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Sparano Talks Seahawks, NFL Trends, Rookies


Opening Statement: **"Today's practice, injury-wise: David Ausberry did not practice today with a foot; Vincent Brown did not practice today with a hamstring; TJ Carrie was full today with a back; Chimdi Chekwa did not practice today with a hamstring; Keith McGill did not practice with a groin; Marcel Reece was limited today with a quad; Carlos Rogers did not practice today with a knee; and Justin Tuck was limited today with a knee. What questions do we have?"

Q: Menelik Watson got hurt the other day. Is that something where he had to take a play or two off or is that something that might linger?

Coach Sparano:"No, I don't think it will linger. I mean, I think it was just an in-the-game thing, but at that time we weren't sure to the degree of it one way or the other, but he was fine. We tested it on the sideline and then put him back in."

Q: Are the injuries with Marcel Reece and Justin Tuck things that you will have to manage?

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, they are things that I'm going to have to manage, that's why I'm calling them limited right now. They go out and they do the work necessary at this point and time right now, but there are some things that I need them to see and then some things that quite honestly they've seen before. So, I think that we're going to have to play that smart for a little while anyways. Our next stop for real gas here is after that Thursday game down the road, so we have to manage that a little bit now."

Q: Pete Carroll described Khalil Mack as almost unblockable and said that Derek Carr is a terrific prospect for years to come. With that said, would you say that the rookies are maybe the silver lining to the season so far if there was one?

Coach Sparano:"Well, if there was one, I think there are several, but that's one man's opinion. What I would say is, that no, not necessarily. I would say that the rookies are obviously, that's real encouragement and I think there is a silver lining there, no question about it and I'm glad you asked that question to be honest with you, because I look at those young players, and it isn't only the rookies. Menelik Watson who you just asked a question about, that player really is like a rookie. I mean, although he's been here for a year, he hadn't played and all of a sudden he's making a good contribution. Khalil Mack, TJ Carrie, Derek, 'Jelly' [Justin Ellis], there are a bunch of them that have really done some good things there. Then you go back, even to last year and you look at 'Mike' Mychal Rivera, I think we think Mike Rivera is a five-year veteran and really he's just a second-year player. Those young players have really done a nice job and eventually what has to happen to your team is that those players have to, they do have to take over the team much to the dismay of even the veteran players sometimes. In other words, you have to do that. Your young guys, the core, has to take over the team for you to be where you want to be down the road. Right now, they have been bright spots, but I've been encouraged with some of the things the veteran players have done too. When you watch how Charles Woodson played in the game the other day, to me it's absolutely amazing."

Q: Quarterbacks like Derek Carr this year and Russell Wilson a couple of years ago, stepping in as rookies, are they unusual or is that more of a trend now?

Coach Sparano:"The one thing I do think is that the more you're watching college football now, the more you're seeing wide open offenses, offenses that are throwing the football around a bunch, or you're seeing read-option teams, those type of teams that are doing some of that stuff and that's transitioned into our league obviously as well. So, I do think they're coming into the League a little bit more mature and a little bit more advanced than maybe in the past, certainly from when I first came into the league. There have been some outstanding quarterbacks drafted, don't get me wrong, but to see some of that with the way Russell has played down there, even his first year. I really liked Russell coming out in the draft. I thought he was a dynamic player. When you see that, you see Derek, those things, I would call them a little bit more at this point unusual than usual. I think it's been because our league is so hard and the defenses are so fast and they do so much, I think it's a little bit more unusual than usual that you can find a guy that's mature enough to walk in there and to handle the things that those players are handling."

Q: Do you see the read-option becoming more of a staple in offenses?

Coach Sparano:"I think until defenses catch up with it, it's 100 percent going to stay. It's hard to catch up with if you have the right trigger guy, and they have a good one. If you have one of those type of players that can run that package, it presents an awful lot of problems, especially if that player can throw the football and do some things like that and he's not a specialty player, per say. He's out there all the time, like Russell, and has the ability to do that and pull the ball but then run the play-action game and throw the ball down the field and do those type of, and create with his legs. That's really, that's a hard deal to defend and I think those kind of players are here to stay. I think our league is really curious to gain players like that, like a [49ers QB] Colin Kaepernik or those type of players. You're looking at them and they're dynamic runners and usually those teams if you look and you look at the top rushing teams in the league, it's usually because they have a player like that at those positions."

Q: Is there a process with rookies, like Khalil Mack, where they have to get respect from the officials? It seems like there aren't being holding calls against him, is that a process for rookies to get that?

Coach Sparano:"That's a good question, one I better answer carefully. I would say this, I would say that I don't necessarily think it's a process. I just think that little by little, more and more, those guys show up, like Khalil drew a big hold against Arizona in the ball game where he came underneath [Cardinals T Jared] Veldheer on a play and he drew a hold there. I think it just depends largely on what that crew is calling and what that crew is seeing as the game goes on, but I think Khalil has done a really good job of forcing the issue in a lot of situations and is really, really close to having a, well he's had some really big games right now, just really close to changing a game at some point here real fast."

Q: In past games, Charles Woodson had an interception and runs it down but doesn't get the touchdown and you end up kicking a field goal, a Carlos Rogers play last week where he jumps a route and could have had a touchdown and Woodson had another ball where he wasn't able to come up on their side of the field. Can a defensive touchdown, a play like that, can that be the spark?

Coach Sparano:"Yes, yes, yes, it can. There are a lot of different plays. Against the team that we're playing, against Seattle, if you watch the film from the St. Louis game, it was a special teams' play. It was a wild special teams' play, but a special teams' play nonetheless that did it, and all of a sudden kind of got those guys going in that ball game and they've played really well over the last couple of weeks. So, I think that it can be a play like that, absolutely. It can be a play like that. In that ball game, one of the things that we talked to our players about, and the game is in the past but the question is a good question, because we're getting ready to play another one and we have to make those kind of plays, but we had one fumble on the ground on a special teams' play and four balls hit off our face at different points during the course of the game. At some point, and as I said to the team, you can't rely on lady luck here, we have to make those plays in those situations, so when they arise you've got to grab the ball and you've got to go. You can't worry about leaving it to chance. So, I have a lot of confidence that as those things start to turn, we'll make a bunch more of those plays and once we make a few of those plays, it can really change things around, yes."

Q: The Seahawks defense only has three interceptions this year. Does that give you more confidence to pass down the field against them?

Coach Sparano:"Well, I mean, we have confidence to throw the ball down field against anybody, we really do. I understand, listen, all due respect to Seattle, they're an outstanding team, no doubt about it, well-coached football team, aggressive football team, plays hard and when you're playing in their place, you better bring as many A-games as you have, but all that being said, Derek hasn't really been afraid to throw the ball down the field against anybody. You guys have asked me that question over and over again and we talked about that. But, they've had the ball thrown down the field on them and that's happened. I think in our league everybody does. If the opportunity comes up, we're going to certainly test it."

Q: The last three games or so Charles Woodson has been in the box a lot more. Is that something that you saw and changed when you came in as head coach?

Coach Sparano:"Honestly, it went back to the bye week and evaluating kind of, is this what these players strengths are, and let's try to have as many guys do what they do well and see whether or not that will help fix some of the problems and getting Charles around the ball and in the box has always been a problem. I only go by my history, in other words trying to block the guy and him being around there, that's a pain in the neck. When he's down in there and you're not sure and you've got to account for him, but if you don't account for him and you leave him he's going to find a way to make the play. That's been encouraging in the last few weeks. He's been in and around the ball that way and has made a lot of plays in the last couple of weeks."

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