Tag Archives: Darren Fells

Down to 53

31 Aug

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Ladies and gentlemen, we have our team. For week one at least. The Seahawks and the rest of the teams in the NFL had until 3pm pacific time Saturday to shrink their rosters down to 53 players. The Seahawks waived 18 players, terminated the contracts of 4 others and also made one trade.

Waived: Phil Bates (WR), Michael Brooks (DT), Dewayne Cherrington (DT), Arceto Clark (WR), Darren Fells (TE), Winston Guy (S), Chris Harper (WR), Cooper Helfet (TE), Jaye Howard (DT), Rishaw Johnson (OG), Sean McGrath (TE), Ron Parker (CB), Ty Powell (LB), Ryan Seymour (OG), DeShawn Shead (S), Sealver Siliga (DT), Jared Smith (OG), Bryan Walters (WR).

Contracts Terminated: Clinton McDonald (DT), Brady Quinn (QB), Michael Robinson (FB), Antoine Winfield (CB).

Trade: The Seahawks traded a future conditional draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith.

The Seahawks also moved defensive end Chris Clemons from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster.

Some Brief Thoughts: The move that makes the least sense to me is releasing fullback Michael Robinson. I understand that Robinson was due make a base salary of $2.5 million dollars in 2013 which would qualify him as one of the highest paid fullbacks in the NFL. By cutting Robinson, the Seahawks reportedly save $1 million of cap space this season. Having said this, the Seahawks are in “win now” mode and some think this season carries a “super bowl or bust” label. Robinson was a pro bowler two years ago and a pro bowl alternate last season. He is definitely the best option at fullback of players available to the Seahawks. By releasing Robinson, I believe you are weakening a very valuable position to Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. I am holding out hope that no other team will sign Robinson for the money he was due to make and he will sign a new contract to come back to Seattle.

Of the players that were waived, three stick out in my mind; Winston Guy, Cooper Helfet, and Sean McGrath. Guy seemed to come on strong during the playoffs last season, playing in a limited role as a rookie. His spared play during the preseason could mean that the Seahawks coaching staff thinks Chris Maragos, Byron Maxwell, and Jeron Johnson showed enough to convince the front office that they can add great depth to the secondary by themselves. I would not be surprised however if Guy is retained to the practice squad if he clears waivers. The cuts of Helfet and McGrath together make me scratch my head. The Seahawks now only have two tight ends on the active roster (Zach Miller and Luke Willson) and I was certain one of these players would make the final roster. One of these guys will make the practice squad. It just makes sense. The depth at tight end is too weak not to carry one on the practice squad.

I am sad to see that Antoine Winfield was cut but at the same time I am excited. Winfield’s release tells me the Seahawks are confident in the young talent they have to fill Winfield’s shoes. I am excited to see Brady Quinn cut. He was very unimpressive throughout training camp and the preseason. Keeping Quinn would have been a wasted roster spot. Maybe he’ll get a chance somewhere else (are you listening Bills and Jets fans?).

My Practice Squad: The Seahawks now have until the end of the weekend to fill their 8-man practice squad. Using only the players we waived today here are the 8 players I think the Seahawks should retain: Phil Bates, Winston Guy, Chris Harper, Jaye Howard, Rishaw Johnson, Ron Parker, Ryan Seymour, Jared Smith.

 

Review: Seahawks 17, Packers 10

24 Aug

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The Seahawks extended their preseason winning streak to a franchise best 8 games Friday night, defeating the Green Bay Packers 17-10 at Lambeau Field. The Seahawks will now head home and prepare for another short week as they get set to take on the Oakland Raiders next Thursday night. Before we move on to next week, let’s take a look back at some good things and bad things from Friday night’s victory.

