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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker III, Tariq Woolen win player of the month honors

Nov. 3, 2022 Updated Thu., Nov. 3, 2022 at 8:36 p.m.

New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith as he throws during the first quarter on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 at Lumen Field in Seattle.  (Jennifer Buchanan/Seattle Times)
New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith as he throws during the first quarter on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 at Lumen Field in Seattle. (Jennifer Buchanan/Seattle Times)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

The Seahawks’ October to remember – a 4-1 record that stamped them as surprisingly legitimate playoff contenders – was rewarded with a whole lot of hardware Thursday.

The team claimed three player of the month awards from the league – quarterback Geno Smith as the NFC Offensive Player of the Month, running back Kenneth Walker III as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month and cornerback Tariq Woolen as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month.

In continuing his stunning career resurgence at the age of 32, Smith completed 102 of 147 passes in October for 1,207 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception, a passer rating of 111.7. He also rushed for 143 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown.

“Well, on behalf of myself, (offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron, the offensive line, and our offense, I will gladly accept that,” Smith said. “It just means that we have been playing well as an offense and we have to continue that, we have to keep going.”

Walker, the 41st overall pick in the 2022 out of Michigan State, took over the starting job when Rashaad Penny suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the third quarter of an Oct. 9 game at New Orleans. He rushed for 432 yards on 78 carries with five touchdowns in the October and is third among all rookies in the NFL in rushing with 461 yards (Houston’s Dameon Pierce is the rookie rushing leader with 539 yards).

“It actually wasn’t,” said Walker if he set a goal of winning rookie awards this year. “One of my main goals was to make a positive impact on the team when I first got here. I’ve been trying to stick to that since, so that has been my main goal and just staying focus and grinding. I’m going to keep trying to achieve that goal.”

Woolen, a fifth-round pick out of the University of Texas-San Antonio, continued what has also been a stunning emergence as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, had three of his four interceptions in October as well as well as two fumble recoveries.

“I feel like the job isn’t done until it is Rookie of the Year,” Woolen said. “That’s the mentality that I’ve always had since the beginning of the season. Now that there is a chance and it’s an obtainable goal, I just want to try to grab it, but at the same time, I just want to have fun with my teammates. As long as you do that and as long as we are winning, then everybody is getting noticed. When you are winning, that’s when the awards come in. As long as we keep doing our thing, I’m happy.”

According to the Seahawks, it’s the first time since the league started handing out rookie of the month awards in 1996 that teammates have been honored in the same month. And according to the team, it’s also the first time a team has had a player of the month and two rookies of the month in the same month.

It’s only the fifth and sixth time in team history the Seahawks have had a rookie of the month. The others were left tackle Walter Jones (October 1997), defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (September 2002), linebacker Lofa Tatupu (December/January 2005) and quarterback Russell Wilson (December 2012).

They last had a player of the month when Wilson won it in September 2020.

The awards for Woolen and Walker further illustrate the success of this year’s Seahawks rookie class. Six of the team’s nine picks are starters and the Seahawks lead the NFL in snaps played by rookies at 2,270 – next is the Chicago Bears at 2,101.

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