Wednesday in Hawkville: NFC Championship week has familiar feeling for Seahawks

The stakes are much higher and the media contingent in town to cover Sunday’s NFC title game against the Packers is much bigger. But the Seahawks are rolling with anything and everything because they just went through this last January.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 14, when the Seahawks held their "Competition Wednesday" practice, walkthrough and meetings as they continued to prepare for Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field:

FOCUS ON: BEEN HERE, DONE THIS

As Russell Wilson stepped to the podium, the Seahawks' quarterback made a quick scan of the 100 or so media members in the auditorium and offered, "More and more people every week, huh?"

Indeed, and this is conference championship week in the NFL, so VMAC has become a destination spot for reporters from national and even international publications and TV outlets who are in town for Sunday's NFC title game between the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

But the Seahawks have been through this media crush before, because they are hosting the NFC Championship game for the second consecutive season. The Packers didn't it make this far last season, as they lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the wild-card round at Lambeau Field. The New England Patriots, who are hosting the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game on Sunday, made it to the conference championship game last season, only to lose to the Broncos in Denver. And the Colts lost to the Patriots in the divisional round last season.

And this been here, done this experience is helping the Seahawks cope with intensified glare.

"It's huge for me and for us as a team," said leading receiver Doug Baldwin, who followed coach Pete Carroll, Wilson and All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman to the podium. "I think as a younger group, we kind of take that for granted. I believed when I was younger, being naïve, I thought that it was kind of overrated – that the experience was overrated.

"But now, being this is my second year going to the NFC Championship game, that experience is crucial – not only because of the physical aspect of it, but also the mental aspect of it. You learn to pace yourself dealing with you guys as media, no offense, but you guys do add a little bit of stress to our lives. And being able to handle that in the appropriate manner and going about our way of studying and preparing for this game and being able to handle everything that comes along with it – because our families are getting at us, as well – that experience definitely it enables us to just be more patient, be more calm and just handle things in the appropriate manner."

And handling added responsibilities that can become distractions during the week also carries over to game day.

"I think come game time it's going to be a lot easier for us, as well," Baldwin said.

Then there's the way the Seahawks approach every game. Each week is a championship opportunity, as Wilson has reminded us on a weekly basis, and that helps when the opportunity actually is.

"This week is no different than any other week," Wilson said. "I always say this – cliché – but it's going 1-0 and trying to find a way to ignore all the noise."

Regardless of the fact that the noise is amplified this week and coming from some many different directions.

"Just be in the moment and you just enjoy it for what it is," Wilson said.

INJURY REPORT: JUSTIN BRITT, TONY McDANIEL SIT OUT PRACTICE

STAT DU JOUR: PASSERS RICHARD SHERMAN HAS PICKED

Since Richard Sherman entered the lineup as a rookie midway through the 2011 season, no player in the NFL has more interceptions than the Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback – who also had his first postseason pick, and 25th overall, in Saturday night's divisional playoff win over the Panthers. Here's a look at the passers Sherman has picked:

Quarterback Team No.
Colin Kaepernick 49ers 4
John Skelton Cardinals 4
Eli Manning Giants 2
Carson Palmer Cardinals 2
Sam Bradford Rams 2
One each: Tom Brady, Patriots; David Carr, Raiders; Kellen Clemens, Rams; Andy Dalton, Bengals; Ryan Fitzpatrick, Titans; Rex Grossman, Redskins; Caleb Hanie, Bears; Ryan Lindley, Cardinals; Cam Newton, Panthers; Matt Sanchez, Jets; Matt Schaub, Texans. 

The first official report of the week, as issued by the team:

Did not practice
DL Michael Bennett (not injury related)
OT Justin Britt (knee)
RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related)
DT Tony McDaniel (shoulder)

Full participation
SS Jeron Johnson (elbow)
TE Tony Moeaki (calf)
C Max Unger (ankle)

The Seahawks were without a starting lineman on each side of the ball, as Alvin Bailey filled in at right tackle for Britt and David King was among the players who stepped in at the three-technique tackle spot on defense for McDaniel.

For the Packers:

Limited in practice
DT Josh Boyd (ankle)
QB Aaron Rodgers (calf)
OG Josh Sitton (toe)

Rodgers told reporters in Green Bay that he is "about the same as last week" when asked about the calf injury he played with in Sunday's victory over the Dallas Cowboys. "It's just a matter of playing within your limits," he added. "I've been pretty smart about it. I haven't caused a lot of extra damage."  

OPPONENT WATCH: RANDALL COBB

YOU DON'T SAY

"I think the reason they are so successful, and they can potentially be back-to-back champs, is because of their chemistry. They absolutely love each other."

Bears wide receiverBrandon Marshall, discussing the Seahawks on Showtime's Inside the NFL


Not Randall Cobb the receiver, who caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season – and finished second on the Packers in all three categories to Jordy Nelson (98 for 1,519 and 13). And not Randall Cobb the returner, either.

This is about the Randall Cobb who lines up in the backfield.

"He has great versatility, being a QB and all that in the old days," Carroll said of Cobb, who quarterbacked Alcoa (Tenn.) High School to state championships as a junior and senior. "They've used him like that, really, throughout the years they've had him. There was a drive in the Dallas game where they stayed with that personnel and they kind of just highlighted him in a number of ways.

"We don't know how much they're going to use that. We're ready for them to use it quite a bit because they were very effective when they did. He's a terrific football player and he gives them all kinds of options."

JERMAINE KEARSE'S CATCH, REDUX

Wilson saw both ends of Kearse's 63-yard touchdown reception against the Panthers – the catch and the lunge to the pylon for the score. But the player who threw the ball that turned into the longest TD pass in franchise playoff history didn't realize just how good the catch was until well after the fact.

"I'm at dinner and they're showing it on the TV at the Metropolitan Grill," Wilson said. "I see the catch and go, 'Oh man, he caught that one-handed.' I didn't know that he did that. So that was pretty phenomenal."

UP NEXT: "TURNOVER THURSDAY"

The Seahawks "Turnover Thursday" practice is especially pertinent this week because the Packers turned the ball over a league-low 13 times during the regular season and also led the NFL at plus-14 in turnover differential. The Seahawks had the second fewest turnovers with 14 and were plus-10 in turnover differential to rank fourth in the league.

The Seahawks also won the turnover battle in their divisional game on Saturday night when they were plus-3, with no turnovers, against the Panthers. The Packers broke even in their victory against the Cowboys on Sunday as each team lost a fumble.

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