Seahawks counting on sports science, sweet potatoes to aid recovery

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman couldn't make it from the showers to his locker by himself Sunday night.

Needing assistance, he leaned on Bobby Wagner, and together they slowly and methodically made their way to Sherman's stall. He took a seat and received attention from Seahawks medical personnel. Sherman was shivering, and he scrunched his face in clear discomfort as he got dressed.

"They said I had a fever, but I had the shivers and some other ... it was bad," Sherman said Wednesday. "It was bad stuff."

Sherman played 95 snaps on defense and four more on special teams against the Arizona Cardinals for a total of 99. He suffered from heat exhaustion and was in rough shape as the team began its journey back to Seattle.

"They didn't let me lose consciousness, but I definitely wasn't focused," said Sherman, adding that he got two bags of IVs. "That's why they wouldn't let me go for a long time until I got my focus back, and they looked me in the eye, and they just kept saying I wasn't right and I was looking clammy and stuff like that. But after a while, you get some energy, you get some food in you, you get your stuff back.

"I was too tired to be that concerned. I think other people were more concerned than I was, but I was just trying to get cooled down and get some energy back in me. It was just a blur. I don't remember being too concerned. I remember them saying something about a stretcher and paramedics, and I was like, 'Yeah that’s not how we’re going to end this today.'"

Sherman wasn't the only one drained from Sunday's game. Safety Kelcie McCray played 108 snaps -- 95 on defense and 13 more on special teams. Linebackers Wagner and K.J. Wright played 102 apiece. Earl Thomas played 99. And cornerback DeShawn Shead played 95.

It was a physically taxing game, and now the team has to fly across the country and face the New Orleans Saints in their next matchup.

That's why Pete Carroll has his team focused on recovery.

That starts with sports science, the department headed by director of player health and performance Sam Ramsden.

"The support system allows us to really be able to evaluate each guy, based on the load that he's undertaken and all that," Carroll said. "It does help us, and we really are responding to that regularly throughout the week, regardless of what happened in the week before. It's a common practice for us now to check it out, know how many plays a guy got, what kind of exertion, we can estimate from the games, and then what's necessary for the next week.

"If you asked me four or five years ago if I would be doing this, I would've said no. Coaches for years have done it, really just through their sense and instincts and savvy and all that, and now we have some more support. It's proven to us to be very effective."

Players fill out questionnaires each morning, detailing their stress levels, soreness and sleep. They were monitors during practice that provide the team with valuable data.

After last week's game, the directions were clear: get eight to nine hours of sleep each night, hydrate and load up on carbohydrates.

"I've been big on sweet potatoes," Shead said. "I love sweet potatoes, so it's been easy. You don't have to tell me to carb up on sweet potatoes."

On Monday, Carroll moved meetings back to give players more time to sleep. On Wednesday, certain players such as Sherman and Wagner didn't practice.

Shead said he's more fatigued than sore. He has an 18-month-old daughter, but he still has managed to get enough sleep.

"My wife does a great job of letting me get some rest," Shead said. "When the offseason comes, it's my turn to let her get rest."

The Seahawks' challenge on defense this week is to bounce back physically before taking on Drew Brees and company.

Asked how he's feeling three days after the game, McCray said, "I still wouldn't say it's normal, but I feel like everybody's having problems right now. That game really took a lot. But we're back this week and ready to get back to work."