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Playoffs Focus

The old adage suggests that practice makes perfect, but for the Seahawks, it's focus, not perfection, that motivates them at practice this week. "Practice matters, but it kind of switches at this point in the season," says wide receiver Doug Baldwin.

The old adage suggests that practice makes perfect, but for the Seahawks it's focus, not perfection, that motivates them at practice this week.

"Practice is probably the most important thing there is, because it's the little things that win games," running back Fred Jackson explained. "Practice is where you get a chance to do the little things, so it's definitely one of the most important things for us right now."

They've played 16 regular season games and logged more than three and half months of practice since the season opener, and the Seahawks still place a premium on their daily work.

"It's very important," defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. "It's good to find the details of your technique and try to hone in on key little things you've been going through over the year and finding out how a team is going to attack you."

"It's one of those things where you have to keep sharpening your craft or sharpening your tools or you can get lazy and get beat," linebacker Bobby Wagner said.

Practice itself doesn't sound much different in January than it did in September. Music blares through large speakers on the sidelines, punctuated occasionally by a sharp whistle. It looks about the same too. Pete Carroll hustles alongside the players from drill to drill, but the real work happens in a different way now as they prepare for Sunday's game against Minnesota.

"Practice matters but it kind of switches at this point in the season," wide receiver Doug Baldwin explained. "It should be more on the mental side of it and less on the physical side. Obviously we've been through 17 weeks of the season and going to the playoffs. We have all the physical tools and need our bodies to recover, but the mental side of it is vastly important."

"I think what's most important is getting the mental reps, visualizing making those plays," Wagner added.

It's a shift the Seahawks made about six weeks ago, right about the time they ripped off five straight wins. But what does it actually mean?

"Practice itself is not at such a high tempo," Baldwin said. "It's a walkthrough pace, more of the mental reps than the physical reps. We're more focused on being at the right spot at the right time, not necessarily trying to fight through a 1-on-1 coverage or fighting through coverage just to get to that point then fighting for a ball through a defender."

It's easier to identify the "right spot" when core players are available to practice. Quarterback Russell Wilson has proven his durability in games, and takes pride in being available to take every snap at practice too.

"The best thing to do is always be available," Wilson said. "I think that obviously, to not miss practices, to be out there on gameday, that's what I'm here for. Ultimately, whatever it takes. That's kind of the mentality."

"It's huge any time you get everyone out there who's contributing," Jackson said. "They can get on the same page, make the adjustments, see the adjustments in real time. It's good to go into a game like that."

"It's huge because we all make each other better," Baldwin said. "So if I've got Kam at practice, he's going to give me a look that's very similar, if not better, than the one I'm going to get in the game. It's valuable for all of us to be as healthy as we can to play at the best of our ability, but also to give the other side the best look in preparing for a game."

Practice for the Seahawks isn't a pursuit of perfection. It's an exercise in consistency. The head coach won't have it any other way, and as the team rolls into the postseason for the fifth time in Carroll's six-year tenure, the players wouldn't either.

"For us a playoff game is just the start of another season, so we don't see it any different," Wagner said.

Baldwin agrees, "We just treat it like another game, another championship opportunity. As cliché as that sounds, it's the truth."

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