By Brent Stecker

Highlights from the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil:

Jdoster06 asked if 50 catches is the best case for newly re-signed wide receiver Sidney Rice in 2014.

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Danny O'Neil said the role of the recently re-signed Sidney Rice Seahawks receiving corps in 2014 will depend on where Jermaine Kearse is placed on the depth chart. (AP)

O'Neil: Best case? Fifty is a lot. That would presume two things: He's healthy; He's ahead of Jermaine Kearse on the depth chart.

tom page asked if the Pete Carroll would be interested in bringing in trouble 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith if he were released.

O'Neil: Aldon Smith is an incredibly intriguing player though someone who is very likely going to be facing league discipline before the start of the year. The short answer: Yes, I think the Seahawks would be interested. He's an elite pass rusher, and Pete has shown a willingness to give guys a second chance. The one thing we haven't seen him do is take second chances on guys with documented substance-abuse issues.

good idea at the time asked what can be expected, if anything, from offensive guard James Carpenter this year?

O'Neil: I've started hearing the annual "he's in better shape" rumblings. Which I've taken with three grains of salt I will then use to season a hamburger.

BlatantChipmunk asked how many touches running back Christine Michael should be expected to get next season.

O'Neil: Too soon to tell. If he doesn't average 3-5 carries over the course of this season, I think we can conclude that he hasn't progressed the way the team hoped when it chose him in the second round last season.

Buckminster Fuller asked if Danny can recall past Seahawks offseason workouts that had the same level of participation as quarterback Russell Wilson's in California.

O'Neil: Well, during the lockout, everybody was all gaga over how Drew Breese orchestrated his team's workouts. I think that Russell Wilson does indeed help set a tone and provide some continuity. But that's like Reason No. 12 or Reason No. 13 on why he's the right quarterback. I generally think offseason workouts like that are vastly overblown.

Hawker asked who will replace Golden Tate as the Seahawks' main punt returner.

O'Neil: (I) am very interested to see who they try there. I've always thought Doug Baldwin would make a great candidate with his hands and fearlessness. Jeremy Lane worked some at kickoff.

Conner asked who the Seahawks value more at the linebacker position moving into the future: Bobby Wagner or K.J. Wright.

O'Neil: Bobby Wagner because of the position he plays in the middle of the defense.

Line guy asked if offensive tackle Russell Okung will be get re-signed after next season, considering his injury history, or if Carroll and general manager John Schneider will let him walk.

O'Neil: I truly don't know. I think that Russell Okung might be the biggest question in terms of long-term value, even more so than linebacker. I am reasonably certain that Seattle values (highly) Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Russell Wilson. Now, whether the team's value is high enough to sign them remains to be seen.

By 710Sports.com staff

Sidney Rice's return and the Seahawks' draft prospects were covered in the latest "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil.

The full transcript can be accessed below.

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Christine Michael carried the ball just 18 times as a rookie, but that number should go up significantly in 2014. (AP)

By Danny O'Neil

Seattle's offseason conditioning program begins next week, and we're counting down the five Seahawks who have the most to gain this season in everything from playing time to future contract negotiations.

We started with Bruce Irvin at No. 5 and Byron Maxwell at No. 4. Next:

RB Christine Michael

Age: 23

Experience: Entering second season

Pedigree: The first of Seattle's draft choices last season was the fifth running back chosen, which made him one of the draft's biggest surprises. The Seahawks didn't exactly have a need, having not only signed Marshawn Lynch to a four-year contract in 2012 but then drafting Robert Turbin in the fourth round.

The selection of Michael wasn't about 2013, though. That should be obvious given the fact he dressed for only four games during a rookie season that was the NFL equivalent of a redshirt. He carried 18 times, which ranked 20th out of the NFL rookie class.

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Christine Michael is one of the most explosive Seahawks, general manager John Schneider has said. (AP)

But in many ways, that makes Michael symbolic of the draft class in general, as only fifth-round choice Luke Willson and seventh-round choice Michael Bowie saw significant playing time. Seattle's draft class was more about the future than the present.

Predicament: It's not like there's more room in Seattle's backfield. Lynch is coming off his third successive season with more than 1,200 yards rushing. Turbin was the team's third-down back a year ago ahead of Michael, and he's not going to get worse. Not only that, but Seattle's hoping to add wide receiver Percy Harvin, who missed all but one regular season game, for a full 16-game diet, which isn't going to increase opportunities elsewhere.

The possibilities: First, consider the possibility Lynch might not be available for the full season. Remember when Lynch pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of reckless driving earlier this year? Well, he faces the possibility of further league discipline given his previous suspension under the personal-conduct policy.

Second, while it would be unfair to assume Lynch's productivity is going to decline, Seattle has to be prepared for that possibility. Lynch is turning 27 this year, and he's got some pretty heavy mileage. At some point the wear and tear will start to show.

The final thing to consider is that Michael is going to come into his own with a full year to improve his pass protection. Unlike his rookie season, Michael is going to get an opportunity this season. General manager John Schneider made that pretty clear earlier this month during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle.

"We feel like two of our most explosive offensive players barely even played last year in Christine Michael and Percy," Schneider said.

By Brent Stecker

First-year Huskies football coach Chris Petersen has continuously been asked this spring about the status of suspended quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow, and by and large he hasn't had much to say on the manner.

On Wednesday, he at least presented a loose timetable for a decision on their futures to 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny."

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Huskies coach Chris Petersen told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Tuesday that the absences of suspended players Cyler Miles and Damore'ea Stringfellow is "painful for everybody involved." (AP)

"We'll probably let everybody know in the fall what's going on with those guys when we start back up," Petersen said. "I always want to be patient and make sure we digest things and do the right thing. ... In terms of where we go forward, we'll have that all figured out by the time we start in August and we'll have answers for everybody."

Petersen has been in no rush to make a definitive declaration on the status of the two players, who were suspended indefinitely in early February after being linked to an alleged assault. The King County prosecutor's office announced on April 3 that Miles would not be charged, but Stringfellow has been charged with three gross misdemeanors in the case.

One thing that is for sure – if the players do return, they'll be well behind their teammates after missing the entirety of the spring practice session.

"There's already a lot going on right now by the fact that they're not in spring ball," Petersen said. "That's tremendously painful for everybody involved with this thing. That's a new system, a new staff, and they haven't been around forever. That's a lot right there."

Petersen also gave "Brock and Danny" some insight into his spring practices, and he admitted that there are growing pains he and his staff are still working through.

"Anybody that takes a new job and thinks you're gonna hit the ground running and you're all good is kidding himself," he said. "I mean, we are behind just because we're new and we're implementing new systems and how we do things, and all that takes a while to get. But we are pleased with how hard the guys are going."

He still expects to have offensive tricks like the ones he employed during his successful tenure at Boise State to be ready by the start of the 2014 season, though.

"You're gonna see a lot of little wrinkles," he said. "There's gonna be some formations that are different. You may see more trick plays. And we're not gonna run trick plays just to do them – they need to work, and they've worked for us in the past."

By Danny O'Neil

Seattle's offseason conditioning program begins next week, and we're counting down the five Seahawks who have the most to gain this season in everything from playing time to future contract negotiations.

We started with Bruce Irvin at No. 5. Next:

CB Byron Maxwell

Age: 26

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Byron Maxwell went from being the Seahawks' fourth cornerback to starting in the Super Bowl last season, and he has a big opportunity in 2014 after Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond went elsewhere. (AP)

Experience: Entering fourth season

Pedigree: He began last season as the fourth cornerback on the roster who had a history of leg injuries and an uncertain future. He ended the year starting in the Super Bowl, a player with enough future that the free-agent departures of Walter Thurmond and then Brandon Browner were met with a collective shrug.

A sixth-round pick out of Clemson in 2011, Maxwell has strong hands, a physical style and a nose for the ball. Remember the Super Bowl when he punched the ball away from Demaryius Thomas? Well, he has had a penchant for that in previous games and even in practice.

The Seahawks were excited about Maxwell as far back as his rookie season when he was impressive in training camp. Maybe even more impressive than his fellow rookie that year, a guy named Richard Sherman. Maxwell was susceptible to muscle strains, though, and last season was the first time he played more than nine games in a season.

Predicament: Maxwell was the presumed starter even before Thurmond signed with the Giants, Browner with the Patriots. Now, Maxwell must prove both his durability and the ability to stand up to opponents who are more likely to throw his way given the fact Sherman is on the other side.

The possibilities: Maxwell is in a terrific spot to showcase himself, entering the final year of his rookie contract and playing for a team whose secondary is the biggest strength.

On the flip side, Seattle is now going to be counting on him to be healthy, and after Maxwell played his way up the depth chart a year ago, we'll see how he handles being a starter now. It's a great opportunity for Maxwell. It's also more pressure than he has had before.

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Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin had just 2 sacks in 2013 after making 8 as a rookie defensive end in 2012. (AP)

By Danny O'Neil

Room to grow.

Seattle has plenty of it, which seems odd to say considering the Seahawks are coming off a Super Bowl victory.

