RENTON – Last week, the Seattle Seahawks stepped out in neon green jerseys. This week’s style statement is more a matter of creative accessorizing.
When the Seahawks take the field Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, every defender will be wearing a wristband bearing codes for alignments and plays.
Fans frequently see quarterbacks wearing such cheat-sheets on their forearms. But the entire defense?
It’s just one of the ways the Hawks are trying to search for any possible edge against Peyton Manning, the Colts’ wizard of a quarterback.
“Peyton Manning presents unique problems in that he is so intelligent, and he accumulates so much knowledge through the game, the less we communicate verbally as a defense, the fewer clues we give him as to what we’re doing,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said.
Typically, coaches call in the signals to middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu over the helmet transmitter. Tatupu then relays the signals to the rest of the team.
“Peyton is a guy who will hear that and he’ll pick up on it,” Mora said. “We don’t want to give him a pre-snap read, and we certainly don’t want to tell him, ‘Hey, Peyton, we’re going to play this coverage.’ We’re going to try to be silent and nonverbal in our communication.”
So, you’ll see even the defensive linemen consulting their wristbands between plays. Mora said it won’t cause them to limit their scheme.
“We’re able to carry our full complement of calls,” he said. “We had to create a communication system between coaches and players.”
Mora said he’s tried similar tactics in the past, but never to this degree.
“We’re pretty extensive, but we need to be with the guy we play against,” he said. “He’s one of those guys where nothing gets by him. Nothing.”
Although the communication will be altered, Mora stressed that it’s unwise to get too cute against Manning. In his 12 seasons (with nine Pro Bowl trips), Manning has seen every defensive approach, and had success against them all.
“You’ve got to be careful how much of a guessing game you get into with this guy,” Mora said. “If you guess wrong, he’s very, very good at making you pay for it.”
One positive health development is important for the Hawks’ chances against Manning and the Colts: Tatupu practiced extensively Friday and should be ready to start Sunday.
“It’s helpful to have Lofa in there,” said Mora of the veteran linebacker who missed last week’s game against Chicago. “He’s kind of the axis of communication for our defense and gives our players a comfort level in front of him and also behind him.”
In addition to Tatupu’s reappearance, Friday’s practice encouraged Mora as left guard Rob Sims (oblique) and left tackle Brandon Frye (groin) saw action and should be good to go.
Cornerback Josh Wilson (ankle) and fullback Justin Griffith (knee) are officially listed as questionable, but Mora called them doubtful.
For the Colts, stellar safety Bob Sanders is listed as out, and disruptive defensive end Dwight Freeney is questionable with a quadriceps injury.
Rookie QB has hands full
Rookie quarterback Mike Teel had a busy week, cranking up his preparation level as backup to starter Seneca Wallace while also trying to do his best imitation of Manning as scout team quarterback.
With starter Matt Hasselbeck out, the rookie is only one play from having to take the field in what could be a raucous Lucas Oil Stadium.
“He did an excellent job of giving our defense a look,” Mora said of Teel’s Manning impersonation. “Certainly, no one is like Peyton, but combine that with the fact that he has to be ready to play in his own right because he’s our backup quarterback … I think he’s shown a real level of maturity in how he’s handled this.”
Pink with a purpose
Across the NFL, teams will show bits of pink in their gear to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The cause is specifically important to Mora. “It’s all to raise awareness of breast cancer, which I’m all for,” Mora said. “My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so I think it’s a great gesture the NFL does.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440