Finish: The Seahawks did a very nice job moving the ball in the first half of the game but were unsuccessful in finishing drives. With Russell Wilson at the helm, the Seahawks could only score 10 points. Seattle had two drives into the red zone and we were unable to score touchdowns on both of those drives. The nice thing about these long drives was our ability to convert on third down. The Seahawks converted 5 of their 12 third downs on Friday night. As effective as we were on third down and our overall efficiency moving the ball, when the regular season comes around it will be much more difficult to keep drives alive, especially on the road. The Packers have a “middle of the pack” defense and the Seahawks will see much better defenses early on in the regular season. If we can turn field goals into touchdowns, we will be in a much better position to win the games that turn out to be close.

Michael Shines: Christine Michael put an exclamation point on his case to be the primary backup to Marshawn Lynch on Friday night. Michael got 11 of the running backs 27 carries against the Packers and made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry. Michael’s most impressive runs came on handoffs right up the middle and his quickness is also worth mentioning. Michael’s blockers did such a good job that on a couple of his big first down runs, he was able to run right around the offense line and break into the second and third levels of the defense easily. I am starting to think we will see more of Michael in games this season. He will not be splitting carries evenly with Lynch but I would not be shocked to see Michael get close to ten carries per game. He will see a lot of playing time next week and another impressive performance could earn him the number two running back spot.

Sweezy Needs to Improve: On consecutive plays early on in the game, right guard J.R. Sweezy was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul late hit then penalized 10 yards for holding. Sweezy is still showing signs of a young, raw player with a great amount of potential but someone who is struggling to handle a job that was confirmed to be his earlier in the week when the Seahawks traded John Moffitt to Denver. Sweezy’s primary struggle on Friday night was preventing Green Bay’s interior pass rush. Two of the three sacks of quarterback Russell Wilson occurred within the middle three offensive lineman. From what I saw, Sweezy did a good job run blocking but his pass blocking still needs some work. With one more preseason game before the Seahawks head to Carolina, I think it would be wise to let Sweezy play longer than any other starter on offense against Oakland next week to get as much game experience under his belt as possible. However, it wasn’t just Sweezy who was responsible for drawing penalties against the Packers…

Penalties are Unacceptable: Let me be more specific about this point. Penalties occur in every game. It may be time to panic however, when you are penalized 14 times for 182 yards. When you rack up close to 200 yards in penalties in one game you have a very minimal chance of winning. Most of the Seahawks penalties against the Packers were fixable mistakes. Holding was the primary problem for the Seahawks on offense. A lot of our penalties came later on in the game with our backups in. Offensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre had multiple holding penalties and linebacker John Lotulelei also got flagged for a 15-yard personal foul late hit which should have been avoided since the tackle had been made well before Lotulelei jumped into the pile for one last shot. Penalties have been a problem throughout the preseason. In three games the Seahawks have been called for 34 penalties for a total of 354 yards, an average of 118 yards per game. This is the highest average in the NFL this preseason. Making this many mistakes will definitely cost us games in the regular season. Limiting penalties must be the number one priority during practice this week. If the Seahawks do not show improvement against Oakland, we may be in trouble come week one.

The Packers Could Have a Quarterback Battle on Their Hands: Let me be clear that I do not mean Aaron Rodgers is in jeopardy of losing the starting job. I think Vince Young outplayed current backup quarterback Graham Harrell on Friday night and it is Young who I believe deserves the backup quarterback job in Green Bay. Young’s mobility is a big advantage now in an era where the zone-read option and quarterbacks who can run are turning into the brightest stars in the league. Young had a passer rating of 130.7 Friday night while also adding 3 rushes for 39 yards. Young was a more accurate passer than Harrell, failing to complete only one of his 7 passes. The one thing that is apparent to me however is that Young is more eager to run. It does not seem to take much for him to feel the pocket breaking down which is leading to him scrambling somewhat prematurely. The Green Bay brass like Harrell a lot but I think Young is a better fit to backup Aaron Rodgers in the short term.

