The biggest news this week – aside from Wilson being the last starting rookie QB standing – is that Chris Clemons will be out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL. The injury occurred late in the third quarter as Clemons was running a stunt that looped him from the right DE spot over to attack the B gap between the right tackle and guard. It’s unclear exactly what happened. It’s possible the ligament was partially torn earlier in the game or season and that play just happened to be when it finally gave out. However, it’s sounding more and more like the chewed-up turf of FedEx Field had a lot to do with the injury.
The field could have been worse, I suppose. It was clearly worn out and treacherous with loose dirt, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as, say, the one the Dolphins and Steelers played on back in ’07 when Pittsburgh’s groundskeepers decided that the best way to deal with a torrential downpour was to roll out a second layer of turf on top of the waterlogged layer already in place. That’s setting the bar pretty low, though. And before someone brings up the difficulty of keeping a real grass field healthy in the middle of winter on the East Coast, I’d just like to point out that the turf in Baltimore and Green Bay is still pretty plush.
Poor field traction forces speed rushers like Clemons to resort to wearing longer cleats – ¾” ones, in this case – in order to keep their footing when they turn at full speed. But the longer the cleats, the greater the risk is that the player’s foot will stick in the ground at an inopportune moment and cause injury to the knee and/or ankle joints via rotation or hyperextension. And it isn’t like the Seahawks were the only ones affected; for instance, I doubt the field conditions did Robert Griffin III’s injured knee any favors. I wonder if Dan Snyder is happy he saved a few bucks by scrimping on lawn care this season?
Regardless, Clemons’ season is over, and he’s looking at 6-12 months of recovery time after his knee is surgically repaired. The Seahawks’ pass rush was already hurting with the loss of DT Jason Jones in week 15 (they’ve averaged just 1 sack and 4.3 QB hits in the three games since then), and now they’re going to have to place their top pass rusher on injured reserve.
Rookie DE Bruce Irvin will take over as the starting Leo in the base defense against the Falcons. Irvin has rare speed and may end up putting more pressure on Matt Ryan this Sunday than Clemons would have, but he’s nowhere near as stout as against the run. The Seahawks also don’t have a clear-cut replacement to insert opposite of him in their nickel rush line package. Rookie DE Greg Scruggs has performed respectably enough, but he’s not a speed guy, and the only other name I’ve heard touted as a possibility is backup LB Mike Morgan. Moving Scruggs outside could also open up some opportunities for rookie DT Jaye Howard, who looked promising in preseason action but has been inactive most of the regular season.
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The other injury of note from Sunday’s win over Washington was K Steven Hauschka, who suffered a calf injury of some sort to his plant leg midway through the game. Hauschka was able to finish the game, but P Jon Ryan had to take over his kickoff duties and now Hauschka’s availability for the Falcons game appears to be in doubt.
According to various reports, Seattle is on the verge of signing free agent kicker Ryan Longwell as insurance. Longwell has been out of the league this year after a bad 2011 season with Minnesota in which he was successful on just 78.57% of his field goal attempts. Prior to that he was money in the bank for the Vikings, connecting on 87.60% of his attempts in his five other seasons (2006 – '10) with the team.
Not that Hauschka has anything to worry about, job security-wise. Hauschka has a stronger leg than Longwell (36 touchbacks on kickoffs in 2012, compared to 19 for Longwell in ’11) and he's been deadly accurate at ranges under 50 yards this season, making 100% of his attempts of 49 yards or less. The only category in which Longwell is clearly the better kicker is on long range attempts. Hauschka has connected on just one of four 50+ yard attempts (25%) this year and is four for ten (40%) in his career, while Longwell made two of his three attempts (66.67%) in 2011 and is 24 for 39 (61.54%) in his career.
Did I mention that I really like special teams?
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For those of you who want to take an early look at some of the top prospects for this year’s draft, Eric Galko of fellow Bloguin site OptimumScouting.com will be covering the East-West Shrine Game all next week and the Senior Bowl the week after that. I’ll try to put up a reminder the day before the games themselves, but in the meantime if you have any questions about specific positions or players or whatnot, let me know via comments or email and I’ll forward them on to Eric.
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Do you like Russell Wilson? Are you a fan of repetitive motion injuries? Then vote for Wilson for Pepsi Max Rookie of the Year! Sure, the only rookie awards that actually matter are the ones the Associated Press gives out for best offensive and defensive rookie, but the AP doesn’t allow you to vote for your favorite player over and over and over and over again like a demented robot! Exclamation point!
Seriously though, vote if you like, but I’ll never understand these ridiculous “vote as many times as you want” awards the NFL likes to give out. Surely there are ways to get fans more involved that are less demeaning for all concerned?
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And because I don’t know what else to do with it, here’s a drink recipe that was recently sent to me by Seahawk Addicts reader Mark A.:
"My daughters made their own drink called the SEAHAWK. 3 parts lemonade, one koolaid kiwi-strawberry jammer, 4-6 shots of pure lime juice. Pour over lots of ice…vodka optional! Man it's good."
Imbibe at your own risk.