m trying to grow in that fashion. There’s a happy median for me—there’s the big play mentality, and also the scramble ability mentality where if it’s not there, I believe I can make a play. Also, I don’t have to do that the whole game. I think wearing out the defense in terms of getting the ball out and letting our guys make the plays has been a great thing for us—Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, and the tight ends have done a phenomenal job. Our backs have caught the football really well too as well. So when I can rely on those guys like I have been throughout the season, it makes a huge difference. They’re playing phenomenal football—the guys around me right now, they’re really stepping up and it definitely showed up last week.
(On Bobby Wagner) I think about rookie season and he was up for defensive rookie of the year, and I remember sitting at the NFL Honors and me and him were sitting next to each other, and he didn’t win rookie of the year. I think Luke Kuechly won it that year—great football player and I have a lot of respect for him and trained with him, but I kind of tapped Bobby and told him, ‘You’ll get it man, you deserve everything in the world.’ I have a lot of respect for the guy, he’s worked so hard—me and him always have a challenge going on to see who’s going to be here longer, back and forth, we always say that there’s no time to sleep type of thing. So I got a lot of respect for the guy and it’s always great to see a team, when he really does put in all the work in and he’s respectful to everyone that he encounters, he plays the game at the highest level, and he has an intelligence of the game better than anybody on the football field at times I believe—I’m just glad he’s on my team. I’m just glad I don’t have to play him, hopefully we’ll have a lot of years together, and I have a lot of respect for him and I’m happy for him.
(On winning NFC player of the week) To win NFC player of the week, that’s a great thing, but we got to see what we can do this week that’s all that matters and ultimately it’s about the team and to see what we can do. I think we’re playing great football right now and we can just keep going and keep growing, we’ll go in the right direction.
--And here is all that Carroll said today following practice:
Head Coach Pete Carroll
December 26, 2014
(On preparation this week) We had a good week. It worked out great. We had a bunch of guys competing to get on the roster right now –guys coming back from injuries and things like that which is good. The holidays are built around it and had a nice day off on Christmas which was good and everybody understands what’s going on as far as getting ready for this game and we stay in the same mode we’ve been in for months now. Giving everything we have to every game we play and this is a championship game like we’ve looked at it, so we’re ready to do this. Hopefully we’ll play really well and the opportunity to come back home for this chance at finishing the season is really special for our players.
(On facing a QB with eleven years of experience vs. no experience) Well certainly it’s different. Shaun’s [Hill] been around. He’s been through a lot of stuff and he shows it in his plays and his decision making and I’m sure that’s something they feel very comfortable with. They have a very young team so it’s probably very nice to have a guy who’s been around. So we’re going to have to do a lot of good stuff to rush the passer and make it hard and all that. They have a lot of offense, a lot of weapons, and he’s right in the middle of it all.
(On Russell Okung and Max Unger) Both those guys practiced again today. Max [Unger] made it through. We’ll see how that goes, we’re going to take it one day at a time. Russell [Okung] had a full week and he’s been cleared to play so Russell [Okung] is in good shape. We’ll take Max’s [Unger] situation one day at a time.
(On possibly getting snaps from Max Unger) That’s not a consideration –we’re trying to win a game.
(On Jermaine Kearse and Tharold Simon) Jermaine [Kearse] will not make it. We’re going to list him as out right now – he just pulled a hammy and it’s just not enough time to get back. Tharold [Simon] practiced today. If everything works out in the game tomorrow then he could be available to us.
(On Chris Matthews) Chris [Matthews] worked out today and did a nice job. Same with him. He has a chance to be available also.
(On how Aaron Donald is able to be so disruptive) Well he’s really fast. Just to start off with his speed and quickness is exceptional for a defensive lineman. That’s why he was such a high pick, because he’s so rare. Then he has a great motor to go along with it and he’s a very savvy football player too. He takes advantage of any mistakes you make. You can really block him normally like you block another guy and he just jumps around you and is in the back field. He’s a problem. We really liked him going through the draft process too because he is so unique.
(On Coach Fisher’s capabilities) He’s always especially dangerous. He’s a terrific football coach who’s been through everything and we have great respect –it won’t surprise us that he surprises us. It’s kind of how we’re going to look at it. We’re really going to be tuned in and see if we can play a real thorough game and really see everything that’s coming at us. We’re on full alert right now.
(On putting the defense in to historical contexts and if it means anything to him) Not really, no. I think it’s just opinion and stuff like that. We’re just trying to play a good football game this weekend.
(On Michael Bennett being disruptive with his speed and how valuable it is) Mike [Bennett] has just continued with what he did last year. We’ve played him more because he was so effective –we’ve played him more this season. He has a real knack. He has a real sense where the ball’s going and he can play the defense and then take advantage of that knowledge in special ways. He’ll get in the backfield, he’ll penetrate, and he’ll take a shot at plays and we trust him. He really has a great sense and really effective. He causes the problems that helps other guys around him play well too.
(On Michael Bennett jumping off sides) Trying to beat the cadence. Sometimes you can’t tell that he’s right, he’s so quick and that happened to him last week. I thought he was so acutely connected to the cadence it looked like he was ahead of everybody else.
(On if he was okay with some of the penalties) No, no, not really. But when Mike [Bennett] keeps making plays there’s a balance in their somewhere but we’re not asking him to beat the cadence we’re just asking him to get off in great fashion.
(On the NFC West goal and why that) Because of the benefits of that. If you win the division and you do it right, then you have a chance to be at home in playoffs. We were a great beneficiary of that last year –we saw what that was to have home field advantage throughout –we’re finishing this season and then we start all over again. When it comes to next week we’ll see what it means and where we are in all that. This is really the prize that you can get right now, so we went for everything in our goal. That’s the only thing that’s important is to position ourselves for the end of it so it’s clearly been our mantra so I don’t see any reason why we would ever change that. ‘Why don’t you ever talk about the Super Bowl?’ We never talk about that. We’re not even close to doing something like that right now. Trying to maximize the opportunity of the regular season which is to win the division, be at home, and see how far you can take it. If you don’t get that, then you take the next level of it. That’s why it is that way.
(On how encouraging it was when Robert Turbin and Christine Michael were in) Yeah I thought it was a really, really good indicator that our guys are ready to play every week. There’s a lot of guys who have had to step into roles with opportunities like Patrick Lewis has done and Lemuel Jeanpierre. They’ve just stepped up and really come through for us. That was another illustration of that and really we didn’t skip a beat, we ran the ball well in the first quarter. We wanted Marshawn [Lynch] in the game but not having him, those guys really came through and I thought Robert [Turbin] did a great job.
(On the roster move of releasing Travian Robertson and is there will be a replacement) Yes.
(On what makes the games against St. Louis so close) They’re really good. They’re a good football team. Jeff [Fisher] does a great job of coaching. Their whole staff puts guys in the right positions. They make it really difficult on us. Like I said earlier, this is one of the most athletic teams that we play. They’re really fast and they’re dangerous in all areas. They’re just part of this division and they’re tough. That’s kind of the way it’s been.
(On first round bye) We can’t control that. All we can do is try to win the game and we’ll see what happens after that.
(On Tony Moeaki and Cooper Helfet) Both guys practiced this week and made it through the week. They’re both banged up and we’re going to see how that works out all the way to game time.