By Danny Cox
It’s never easy to play at CenturyLink Field, the home of the Seattle Seahawks. Let’s face it, the Seahawks are the defending Super Bowl champs and they field a good team every year now. For the Carolina Panthers, playing in Seattle will be even more difficult because it’s one of the loudest places on earth, but they’ve been preparing for it in their own way.
So that they can deal with the immense sound in Seattle, the Panthers closed off every entrance to their practice field for Tuesday’s practice. Then, they placed huge speakers on the sidelines and behind both goal posts to contain the sound.
Noise was pumped out onto the practice field and playing conditions that will happen in Seattle were replicated as best they could be.
“The noise, it’s very hard to duplicate,” said Carolina defensive tackle Colin Cole, who spent the 2009-2011 seasons with Seattle. “It’s not something that is duplicable unless we have a dome and you’re pumping noise in throughout the entire dome.
“The crowd noise we have is an opportunity to give guys a taste of what’s going to come. But I’ve been there when they’ve been on 10 and you can’t hear the person next to you talk.”
Not many players on the Carolina Panthers’ roster have ever played in Seattle before, and they’re soon going to learn why it was labeled the loudest stadium in the NFL. Cole said that the Panthers’ duplication at practice was close, but “it wasn’t quite there.”
Seattle’s home-field advantage has been huge for them in the playoffs as they have gone 24-2 at home since 2012. The Panthers will have a hard time playing there, as safety Roman Harper said. He experienced the seismograph registration when Marshawn Lynch went “Beast Mode” in the 2010 NFC Wildcard Game when Harper was with the New Orleans Saints.
“It is the hardest place to play in the NFL right now for a reason,” said Harper. “The crowd is very smart. They know when to cheer, when not to cheer. It’s usually rainy; it’s not always pretty out there.”
While the team knows they have to contend with the noise, it won’t be the fans that are on the opposite side of the field as them. Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert realizes that, and knows that their practices need to prepare them to face the Seahawks, not the 12th man.
“It is [loud],” he said. “But at the same time, the crowd is not playing the game.”
Preparing for the cheers from the stands will be one thing, but Panthers head coach Ron Rivera needs to have his team ready for the very strong defense and explosive offense of the Seahawks. All the rest is just noise.
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.