A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Jan. 11:
Marcus Trufant. No one on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster has played in more postseason games (10) than the veteran nickel back. And no one grew up watching this team longer than the Tacoma-born Trufant, either.
So, as the team puts in its final preparations for Sunday’s divisional playoff game against the Falcons in Atlanta, who better to lead us through a trip down Postseasons Past?
We asked Trufant for his favorite team memory from the six playoff teams he has been on, and his selection was the obvious.
“The (NFC) Championship game we played during our Super Bowl run (in 2005) was pretty big,” he said of the 34-14 victory over the Panthers. “To be able to do it at home, be able to do it in front of the fans, it was a pretty good feeling.”
Especially for a player who followed the team as a kid growing up.
“It does kind of hit you like that,” Trufant said when asked if there was a moment in that game where it hit home that he had just helped his hometown team get to the Super Bowl. “But it’s just one of those things. It is football. And if you do right and your team is hitting on all cylinders, then the opportunity is there.”
Just as it for this season’s playoff team, which is one victory from a return to the NFC Championship game.
“For us now, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Trufant said. “We’ve just got to fight to be right. Try to do everything well and just try to practice hard and get better every day.”
We also asked Trufant for his favorite individual postseason memory, and his response was very telling for a player who has been a team-first, individual-accolades-a-distant-second warrior since the Seahawks selected the cornerback from Washington State University if the first round the 2003 NFL Draft.
“You know what? After a while a lot stuff just seems to run together,” said Trufant, who had a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown to ice a wild-card win over the Redskins in 2007.
“So I’m about being in the present. I’m just trying to help out the team to get another victory. We want to take it one step at a time and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
LONGWELL, CHUKWURAH READY
Kicker Ryan Longwell and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah just joined the team this week to replace the injured duo of Steven Hauschka and Chris Clemons. Coach Pete Carroll said after practice that both are ready for Sunday’s game.
“I thought Longwell did a good job,” Carroll said. “He hit his kicks and fit together nicely with (holder) Jon Ryan to get the timing down. … He’s a seasoned vet. He’s been through it. If anybody can handle it, he will be able to handle all the buildup to it.”
As for Chukwurah, who last played in an NFL game in 2007, Carroll said, “Pat did fine. He’s in a backup role for us. But he showed enough that he’s going to be dressing for the game.”
The official end-of-the-week status report, as issued by the team:
CB Byron Maxwell (hamstring)
S Jeron Johnson (hamstring)
RB Marshawn Lynch (foot)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
Lynch practiced on a limited basis today after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday to rest a sprained foot. “He’s fine. He’ll be alright,” Carroll said. Johnson also got his first work of the week, on a limited basis. Maxwell and Rice did not practice, but Rice is expected to be ready of the game after practicing fully on Wednesday and Thursday.
For the Falcons:
CB Christopher Owens (hamstring)
DE John Abraham (ankle)
S Charles Mitchell (calf)
S William Moore (hamstring)
CB Dunta Robinson (head)
Abraham, who leads the Falcons with 10 sacks, has been limited all week.
STAT DU JOUR
Last week, the Seahawks allowed the Redskins to drive 80 yards to a touchdown on their first possession, but managed to come back and win the game. That’s not advisable this week, because the Falcons have been almost unstoppable when they score a TD on their opening drive. Here’s a look at what the Falcons did on their opening drives during the regular season, and how that worked out for them:
Opponent, outcome First drive
Chiefs, W, 40-24 Touchdown
Broncos, W, 27-21 Touchdown
Chargers, W, 27-3 Touchdown
Panthers, W, 30-28 Punt
Redskins, W, 24-17 Punt
Raiders, W, 23-20 Interception
Eagles, W, 30-17 Touchdown
Cowboys, W, 19-13 Punt
Saints, L, 31-27 Touchdown
Cardinals, W, 23-19 Interception
Buccaneers, W, 24-23 Field goal
Saints, W, 23-13 Touchdown
Panthers, L, 30-20 Punt
Giants, W, 34-0 Touchdown
Lions, W, 31-18 Punt
Buccaneers, L, 22-17 Punt
In the games where they’ve scored TDs on their first possession, the Falcons are 6-1 and the wins came by an average of 17 points. In their other two losses, they opened with punts. In their other seven wins, when they opened with five punts, a field goal and an interception, the average margin of victory was five points.
“We just don’t want to get too caught up in that,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “We want to play the whole game fast and explosive, regardless of what happens the first series. So we know we’re going to have to make some adjustments as this game goes on. But the biggest thing is to keep our poise with the crowd noise and things like that – nothing that our guys haven’t come across before.”
The team flew to Atlanta following today’s practice and will hold its Saturday walkthrough there.
The winner of Sunday’s game will meet either the 49ers or Packers in the NFC Championship game next Sunday. The Packers and 49ers play in San Francisco on Saturday night.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The big thing is having the corners that allow us to be aggressive. But the other thing is having a guy that can play the middle third that cover from redline to redline. You really need those three components.” – Bradley in discussing the virtues of cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas in matching up against the Falcons’ trio of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez