Wednesday in Hawkville: Getting a handle on playoff-mania

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 2:

Pete Carroll

FOCUS ON

Keeping the playoffs from becoming THE PLAYOFFS!!! The Seahawks began practicing today for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the Redskins at FedExField. But part of their preparation will involve embracing being in the postseason, without allowing that fact to distract from their preparation.

“It’s a fine line,” said veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant, one of the 19 players on the 53-man roster with playoff experience and the one with the most (nine games). “I don’t think you want to make the task bigger or greater than it is. We’ve got to play our way of ball and try to do a lot of the same stuff we’ve actually been doing in playing well these last few weeks.

“So I think we focus on us. We focus on our ball.”

It’s something coach Pete Carroll already has addressed with the team.

“This is really an exciting time for us,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard to get here. As we look forward to representing this season in the NFL playoffs, which is really a cool thing to be a part of, guys are really looking up for it.

“We have a young bunch of guys that haven’t been in the playoffs before. All the natural questions are: ‘Hey, what are you going to do?’ ‘What’s this mean to you?’ We have talked all year, and for a couple of years now, about every game is a championship game. And you play it like that. And you approach it like that. So that when it comes time, the mentality and the conversation and the language and the focus and the intensity has already been at hand. So we’ll see what happens.

“I’m anxious to see how we put it together.”

Then there are those players who never have been to the postseason, which includes 64 percent of the 53-man roster.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t even know. I’m not too excited to be in (the playoffs),” second-year cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It’s just another ball game, another week to play the game – play a disciplined football game. Then if you win, you play another week of disciplined football. And then if you win, you play another week of disciplined football. The game doesn’t change.”

A BRISK PRACTICE

The players practiced outside, which provided a good tune-up for the conditions they can expect on game day. It was 44 degrees along Lake Washington this afternoon, and the forecast is calling for 44-degree weather at FedExField on Sunday.

OPPONENT WATCH

London Fletcher. The Redskins’ inside linebacker is 37, in his 15th NFL season and has spent the second half of the season playing on a sore ankle. But you’d never know any of this by the way he’s playing. Fletcher leads the Redskins with 139 tackles, and had a nine-tackle, two-sack effort in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys that clinched the NFC East title.

“He’s a true pro,” is the way Redskins coach Mike Shanahan put it today during a conference-call interview. “His preparation, what he does in the offseason, what type of shape he’s in, how hard he studies. He gets ready for each game like it’s the Super Bowl. That’s how much time he spends watching film, taking care of himself. And that’s why he’s lasted as long as he has.”

WAGNER TABBED FOR ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

Mel Kiper Jr. has selected his NFL All-Rookie team, and the ESPN Draft analyst picks the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner as one of his inside linebackers.

Says Kiper: “A really good get at a draft spot where at the time I thought Seattle could have gotten even more value, Wagner led one of the NFL’s best defenses in total tackles with 140 and should be a fixture for years to come. With him and second-year man K.J. Wright in place at linebacker, the Seahawks are set for the foreseeable future. Dont’a Hightower was a close third here (behind Luke Kuechly and Wagner).”

Kiper went with the Colts’ Andrew Luck at quarterback, over the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and Redskins’ Robert Griffin III. But Kiper does include them in the discussion: “This could have gone to either Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson, and it wouldn’t offend most close observers. But if it offends you, before you leap to the comments to have your say, let me make my case for Luck. The rookie record for passing yardage (4,374 yards) is nice, as is that he ran for five touchdowns to go with 23 touchdown passes. But he gets the most juice here because no team in history has had this kind of a turnaround after drafting at No. 1, and Luck was the greatest reason the Colts turned it around. Folks around the NFL will tell you the same thing. … RG III was exceptional, too, but loses slight ground because he has a better supporting cast (Washington beat the Giants twice in 2011) and didn’t play in one of the huge wins of the season, when Kirk Cousins led the team to a win in Cleveland, which kept Washington’s playoff hopes alive. Wilson has been exceptional, but the defense carried the Seahawks early in the season as he got comfortable. Luck wins here based on his body of work over the course of the season, which spearheaded Indy’s stunning turnaround. But they’re all great.”

INJURY REPORT

The official report, as issued by the team:

Limited in practice

RB Marshawn Lynch (back)

We didn’t omit a category here. This is the extent of the Seahawks’ injury list. As Carroll said, “We are very fortunate right now. We’re in very good shape right now.” Linebacker Leroy Hill, who has missed three of the past five games with ankle and hamstring injuries, was back and split time with Malcolm Smith.

For the Redskins:

Did not practice

QB Kirk Cousins (illness)

LB London Fletcher (ankle)

CB Dominique Johnson (knee)

OG Kory Lichtensteiger (ankle)

Limited in practice

S DeJon Gomes (knee)

Full participation

LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder)

DE Stephen Bowen (biceps)

WR Pierre Garcon (foot)

QB Robert Griffin III (knee)

CB DeAngelo Hall (elbow)

LB Ryan Kerrigan (ankle)

C Will Montgomery (knee)

WR Josh Morgan (hand, foot)

S Jordan Pugh (ankle)

P Saverio Rocca (right knee)

S Madieu Williams (elbow)

STAT DU JOUR

The Redskins’ Alfred Morris and Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch finished 2-3 in the league in rushing behind the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson. In fact, Morris’ 200-yard effort against the Cowboys on Sunday night pushed the rookie past Lynch. Here’s a statistical comparison of the two:

Category                                           Morris      Lynch

Rushing Yards                                   1,613       1,590

Rushing attempts                                335          315

Average                                                  4.8           5.0

Long run                                                  39            77

Rushing touchdowns                             13           11

100-yard games                                        7           10

Consecutive 100-yard games                 3             4

Most yards in a game                          200         128

Receptions                                                11           23

Receiving yards                                        77         193

Total yards                                           1,690     1,786

Totals touchdowns                                  13           12

First downs                                                86           79

UP NEXT

“Competition Wednesday” gives way to “Turnover Thursday” as the players continue to practice for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game.

And speaking of turnovers, the Seahawks were plus-13 in turnover differential, which tied for fifth in the league; while the Redskins committed 14 turnovers, fewest in the league and also a club record, to finish third in the NFL at plus-17.

Sherman got a jump on “Turnover Thursday” by intercepting two passes during today’s practice, while Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas added a third.

YOU DON’T SAY

“That’s ancient history. Just a part of Seahawks history. If you focus on things in past, sometimes you let things slip in the present.” – Trufant, when asked about his 78-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 2007 wild-card victory over the Redskins in Seattle


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