SEATTLE -- Energy exudes throughout the Seattle Seahawks' practice facility. A glass case holding the team's 2013 Super Bowl rings greets you in the lobby. Loud rap music later blares in the locker room. General manager John Schneider -- unlike his former boss, Ted Thompson -- bounds off the field as if ready to take a Student Body Sweep Right himself.
And, of course, at the podium is Richard Sherman. In pure form.
Through the NFL's obsessive embrace of fantasy football-driven, patty-cake defense, Sherman would seem to be Culprit No. 1. The league is cracking down on illegal contact.
Seattle, Sherman said, plays within the rules and always has.
"We're happy the emphasis is there," Sherman said, "because it'll give people less excuses."
And does it affect his style?
With that, he snaps his head to a new question. This is the player who has become the emblem of Seattle's rise. The swagger starts with Sherman, the trash-talking Stanford grad fresh off a four-year, $56 million contract extension. When the Green Bay Packers enter CenturyLink Field on Thursday, he'll cast the most intimidating shadow.
From riding that new fine line in coverage to a looming "chess match" with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Sherman is central to Seattle's unparalleled bravado.
"He's had his best camp, his best off-season work. Clearly," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's so disciplined about what he's doing. His attitude has been perfect. He hasn't missed a minute of practice. He's done everything, taken all the reps, done everything we've asked him to do.
"I think he's been his most focused. He's been on it the whole time."
On Monday, Sherman called the practice field a personal "sanctuary." This off-season capped a rise to celebrity status -- he checked all the necessary boxes. A new deal. A high-profile Twitter feud (with Arizona's Patrick Peterson). A Madden cover shot. Back to the field, to practice, he said you can "free your mind of all the distractions" and improve.
He's forced to be near-perfect because opportunities on game day are so fleeting.
It can get lonely for Sherman. Lining up at left cornerback for 15 of 16 games last year, Sherman often was treated like Barry Bonds at the plate. Quarterbacks simply walked him, choosing to test other cornerbacks. And blanketing his deep third of the field, the 6-foot-3 Sherman still managed eight interceptions and 16 pass breakups in 2013.
So he has a message to all quarterbacks. Don't leave him hanging.
"I hope I get a lot of action," Sherman said. "Hopefully, teams come at me all the time. It's fun. It makes the game very fun for both teams. I don't expect any of that, though."
Thus, the Richard Sherman-Jordy Nelson duels may be sporadic, if existent at all. Green Bay used Jarrett Boykin on its right side (Sherman's left) most of last season. Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn does expect to see Sherman on Nelson at times because, he said, the Packers "move him around a lot."
Quinn did call this summer one of the best "technical times" Sherman has had since Seattle drafted him in 2011. When opportunities are sparse -- and they probably will be Thursday night -- Sherman must know when to strike.
"Staying on it, every day, locking out," Quinn said. "You have to stay really disciplined to do that down after down because the one time you 'Ah, I'll just take a shot here,' that's when the bad one happens. So he's been disciplined this training camp."
The last time the Seahawks faced a prolific, no-huddle offense, they embarrassed the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning, 43-8, in the Super Bowl. Afterward, Sherman revealed that players were able to jump routes by deciphering Manning's pre-snap hand signals.
In that chess match, Sherman shredded the chessboard before Manning even touched a pawn. This one? In the deafening decibel levels that await, Rodgers will rely on some type of non-verbal (and non-everything) attack.
Sherman also notes that these are two different quarterbacks.
"It's dissimilar because the offenses they run are a little different," Sherman said. "Obviously, they both get the ball out quickly. I think Aaron is more dynamic in his movement and being able to get out the pocket and be able to step up or step through, and create more time for his receivers to get open.
"Peyton," Sherman continues, snapping his fingers, "makes his decisions and he's going. He takes his hitches and he's getting the ball out. He's not going to scramble and try to create more time. So I think they're different in that respect."
Bank on Sherman, right cornerback Byron Maxwell and nickel cornerback Jeremy Lane staying aggressive.
In one Monday sequence, Carroll praised his players for consciously adjusting to the league's points of emphasis, for taking it "right to heart." And moments later, there was Sherman saying, "We didn't change anything. We were playing by the rules before, and we continue to play by the rules."
Either way, officials will be watching. Rodgers jokingly told Ed Hochuli's crew early this summer in Green Bay that they'll need them Week 1.
Two years ago, the Seahawks cornerbacks bullied Green Bay's receivers in the first half. They tested the 5-yard limit Hochuli vowed this summer officials would crack down on.
Don't expect any attitude adjustment here.
Cliff Avril's eyes scowl in semi-disgust. No, the Seahawks won't need to tone anything down.
"They made these new rules to slow us down and guys have adapted and gotten even better," the defensive end said. "I don't think it'll slow us down one bit. You want to be aggressive. You want to make the plays you're supposed to make.
"Hit the people you're supposed to hit as hard as you can."
Again, Sherman will be the one leading the movement.
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