JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Flailing arms. Balled fists. Furious forearms.
They’re all part of the playbook on “Turnover Thursday” for the Seattle Seahawks.
Richard Sherman and the defense do anything they can to knock the ball out of the hands of their counterparts on offense. Russell Wilson and the offense do all they can to keep itthe ball.
“It’s intense,” Sherman said Thursday. “We go really hard at practice.”
It’s an approach that has worked well for Pete Carroll’s team this season.
Seattle’s stingy defense led the NFL with 39 takeaways, a fact the Broncos are well aware of.
“Our guys are going to have to be ready for that,” Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. “They know that we’re in for that physical type of battle. The hardest thing is when you do get that hit, you’ve got do everything you can to hold onto that ball and try to convert that play.”
The Seahawks were tops in the league with 28 interceptions. “It does work,” defensive end Red Bryant said of the Thursday practices. “It’s a reflection of our record. Coach Carroll from Day 1, his philosophy is all about the ball.
“He stresses to the offense to protect, and he stresses to the defensive to take the ball. On defensive in particular ... we’ve got an opportunity to affect the game by taking the ball, and we really believe in that.
“That’s part of the biggest reason we we’re able to win 15 games this year.”
As far as most players could recall, the defense has won all but one of the “Turnover Thursday” sessions this season. The competition is over as soon as the offense turns the ball over – just once.
Defensive end Cliff Avril senses that the offense isn’t a big fan of “Turnover Thursday” because of the defense’s intensity every week.
“The guys we have on our team, they pride themselves on getting turnovers,” Avril said. “So it’s us kind of imposing our will in a sense.”
Wednesdays around Seahawks camp are “Competition Wednesdays,” game-like sessions in which the team runs a live scrimmage that includes a play clock and simulates pressure-packed scenarios.
Each period of practice is scored, with each play going in favor of the offense or defense. So, whichever side wins the bulk of those periods comes out on top.
Seattle’s offense is first in the NFL with a plus-20 turnover differential.
“To think about that and how hard we play all the time,” Wilson said, “it makes a difference.”
So, if the Seahawks have names for the practices on Wednesdays and Thursdays, what about Fridays?
“It’s called ‘No-Repeat Fridays,’” Avril said. “That means you have to be on your P’s and Q’s. You can’t repeat plays. Guys have to be on point as far as the mental part of the game, because, at that point (in the week), it’s more mental than physical.”
And, what do the Seahawks call Sundays?
“‘Game Day’ or ‘Win Day,’” Avril said, laughing. “We try to win the game. I don’t know. It’s just ‘Game Day,’ I guess.”