Seahawks Insider Blog

Marcus Burley on the spot as man in the middle of Seahawks' secondary on passing downs Sunday at San Diego

The Seahawks are finished with their Friday practice -- more like a walkthrough -- here in Renton. They leave at noon tomorrow for Sunday's first road game of the season at San Diego. The Chargers have sold out Qualcomm Stadium (that's not always a given there), and I'm told there are already packs of Seattle fans in San Diego for the game.

After the end of the clip above, Carroll hinted at why Marcus Burley is the new fill-in nickel back for injured Jeremy Lane for Sunday's game and the foreseeable future. The coach said Burley, the second-year man from Delaware acquired Aug. 30 in a trade of a sixth-round pick to Indianapolis, is a "very aggressive kid."

Sunday will be the third time Burley is active for an NFL game, and second time in as many weeks.

"He's doing well, really well," Carroll said. "He's a fun player. ... He's jumped in. He's been here a couple weeks with us now. He's in tune with the nickel spot, and could jump outside if we needed him to. And he's got a couple jobs to do on special teams. He's fit in really well."

Burley said he didn't play inside as the nickel, fifth defensive back last season in his time with Jacksonville but that he played nickel all this preseason for the Colts.

"You are inside with a lot of stuff going on. You have to adjust to motions (by receivers before the snap)," he said. "Just a lot of checks and stuff you have to be aware of."

That begs the question: How much of the defensive playbook does Burley know after less than two weeks with the Seahawks?

It's less than all of it.

"It's coming along. I'm staying in the playbook, asking questions of the older guys. It will definitely show," Burley said.

"You know, you just have to prepare for situations like this. Just be ready."

--A key to Sunday will be the Seahawks attacking San Diego's battered offensive line -- the Chargers, like the Packers last week, are starting a backup center -- and getting pressure on relatively stationary -- but very accurate -- quarterback Philip Rivers. And a key to that attack is Bruce Irvin.

The Seahawks limited their rush end to 19 snaps last week in his first game of any kind since the Super Bowl and offseason hip surgery. Carroll said  todayIrvin is much more up to speed this week and that he is a full part of the game plan, though in talking to Irvin two days ago it sounds as if he may still be on some sort of snap limit.

Carroll also said the ongoing search for a fourth pass rusher on the defensive line will mean Jordan Hill will get a first opportunity Sunday, with rookie Cassius Marsh in right after that. Hill entered in the second quarter last week; he might be rushing Rivers in the first quarter Sunday.

--Asked what he may tell Bryan Walters Sunday when he replaces All-Pro safety Earl Thomas as the team's primary punt returner, Carroll said of the Ivy League's career punt-return leader a few years ago at Cornell: "Just let him go. We really trust Bryan. He's a really natural returner. He understands. He has a lot of punt returns in his history."

--Carroll said cornerback Josh Thomas, signed this week from Carolina, is available for Sunday only on an "emergency" basis -- as in, every other defensive back getting hurt. But Thomas may be active for Sunday's game, just because of the depth issues in the secondary with cornerback Tharold Simon on the 53-man roster but still maybe three weeks away from returning following minor knee surgery.

My hunch is the inactives on Sunday will include the three players Seattle listed today as out: running back Christine Michael, rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and Simon, plus third tight end Cooper Helfet (Carroll said his knee is better and he has practiced well, though I'm not sure the team will need him as much as Josh Thomas to back up the secondary). The other inactives are likely to be one of the seven wide receivers, rookies Kevin Norwood or Paul Richardson and at least one reserve defensive lineman (perhaps Greg Scruggs).

--When I asked if he's issued any extra mandates to players to hydrate now in advance of Sunday in San Diego, Carroll responded jokingly: "What would you think we'd do?"

When I mentioned, oh, perhaps lots of water consumption the coach said: "Yeah ... we did the best we could with the sun here. We had good, hot days here. But it is going to be hot, over 90, 92 or three, something like that. But it's going to be just as hot on their side."

--Carroll said Norwood, who had surgery last month to remove a bone spur in his foot, looks very good and has a chance "to compete to be active" Sunday.

Yes, it's come to that for "Always-Compete" Pete and his Super Bowl champions: Competing to get in uniform for games.

UPDATE: Player representatives for the NFL Players’ Association have voted to approve a new drug policy for the league. It includes human-growth hormone testing for the first time. It also changes how the league treats amphetamines, so the suspension for Denver wide receiver Wes Welker is lifted and he can now play next week at the Seahawks.

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