Projected Roster Cuts: The Seahawks have to cut their roster down from 90 players to 75 players by the end of the weekend. Here are 15 players who I think will get cut during this first wave of roster cuts: Donavon Kemp, Arceto Clark, Bryan Walters, Kyle Nelson, Martin Parker, Dewayne Cherrington, Michael Brooks, Andrei Lintz, Darren Fells, Perez Ashford, Ron Parker, Kyle Knox, Lemuel Jeanpierre, and Jaye Howard.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks were introduced to a chorus of boos but once the game started everybody seemed to forget about why they were booing… Golden Tate got the loudest ovation of boos when he was announced as our punt returner in the first quarter… I counted only 4 mentions of last year’s game during the broadcast. I was pleased with that number. I thought they would mention it at least a dozen times… I am not a fan of Ian Eagle’s play-by-play but I am a fan of Phil Simms’s commentary. Good thing both games on CBS during the regular season are home games… The Seahawks wore white jerseys and grey pants this week. That combo was last seen week 7 of last year in San Francisco… Time to put away the white road jersey for a few weeks. We won’t see that jersey again until week 4 in Houston… The new upper deck at Lambeau looks really nice. I can’t wait to go to Green Bay and see the stadium for myself… Time for another short week. I already cannot wait for next Thursday night when we play Oakland… Good to make it through another week without any significant injuries… My fantasy football draft is Sunday night. I haven’t taken a Seahawk for at least three seasons. Maybe this year that will change.

This week I will publish a reflection piece about the first wave of roster cuts. I’ll give you my take on the decisions that were made and whether I agree with them or not. Also, be sure to check back on Wednesday as I preview next week’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders.

Seahawks Training Camp Preview: Receivers

18 Jul

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*This is part four of my 8-part Seahawks Training Camp preview series*

Current Receivers on Roster (19): Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Phil Bates, Chris Harper, Stephen Williams, Brett Swain, Bryan Walters, Greg Herd, Justin Veltung, Arceto Clark, Zach Miller (TE), Sean McGrath (TE), Luke Willson (TE), Cooper Helfet (TE), Darren Fells (TE), Victor Marshall (TE)

Many people believe that the wide receiver group is the most improved group on the Seahawks roster. With the addition of Percy Harvin, the Seahawks have the potential to be one of the most dangerous offenses in the National Football League. With all of the talent at the receiver and tight end positions it is hard to figure out who will fit in the Seahawks plans in 2013. All thirteen wide receivers will show over the next month why they deserve one of the five or six wide receiver roster spots. Here is what I will be looking for and what I expect to see out of the wide receivers.

I am very excited to see the different receiver formations during training camp and the preseason. As of right now, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice are our starting split end and flanker, respectively. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are officially the backups with the rest of the wide receivers following. Among our returning wide receivers is Jermaine Kearse, who was active for the Seahawks final 8 regular season games and both of their postseason games last season. Also returning is Phil Bates. Bates spent last season on the practice squad after an impressive training camp last season. New veteran additions include Brett Swain who was signed on April 8th after being released by San Francisco, and Stephen Williams who was signed to a future contract days after our playoff loss to Atlanta. Williams previously spent three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Our rookies at the position include 4th round draft pick Chris Harper from Kansas State and undrafted free agents Greg Herd from Eastern Washington and Justin Veltung from Idaho.

Consistency is the key during training camp at the wide receiver position. If you can make your catches and not make mistakes running routes or catching the ball, the chances of you sticking around longer into camp increase greatly. Phil Bates is the best example of this last season. Having said this, the Seahawks will most likely only keep five or six wide receivers for the 53-man roster. I see Harvin, Rice, Tate, and Baldwin as locks to make the final roster. This means that 9 players will compete for one or two roster spots. As each practice goes by, I will report who is developing as deserving of one of these spots.

