The Seahawks had a lot of kind words for the 12th Man as they cleaned out their lockers Monday. Fans sent the team off before each road playoff game and, most recently, welcomed the team home Sunday night in defeat…
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“I was pretty much down most of the flight back. It was a long flight; you’d think that, especially after a loss. But just to see all the fans there to support us, it just felt great. It kind of put a smile on my face just knowing that they’ve got our back, because we battle and we try to do the best we can week in a week out. It just feels great for the 12th Man to have our back like that. They had their kids out there in the cold; it was just a great experience.” — Earl Thomas, safety
“I just want to thank the 12th Man for the all the support that they’ve given us this year, through the wins and losses. No matter how cold it is or how hot it is outside, or whatever the circumstances are, they always showed up, and we really appreciate that.” — Golden Tate, wide receiver
Here is some video of Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley breaking the NFL’s eighth-best offense in the Atlanta Falcons.
Not captured in the video, however, is Bradley’s explanation of how one aspect of this weekend’s divisional playoff game will be a little bit easier than Sunday’s wild-card game at Washington, which featured a read-option offense.
“They had a lot of different responsibilities last week that weren’t the norm … so, yeah, that part of it I think was a little bit stressful on our guys,” Bradley said. “Some of the things that we’re seeing this week are similar concepts that we’ve seen during the year. And they’ve got some unique ones that we’ve got to be aware of, but I think just the talent that they have overall on the offensive side is what stands out the most.”
One new guy to the defensive scheme this week is free agent pickup Patrick Chukwurah, who was signed to replace injured defensive end Chris Clemons. Coach Pete Carroll said earlier in the week that Chukwurah’s role is yet to be determined, and Bradley added Thursday that the 33-year-old could potentially manage 15-16 reps in third-down situations.
“It’s tough; he’s been lifting in gyms and riding Ellipticals,” Bradley said of Chukwurah. “It’s going to be a little bit different.”
And other issue has been looming around Bradley, as well, and that’s outside interest in him as a head coach. The Eagles, for one, have been granted permission for an interview.
“Well, it’s flattering,” Bradley said, “and I know people talk about how our entire focus is on Atlanta, and it really is. It’s so important to us. We’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and our whole message to the team is, ‘Keep raising the bar. Keep getting better and better every week.’ They’re talking that, and we’re talking that, so it’s easy to stay focused on it. It’s flattering, like you’ve all heard before, but really our entire focus is on Atlanta and trying to do everything we can to get one step closer.”
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had his weekly meeting with reporters Thursday, and at one point he was asked if he had taken a moment yet to realize the mania this playoff run has spawned in the area.
“Like I always say, there’s no time to sleep,” Wilson said. “There’s an opportunity to be great and just focus on what we have in front of us, and that’s playing the Atlanta Falcons. There’s a lot to be excited about, there’s a lot of energy, but the key is staying on an even keel and just playing one game at a time, one play at a time, one day at a time, one practice at at time, and I think if we take that mentality, it will give us the best chance to win. Obviously we’re going into a hostile crowd and (playing) a great football team, and we’re going to have to play an A-plus game.”
Wilson has shown recently that he’ll do just about anything to get the win. A couple times a game now, it seems, he’s serving as a lead blocker for running back Marshawn Lynch down the sideline.
“No, I know that’s part of the game,” Wilson said. “When you’re down field, they’re going to try to possibly block you. But I don’t try to take on linebackers or defensive linemen or anything crazy like that. Hopefully it’s somebody my size; otherwise I’ll be pretty smart about it.”
And how about the possibility of Lynch, all 215 pounds on him, crashing into him from behind?
“That’s why I try to accelerate though,” Wilson said with a smile, “because I knew he was coming after me.”
There will be plenty of challenges Sunday against an Atlanta defense that ranked fifth-best in the NFL in points allowed, not to mention being inside a loud stadium. The Georgia Dome will provide one advantage, however, compared to last week, and that’s in a stable and predictable FieldTurf playing surface.
It would be no bother to the unflappable Wilson anyway.
“I’m happy to play every day I wake up,” he said. “Wherever, whenever.”
RENTON—Reporters got a chance to chat with new Seahawks kicker Ryan Longwell, a Puyallup native, before Wednesday’s practice. The 38-year-old veteran was added to the Seattle roster in place of Steven Hauschka, who was placed on injured reserve due to a calf injury.
Longwell hasn’t played in the NFL this season but stayed in shape, in part, by preparing for the Walt Disney World Marathon this weekend.
Then he got the call from his agent regarding a workout for the Seahawks, which he accepted and turned into a contract.
