The Seahawks have been raving about Ricardo Lockette all year, and now everyone is seeing why.
Back in minicamps, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell often tossed Lockette’s name out as someone the coaches were excited about — particularly because of his sub-4.3 speed. That’s why it was easy to see the fourth-year player making the team again despite a huge logjam at wide receiver.
As the fourth or even fifth receiver, he doesn’t get many offensive opportunities — yet he has caught touchdown passes in both victories this season. Add to that his standout play on special teams and you have the kind of player the Seahawks love — fast and versatile.
He showed it all in the win over Denver on Sunday.
Kam Chancellor reportedly considered having ankle surgery to remove bone spurs this week after suffering through a tough game in San Diego, but he felt much better last week, played very well against Denver and apparently has decided — at least for now — not to have surgery.
A source told FOX Sports that the strong safety was contemplating having surgery this week as the Hawks begin their bye period. That might have put him out for 6-8 weeks.
But the ankle felt much better during the week and he had no problems in the game, which was his best of the season (nine tackles, two passes defensed, an interception and an assist on a forced fumble).
Forget the whole Super Bowl rematch thing. The Seahawks’ defense was just looking for redemption after a poor performance in the loss in San Diego.
Led by embattled safety Kam Chancellor, the defense proved its mettle for most of the game Sunday, but then the unit inexplicably gave up an 80-yard, game-tying touchdown drive to Peyton Manning in the final minute.
That left the redemption to the Seattle offense, which had basically done everything it could to give the game away in the second half. Led by Russell Wilson, the offense made up for it in overtime and let the defense off the hook in a 26-20 victory that for three quarters did not seem like it would be nearly that close.
For most of the game, the defense picked up right where it left off against Manning in the Super Bowl — making everyone realize that the San Diego game was indeed an aberration.
Before Russell Wilson led the Seahawks on an 80-yard drive to beat Denver 26-20 in overtime, the Seahawks’ hero of the game Sunday probably was punter Jon Ryan, who turned field position in Seattle’s favor all day.
Ryan has had a lot of great days punting in his six-plus years with the Seahawks, but coach Pete Carroll said this was “probably the best day of his career.”
The Seahawks’ defenders have been serious, focused, “locked in” as they prepare for their anticipated Super Bowl rematch with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
The defense melted down against Philip Rivers in the San Diego heat last Sunday, putting forth probably its worst performance since the playoff loss in Atlanta to end the 2012 season.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Chargers pulled out some tricks that the Falcons used against the Seahawks in that game, and safety Earl Thomas said that is one of the lessons the Hawks learned from their first loss of 2014.
He said the Broncos surely will take note of that chink in the armor of a defense that was the league’s best last season and dominated the Broncos in the Super Bowl.
“Obviously, they’re going to go back and see what we had trouble with in past games and even from previous years,” Thomas said. “Last week, San Diego hit us with some concepts from that Atlanta game we lost. So we’ve got to start thinking like that: How do teams want to attack us?”
Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor and Zach Miller all practiced Friday and are expected to play Sunday against the Denver Broncos, coach Pete Carroll said.
Bruce Irvin, however, will be a game-time decision. Apparently he injured his hip in practice Wednesday. (That’s on top of the brain cramp he suffered against the Chargers — i.e., late hit on Philip Rivers that helped them score a touchdown. Irvin was fined $8,200 by the NFL for the shove and is appealing.)
Lynch’s back issues flared up again last Sunday and he sat out practice Wednesday, as he often does anyway. It would have been a surprise if he couldn’t play Sunday.
While the Denver Broncos’ offense has undergone a few personnel changes here and there, the defense is almost an entirely different unit from the one the Seahawks saw in the Super Bowl.
The secondary is completely changed, with physical cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward coming in and cornerback Chris Harris and safety Rahim Moore returning from injuries. Defensive end Derek Wolfe and linebacker Von Miller also are healthy, and DeMarcus Ware signed on to replace Shaun Phillips opposite Miller.
“It’s a totally different team defensively for us,” Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Wednesday. “They’ve added really great players. They get Von Miller back, DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib — the list goes on. They have really solid players. It’s a completely different defense with the players that they have now, so there’s really no comparison.”
The Denver Broncos who come to Seattle with revenge on their minds this weekend are not exactly the same Broncos the Seahawks demolished in the Super Bowl.
Sure, John Fox is still their coach — one of the best in the league — and they still have the legendary Peyton Manning at quarterback. But so many other things have changed.
On offense, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno left in free agency — replaced by free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders and second-year running back Monte Ball. Left tackle Ryan Clady is back after missing most of 2013 with a foot injury. And top slot receiver Wes Welker returned this week after his suspension was overturned thanks to the new drug policies ratified by the union and the league.
Even with the changes, Manning has been typically masterful in Denver’s 2-0 start, completing 69 percent of his passes and throwing for six touchdowns.
“They’re terrific,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Their whole system, their function, their tempo, their style of offense, the intricacies, the concepts of route running and all that. Really, it’s impeccable. They give us every challenge that you could ever want, and they’re off to a great start.”