The Seahawks are not as strong at tight end from a depth perspective as the wide receivers. With the loss of Anthony McCoy to a season ending injury during OTA’s, the Seahawks only have one tight end, Zach Miller, who caught a pass during the regular season and postseason last year. The Seahawks did use a draft pick on Rice tight end Luke Willson to add depth and they also return backups Cooper Helfet and Sean McGrath, who spent time with the Seahawks during the preseason last year. The Seahawks also signed former pro basketball player Darren Fells, however the jury is still out on his football ability since he has not played football since high school. I am excited to see how Willson fits in to the offense both as a receiver and as a blocker. It would be really cool to see Miller and Willson a two tight end formation similar to what the New England Patriots have done in the past. I could see only two tight ends making the final roster. If that is the case, put my money on Miller and Willson making the team.

For the next four days, I will shift my focus on the Seahawks defense. Up next, a preview of the Seahawks defensive line. Thanks for reading! Go Seahawks!

Seahawks Free Agent Priorities

10 Mar

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On Tuesday at 1:00pm the 2013 NFL league year officially begins. At this time all 32 teams can sign free agents to contracts. The Seahawks have roughly $17 million of salary cap space to fill and it is possible the Seahawks will look to sign some notable names over the next few months. As nice as it will be to use free agency to improve the roster for 2013, the first thing teams need to look at is their own players that are set to become free agents. This year the Seahawks have 13 players who are set to become free agents. I have tiered our own free agents from a scale of 1 to 4 based on how big of a priority they are through my eyes. Tier 1 is players who I think should be the top priority for the Seahawks to re-sign. Tier 4 is players who I feel we don’t necessarily need and who I think we could afford to lose if they decide to sign with another team. All our free agents are unrestricted unless otherwise noted.

Tier One

DT Alan Branch

DT Jason Jones

K Steven Hauschka

DT Clinton McDonald (Restricted)

The Seahawks would be losing a ton of defensive line depth if these three players all leave. Alan Branch is the only starter among this group and he is the biggest named free agent for the Seahawks this offseason. If the Seahawks re-sign Branch we maintain our continuity among the defensive starters and assures that our incredible run defense stays intact. Jason Jones played sparingly last season because he was injured. He recorded only 7 tackles and added 3 sacks. Jones would be a great interior pass rush force and it is unfortunate we were not able to see his potential last season. He would surely help out Bruce Irvin in getting to the quarterback since Chris Clemons will miss a significant portion of the 2013 season. Steven Hauschka was impressive last year but his range is not what I expect out of a kicker. If he can improve his leg strength and prove he can kick from 50+ yards out consistently I would definitely sign him to a multi-year contract. Clinton McDonald is a restricted free agent this season and I expect him to be back with the Seahawks in 2013. I would not give any of these players big money but I think Branch and Hauschka are most likely to get multi-year contracts. Jones and McDonald may get smaller deals.

Tier Two

CB Marcus Trufant

LS Clint Gresham (Restricted)

CB Chris Maragos (Restricted)

Marcus Trufant was cut last offseason but restructured his contract to stay with Seattle. With the emergence of Jeremy Lane, Trufant may have lost his spot on the roster. Trufant is getting older but played decently in the nickel package last season. I believe Trufant will test the open market to see which team will give him the best deal. If the market is not what he was expecting and if the Seahawks would like to have him back for his 11th season with the team, Trufant may find himself in the same role as last season; playing on a limited basis on a one-year contract. I think both Clint Gresham and Chris Maragos are more important pieces to our team than people probably believe. If you remember last year’s Monday Night Football game between San Diego and Oakland you understand why I want Gresham back with the Seahawks next year. In that MNF game, Oakland’s long snapper was hurt in the second quarter. The replacement long snapper could not get the ball to the punter and holder and cost the Raiders opportunities to score points. It also gave the Chargers great field position. I did not realize how important the long snapper is to a team before that game and I now have a greater appreciation for Gresham’s job. He did not botch a single snap last season. Chris Maragos is a key contributor on special teams and made a lot of great plays on kickoffs last season. He seems to be around every single play and works really hard to be in a position to make plays.

