Practice-squaders ignored but vital at Super Bowl
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) They don’t get much attention, this week or any other.
Yet they’re a vital part of a team’s preparation.
They are the practice squad.
The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos each brought along eight extra players for Super Bowl week, but none will be allowed to suit up Sunday. Their main duty is to work on the scout team in practice, attempting to give the starters an idea of what they’ll face from the opposing team.
Yep, their satisfaction comes from how well they impersonate others.
”If (the Seattle defenders) go out and do a good job, I’ll feel pretty good about myself,” said Arceto Clark, a rookie receiver on the Seahawks’ practice squad.
During media appearances this week, the practice squad guys drew little attention, usually standing off in a corner by themselves while everyone crowded around stars such as Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman.
But their teammates sure appreciate what they bring.
Especially Seahawks receiver Bryan Walters, a former practice-squader who got promoted to the 53-man roster during the season.
”They are as much a part of this as we are,” Walters said. ”They do everything we do.”
WHEN THIS BOAT’S A-ROCKIN’: The Denver Broncos might’ve been a little seasick during their final media appearance before the big game.
The Broncos are staying at a Jersey City hotel that juts into the Hudson River, and their sessions with reporters took place on a luxury yacht anchored next to their rooms.
On Thursday, that big boat was rockin’ pretty good.
”My stomach is not too good on stuff like that,” defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. ”I’m trying to be mentally tough right now, but it’s bothering me a little bit.”
He didn’t expect to need his sea legs at the Super Bowl, and some of his teammates were more vocal in their complaints – especially those who can’t swim. The whole experience was a little disconcerting for them.
At least Knighton can swim, and the 335-pound lineman made it clear he’d be saving himself – and quickly – if there was any need to abandon ship.
”I’ve never been on a boat before. So it’s cool,” he said. ”But I think there’s better ways they can do it.”
YOUTH MOVEMENT: The Super Bowl halftime show keeps getting younger and younger.
Twenty-eight-year-old Bruno Mars is the most youthful performer to headline the show since New Kids on the Block in 1991, and keeps up a definite change in the NFL’s booking philosophy.
After Janet Jackson’s wardrobe debacle, the league went with one geriatric performer after another, including Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, finally culminating with a much-ridiculed performance by The Who at the 2010 title game in South Florida.
But Beyonce put on a dazzling show last year in New Orleans, and Mars landed the coveted gig at MetLife Stadium even though he still considers himself an emerging artist.
”I couldn’t believe it,” he said of getting the call from the NFL. ”We were like, `Man, I hope one day we get the call to do that.’ It definitely came soon. We’re honored. Some greats have been on that stage. We’re just excited that we’re getting this shot.”
TECHNOLOGY AWARD: Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka will have a unique keepsake from his Super Bowl experience.
He’s been walking around at media appearances and in his free time with a camera attached to the bill of his cap, facing outward and recording everything he sees from just above eye level.
When he gets back home, a friend plans to edit all the footage into a video of Hauschka’s time in New York and New Jersey.
”This is just for my own records,” Hauschka said. ”It’s pretty cool. It’s got sweet HD footage.”
PROMISING FORECAST: Each day brings a Super Bowl forecast that looks more promising than the last.
It now appears the temperature could climb near 50 degrees on Sunday, though it will certainly be colder when the game kicks off in the early evening.
Still, the expected low – now projected at 29 – is much better than anyone could’ve hoped for after such a frigid winter. And the chance of precipitation continues to be virtually nil.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org