The first five seasons of Cliff Avril's career were spent with the Detroit Lions, who the Seahawks will line up against on Monday Night Football in Week 4 at CenturyLink Field. But Avril, who signed in Seattle as a free-agent before the 2013 season, says he isn't carrying any extra motivation into this week's matchup with his former team.
"It's just another game, just happy to playing them," Avril said. "Monday Night Football in our stadium, so we're just going to have fun."
A third round draft pick of the Lions in 2008, Avril didn't win a single game during his first season in the NFL. Detroit went 0-16 that year, an experience Avril hopes he'll never have to undergo again.
"I was a rookie just trying to find my way, trying to get on the field and just make plays, try not to be the reason why [the team didn't win a game]," Avril said. "You wanted to just be some kind of bright spot for the following year."
Avril found a way to be that "bright spot," racking up 5.0 sacks and forcing four fumbles his first year in the League. He's recorded at least 5.0 sacks in every season since, including a career-high 11.0 in 2011, and five years after his winless season with Detroit, the defensive end found himself enjoying a Super Bowl XLVIII championship in his first season with the Seahawks. Avril said there's a few players he's kept in touch with over the years, but for the most part the Lions team visiting the Pacific Northwest this week will look a lot different than the one he got his start with.
"Some of the defensive players - Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy - some of those guys I played with," Avril said. "So I still communicate with the few guys that are still there. Other than that, coaching staff, just my [defensive line] coach, he's the only one left, so we talk from time to time. But other than that, new scheme, new people, just a different team."
While Monday's contest may be "just another game" for Avril, as a pass rusher he said he's looking forward to making his presence felt "as much as possible" playing against an offense like the one the Lions incorporate. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has the NFL's third-most pass attempts (128) through the season's first three weeks and will likely come out looking to sling the football to Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson, former Seahawk Golden Tate, and 2014 first-round draft pick tight end Eric Ebron.
"They definitely throw it a lot, but they keep it balanced as well with some of the stuff they try to do in the running game and play-actions and things like that," Avril said. "But as a pass rusher, you definitely get excited to play teams that do like to throw it. So fortunately, I'm a pass rusher, and they like to throw it. We're going to try to make it happen."
From 1976 to 2014, the Seahawks and Lions have only faced each other 12 times. Check out photos from each game before their upcoming Monday Night Football showdown.