“It’s obviously a great opportunity,” Longwell said. “The team is hot, they’ve got a lot of good talent, and when you’ve got a hot team, you’ve got something special going. It’s a good thing to be a part of. It’s an awesome opportunity and I feel really blessed to be here. … Kind of growing up a Seahawks fan, and watching games in the Kingdome with my grandpa and stuff, it’s kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching.”
Coach Pete Carroll said experience played a big factor in the signing, as the team hosted four kickers in a workout Tuesday.
“When you look at Ryan’s background, the great experience he’s had, the time he’s had in playoff situations and all of that, to make this transition for a younger guy might be more of an issue, and we think he can handle that,” Carroll said. “Some of our coaches have been with him before and knew him very well — a very even-keeled guy, a true professional and all that.”
Longwell said he hit from as far as 55 yards in the workout and feels comfortable from that distance in a dome. Outside of marathon training, he had been doing strength work and kicked about every 10 days or so to keep in rhythm.
The Longwell family lives in Orlando these days, but the Pacific Northwest remains special.
“I told all my teammates in Minnesota when we played out here in the preseason last year or the year before that the highlight of my day was having Chip Hanauer raising the 12th Man flag,” he said. “I grew up here watching the hydroplanes, watching the Seahawks, the Mariners and the Sonics back then. I grew up a huge fan of (Steve) Largent, (Jim) Zorn and those guys, so the opportunity to come back was awesome. Ninth grade we moved down to Oregon and went to high school there, but Damon Huard was my first holder in junior high, in seventh grade at Aylen Junior High. Just weird how all the pieces come together.”
Sunday will mark Marcus Trufant‘s third career playoff game versus Washington. The two others?
Jan. 14, 2006 — Seahawks 20, Washington 10 (divisional round) Jan. 5, 2008 — Seahawks 35, Washington 14 (wild-card round)
In fact, one of Trufant’s career highlights came in the game five years ago, when he intercepted a overthrown pass by Todd Collins and had a dazzling 78-yard return for a touchdown (posted in the video above).
So has that moment been on the mind of the Seahawks veteran this week?
“Naw man, that’s ancient history — just a part of Seahawks history,” Trufant said. “If you focus on things in the past, I would say you let things slip in the present. I’m looking forward and I’m just trying to get better.”
Here is some video of Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley following Thursday’s practice.
The first question in the clip is about Washington’s offense, specifically how the team has limited turnovers (its plus-17 turnover differential is third in the NFL).
The next few questions were about the return of cornerback Brandon Browner from the four-game suspension.
Lastly, at least in this clip, he was asked about how the two-headed attack of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris compares to what Seattle offers in the run game.
Apologies again for the outside noise; the hallway by the weight room got a bit loud at times. At one point during the interview (not included in the video), head coach Pete Carroll walked by and chanted, “Gus Bradley for President!” repeatedly.
Before Thursday’s practice, Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner spoke with reporters for the first time since returning from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Browner, 28, decided to drop an appeal of the suspension, unlike teammate Richard Sherman, who had his punishment overturned last week.
Asked why he dropped the appeal, Browner said: “It was about that time. Sometimes you make mistakes, and I was fortunate enough the guys continued to win.”
The 6-foot-4 cornerback said he confided in himself as he worked out locally on his own — he wasn’t allowed at the team practice’s facility during the suspension — but then decided to continue his workouts back home in California. Browner tried to base his personal work on the Seahawks’ routine (e.g. running three days a week).
So was it hard to watch his team play on TV without him?
“It wasn’t hard at all,” Browner said. “I know I had the suspension, but it wasn’t hard at all. It was fun to watch the guys win the way they did.”
“It was fun because we were kicking everyone’s butt. I was missing not playing with the guys, but it was awesome to watch from that perspective, you know what I mean? The progression of our quarterback is awesome. He’s playing like one of the elite quarterbacks and our defense is playing lights out. They’re playing like when I left.”
Browner returned to practice Wednesday, which he called “really exciting.”
But will he be ready to play Sunday after a month off? Coach Pete Carroll said on Wednesday that the team will be looking to see how rusty he is after the layoff.
“Most definitely. Most definitely,” Browner said. “It starts in the head, mentally. I’m mentally tough. I know I’ll be a little bit tired out there, but at the end of the day I’m fighting for a playoff victory, so I’ll be all right.”
This will be Browner’s first playoff appearance after joining the team last year.
“Very exciting,” he said. “That’s what you play for — to get to the playoffs and eventually, hopefully, the Super Bowl.”
Here is some quick video of Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell after Wednesday’s practice.
The first question was about Washington’s defense, which ranked 30th in pass defense after the regular season at 281.9 yards per game but fifth in rush defense at 95.8.
The second question — and apologies for some background noise, some players were walking in and out of the weight room nearby — was about veteran linebacker London Fletcher, who has played every game in his 15-year career (the last six with Washington).