HONOLULU – Hawkville has moved to Paradise this week, as the Seahawks have six players preparing to participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium. Today was ’Ohana Day at the stadium. ’Ohana? It means family in Hawaiian, in an extended sense of the term. And today’s practices were open to the public:
Marshawn Lynch. So, how is the Seahawks’ Beast Mode running back enjoying his third Pro Bowl experience?
“It’s great,” Lynch said at the conclusion of the NFC practice at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Thursday. “Except for the media.”
That was typical, as Lynch would rather let his actions speak for him. And during the 2012 season, he was downright boisterous while producing career-high totals in rushing yards (1,590), average per carry (5.0) and 100-yard rushing games (10).
While he has shied away from interviews this week, Lynch has displayed just the right mix of sass and wit, as well as charisma, while dealing with his teammates and the fans.
Now that those defenders in the NFC are his teammates rather than opponents who are trying to tackle a back who does everything in his considerable power to prevent that from happening, that is.
“He’s a great running back, so it’s a good feeling when you get him down obviously,” Ndamukong Suh, the Lions’ defensive tackle, said after today’s practice. “He’s one of those guys who just runs the ball really hard.
“He’s a rare breed of a back. He’s compact, and strong, and fast. At the same time. He can beat you on the edge. He can beat you up the middle. He’s a great combination of everything you’d want in a running back.”
When asked what it was like to try and tackle Lynch, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman offered, “It’s hard, because he’s a very powerful running back. He’s very strong. So it’s doable, but it’s hard.”
Lynch did agree to do one interview after practice today – with the Cartoon Network.
“It’s great to get a chance to meet everybody, because you play against so many of them during the season,” Lynch said. “So now is a time to kick back and enjoy the festivities and meet all the players.”
And Lynch’s favorite Cartoon Network character? “I used to watch Johnny Bravo,” he said.
A RAINBOW BACKDROP
Aloha Stadium is the home field for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, and today several thousand fans were wearing a rainbow of NFL jerseys. A quick scan detected the colors of more than two dozen NFL teams – and the Seahawks were among those teams with the most fans.
It comes with growing up in The Islands. Just ask Seahawks center Max Unger, who grew up on the Big Island.
“There’s no pro team in Hawaii, so you just kind of pick one,” Unger said before today’s practice, explaining that his uncle has been a lifelong Vikings fan. “Then you’re a big fan of that team. So when you look in the crowd, you’ve probably got every team in the league represented here in a very small group. So it’s pretty cool.”
Not to mention colorful.
WILSON TO … MONIZ?
Following the NFC practice, Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson aired it out to some fans who had been selected for a “Play Catch with a Quarterback Experience.” Among them was James Moniz, who made a juggling catch of a deep ball from Wilson.
“I made one catch, dropped three,” Moniz said with a laugh as he was trying to catch his breath. “I thought we were just going to play catch, and he’s got us running deep routes.”
That’s Wilson. But that’s also why Moniz has become a fan of the QB, despite being a fan of the Dolphins.
“Russell Wilson is awesome,” Moniz said. “I have lots of friends from Wisconsin who are Badgers. So we’ve been cheering for him the last couple of years.”
LET’S GET MORE PHYSICAL
The message has been delivered by the league and received by the players: The effort level in tomorrow’s game must increase if the Pro Bowl is to continue.
“I plan on playing,” Seahawks kick returner Leon Washington said. “I plan on coming out here and having fun. But have respect for the game and play this game hard. We’re trying to win this game – NFC, and let’s beat this AFC team.”
Is that possible when Priority One remains not getting injured, or injuring anyone else?
“Hopefully guys take care of each other, but at the same time play hard,” Washington said.
How fine is that line? “You treat it like a thud practice,” Washington said. “You go hard. But I talked to one of the Green Bay coaches (who are coaching the NFC squad). For instance, say if you’re tackling a guy and you know you can have him in a vulnerable position. OK, tackle him. But other than that, between the plays, play full speed, play hard and go out there and protect yourself.”
STAT DU JOUR
Champ Bailey is at his 12th Pro Bowl, which has allowed the Broncos’ cornerback to climb to the top of a very impressive list. Here are the players who have been voted to double-digit Pro Bowls since 1971:
Player Pro Bowls
OG Randall McDaniel 12
OG Will Shields 12
CB Champ Bailey 12
QB Peyton Manning 11
DE Reggie White 11
TE Tony Gonzalez 11
LB Junior Seau 11
CB/S Rod Woodson 11
LB Lawrence Taylor 10
S Ronnie Lott 10
LB Mike Singletary 10
OL Bruce Matthews 10
WR Jerry Rice 10
LB Ray Lewis 10
Where’s Walter? Left tackle Walter Jones holds the Seahawks’ franchise record with nine Pro Bowl berths. Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy is next with eight, while Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent is next with seven.
STAT DU JOUR, PART DEUX
Since the NFL moved the Pro Bowl to the Sunday before the Super Bowl in 2010, an average of 29 players who were voted the game have not participated in the past four Pro Bowls. In 2009, when the Pro Bowl was played the Sunday after the Super Bowl, 11 players decided not to participate.
This year, there are 31 players not participating – 15 from the 49ers (nine) and Ravens (six), who will play in the Super Bowl next Sunday; and 16 others, including all three quarterbacks who were voted to the NFC squad.
These nuggets were gleaned from … The Wall Street Journal.
The game, of course. That’s what this week is all about. Kickoff on Sunday is set for 2 p.m. here, or 4 p.m. in Seattle.
YOU DON’T SAY, SEAHAWKS EDITION
“It wasn’t too far out there for me. Probably for a lot of other people. But I always believe in myself and I always believe in my talent.” – Russell when asked if it was “too far out there” to imagine that he would conclude his rookie season by playing in the Pro Bowl
YOU DON’T SAY, NFC EDITION
“We as players feel like we owe it to our fans to play better than we did last year. It’s an honor and it’s a privilege to be here. I don’t want to be a part of taking this honor and this privilege away from the future Pro Bowlers. I don’t want that to happen on my watch.” – Tillman