Tier Three

LB Leroy Hill

TE Cameron Morrah

We are now getting into the area of players who I don’t think the Seahawks need moving forward. Leroy Hill was recently arrested for the fourth time during his Seahawks tenure. Last offseason he was arrested for marijuana possession in Atlanta and I commented how I think he screwed up a great chance to show the coaching staff and front office that he has cleaned himself up off the field. With this recent arrest I think he just punched his ticket out of Seattle and on to a different team. Add the emergence of linebackers Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan and you have a recipe where the Seahawks can afford to let Hill walk. Since Pete Carroll and John Schneider came to Seattle in 2010, I have thought that Cameron Morrah’s job could be in danger since he was not brought in by this regime. I think the Seahawks are looking to move toward a two tight end set similar to the New England Patriots. Morrah was hurt for a good part of last year so I’ll cut him some slack since he was not able to show what he could do on the field but things are not looking good for him. The Seahawks signed tight end Darren Fells to a 3-year contract last week and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks draft a tight end during the draft. If Morrah is not signed by a team by draft weekend and the Seahawks do indeed draft a tight end, Morrah will not be back in 2013.

Tier Four

WR Deon Butler (Restricted)

DE Patrick Chukwurah

K Ryan Longwell

OG Frank Omiyale

Two of the players in tier four were injury replacements during the playoffs. These two players, Patrick Chukwurah and Ryan Longwell, do not have a future with this team in my opinion. They were simply emergency roster fillers who we hoped could make an impact during the playoffs. Deon Butler appeared in one game last season but did not record a catch. With Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and a need for another vertical weapon on the outside, I do not see a spot for Butler next season. Frank Omiyale was seen as a challenger for a starting guard spot during training camp last season. He could not beat out Paul McQuistan at LG and John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy at RG so he was used as a substitute in 2013. With James Carpenter back healthy, Omiyale may not be back with the Seahawks next season and I personally do not think we need him.

Now that the league year is about to begin, I hope to be back on the blog more often. If the Seahawks make any notable moves in free agency or any significant news comes out of Seahawks headquarters, I will hop on to give my opinion about what is going on. Let’s go 2013! Go Hawks!

Combine Thoughts Part One

6 Mar

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*I have split my combine review and thoughts into two parts. The first part is my thoughts on the offensive players who participated*

The NFL Scouting Combine took place last week where I counted over 325 players participated in both the on-the-field football drills and the off-the-field team interviews. At the combine, a player’s draft stock can either rise or fall depending on how they perform on the field and if they can impress coaches and general managers in a meeting room. This year’s broadcast and coverage of combine drills put a focus on the 40-yard dash, bench press, and various football drills depending on the position. Of course I am not a part of the coaching staff or front office so I can only judge character and off the field traits based on what I hear. I can only go off of what I see.

The first two days of the 2013 combine focused on offensive players. I have noted some players who I believe helped themselves at the combine and who I would have an eye on for the Seahawks to draft; broken down by position. An example of a player who can help their draft stock is a player who can put up above-average numbers in both the 40-yard dash and bench press. Those two drills are the most important activities in my eyes.

Offensive Line

Jeff Baca (UCLA)

David Bakhtiari (Colorado)

Emmett Cleary (Boston College)

Reid Fragel (Ohio St.)

Rogers Gaines (Tennessee St.)

Eric Herman (Ohio)

Joe Madsen (West Virginia)

Vince Painter (Virginia Tech)

Brian Schwenke (California)

J.C. Tretter (Cornell)

With offensive lineman my number one priority is strength. I like an offensive lineman at the combine who can do at least 27 bench press reps. In my opinion I do not believe any of these lineman will be picked in the first round. I am looking for value at this position much like was the case with J.R. Sweezy last season. The guys on this list who really caught my eye were Vince Painter and Brian Schwenke. Painter was one of only four offensive linemen at the combine who ran a 40-yard dash under five seconds. He also tied for 5th for most bench press reps among his position group. A guy who can put up numbers in the top 5 in both categories is a guy whose stock will rise and a guy I would be interested in for the Seahawks to take a look at. Brian Schwenke may be one of the best guards available in this year’s draft and is currently projected to be a 2nd round pick. He is a Pac-12 guy so Coach Carroll may be more familiar with him than other prospects. Schwenke could be a guy who could challenge Paul McQuistan for the starting LG spot.

