Monday, January 27, 2014
Kam Chancellor is the quiet enforcer
By Terry Blount
Kam Chancellor is looking forward to the challenge of facing Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
NEW YORK -- Regardless of what happens in the Super Bowl, you won't see Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor go on national TV and angrily scream into the camera.
That's not the style of this quiet man who tends to avoid bringing attention to himself off the field.
On the field? That's a much different story. He will get your attention.
Many opponents have learned about Chancellor the hard way -- from flat on their back. There is no more intimidating hitter in the NFL.
In the past, some of those hits have cost his team a 15-yard penalty. But in this era of the NFL, where big hits by defensive backs can bring big punishments, Chancellor has found a way to stay true to his style of play within the rules.
“You know what, I just show my passion for the game,” Chancellor said. “All the hard hits show how much I love this game and how you're supposed to play the game. It's just a matter of proper tackling. Then you can get your feet set and explode through anybody.”
Chancellor (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) has exploded through a lot of players lately. He leads the team with 25 tackles in Seattle's two playoff games, including 14 against New Orleans and 11 in the NFC Championship Game against San Francisco. He also had a big fourth-quarter interception against the 49ers.
“Kam is on it,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He is really on his game. His preparation is dialed in. He's getting everything out of every rep in practice and all the meeting times, and he's extremely confident right now. He's really peaking at a great time and we're thrilled to have that happen.”
Chancellor is playing at the highest level of his career, something few people would have expected given league emphasis on eliminating the type of hits that have made Chancellor such a physical defensive back.
“Kam has really, really complied,” Carroll said. “He's taken it to heart. The early fines got his attention, but he really just wanted to find a way to play the game really well. He wasn't hard-headed about it at all. He went about it with kind of a sense that he was going to adjust and do it right.
“He's done all of that, and the exciting part of it is he's maintained his physical style. He's a great hitter and he's always looking for big opportunities. He creates big hits and does it legally and properly. A number of guys are working hard at this, but he's one of the guys that's really at the cutting edge of understanding the new format. I'm really proud of him for figuring it out.”
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It's a mistake to think of Chancellor as nothing more than a big hitter. He's also an outstanding cover safety who has four interceptions this season including the postseason.
Free safety Earl Thomas said he and Chancellor have made each other better in their four seasons together.
“I think we're the best tandem in the league right now, just because of our chemistry,” Thomas said. “It's the connection we have, which I think started when I put my pride to the side and said, 'This guy is just as good as me.' It's a respect factor.”
Thomas said he and Chancellor had a plan that started during their rookie season in 2010.
“We always talked about changing Seattle,” Thomas said. “We came in as competitors, young and probably dumb, but at the same time, we understood that we could make a change and it's definitely panned out for us.”
Chancellor says he can't wait for Thomas and him to test their skills against one of the all-time greats in Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
“He's a true competitor,” Chancellor said of Manning. “He's a guy who is going to give you his all on every play. He's very smart and knows what he sees on defense to throw what he wants to throw.”
So what's the plan?
“It's just about manning up,” said Chancellor, no pun intended. “We have to stay true to who we are and play physical. I like it that way.”