A recap of the day’s activities:
Fresh legs. Pete Carroll’s late-season approach to practice was even more obvious today as the Seahawks’ first-year coach had the players practice in a walk-thru format during their final full workout before Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Qwest Field.
No pads. No helmets. No offense vs. defense. And for only 40 minutes.
“Late in the year, there are some opportunities to adjust, to keep things fresh and just take advantage of all of the work that we put in,” Carroll said. “So we just adjusted a little today. It was a little bit different than what we’ve done.
“We took every snap that we normally do, so we covered every situation that we had to cover. We just took off the pounding. These guys practiced really hard on Wednesday and Thursday, and we got that work done. So we thought we could take advantage of this opportunity and capture the focus we’ve had with another good day of it. And we got that done, so it was good work for us.”
Carroll also altered the practice times this week, which has allowed the players to leave Virginia Mason Athletic Center an hour earlier each day.
Did the players appreciate the benevolent gestures? The smile on cornerback Kelly Jennings’ face when asked about the altered schedule said it all. No one runs more in practice than the cornerbacks and wide receivers.
“It definitely was a great day for us,” Jennings said. “Running as much as we do, our legs tend to get sore around the end of the week. So to have this day where we can get those mental reps in, and also save your legs, that helps a lot.”
The players also practiced outside on the grass fields Wednesday and Thursday, a very rare occurrence in December.
“It really is easier on the legs to practice on grass,” Jennings said. “But just to be outside and see the sunshine around here that helps just give a whole different light to things we’re doing.”
A few of the players stayed after practice to try and throw a football through the basketball hoop that is along the side of the indoor practice facility.
The winner? Linebacker David Hawthorne, who swished an attempt from 50 yards and then headed to the locker room.
We covered the special efforts by the Brian Schneider-coached special teams in a feature story yesterday, but have been feeling a bit remiss because there are even more players who deserve recognition than the 15 included in the story – especially on the league-leading kickoff return unit and the kickoff coverage crew that ranks second.
Aside from returner Leon Washington, the kickoff return team includes Roy Lewis, Kam Chancellor, Dexter Davis, Matt McCoy, Will Herring, Kennard Cox, Michael Robinson, Cameron Morrah, Craig Terrill and Mike Gibson.
On the kickoff coverage unit are – from left to right – Earl Thomas, Cox, Davis, Robinson, Lewis, Chancellor, Herring, McCoy, Deon Butler, Jordan Babineaux and, of course, kicker Olindo Mare.
The official end-of-the-week status report, as released by the team:
OL Chester Pitts (ankle)
DT Colin Cole (ankle)
TE John Carlson (hip)
WR Williams (foot)
QB Matt Hasselbeck (wrist)
DE Chris Clemons (ankle)
MLB Lofa Tatupu (knee)
CB Marcus Trufant (lower leg)
Williams practiced for the first time since straining his left foot in the game against the Saints two weeks ago. “At this point, we’re counting on him to play,” Carroll said.
Cole and Carlson did not practice and will be game-day decisions, Carroll said. Cole did more agility work during practice and then stayed out to work on engaging blockers and pushing off on the sprained ankle that has sidelined him the past four games.
“He’s really close,” Carroll said of Cole. “He got good drill work right there at the end. We’ll take him right up to game day. For sure he’ll be out competing next week, if he doesn’t make it (this week). He’s that close right now. He’s dying to get out here. We’ll just have to see how it goes on Sunday morning.
“He has to go out really flying around on Sunday to convince us that he should play this week.”
On Carlson, Carroll said, “He got a little hip flexor thing that twinged earlier in the week. We just wanted to be really careful and not aggravate it. We’ll have to see if he goes on Sunday.”
Tatupu and Trufant practiced after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday and they are expected to start against the Panthers.
STAT DU JOUR
In three previous games against the Panthers, Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck has completed 68.7 percent of his passes (68 of 99) for 694 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception.
Sunday is the Seahawks’ annual Toys for Tots toy drive and fans are asked to donate new, unwrapped toys, which will be distributed as Christmas gifts to needy children in the Seattle community. Representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve will be in Touchdown City and at all gates to accept the toys and cash donations.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s a true honor and humbling just to know that you can make his day by hanging out with him.” – Tatupu on Make-a-Wish recipient Kyle Cronk, who attended practice and spent time in the locker room wearing a Tatupu No. 51 jersey