Tight End

Chris Gragg (Arkansas)

Vance McDonald (Rice)

Dion Sims (Michigan St.)

With the signing of TE Darren Fells, I think it is safe to say the Seahawks will not be in the market to take a tight end early in the draft. You can scratch both Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz off the board. I think it would still be possible to add more competition to the tight end position later on in the draft. Any of these three guys I think I would like to see in Seattle. I think another vertical threat would help Russell Wilson. If Fells does not pan out, it will be interesting to see how the Seahawks attack the tight end position in this year’s draft.

Quarterback

E.J. Manuel (Florida St.)

Matt Scott (Arizona)

I am split on Matt Flynn. I think he is a reliable backup in the event Russell Wilson gets hurt but he runs a different offensive package. Without a third quarterback currently on the roster I think it would be beneficial to bring in another athletic quarterback who could step in and mirror Wilson’s offense. These are the only two quarterbacks I would be interested in. E.J. Manuel was the MVP of the Senior Bowl and ran the second fastest 40-yard dash behind potential top 5 pick Geno Smith. Manuel is expected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Matt Scott was a player who surprised me. He ran a sub 4.70 40YD and looked pretty good in the on-the-field quarterback drills. If Scott is still available in round 5, I think it is realistic to think the Seahawks could use a pick on Scott.

Running Back

Giovani Bernard (North Carolina)

D.J. Harper (Boise St.)

Onterio McCalebb (Auburn)

Kerwynn Williams (Utah St.)

The Seahawks have their franchise running back set in stone with Marshawn Lynch. They also have their 3rd down power back locked in with Robert Turbin. Leon Washington is still a solid kick returner but is getting older. Could it be time to start thinking about replacing Washington? These four guys I think could have the potential to come into Seattle and make an impact in 2013. My spotlight is on Onterio McCalebb. McCalebb ran unofficial 40YD times of 4.27 and 4.21; the fastest running back at the combine. His stock is sure to rise but imagine him returning kicks for the Seahawks. With his speed and footwork (which looked good in running back drills), McCalebb could be a nightmare for defenders to try to tackle and he could set the Seahawks up for great field position. Kerwynn Williams could be a guy to keep an eye on because he was teammates with Robert Turbin in college.

Wide Receiver

Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech)

Mark Harrison (Rutgers)

Justin Hunter (Tennessee)

Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee)

Da’Rick Rogers (Tennessee Tech)

In my opinion, unless an offensive lineman projected to be a top 15 pick falls to the Seahawks at 25th overall, the only offensive position the Seahawks will be looking at in the first round is wide receiver. I am really high on both Tennessee receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. Patterson and Hunter are 6’2” and 6’4” respectively and could be long, tall vertical threats that could line up opposite Sidney Rice. In order to draft Patterson the Seahawks will have to trade up and given the conservative draft strategy of general manager John Schneider it is highly unlikely that will happen. The only way I see us trading up to take Patterson is if Patterson really impressed the Seahawks in his combine interview and if the price is right to pull the trigger on a trade. Hunter is a more realistic pick. Hunter is projected to be a mid-2nd or early 3rd round pick and could be one of our choices on day two of the draft. I like Hunter because of his leaping ability. He tied for first in the vertical jump among wide receivers with a jump of 39.5 inches. I think we need another tall receiver who can jump high to make catches.

Tomorrow I will post part two of my combine thoughts. Part two focuses on the defensive participants.