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Team Analysis

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 Seattle Seahawks Team Analysis:

A year and one Super Bowl title later, the Seattle Seahawks say not much has changed.

One notable difference - the Seahawks are the hunted now.

And with a Super Bowl title came the perks of being a champion -- notoriety, lots of off-field opportunities, and for a few players, hefty new contracts.

As head coach Pete Carroll said the day after his team partied into the wee hours in New York to celebrate trouncing the Denver Broncos to put a party hat on the 2013 season, the Seahawks insist the new year brings a newfound focus. The desire and hunger to win another title is the same as it was to win the first one a year ago.

"It feels like we have got more to go, more to accomplish, more things to do," said cornerback Richard Sherman, who bagged a four-year, $57.4 million contract in May. "I don't think anybody on our team is complacent with one championship."

The Seahawks seem well-positioned to become the first team since the 2005 Patriots to repeat.

Seattle lost 10 players from their February Super Bowl roster to either free agency or salary cap-related, the bulk of the team that beat Denver 43-8 remains, led by quarterback Russell Wilson, tailback Marshawn Lynch, receiver Percy Harvin safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, and Sherman.

Wilson and the offense were the stars of the preseason, at one point driving for scores on 10 straight possessions and 11 of 13 for the preseason, and taking a 31-0 halftime lead on the Bears in the third preseason game -- when starters for each team played the first half -- and 24-7 in preseason Week 2 against the Chargers.

Wilson, who was 33-of-42 passing in the preseason with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and 437 yards, led a four-play touchdown drive to start the team's preseason finale against Oakland to cap a training camp that Carroll called "phenomenal."

The apparent offensive improvement was credited to Wilson being even better in his third year in the system, and a healthy Harvin giving a different look to the receiving corps.

After the Bears game, Thomas paid what for him is the ultimate compliment, saying that the offense "is as good as we are."

After the preseason finale against the Raiders, a 41-31 loss in which the starting offense and defense each played one series, Carroll echoed Thomas' thought.

"We've moved ahead (from a year ago)," he said. "We are better than we were in the past and I think it's the growth of the quarterback and his connection with all his guys. It's (guards) J.R. Sweezy and James Carpenter. Those guys are really good football players ... They've just improved. They've just grown with us. Hopefully that makes a difference. We are going to need it all."

Indeed, repeating isn't easy -- only eight teams have done it.

Carroll hasn't talked often during camp about repeating itself, instead keeping with a day-at-a-time theme.

The day, though, is now at hand with Seattle's repeat bid coming Thursday in the NFL's annual kickoff showcase.

"I think we're ready to go," Carroll said. "I really feel that we are."

He'll find out quickly enough against Green Bay, a team that many think is one of the most dangerous threats to Seattle in the NFC.

--The Seahawks pulled off one trade on roster cutdown day, sending a 2015 sixth-rounder to Indianapolis for cornerback Marcus Burley. The team envisions Burley as its backup at nickel back to Jeremy Lane. He impressed this camp with the Colts with his play on special teams, as well. The addition of Burley meant the team cut Phillip Adams, who had been the backup nickel throughout camp but had a tough last preseason game against the Raiders.

--Seattle kept seven receivers, which was something of a surprise. Seattle had just five to open last season. But one reason was that the team wanted to keep rookie Kevin Norwood on the 53-man roster even though he has yet to play this season while battling a foot injury. That leaves Seattle with six healthy receivers entering the season.

--The Seahawks also kept three tight ends, in what was something of a surprise, deciding to keep Cooper Helfet as a third tight end behind Zach Miller and Luke Willson. Helfet didn't play in the preseason finale against the Raiders with a knee injury, but apparently it's not serious.

--Seattle placed DT D'Anthony Smith on injured reserve after he suffered a biceps injury against the Raiders.


--WR Percy Harvin, who missed two practices last week for personal reasons and then did not attend the preseason finale at Oakland (which was also the case with nine other Seahawks) was back at practice Sunday and participating fully.

--QB Terrelle Pryor might have been the most notable player released by the Seahawks. The former Ohio State star was erratic during the preseason with the Seahawks and lost out on his bid for the backup job to veteran Tarvaris Jackson. Seattle then released him after deciding to keep just two quarterbacks.

--WR Phil Bates was one of the surprise members of the 53-man roster. A former quarterback at Ohio University, he has been a constant member of the practice squad the last two years, but many observers figured he might be caught in a numbers game at a loaded position. Instead, the team decided to keep seven receivers and Bates made the cut. At 6-1, 220, he is one of Seattle's most physical receivers.

--DL Cassius Marsh, one of the team's fourth-round picks, suffered a strained hip flexor in the finale at Oakland, leaving his status for the opener uncertain.

--LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, a rookie, suffered a strained hamstring against the Raiders and his status is uncertain for Week 1.

--CB Jeremy Lane suffered a hamstring injury against Chicago and missed the Oakland game but should return for the opener against Green Bay.


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