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Phillip Adams looking to make his mark in preseason finale

Posted Aug 27, 2014

Phillip Adams played the past two seasons with the Raiders, but in Thursday night’s preseason finale the fifth-year cornerback is expected to be the nickel back in the Seahawks’ No. 1 defense and looking to prove he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster.


Phillip Adams began his NFL career in San Francisco with the 49ers and spent the past two seasons playing in Oakland for the Raiders, but he left his heart in Seattle.

In between those stints with the NFL’s Bay Area teams, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound cornerback played in one game with the Seahawks in December of 2011. But that ephemeral experience was enough for Adams to know that Seattle was where he wanted to be.

“I grew in this system and this system fits me,” Adams said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m glad to be back in it, because I can be who I am – and that’s being physical and hardnosed and being the player that I am, the player that I want to be.”

Who Adams is expected to be Thursday night, as coincidence and circumstance would have it, is the nickel back when the No. 1 defense takes the field – ever so briefly – in the preseason finale against the Raiders in Oakland. With Jeremy Lane sidelined because of a sore groin, the next-man-up in the middle of everything the Seahawks’ defense has done so well this summer is Adams.

“Most definitely, this is an opportunity I always planned for,” he said. “When you’re held accountable – all of us are held accountable – we always prepare as if we’re always ready to go in. That’s my whole mindset, to continue the effort and do what I do, and that’s being consistent and as a technician doing everything the right way.”

If Adams needs any reassurance that this is the best approach, all he has to do is look at the Seahawks’ starting corners. Richard Sherman was a third-option injury replacement midway through the 2011 season, and he has blossomed into the best cornerback in the NFL. Byron Maxwell was a third-option replacement last December, and he intercepted four passes in his first five starts.

If Adams needs any assurance in the power of his mindset, all he has to do is listen to Sherman, who has been voted All-Pro in each of the past two seasons.

“He’s smooth,” Sherman said. “Phillip is good with his technique. He understands the defense. He understands where he’s supposed to be. Whenever you understand you’re role like that, you have a great chance of making plays and being in the right spot.”

In the first three preseason games, Adams played predominantly as the right cornerback in the No. 2 defense. He has been credited with two tackles, and has two more covering kicks on special teams.

Adams has made more plays on the practice field, including Tuesday when the tightness of his coverage forced a couple of incompletions. And when one of the other defensive backs makes a play in practice, they can expected to be greeted by Sherman and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas sprinting down the field to offer congratulations and encouragement.

“We all are together. We’re all tight,” Adams said. “When one guy makes a play, we all are excited because we all pull for each other.”

Adams has gone coast-to-coast, and back, since entering the league as a seventh-round draft choice by the 49ers in 2010. He played in 15 games as a rookie, mostly on special teams, but was released following training camp in 2011. Then it was on to New England and six games with the Patriots, before he finished the season with the Seahawks. When the Seahawks released him after training camp in 2012, it was off to the Raiders. Adams started two games in each of the past two seasons, intercepting two passes in 2012 and collecting a career-high 27 tackles last season.

But through it all, Adams couldn’t wait to get back to the Seahawks, even though they feature an All-Pro-laden starting secondary and quality depth.

“When you can focus on the little things, it allows you to play free,” Adams said. “And when you have great guys around you, that just makes everything flow and it just makes the whole game so fun. Because you’ve got everybody flying around and just to be in that mix it’s incredible.”

And how does Adams prevent being elevated in that mix, and against his former team, from being bigger than it already is?

“Just focusing in on the little things,” he said. “You stay clued in to the details and the technique. It’s no different than it is at practice. You practice hard so the game can be easy. And that’s what I do.”