A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 22, when the Seahawks held their Super Bowl bye week "Turnover Thursday" practice as they continued to prepare for their matchup against the New England Patriots on Feb. 1:
FOCUS ON: WILL THEY RUN OR WILL THEY PASS?
The New England Patriots have been an offensive chameleon in recent games. In the AFC Championship game on Sunday, they rushed for 177 yards on 40 carries – and threw the ball 35 times. The week before, in their divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, they ran just 13 times for 14 yards – but threw the ball 51 times. In their regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills, it was 33 passes and 25 rushes – for 116 yards.
How are the Seahawks supposed to prepare for the unknown? By preparing the way they always do, which is to focus on themselves and not so much the opponent.
"We just kind of approach the game the same as we approach every game," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said before Thursday's practice. "We don't care what you're going to try and do. Once we figure out what you're going to try and do, we're going to adjust to it.
"So if they want to run the ball a lot, we'll be ready. If they want to pass the ball a lot, we'll be ready. If they want to run screens and stuff like that, we're going to be ready. So I don't really care what they want to do."
That's not cockiness; it's the confidence that comes from leading the league in average points allowed the past the three seasons and in average yards allowed the past two seasons. It's also the luxury the Seahawks have of being able to take on the run or the pass with their base defense, because they have linebackers who can blitz and cover as well as play the run, and defensive backs who can cover whichever receiver might cross their path.
|YOU DON'T SAY|
"They are a pretty challenging group. They are definitely underrated."
Cardinals Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson on the Seahawks' wide receivers
"They do have a big book itself, so it's going to be important for us to go through the whole process – whether it's in the run game or the pass game – and play the game as it unfolds," defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said after Thursday's practice.
"They've got some really unique ways to attack."
But the Seahawks have those unique defenders and, as Quinn put it, "It's not so much what we play as how we play it."
And that's usually pretty well.
"One of things we really pride ourselves on is we're quick to play whatever style comes," Quinn said. "We've had games like that before, where teams want to get small and stay in that group. We're able to do that just because of the depth we have with the nickel and the rushers. And then we've got some big guys, too.
"Fortunately for us, as you go through the season you play a lot of different styles of teams and this one is able to do a number of them all within the same game. Sometimes it's more with one team than another. Well this team, they have the ability to do it all within the same game."
INJURY REPORT: MICHAEL BENNETT RETURNS TO PRACTICE
|STAT DU JOUR: BAM BAM KAM|
Kam Chancellor's 90-yard interception return for the touchdown against the Panthers in the divisional playoff game was the longest postseason play in franchise history, and also tied for the fifth-longest in NFL postseason history:
The official report, as issued by the team:
Did not practice
RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related)
OG J.R. Sweezy (ankle)
FS Earl Thomas (shoulder)
DL Michael Bennett (not injury related)
OT Justin Britt (knee)
LS Clint Gresham (neck)
CB Richard Sherman (elbow)
Bennett and Gresham were back after sitting out Wednesday's practice. Lemuel Jeanpierre continued to replace Sweezy in practice; Robert Turbin and Christine Michael split the reps for Lynch; and Jeron Johnson filled in for Thomas.
For the Patriots:
Limited in practice
CB Brandon Browner (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
DT Chris Jones (elbow)
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe)
DL Sealver Siliga (foot)
C Bryan Stork (knee)
QB Tom Brady (ankle)
Stork, who has started 10 of the past 11 games, was able to work on a limited basis after being listed as not practicing on Wednesday.
OPPONENT WATCH: LeGARRETTE BLOUNT
The Seahawks have faced their share of big backs and productive backs this season, with mixed results. They allowed two 100-yard rushing performances – 159 to the Kansas City Chiefs' 199-pound Jamaal Charles and 115 to the Dallas Cowboys' 219-pound DeMarco Murray. Both came in games the Seahawks lost.
But they also held the 230-pound Eddie Lacy to 107 yards combined in two games against the Green Bay Packers and the 217-pound Frank Gore to a combined 57 yards in two games against the San Francisco 49ers. And the 208-pound LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles and the 218-pound Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins, also 1,000-yard rushers, combined for 79 against the Seahawks.
Now comes the 250-pound Blount, who ran for 148 yards in the AFC Championship game after having no more than 78 in the other six games he played for the Patriots after being claimed off waivers in late November.
"I think he has a little more juke to him," Wagner said of Blount being shiftier than a 250-pounder should be. "He's able to stop on a dime. He has shifty moves, as if he is a smaller back. So you've just got to be ready because he can shake you and he can run you over. So you're going to have to be perfect on tackling."
SHINING STARS: SEAHAWKS, EARL THOMAS HONORED
The Seahawks and their All-Pro free safety were big winners during the 80th annual Sports Star of the Year Awards on Wednesday night at Benaroya Hall. The team was selected Seattle's Sports Story of the Year and Thomas was chosen Male Athlete of the Year. Steve Raible, who handles play-by-play for radio broadcasts of the team's games, won the Keith Jackson Award.
Thomas did not attend the event, but his mother accepted the award on his behalf.
"Earl is at home, studying film, getting stronger in his body, preparing for the Patriots," Debbie Thomas said.
A BLUE SUPER SUNDAY
The Seahawks will wear their all-blue uniforms in the Super Bowl, it was announced Thursday. In Super Bowl XLVIII last February, they wore white jerseys and blue pants.
UP NEXT: "NO REPEAT FRIDAY"
Yes, the Seahawks will hold their weekly "No Repeat Friday" practice, their final on-field session at VMAC before the team heads to Phoenix. But they might want to consider altering the label for their Friday practice this week and next, because they are indeed trying to become the first team since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004 to repeat as Super Bowl champions.