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Antoine Winfield readies for familiar foe in Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
When you have 14 years of NFL experience under your belt, not a lot of things are going to surprise you.
That's the case with Seahawks nickel cornerback Antoine Winfield, who admitted earlier this month that it had been awhile since he was caught off-guard by a formation, route or tactic exercised by an opposing offense.
Wednesday, it was apparent that not a lot of things surprise Winfield off the field, either. I approached the three-time Pro Bowler after practice hoping to gain some insight on what it's like going up against Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who the Seahawks meet this Friday night in the team's third preseason game and who Winfield has faced twice a year since 2008 in his time with the Minnesota Vikings.
At first mention of the Packers, Winfield laughed and knew exactly where I was going with the question.
"He's probably the best quarterback in the League right now," Winfield said of Rodgers. "What makes him special is he's in full command of that offense. I'm sure he studies a lot of film because he reads defenses so well. He knows exactly where he's going with the ball."
"He's very accurate. He's athletic. He has the prettiest deep ball. I could go on and on about that guy. He really is a special player."
For the most part, the Seahawks shut down that "special player" a season ago. Seattle wrapped up Rodgers for eight sacks in the first-half of a Week 3 game at CenturyLink Field, including four by defensive end Chris Clemons. The Packers were held to zero points and 87 total yards of offense in the half.
That performance the Seahawks defense put together is often overlooked by the Hail Mary pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to wide receiver Golden Tate that gave the Seahawks the 14-12 win on the game's final play. But Winfield said an effective pass rush is exactly what's needed when facing a quarterback like Rodgers.
"It's always stressful out there," Winfield joked when asked about how much stress Rodgers can put on a secondary. "But when you have a mobile quarterback it makes it that much harder. You have to stay in man coverage a lot longer. The best thing for that is hopefully the pass rush gets there, they stay in their lanes and try to keep him in the pocket."
It may just be preseason, but Friday's contest against the Packers provides a rare opportunity to go up against one of the game's greatest players. When the game kicks off at 5 p.m. PT from Green Bay's Lambeau Field, starters from both sides are expected to play the full first half and likely well into the third quarter. And even heading into his 15th NFL season, that's something Winfield can still get excited about.
"It's a great test," said Winfield. "Playing against the Packers twice a year in Minnesota, they have a really good receiving corps. We play a lot of man-to-man defense back there. It's definitely going to be a great challenge for us."