Today's injury report shows, of all things, health -- at precisely the crunch time of the season the Seahawks could use a few starters returning from injury.
Only four guys didn't practice today, down from seven yesterday.
For Lynch, it's the same as the last two weeks. Out from practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He's rushed for 264 yards and four touchdowns on the last two weekends.
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This was the first full day of practicing for Wagner since he got the turf-toe ligament tear and broke a sesamoid bone in a foot tendon Oct. 12 against Dallas. All-Pro safety Earl Thomas had two words for that: "That's big."
Thomas explained he's been having to cover more of the field and make more tackles -- a season-high 11 of them last weekdnd at Kansas City -- especially in run defense while Wagner has been out of his middle-linebacker position. Wagner was on a team-record-setting pace for tackles before he got hurt. His return could be a huge boost to the defense that the Chiefs smashed for 190 yards rushing.
Left guard James Carpenter hadn't practiced fully since he sprained his ankle Nov. 2 against Oakland. So two starters who have combined to miss seven consecutive games between them are back and poised to return Sunday against Arizona.
--Here is all of what Russell Wilson said today before practice:
QB Russell Wilson
November 20, 2014
(On if he’s surprised that their defense remains as good as it is without Karlos Dansby, Daryl Washington, Darnell Dockett and Matt Shaughnessy) You think about their defense, the Arizona Cardinals, and they’re doing some tremendous things and they’re coached extremely well. They fly around to the football and you think about their secondary and the guys they have in their secondary and the talent that they have, from the first-round draft picks to the guys who have played a lot of football and so they’re doing a great job. They’re getting turnovers and they’re making plays so we’re going to have to play big time football and make sure that we protect the football and capitalize in the red-zone and be big in the red-zone on third-downs and to see what their defense is doing without some of the guys that they have – that’s pretty impressive.
(On how difficult their pass-rush is) They’re getting to the quarterback and they’re getting right there. If they’re not sacking them, they’re getting to them. We’re going to have to get the ball out on time and make sure that we get those completions, get those first-downs. It comes down to making big plays. I think about last year and going down to Arizona, playing down in Arizona, we made big play after big play and made the consistent play as well. When we came up here for whatever reason, we didn’t make those plays. It wasn’t our day. That’s what it comes down to this week is matchups and winning those matchups.
(On how much of a last stand this game might be for the team in the bigger picture) I don’t think that far. All I know is that this is a game we’re focused on and we’re looking forward to playing a great football team, the Arizona Cardinals, and we will see what happens.
(On not being able to find easy completions right now in the pass game and how he reads that situation and why is it such a struggle right now) I think it’s on me more than anything. There’s a time and place to be big right now and we just have to make those plays and we’re going to. I believe that we’re going to capitalize. I’m going to make the throws when I need to make them and the guys are going to make the catches when they need to make them. The guys are doing a great job. They’re showing up so just keep believing and keep delivering the football and we’re going to do it.
(On how big of an adjust it was re-acclimating to Lemuel Jeanpierre yesterday in practice) Having Lemuel back is a great thing. Obviously, you never want to have Max [Unger] go out of the game and I think that Patrick Lewis has done an unbelievable job of stepping in and we’re looking forward to him playing this week and what he can do. He’s very smart, plays very physical and then to have Lemuel step-in and come back, he hasn’t played in eleven weeks or whatever it is. I’ve played a lot of football with Lemuel so that helps and to have another guy that can step in and be composed and poised and be big for us. That’ll be crucial.
(On what has been the biggest challenge for the passing offense in the red zone this year) I think I have to play better down in the red-zone and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got how many ever games left but this one is the one that counts right now so just capitalizing. I think we’re doing a tremendous job of running the football. Marshawn [Lynch] has had an unbelievable year so we’re trying to give him the football. In terms of our passing game, we’ve capitalized at good points when we needed to and sometimes we haven’t and I think the times we haven’t, it’s really more on me so that’s something that I believe I will fix and that’s something that will happen for us this week and in weeks to come. You just keep working at it. You never rest on it. I’m looking forward to today’s practice in terms of getting out there for third-downs, tomorrow’s red-zone day and keep learning, keep studying and we will be ready to go.
(On if feeding the ball to Marshawn Lynch so often makes it harder to find a rhythm in the passing game like in the end of the first half last week) The end of the first half last week, there was a certain situation, we ran the ball really well, and we threw the ball well at the end of the half and then right there, we got down to the red-zone, they played pretty good defense. I think I missed one throw that I wish I had back. But we played the situation very well because if we had thrown the ball inbounds we may have run out of time, we had no timeouts but in terms of the rhythm of the passing game because we run the ball so effectively – I’m running it, Marshawn’s running it and all that. There’s no excuse for that hindrance of the passing game. I think that that’s nothing. It’s on me and we have to get better. I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to what we’ve been doing this week. We’ve had a great week. Guys are really upbeat about it and flying around and making plays so we’re looking forward to it.