But that's the situation Seattle finds itself in after an offseason that began with the payroll pruning of veterans like Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, and continued with the free-agent departures of starters like Golden Tate, Breno Giacomini and even Brandon Browner.

Add in the fact the Seahawks have yet to sign another team's unrestricted free agent this year, and Seattle has plenty of opportunities for growth from within. This week, we'll count down the five returning Seahawks who have the most to gain this year whether that's in terms of playing time or negotiating position for a new contract.

We start with a guy Seattle drafted to be a pass rusher, and found himself downsized to linebacker a year ago.

LB Bruce Irvin

Age: 26

Experience: Entering third season

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"I thought for his first time playing linebacker he did a terrific job," Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said of Bruce Irvin's 2013 season. (AP)

Pedigree: He was the single most surprising first-round pick in the 2012 draft, chosen No. 15 overall by a Seattle team that believed he was the best pass rusher available. Sure enough, he went out and led all NFL rookies with sacks in 2012 with 8. A knee injury to Chris Clemons forced Irvin into a starting role for the divisional playoff game against Atlanta, and the Falcons ran right at – and often over – Irvin.

Of all the players on the roster last year, Irvin is the one who took the biggest step back. First, there was a position switch as he moved from end to linebacker following the free-agent additions of first Cliff Avril and then Michael Bennett. Then came a suspension, Irvin forced to miss the first four weeks after testing positive for a substance banned under the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Drafted as a pass rusher, Irvin had two sacks all of last season, and while he started every game, he was only on the field for 25 percent of Seattle's defensive plays in the Super Bowl.

Predicament: Where does Irvin fit into Seattle's defense? Irvin is going to stay at linebacker, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was pretty clear about that back in February. But he's going to be pushed for playing time considering Malcolm Smith was only the Super Bowl MVP last season.

The possibilities: It's not quite a make-or-break season for Irvin, but it's getting close. Seattle has moved in a different direction at defensive end, first by signing Avril and now likely promoting him to the starter with Clemons gone.

That's troubling because pass rush is the one trait Irvin was drafted to play, and it's a role he moved away from in 2013 to the point he wasn't even part of the team's nickel pass-rush package like he was as a rookie.

But before anyone writes him off, remember that he is the single most athletic player in Seattle's front seven as he demonstrated with that remarkable over-the-shoulder interception in Week 8 at St. Louis last season.

He's got a full offseason and training camp to carve himself a role, and his defensive coordinator sounded very excited about the possibility Irvin will do just that at linebacker.

"He's got all the stuff that we look for in our outside 'backer with speed and length and he can set the edge, he can rush," Quinn said in February.

As for Irvin's 2013 season?

"I thought for his first time playing linebacker he did a terrific job," Quinn said. "You know that it's only going to get better from here. So we feel like he's in the right spot and we couldn't be more excited to see how far we can take him."

By Brady Henderson

Highlights from the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil:

Jim O asked how linebacker K.J. Wright – who is entering the final year of his rookie contract – fits into the Seahawks' plans.

O'Neil: That's a really good question, and one that can be applied to the other linebackers as well: Bobby Wagner and to a lesser extent Malcolm Smith. We haven't seen the Seahawks pay a linebacker big money yet. We've seen them cut a linebacker when he didn't take a paycut: Lofa Tatupu. We've seen them trade an linebacker who was overpaid for his contributions: Aaron Curry. We've seen them let a productive linebacker walk in free agency: David Hawthorne. We haven't seen them pay a linebacker yet, though.

GM fan asked whether Seahawks fans should be worried about another team's owner luring general manager John Schneider away from Seattle with a huge contract and an opportunity to have complete control of an organization's football operations.

O'Neil: What could another team offer that he doesn't have here? I ask that in all seriousness because I don't think there is a better job. And if you point out final say over football operations, are you sure that he won't get that here in Seattle when coach Pete Carroll retires?

Jim O asked whether wide receiver Jermaine Kearse could have a significant impact next season if he's given a bigger role.

O'Neil: There's no reason to think he won't thrive with more playing time. At the same time, we haven't seen him exhibit that kind of consistency because he hasn't been placed in that role. I would list Jermaine Kearse and Greg Scruggs as the two veterans who will have the most to gain after the offseason attrition.

tom page asked whether the Seahawks will be more inclined to look for offensive linemen later in the draft because of the early-round picks like James Carpenter and John Moffitt that haven't panned out.

