News to come out of Friday’s practice included the return to action of Brandon Mebane (calf) and Marcus Trufant (back). Coach Pete Carroll said that Mebane is back to health and is counted on for the Carolina game, but Trufant will be a game-day decision.
The Seahawks are leaving Friday afternoon, which has been Carroll’s approach to East Coast games. “We’ve done it before; it’s a good thing for us at this time, go out, get together as a team, be together an extra day on this trip, we’ve had some success with it before so we’ll kick back into that mode.”
This game is a bit different as it’s an East Coast game that starts at 4 p.m. in Carolina. “The guys aren’t rushed to get up in the morning, so that is nice,” Carroll said.
Carroll was impressed by the Rams’ Thursday night win over Arizona. “Our division is really tough the defense being played by all four teams is obvious. Everybody’s getting after it, everybody’s got a pass rush, everybody can make things happen and you can see teams win it on defense. That was a n incredible defensive effort last night on both sides. The way the Niners play and the way we’re trying to play, I think it’s a big statement. We certainly aren’t like we were a couple years ago.”
On the topic of Mebane’s return, Carroll addressed his impact on the Seahawks’ No. 2-ranked defense. “He’s really played well, he came to camp in great shape and just seems to be quicker than ever, more effective; he’s been all over the place, in the backfield causing problems, he’s already got a couple sacks which is a big improvement for him, but more importantly he’s a big, big factor in the running game because he’s so quick, so tough and can play the whole game and you don’t have to rest him at all, so that’s an improvement than in the past.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton presents defenses unusual problems, Carroll said. “We had a challenging week preparing on the defensive side of the ball for this offense. But each day we accomplished the objectives and got things done and took our steps; it was a really well-orchestrated plan to get through it.” Carroll used athletic third-team quarterback Josh Portis as scout-team quarterback to try to replicate the challenges Newton faces as big and nimble athlete.
As for the Seahawks’ offense, Carroll said rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw the ball really well all week long.
A point of emphasis all week has been third-down efficiency. The Hawks are 27th in the NFL in offense on third downs, and 24th on defense on third downs. “We made it very competitive,” Carroll said. “We went ones against ones as much as you could just to make it fast and quick and as challenging as we could. I thought we were quicker with the football and very decisive, we’ll see if that carries over, but we had a very strong week in terms of emphasis there.”
Of the Seahawks’ progress one-fourth of the way through the season, Carroll is not satisfied with the 2-2 record. “My thought was, coming out 2-2, we didn’t make the kind of progress we wanted to make; we’d like to be ahead of that right now, we couldn’t have gotten any closer in our games. We were in every game, our defense and our running game can keep us with a formidable chance with anybody we play with, we hope, but we weren’t able to get it done at finish time when we had to in a couple games, and that’s it.”
Still, he sees progress. “We’re better than we were a year ago in those areas, now we need to see some winning results and just cap off those drives. I think we’re close to being really good and we’ll see if we can make a turn here. We stand to really improve during the season, if we stay together and keep working at it, we stand to get better because we’re so young. We saw great improvement last year, so I think we’re well ahead of where we were, in terms of style of play, our execution is better, the physical nature of our team is better, we hope that translates into more wins as we go into the second quarter of the season.