Playing through bone spurs in both ankles -- and after a fiery pregame speech that was the first one of his career (more on that later today) -- Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor is the NFC defensive player of the week.
The league made that announcement this morning.
Chancellor seems renewed, invigorated and more like his usual, thudding self in the middle of Seattle's defense since the two games off he took earlier this month to calm down those bone spurs and heal a strained groin. That and Bobby Wagner's return at middle linebacker were two main reasons the Seahawks held Arizona to its season lows in points and yards (204) in Seattle's 19-3 win three days ago.
With only those three days between the win over Arizona and the Thursday-night showdown at San Francisco -- and in the name of late-season preservation -- the Seahawks aren't even having a full practice this week. They had walk-through drills inside on Monday and Tuesday. They will have one more of those this afternoon before they leave for San Jose, Calif., this afternoon.
That's not a ton of time for scheming on the field. That's plenty of time for scheming in the mind, though.
Russell Wilson talked yesterday about how he is emphasizing "the idea of visualization, and using that as much as you can" this short week.
“Visualizing started when I was a really young kid," Wilson said. "My dad used to always talk about Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, and Allen Iverson—those guys—and Kobe Bryant, where they used to always talk about visualizing success—visualizing making the jump shot or getting a base hit or making that throw. For me, I used to train myself to do that at a really young age. I have utilized that throughout my entire career, college, high school, and in the National Football League.”
I asked him if he not only visualizes success, but failure -- at least, say, five 49ers breaking free through what's been a porous offensive line and chasing him around Levi's Stadium in another Wilson scramble-fest Thursday night.
“I don’t ever visualize negative things happening—I always visualize success. Always visualizing things going right. Now if you’re asking me if I visualizing things breaking down and where I go from there, yeah I do that, too. It ends up being a successful play," he said, smiling. "You have to train yourself in that way. You have to have a Plan A and Plan B is the escape plan… that way you’re prepared for any situation.
“When it comes to visualizing escape plans, it’s much tougher to do before the game; it’s more so getting those practice reps, going back to what does well, and learning from the bad things, too, if you’ve ever had any. A lot of the escape planning is coming down to reacting—reacting to the play, reacting to situation, and how the receivers react, as well.”
He also made the point of how huge communication along the offensive line is. That's a responsibility Wilson has taken on more in the two games since center Max Unger got hurt again.
That and more are here:
QB Russell Wilson
November 25, 2014
(On playing San Francisco…) “I think the common characteristic is the physical nature of the game—the type of players you have on both sides of the football, on offense and defense, and how well we are coached. It is a physical game and it will usually come down to the wire.”
(On playing on a short week…) “I am excited about the short week. It is a great time to emphasize the idea of visualization, and using that as much as you can and capitalizing on those moments. You have to have quality reps, that is for sure, and we’re excited about that.”
(On his relationship with Colin Kaepernick…) “I haven’t had the chance to get know Colin that much. He is a great guy, a very, very smart player and a very, very smart person as well. I haven’t really gotten to know him that much because he is very busy, as am I. I am looking forward to playing the 49ers and he is a great quarterback.”
(On where to improve with the O line…) “I think the biggest thing to do is communicate. It’s going to be a loud stadium—we are playing in Levi’s Stadium, which is a new stadium for us. We are excited to go there and see what that is like.”
(On San Francisco’s front four…) “[The 49ers] have some of the best front four guys in the NFL. They use those guys to get pressure on the quarterback. We are going to have to be prepared to block them up and we will have to do a great job of staying on our feet and making things happen down the field. Arizona brings a lot more pressure in terms of different looks and all that, but the 49ers are at the top of the league for what they do so well. They do a great job doing it.”
(On San Francisco’s defense without Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman…) “When you take Willis and Bowman out—you think of the star-studded players they are, I have so much respect for them—you think about how talented those guys are, how physical those guys are, and the difference they make on the football field, but they do a great job of bringing guys in. You think of Chris Borland—a guy that I played with—a guy a lot of guys said that he’s too short, too, but he can make a lot of plays. You see it on film; he is getting to the quarterback, he is racking up those tackles and making plays. He is a star player, as well.”
(On teams preparing for him to run…) “Yeah, I definitely think teams pay attention to me running the football. It is a factor. I also think teams know that I am not necessarily trying to run myself. It is one of those things that we’re really trying to hand off the ball to Marshawn Lynch 100 percent of the time, and that little .01 percent that I try to take it.”
(On how to be successful against San Francisco…) “In every game, every rep you get, every possession you have is huge. In a game like this, a championship-style game—I always say every game is a championship game—but when you’re playing a team like this, the 49ers are so talented on the defensive side of the ball, you have to be smart with the football. You have to put it high and tight and you have to tuck the ball away in all those situations. I think we want to win the turnover battle for sure—that’s a big part of the success of our football team.”
(On looking back at the NFC Championship Game…) “You try not look back, but obviously the 4th and 7 play and Jermaine Kearse scoring a touchdown, that’s arguably the biggest play in Seahawks history, if you really think about it. You don’t look back, you don’t really look back. There’s going to be a lot of plays that could be the next best play. That’s what we are looking forward to—we are looking to making the consistent plays, looking forward to staying on schedule, and capitalizing when you need to capitalize. When the game is on the line, making those game-altering plays and winning the game.”
(On playing on Thanksgiving…) “No, I haven’t played on Thanksgiving before. I am looking forward to this. It will be a lot of fun. Hopefully I can make my mom and dad upstairs proud, my brother and my little sister, my grandma and everyone who is watching proud at home. I know I wish I was eating a turkey sandwich after the game [with] a little mayonnaise on it, but I am just grateful to be the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. To have this honor with the guys in this locker room—to play with the star-studded players we have—with the fans we have, the coaches we have, it is a tremendous honor.”
(On Thanksgiving traditions growing up…) “My Thanksgiving was probably playing in the snow and eating tons of food, tons of mac and cheese, and taking a nap at some point and watching the late night game. Luckily I will be playing in the late night game that night.”
(On what the offense brings…) “I think that we are so versatile—we want to get the ball out quick and we want to hand the ball out to Marshawn and we want to capitalize on our runs. If it is open downfield we will take it, but we are not forcing anything. We have tremendous receivers that have a lot of speed and can make a lot of plays, so we have to get the ball in those guys’ hands. We just have to facilitate the ball to the right player at the right time.”
(On Tony Moeaki…) “Moeaki man, that’s a tremendous football player. He knows what to do, he runs tremendous routes, he has a great feel for the game, get his in and out of his routes at the right time, he has unbelievable hands—his adjustment to us is pretty spectacular to see in terms of how quickly he has made a difference. We are excited to have him on our team and to see all the plays he makes. I think all of the tight ends have done a great job to step up for Zach Miller, a guy who is so consistent and so fundamental, you miss him out on the field. But to have a guy like Luke Willson to step up this year, to have Cooper Helfet make a lot of plays, and Tony Moeaki just get here and show out, it’s exciting to see. We just have to keep going, keep growing, and see how far we can take it.”
(On the key of communicating with the line…) “I think we just need to make sure our language is always right. I am always passing down to line saying what we need to do, so it is very clear and there is no doubt of what we are trying to do.”
(On Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre…) “I think Lewis and Jeanpierre have done a tremendous job for us, and they have done a great job stepping up for us. They are going to continue to make plays and that’s what we have to do.
“Thank you guys. Go Hawks. Happy Thanksgiving.”