March 18, 2010

A leading man on biggest stage

MIKE LOWE

— By

Richard Seymour, Chris Samuels
click image to enlarge

Richard Seymour, Chris Samuels

AP

Richard Seymour
click image to enlarge

Richard Seymour

AP

Staff Writer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There were times this season, especially in September and October, when Richard Seymour didn't know if he would play at all for the New England Patriots.

Coming off off-season knee surgery, his recovery was slow and Seymour, a perennial Pro Bowl defensive end, wasn't sure when he would be ready.

''I wasn't doing something that I love doing,'' said Seymour, in his seventh season with the Patriots. ''It was up in the air. I didn't know when that day would come (for him to return).

''For me, I thought it taught me a lot. It taught me patience and taught me to continue to trust.''

Trust in himself, trust in his trainers, trust in his faith.

Now, Seymour says, he realizes how fortunate he really is. He missed the first seven games but is back on the sport's biggest stage: the Super Bowl.

When the Patriots (18-0) play the upstart New York Giants, it will be Seymour's fourth Super Bowl start in seven pro seasons.

''I definitely have had a blessed start to my career,'' he said. ''Some guys never get to one Super Bowl. For me to be in my fourth obviously we've won three. Now we're trying to get this one under our belt.''

Seymour knows it won't be easy. After playing the Giants on Dec. 29 -- and winning 38-35 -- Seymour sensed something in them and took them in his friendly NFC playoff pool -- all the way to the Super Bowl.

Now he's out to stop them from winning any more games.

He knows it's going to be a great test, especially because the Giants won three road playoff games since their meeting.

''Whatever they try to do, that's the priority,'' said Seymour when asked what the Patriots have to stop. ''Obviously you want to take away everything. You can't allow them to sit there and run the football all game you can't allow Eli (Manning) to sit back there and be comfortable.

''We've got to bring attitude that we (on the defensive line) want to win this game, we want to be the guys to get it done.''

Seymour's journey this year has been a long one. His knee has bothered him for a couple of years and he finally decided to have surgery last off-season.

Even now, he says, he's not quite 100 percent. Not in any technical stance but in his conditioning. ''I haven't been able to train the way I have in the past,'' he said. ''With a great off-season that will come back. The ability is there; the talent is still there. I just have to sustain it a lot longer.''

But the Patriots will take him as he is. As Coach Bill Belichick said, ''Richard has been out there very consistently since he came back in the middle of the season, or after he came off the (injured list). I think he's done a good job for us. Richard's a player that can do it all in terms of the running game: pass rush, pursuit, play the point of attack.

''He's got a lot of skills, a lot of experience and he's done a good job for us.''

Seymour finished the season with 30 tackles and 1.5 sacks. In two playoff games he has 10 tackles.

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Seymour has been one of the Patriots' premier players since they drafted him out of Georgia with the sixth overall pick of the 2001 draft. With the ability to play inside or on the end, his versatility has earned him five Pro Bowl selections.

Not bad for someone who didn't even want to come here in the first place.

''When I was drafted, believe it or not, I said I want to go somewhere down South or somewhere on the West Coast,'' he said. ''And I ended up in New England. Everything happens for a reason, I guess, and it's been a blessing since.

''I've met some great people, built a lot of good relationships. For me that's what it's all about. Hey, I could have gone to someplace with warm weather and been losing.''

Instead he has the opportunity to win a fourth championship ring. For him, coming to the Super Bowl never gets old.

''I was telling someone the other day, it's like your kids,'' he said. ''You can't pick one over the other, you love them all. They all look different. They're all special in their own way.

''For us, that's what it's all about: getting it done.''

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

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