New Year's Day in Hawkville: Seahawks practicing as they play during bye week

The Seahawks don’t have a game this weekend because they’re the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but you’d never know it by the tempo and intensity of their two bye-week practices.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 1, when the Seahawks held the second of two "Bonus Day" practices during their playoff bye week:

FOCUS ON: PRACTICE

Yes, we're talking practice, because the Seahawks rang in the New Year the same way they bid farewell to the old.

Because the Seahawks earned the NFC's No. 1 in the playoffs, they don't play this weekend. Instead, they'll wait and watch to see which team will come to CenturyLink Field for a divisional game on Jan. 10 – the winner of Saturday's game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers, or the Detroit Lions should they upset the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday.

And if their bye-week practices are any indication, the Seahawks will be not only ready but prepared for any option. The spirited sessions were competitive, had good tempo and featured athletic plays on both sides of the ball.

"We're exactly where we want to be," quarterback Russell Wilson said Thursday. "To be going into the playoffs, and have a first-round bye and to be the No. 1 team in the NFC, that's what you want."

As for the quality of the practices, Wilson offered, "We were very, very smooth and good on offense, executing and tempo-wise. The defense looked good, too."

Ah, the defense, which led the NFL in fewest points allowed for the third consecutive season and in average yards allowed for the second season in a row.

YOU DON'T SAY

"It's hard for me to just sit there and watch the games as a fan. I play that quarterback position in my head."

QB Russell Wilson on watching the wild-card playoffs games over the weekend


"We were flying," All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman said of the way his unit practiced. "Guys had fresh legs. I think a couple of days off helped guys. Guys looked rested and fast. But that's the kind of guys we have. You get them out there on the field, they don't care what time of year it is. If it's spring, if it's summer, if it's the playoffs, if it's the regular season, they're going to go hard and it's going to be a fun practice.

"And that's what it was."

The Seahawks won't practice again until Monday, as coach Pete Carroll also is using this hard-earned bye week to give the players ample time to rest and recuperate after having their regular-season bye in Week 4.

"We understood the sense of urgency throughout the season that we would need this," Sherman said. "That's why we fought so hard in the last couple of games. You want to win them, regardless, but I think we recognized as a team what we needed to get to in order to get the rest that we needed. And we got it done, thankfully."

As for the intangibles, Wilson added, "We're high on confidence, like always. But we have to play great football, one game at a time."

Just not this weekend.

WHAT ABOUT KRIS RICHARD?

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable have been linked to head-coaching vacancies around the league. But Sherman wondered aloud why his position coach hasn't generated any interest.

STAT DU JOUR: HOME IS WHERE THE PLAYOFF VICTORIES HAVE BEEN

The Seahawks don't just win a lot of regular-season games on their home turf, they've also been a lot better in the postseason at home than on the road:

Season Home Away
1983 1-0 1-1
1984 1-0 0-1
1987 0-0 0-1
1988 0-0 0-1
1999 0-1 0-0
2003 0-0 0-1
2004 0-1 0-0
2005 2-0 0-1
2006 1-0 0-1
2007 1-0 0-1
2010 1-0 0-1
2012 0-0 1-1
2013 2-0 1-0
Totals 9-2 3-10

"I would hope our coach would have gotten a little bit more mention," Sherman said of Richard, who played cornerback for the Seahawks from 2002-04 and is now in his fifth season coaching the team's secondary.

"He took kind of a ragtag bunch of DBs in 2011 and made them perennial All-Pros and Pro Bowlers, and you don't hear his name being mentioned as much for D-coordinator jobs and things like that. Which I think it should be. We obviously know what kind of coach he is and what he's done. But obviously everybody else doesn't."

In that 2011 season, since-departed Brandon Browner, who had been signed to a future contract in January after playing four seasons in the CFL, stepped in a third-option injury replacement at right cornerback during training camp and ended up playing in the Pro Bowl. Sherman, who was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft that spring, stepped in as a third-option injury replacement at midseason. Since then, no player in the league has more interceptions (24) and only one other has more passes defensed (68) than Sherman. Kam Chancellor, a fifth-round draft choice in 2010, stepped in as the starter at strong safety that season and last week was voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after being a second-team All-Pro selection last season. Late last season, Byron Maxwell, a sixth-round draft choice in 2011, stepped in as the starting corner opposite Sherman; and Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round pick in 2012, has become the nickel back this season. Then there's free safety Earl Thomas, a first-round draft choice in 2010 who has been voted to four consecutive Pro Bowls and likely will become an All-Pro selection for the third time in the past three seasons later this month.

"It's his attention to detail," Sherman said of what Richard brings to the mix. "And he does a great job managing, I guess, our personalities. We have a few different personalities, obviously, in that DB room and we have over the years.

"And Kris does a great job understanding who everyone is and not coaching everyone the same, understanding how people react to different things differently. But his attention to detail and the preparation of game planning is meticulous. … He goes over basically every scenario you can be put in in a game and he prepares us for that. You're rarely ever surprised going into a ball game by a formation or a play that they're going to run."

UP NEXT: A LONG WEEKEND OFF

The players will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off before returning on Monday to begin preparing for their to-be-determined opponent in next Saturday's divisional playoff game at CenturyLink Field.

Seattle Seahawks team photographer Rod Mar continues his Eye On the Hawks series bringing you behind the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the St Louis Rams.

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