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Tuesday in Hawkville: What’s Cliff Avril’s rush?

Posted Jan 14, 2014

After participating in one playoff game in five seasons with the Detroit Lions, rush-end Cliff Avril already has his first postseason victory with the Seahawks and is preparing to play in the NFC Championship game.


A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 14, when the players had their “off” day and the coaches were finalizing the game plan for Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field:

WORD OF THE DAY: RELATIVE

As in, it’s all relative. As in, Cliff Avril is playing less, but enjoying it more.

STAT DU JOUR: MARSHAWN LYNCH IN A RUSH

The 49ers have allowed nine 100-yard rushers in their past 101 games, including playoffs. During that stretch that began Sept. 21, 2008, Marshawn Lynch has four of them:

Back, team (date) Carries Yards
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (Dec. 12, 2012) 26 111
Steven Jackson, Rams (Nov. 11, 2012) 29 101
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (Oct. 18, 2012) 19 103
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (Oct. 14, 2012) 27 116
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (Dec. 24, 2011) 21 107
Ryan Grant, Packers (Nov. 22, 2009)  21 129
Chris Johnson, Titans (Nov. 8, 2009) 25 135
Steven Jackson, Rams (Dec. 21, 2008) 32 108
Marshawn Lynch, Bills (Nov. 30, 2008) 16 134

Avril was an every-down defensive end for the Detroit Lions the past five seasons. But he also won an average of 4.4 games during his stay in the Motor City. There was that one winning season – 10-6 in 2011, when the Lions earned a wild-card berth only to be eliminated by the New Orleans Saints in the only playoff game of Avril’s five-season tenure. Other than that, it was 0-16 his rookie season in 2008, 2-14 in 2009, 6-10 in 2010 and 4-12 in 2012.

Now, Avril is playing an important role on a Seahawks team that posted the best record in the NFC this season (13-3), won its playoff opener Saturday (23-15 over the Saints) and will host the 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship game.

Signed in free agency to help improve the Seahawks’ pass rush, Avril contributed eight of the team’s 44 sacks – the most since 2007. Against the Saints, he split the Seahawks’ only sack of Drew Brees with Michael Bennett, another free-agent addition who led the team with 8.5 sacks.

“It’s big. I can’t describe how big it is for me,” Avril said of being just days away from playing for the conference championship. “It took six years for me to just even get to this position. I didn’t win any games my rookie year. So for me to be here right now, it’s huge. And we’ve got to definitely soak it all in and have fun with it and make sure we go out there and play our best.”

Avril has split time with Chris Clemons at the Leo end spot in the base defense and worked opposite Clemons in the nickel line used in passing situations. So rather than having one pass-rusher with a lot of sacks – as was the case when Clemons was collecting 11, 11 and 11.5 the past three seasons – the Seahawks have several pass-rushers with enough sacks – the 16.5 Bennett and Avril have combined for; 5.5 by tackle Clinton McDonald; five by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner; 4.5 by Clemons; and more than one by five other players.

“I feel like if I was playing the 80, 90 percent of the snaps, my body would definitely be beat up and little bit more than it is right now,” Avril said. “I’m not playing as much on the first downs, so I think that helps out with the body feeling fresh this late in the season.”

YOU DON'T SAY

“We’ve been everywhere, man. It’s like a Johnny Cash song.”

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on his team traveling to Arizona, Green Bay and Carolina for its past three games and now preparing to play in Seattle

A portion of the season Avril is experiencing for the first time.

UP NEXT: “COMPETITION WEDNESDAY”

The players return from their “off” day to hold their first full practice of the week Wednesday, or “Competition Wednesday” as it is called on the Carroll calendar.

Linebacker K.J. Wright is expected to practice in his attempt to play for the first time since breaking a foot in the Week 14 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco. “K.J. Wright has a chance,” Carroll said Monday. “We’re going to take a look at him on Wednesday.”