Mebane Ready for Another Division Title

Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane understands in order for his team to get back to the top of the NFC West, the path leads through Arizona. But he's not just concerned with the Cardinals. Mebane knows the Seahawks will have to play well against the rest of the league as well.

"We're not really necessarily going after the Cardinals; we're going after everybody" Mebane told a Seattle-area radio station. "We're going to play everybody hard like we're supposed to play them. The Cardinals, we've got to give them that because they won the NFC and the division last year. But that was last year and this is a new year so we're going to play everybody hard, not just the Cardinals, but everybody."

The Seahawks experienced a rash of injuries in 2008, which led to a disappointing 4-12 record in longtime head coach Mike Holmgren's last year with the team. But with everybody healthy, Mebane expects better results in 2009.

"We had a lot of key players that were injured," he said. "I think this year everybody's healthy and coming back. And right now we're just getting ready for training camp next week."

New defensive coordinator Gus Bradley brings with him a new scheme, as the Seahawks will employ a 4-3 defensive front with a Cover-2 in the defensive backfield culled from Bradley's days in Tampa Bay. However, Seattle also will bring pressure and blitz when needed, as head coach Jim Mora is not one to sit back and react to other team's offenses.

In the new scheme, Mebane, a third-year player out of Cal, will be called on to rush the passer more. The 6-foot-1, 320-pounder finished with a career-high 5.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position in his second season in the league in 2008.

"I lost a couple pounds," Mebane said. "The style of defense that we're playing is different and I'm excited about it. It's going to be more of an aggressive, in-your-face type defense. There's going to be a lot of different things we're going to throw at teams and stuff like that.

"It's seems like it's more of everybody involved in everything this year."

Mebane expects his sack numbers will increase again this season.

"Each year you progress and you get more mature and you become a smarter player" Mebane said. "You recognize things faster. You see things that you saw your first year and you adapt to it quicker. And just being a smarter player, each year you grow."

CAMP CALENDAR: Rookies report to camp July 30, with veterans reporting July 31. The first day of camp is July 31.


--The Seahawks apparently are not totally sold on long snapper Bryan Pittman. Team sources confirmed the Seattle Seahawks have signed veteran long snapper Kevin Houser. Houser, who turns 32 next month, spent nine seasons playing for the Saints. In somewhat of a surprise move, New Orleans released Houser in June. According to reports, Houser may have angered some of his teammates in New Orleans by encouraging head coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jeremy Shockey, among others, to invest in a financial deal with Louisiana Film Studios in Elmwood that went south.

However, Houser said he was told his release was football-related. Houser, it appears, will compete with Pittman for the long snapping job. The Seahawks signed Pittman, a Seattle-area native, during the offseason after the Houston Texans released him last season. The Seahawks released long snapper Ryan Senser earlier this month.

--Washington State Lottery officials announced a partnership between the state agency and the Seahawks, introducing a new scratch game that will use the team's logo. Called Seahawks Winning Play Scratch, the agency is billing the new game as the first professional football scratch ticket available in the country.
The tickets can be purchased beginning this week, and will be sold at the team's home games.

The ticket features a top prize of $50,000.

At the NFL owners meeting this spring, team owners voted unanimously to allow stamping state and local lottery tickets with franchise logos. Several teams have taken advantage of the rule. The state lottery partnering with a sports team is nothing new. The Seattle Mariners created a partnership with the lottery on scratch games to help earn money to pay for the construction of Safeco Field in 1995.

Team sources have confirmed that the Seahawks are in negotiations with another business to put its logo on the team's practice jersey. The league views the new rules approved by the owners as new ways for the league to increase revenue during the current downturn in the economy. However, even with a struggling economy, fans are still supporting the team. The Seahawks have a 90 percent renewal rate in season tickets and are expected to sell out again this season.

Single-game tickets will go on sale sometime in early August. Seattle has sold out 52 consecutive home games, including playoffs. The last game not sold out was a season-opening home contest against New Orleans at the beginning of the 2003 season, which drew 52,250 fans.

--Seahawks fullback Owen Schmitt pled guilty to reckless driving in Black Diamond, the town southeast of Seattle where he was arrested June 25 and accused of drunken driving. Schmitt was sentenced Wednesday to 24 hours of community service and two years probation and ordered to pay $2,130 in fines, fees and court costs.

The 24-year-old player from West Virginia issued a statement after his arrest apologizing for his actions and poor judgment. Police say Schmitt was stopped for weaving in traffic and following too close to the car in front of him.

QUOTE TO NOTE: ""I've seen a lot of explosiveness from him. He's a smart player, a veteran player. I'm just taking different techniques from him. He's a good run player. And we've also been having good communications together during minicamps." -- Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, commenting on the addition of free agent nose guard Colin Cole from Green Bay. Top Stories