(On where he feels the team’s mindset is at today at 6-4 compared to 9-1 this time last year) I think we have that same resilience, that same championship mindset. To think about last year and some of the games we won, even though we were 9-1, we had to come back from behind against Houston and we had to do some miraculous things and that’s what it calls to now, this week and the weeks to come. Just playing big time, championship football and having that championship mindset like we always say.
(On when he says, ‘it’s on me’ if he means physical stuff or mental stuff like the decisions he’s making) No, I think that I have to find a way to be clutch and always be clutch. It’s something that I look forward to. It’s calling for that time right now and so I’m looking forward to that.
(On how much different the passing game is in the red-zone with the field compression) Well, whenever you get in the red-zone, the passing game gets a little quicker, a little tighter and so you have to make quick decisions down there, you have to get the ball out and trust what you see.
(On if defenses are doing anything specifically to make playing offensively a struggle right now and what he views as the issue) I don’t think that there’s a huge issue. I think that we’ve had a few games there in the passing game that we could have been a little bit better. Like I said, it’s on me. I don’t think there’s any issue. I don’t think that defenses are doing anything different. Defenses are paying a little bit more attention to me in terms of putting an extra guy down there or whatever but other than that – that’s a good opportunity for us in the passing game now so I’m looking forward to that and if that’s the case, we have to make big time plays.
(On if he likes that the end of the schedule has all these division games when the team has ground to make up) Yeah, in terms of having the NFL making where you had all your NFC West games at the end, I kind of like it personally. I think it’s something that you look forward to whenever you play your rivals and all that. It’s going to be a good opportunity for us to step up and we will see. The story isn’t told yet. We’re going to have to write our own story and we will see what happens.
(On when they bring as much pressure as they do and if that plays into his ability to move around back there and take off) Yeah, in terms of how much pressure they bring, it does leave a lot of green grass behind it. It gives me some opportunities to move around and hit some guys and hopefully make some big plays so the key is getting protected, getting the ball out on time and making an accurate throw and I trust the guys. We have to make the big time play. It’s not going to be easy. They’re going to be right there and we’re going to make those plays.
And this was defensive coordinator Dan Quinn following practice, saying he's pumped to see his defense accept the challenge of Arizona's deep passing game:
Defensive Coorinator Dan Quinn
November 20, 2014
(On how different the Arizona Cardinals look with Drew Stanton) I think when you go through both the games, the attitude and the mindset of the offense is the same--there’s contested throws down the field and they’ve got terrific receivers that can go up and challenge for them so we’re really looking forward to that part of the game. Very committed run game in terms of the way they will stay with it in the numbers. We know that from playing this team in our past games against them—not a big difference in terms of the style of offense that they’re going to play from what we’ve seen so far.
(On what John Brown adds to the Arizona Cardinals) I think the speed and he’s a factor inside because they can go to the three and four wide receivers sets—that’s been a staple for Coach [Bruce] Arians in that system for a long time. Instead of playing three receivers on third down, there’s four and five at times. So really, it’s the speed and the plays that he can make down the field—that’s probably the biggest thing that jumps out. He’s made some terrific catches for them and big plays too at the end of the game—certainly somebody that we’ve been impressed with by watching.
(On the defensive backs being exciting about Arizona taking shots down field) I know this team does, that’s for sure. And knowing that, we’d rather have that matchup then some of the guys we’ve played outside. So it’s going to be a heck of a game and knowing that, the fact that they’re going to take shots down the field, we’re going to contest them so it’s going to be awesome environment—one we’re ready for and looking forward to.
(On the Arizona Cardinals defense) Yes—we’ve had their crossover film and I’ve known Todd [Bowles] for a long time and the aggressive mindset that he coaches with. So yes—as defensive coach, you see a team playing well and getting the ball with turnovers—they’re doing a good job at that.
(On the Seahawks run defense) The explosive plays were the things that hurt us the most in the game and what we call explosive is a run that’s plus twelve. We’re usually pretty tight in that area so for us to have those explosive runs that were long ones and one of them being a touchdown—not good for us in the standard that we got and it’s important for us to hit our fits in the way that we play the run game. So it was a combination where we missed some tackles, but really the explosive runs made the difference in the game.
(On missed tackles) For us, anytime there is eight, nine, 10, or 11—that’s a lot for us. So big emphasis this week going against another guy who’s got real quickness coming out of the back field in [Andre] Ellington and the way that he can bounce out. So tackling in this game, with Larry [Fitzgerald] and how strong the receivers are, will be at a premium—that part is definitely going to be in effect.
(On not having Brandon Mebane) Well I think from the standpoint of Brandon, I really thought he was playing at his best spot. It wasn’t like they were hitting in the A-gap for the plays, they were some explosive plays that hurt us in our scheme and that hurt us on missed tackles. So of course we missed Brandon being out there, but certainly not a function of what we’re capable of playing like.