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Welcome to CenturyLink Field

10/14/2012
Mike Reiss/ESPNBoston.com

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Welcome to CenturyLink Field, where the Patriots visit the Seahawks today (CBS, 4:05 p.m. ET).

Weather conditions. The current temperature is 59 degrees, and it is expected to rise into the low 60s by kickoff with a light rain turning to more consistent showers by kickoff, according to Weather.com. Winds of around 17 miles per hour are in the forecast, so between the rain and wind, the elements could play a factor in the game.

A feel for CenturyLink. This is one of the more unique stadiums in the NFL. It is an open stadium over the field, but most of the seats are covered. With rain so prevalent in the region, this set-up keeps most spectators dry and also contributes to a noisy environment because the sound reverberates off the covered parts of the field. A hawk-tail shaped area in the end zone, called the “Hawks Nest”, contributes to the Seahawk-themed feel. There are scoreboards in each corner of the field -- one charts offensive statistics (first downs, passing yards, rushing yards), the other defensive statistics (sacks, tackles for loss, three-and-outs, takeaways). In one area, the words “Home of the 12th Man” are written, which is a measure of pride for the locals here, as this is widely viewed as one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums.

Field in good condition. The playing surface is FieldTurf. Thus, Saturday’s Southern Cal-Washington game had little affect on the field conditions. On the field, a large Seahawks logo extends from the 45-yard line to the other 45-yard line. Pink ribbons for the NFL’s “Breast Cancer Awareness” campaign are seen at each 25-yard line and the padding on the goal posts is pink.

Three more inactives. The Patriots already have ruled safety Steve Gregory (hip), receiver Julian Edelman (hand), linebackers Tracy White (foot) and Dont’a Hightower (hamstring) out for the game. They will declare three more inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff. With Gregory out, rookie Tavon Wilson is likely to get the start at safety for the second straight week. With both Hightower and White out, and with Dane Fletcher having been placed on injured reserve in the preseason, the Patriots are down to their fourth option at strongside linebacker. It could lead to Rob Ninkovich moving back from end to linebacker.

Hernandez expected to play. Tight end Aaron Hernandez has made the trip, which puts him in position to play. Hernandez has been out since injuring his ankle Sept. 16 against the Cardinals. The question now is how much of a load Hernandez might be able to handle. The Patriots could have four tight ends active, giving them added depth at the key position in their attack.

Let’s talk Seattle history. Visiting a new stadium always provides a feel for a team’s history, and the Seahawks’ “Ring of Fame” brings back some memories -- Cortez Kennedy (1990-2000), Pete Gross (1976-1992), Dave Brown (1976-1986), Jim Zorn (1976-1984), Steve Largent (1976-1989), Jacob Green (1980-1991), Curt Warner (1983-89), Kenny Easley (1981-87), Dave Krieg (1980-1991) and Chuck Knox (1983-1991). There were a few Krieg-to-Largent connections back in this reporter’s elementary-school days. The Seahawks are honoring Kennedy today, as it is “Cortez Kennedy Day” in the city.

Blakeman gets the call. Clete Blakeman gets the call as referee for today’s game. One area to watch when it comes to officiating is the physicality of the Seahawks’ defensive backs. This is an area of concern for the Patriots, who are expecting physical play from cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. How closely will the officials call this is the question from the Patriots' perspective.