Hawks in nearly perfect health for playoff opener

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJanuary 5, 2013 

RENTON — Every current Seattle Seahawk who started the first game of the season at Arizona on Sept. 9 is healthy and available to start the first game of the playoffs Sunday at Washington.

Coach Pete Carroll said he can’t recall that happening before in his coaching career.

“We’re about as healthy as we can get,” he said Friday before the Seahawks flew out to the East Coast. “The two guys on the (injury report) are both probable, and everybody else is going. We’ve got some issues to figure out who is up and down, but we’re very, very fortunate.”

The players Carroll referenced as probable are running back Marshawn Lynch (back) and cornerback Jeremy Lane.

Lane missed Thursday’s practice due to a sore knee, but he participated in the indoor session Friday and was declared “fine” by his coach.

Carroll also seemed pleased with what he has seen from cornerback Brandon Browner, who returned to work this week after a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

“He’s knocking off the rust and trying to get back,” Carroll said. “This late in the season, the tempo of practice isn’t as high as it is earlier in the year, so he doesn’t get as much work. We’ve got to bring him on slowly. We’ll be ready in case he gets tired or something. He seems to be in great shape. He ran the whole time that he was off. Everything looks fine, but we’ve just got to watch him.”

Carroll also said cornerback Marcus Trufant (hamstring) will be part of the nickel package, and Leroy Hill (hamstring) will rotate with Malcolm Smith at weakside linebacker.

WILSON A FINALIST

The NFL announced on Friday that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is one of five finalists for the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Voting on NFL.com will take place until Jan. 29.

The other finalists include Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and his teammate, running back Alfred Morris; Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck; and Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin.

The winner will be announced Feb. 2 during a nationally televised program on CBS.

Wilson was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month for December on Thursday.

EAGLES KEEN ON BRADLEY

The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Friday that they have been granted permission to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for its head coach position.

If the Seahawks and Colts win in the wild-card round, the two interviews could take place before the divisional playoff game, according to the Eagles.

A holdover from the Jim Mora regime, the charismatic Bradley is in his fourth season as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. The Seahawks lead the league with the fewest points allowed (15.3 per game) and are fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per game (306.2).

Carroll hinted earlier this week that Bradley, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line/assistant coach Tom Cable could be potential head coaching candidates, with seven NFL vacancies opening up this week.

“Tom Cable’s been a head coach and Darrell (Bevell) and Gus (Bradley) and those guys – they’ve been in settings that can earn themselves the right to be considered,” Carroll said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if those guys were all considered. So we’ll see what happens.”

APPLES AND ORANGES

Carroll was more than a little skeptical when asked if there is any relevance to the 29-year gap since the Seahawks’ last road playoff victory – a 27-20 upset of Miami.

“Really, come on now,” he said before pointing out that Ronald Reagan was president on that December day in 1983, and most of his current players hadn’t been born. “None of these guys even had a clue. They don’t even know who Ronald Reagan is. So that should shed some light on how much that factors in.”

NO STONE UNTURNED

The Seahawks will visit FedExField today, with special attention paid to the notoriously pockmarked natural-grass surface. Carroll said the players will likely wear real cleats, rather than the more typical molded-bottom shoes. The “equipment guys are all over it,” he said.

Carroll stressed that the team handled playoff preparations like any other game week.

He said coaches reviewed Washington’s offensive possessions with a special eye toward any innovations opposing defenses might have tried against them.

Staff writer Eric D. Williams contributed to this report. Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

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