A recap of the activities on Day Three of NFC divisional playoff game week:
Ben Obomanu. After the Seahawks’ flanker made his way from the practice field, to the training room, to his cubicles in the locker room, Obomanu was met by a crowd of reporters.
“Are you the Bionic Man?” he was asked.
“I’m trying to be, a little bit,” he said with a smile.
This has been one of those hurts-so-good seasons for Obomanu. In Saturday’s wild-card playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints, he dislocated his right shoulder after catching a 10-yard pass on the drive to the Seahawks’ first touchdown. But, after sitting out one series, Obomanu returned and caught a 12-yard pass on the first play of the next possession – which also resulted in a touchdown.
“That was a good job by the coordinator (Jeremy Bates) and Matt (Hasselbeck, the QB),” Obomanu said. “As soon as I came back in the huddle, Matt was like, ‘Are you ready?’ I said, ‘No problem. No problem.’ First play, a little square-out.
“That just gives you more confidence throughout the game.”
Today, Obomanu participated fully in practice as the Seahawks began preparing for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Bears in Chicago.
“I’m a guy who’s used to sucking it up and trying to come back and participate,” Obomanu said. “At the same time, it makes you that much better on game day, as well, if you can at least go out and run around. Nothing’s wrong with my legs, so you can come out and run the plays, run the routes. That helps come Sunday.”
But Obomanu did more than just run routes; he had several catches at the end of them.
Earlier this season, Obomanu needed 20-some stitches – internal as well as external – to close a laceration on his right hand. He sat out the next game, but was back to following week.
Did someone say Bionic? For Obomanu, a seventh-round draft choice in 2006, it’s more a case of not wanting to give up something he has worked so hard to achieve – a starting spot.
“That’s exactly it,” Obomanu said. “For being a seventh-round pick and having to go into training camp each year and not having that luxury of missing time because of a hamstring, or because of a finger, or because of a shoulder, this is my mentality.
“That’s what I’ve done my whole career – suck it up through injuries. Suck it up and just keep playing, keep fighting, keep working. So that same mentality still sticking with me now, because that’s what got me to this point.”
Head coach. If Pete Carroll needs an example of how to stay loose to show his team this week, he can cue up his news conference from today.
Carroll got the looseness rolling when he was asked about having any concerns that his team might be overconfident this week after beating the Bears in Chicago in October and then knocking off the defending Super Bowl champion Saints on Saturday.
“Oh man, no,” Carroll said, unable to contain a laugh. “Have you watched our season?”
That ignited more laughter, as Carroll added, “The last thing we’re going to be is overconfident. We need to be right and fundamentally sound and right on our game precisely. I don’t think being overconfident is going to happen. Not yet, anyway.”
Later, Carroll was asked what he said between series to Hasselbeck on Saturday, when the QB passed for a franchise playoff-record four touchdowns.
“ ‘Nice going.’ ‘Good throw.’ ‘Thata boy, Matt,’ ” Carroll said, setting off more laughter. “Really, without those pearls of wisdom that I gave him, I don’t think he ever could have finished like he did.”
In the middle of one of his answers, someone’s I-phone rang on the podium. “Should I answer it?” Carroll asked. Jokingly told that he should, Carroll did, offering, “Sorry. I’ll have to get back to you. I’m in a press conference.”
Playoff pressure? Apparently not.
Olin Kreutz. In a season where the Bears have been shuffling their offensive line, the former center for the University of Washington has been even more of a rock in the middle of the unit.
“Every coach should have an opportunity to coach and be around a guy like Olin Kreutz,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said of the six-time Pro Bowl center. “He’s the ultimate team leader – and I’m talking about offense, defense, special teams – by example that the guys see on a daily basis. He is the first guy in, the last guy to leave. Works as hard as anyone. Fiercely loyal. A team player.
“We could talk the rest of the day about what he does for us. And he’s a great football player – he knows how to get the job done.”
Smith will get no argument from Brian Urlacher, the Bears’ Pasco-born middle linebacker who was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl this season.
“He’s a beast, man,” Urlacher said. “Olin is one of the best and I get to play against the best every single day in practice. It makes me better. It makes our defense better. It’s fun because it’s competitive out there. He’s mouthy; we’re mouthy on the defense. So it’s a lot of fun.
“I’ve a lot of respect for Olin and it’s been that way since Day One that I got here.”
ON THE FIELD
The Seahawks worked for 90 minutes in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Why not practice outside, to get use to the conditions that await the Seahawks at Soldier Field on Sunday (a high of 20 degrees and partly cloudy)?
“The field is frozen now, so we can’t,” Carroll said.
So inside it was on “Competition Wednesday,” when good things came in pairs for linebacker Aaron Curry and free safety Earl Thomas. Curry broke up a pass and then got to running back behind the line of scrimmage on back-to-back plays, while Thomas intercepted two passes – also on consecutive plays.
The official report, as released by the team:
Did not practice
MLB Lofa Tatupu (head)
That was it for the Seahawks, and Carroll fully expects Tatupu to play Sunday. “So far, his tests and everything have gone very well,” Carroll said. “It looks very favorable for him to play in this game.”
For the Bears:
Did not practice
CB Charles Tillman (not injury related)
The Bears, who also practiced in their indoor facility today, are expected to be full strength Sunday.
STAT DU JOUR
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will be making his postseason debut Sunday. Since 2003, first-time starters in the playoffs are 5-19.
Cutler also is the first QB in franchise history to pass for 3,000 yards in back-to-back seasons – something, by comparison, that Hasselbeck did in four consecutive seasons (2002-05) and has done seven times overall.
“The fans – we have great fans, but they’re tough,” Cutler said of playing such a pivotal position for such a fabled franchise. “They’ve seen a lot of football. They know football and they’re going to criticize you whenever it’s justified. So it is different.
“The media market is really big and, in the past, it’s been a defensive-dominated town. We’re kind of in the mindset of turning things on offensively and getting a different group of guys in here. It’s been a fun ride, though.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“You can’t worry about that. At this point, they’re 1-0 in our minds. They beat a very very good Saints team. They’re playing good football and they’re doing what it takes to win in the playoffs. So we’ve got a challenge ahead.” – Cutler, when asked about playing a Seahawks team that still has a losing record (8-9)