Seahawks defenders appreciate the way Aaron Rodgers takes hits

Cliff Avril remembers the play clearly.

During last year’s NFC Championship Game, he lined up at left defensive end, looped inside on a stunt, got free and started to chase down Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

As he often does, Avril tried to swat the quarterback’s right arm and get the ball out.

“He’s done that to me a couple times where I try to get the ball out, and he just somehow gets it in the other hand and tucks it in,” Avril said, recalling that he got the sack but not the turnover. “So those are the more frustrating ones because there’s nothing like a sack/fumble.”

Getting to Rodgers will be critical for the Seahawks on Sunday night, especially considering how leaky their pass defense was in Week 1 and that Green Bay will be without starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

While Avril and one of his running mates, Michael Bennett, aren’t fond of most quarterbacks, they have nothing but respect for the way Rodgers operates. Part of the reason why is that he doesn’t complain, even when he takes a big hit.

“There’s been times when he’ll say, ‘Good hit,’" Avril said. “ He’ll wink at you, something crazy like that. But he’s not like a trash-talker or nothing like that. He’s actually pretty chill about getting hit. But he’ll definitely say, ‘Good hit,’ and pat you on the butt after you hit him.”

Added Bennett: “You like it in a quarterback, especially if he’s on your team. When a guy’s jovial like that, being able to respond the way he does, it just brings energy to the team when he does that. You see a quarterback get hit and he’s laughing, you think, ‘Man, this guy’s tough.’ He takes the hits and he does the things that he does, and you just have a lot of respect for him.”

In two games against the Seahawks last year, Rodgers completed 42 of 67 passes (62.7 percent) for 367 yards (5.5 yards per attempt). He threw two touchdowns, three interceptions and was sacked four times.

But Rodgers is healthier this time around, and the Seahawks are without Kam Chancellor.

“We know very well that this guy can move around in the pocket,” said defensive coordinator Kris Richard. “And really we liken him to our quarterback in the fact that he can move and create and extend the play. So we know we’re going to have to do our best to keep him bottled up and cover on the back end.”

If the Seahawks aren't able to put pressure on Rodgers Sunday, chances are it will be a long night for the defense.