O'Neil: I agree with your observation, but don't believe it will have the tangible effect you're describing. I don't think the Seahawks will avoid taking O-linemen early in the draft because they weren't successful in the past. From what I know with the Seahawks, they would look at those past picks as experiences that would help them refine their draft rationale and avoid making similar mistakes in judgment.

howker asked about the nature of the foot issues that sidelined cornerback Tharold Simon during his rookie season.

O'Neil: It has been described in different ways. Coming out of training camp, Carroll said it wasn't quite a stress fracture, but an injury that could become a stress fracture if he didn't rest it. Then, toward the end of the season, Carroll said Simon was having a problem with his other foot, not the one that was previously the problem. Whether he plays or can contribute down the road is all projection at this point.

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Corey Hart's first of two home runs Tuesday night helped the Mariners erase an early deficit. (AP) | More photos

By Danny O'Neil

Hector Santiago was down on one knee as the crowd at Safeco Field got to its feet, a pair of equal – and opposite – reactions to the Mariners' most meaningful hit in four years.

It's possible that is an overstatement. Maybe Corey Hart's three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning won't mean anything in the long run of a 162-game season. Maybe the potential loss of starting pitcher James Paxton will turn out to be more significant than this game the Mariners won 5-3 over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Tuesday night.

But maybe – just maybe – Hart's home run will become part of the bedrock that Seattle will build upon this season. With two out and two men aboard in the third inning, Hart provided a 400-foot correction to anyone who believed the home opener was going to turn out disappointingly familiar.

Same old Mariners? Not so far this season. Certainly not on this night as the Mariners took a game that looked disappointingly familiar and turned it into a signature moment.

Felix Hernandez's perfect game is the single most celebratory moment this franchise has had since its last winning season in 2009, and while Hart's home run didn't prompt that kind of celebration, it certainly sent a jolt of electricity through the sold-out crowd, keying a victory that was as important as it was odd.

Yes, odd because not only did Seattle lose its starting pitcher to an injury in the sixth inning, but the Mariners scored four runs in the third inning after Brad Miller struck out for what would have been the final out of the inning. Except Miller wasn't out, reaching first after the ball got away from Angels catcher Chris Iannetta. Robinson Cano walked and Seattle scored its first run on Justin Smoak's RBI single.

Hart came up next, falling behind 0-2 before fouling off two pitches and then clobbering a homer to left field. It was a moment that elicited a roar from the stadium, and erased that sinking feeling Seattle felt earlier when Paxton allowed two first-inning home runs before he recorded his second out.

Not quite the start Seattle wanted as it returned home after a 4-2 road trip, carrying that momentum into a pregame ceremony that included Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson and half a dozen other players from the Super Bowl champions. They walked in from the outfield fence, the final act in a pregame introduction that included a red carpet, the U.S. Navy band and a Lombardi Trophy.

Yet the Mariners weren't even two-thirds of the way through the first inning when they trailed 3-0, and that sigh you heard was the air coming out of Seattle's fast start.

What happened next was noteworthy not just for what it meant in Tuesday's home opener, but what it could mean for this season

It's early. That is a word that urges caution in baseball, and it is a refrain that has been hung onto every conclusion drawn through the first seven games of this Mariners' season.

But it wasn't what happened early that determined the outcome of the Mariners' home opener, but what Seattle did later. Paxton allowed almost as many runs in the first inning (three) as he had allowed over his first five major-league starts (four).

The Angels recorded three runs before the Mariners recorded two outs, and just like that a week's worth of momentum and an evening of feel-good celebration was threatening to evaporate until Hart's home run provided the kind of exclamation point the Mariners have spent years searching for.

Next »

Brock Huard

Brock Huard has co-hosted the show since 2009. After earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors at Puyallup High School, Brock went on to a record-setting career at Washington and then spent six years in the NFL, including four with the Seahawks. Brock also works for ESPN as a college football analyst in the booth and the studio. He makes his home on the Eastside with his wife Molly and their three young children.

Danny O'Neil

Danny O'Neil, the new co-host of "Brock and Danny", is the son of a logger, a graduate of the University of Washington and has been a working journalist in Seattle since 1999, first at newspapers and since 2012 at 710 ESPN Seattle. He is married to Sharon Pian Chan, associate opinions editor at The Seattle Times. They live on Capitol Hill with their wrinkled, smelly dog.

Tom Wassell

Tom Wassell has produced the show since 2011 and also co-hosts "Seattle Sports at Night" with Colin Paisley and Matt Pitman. A native of Connecticut, Tom came to 710 ESPN Seattle after working at ESPN Radio's headquarters in Bristol, Conn. for five years. Tom studied communications at Indiana University, is color-blind and has a weak sense of smell.



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