It’s always interesting to see how a young player responds to his first real taste of adversity. Each player, no matter how talented, has their own “welcome to the NFL moment.”
Ugo Amadi’s came in the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers. Amadi, a 2019 fourth-round pick by the Seahawks, had earned the starting nickel job by that point after biding his time for much of the season. In addition to being a special teams standout for most of the year, particularly as a gunner on punt coverage, Amadi had some promising moments at nickel.
But he struggled against the Packers. Davante Adams tormented Seattle’s secondary all game long with Amadi being victimized on a few occasions. Green Bay’s superstar wideout racked up eight receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’m glad you brought that up because that’s something I can’t forget,” Amadi said on the latest episode of the Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast. “I’m constantly thinking about that all the time.”
Amadi said he watches that game film regularly and as recent as Tuesday night. He has found the balance of using the game as fuel and as a source of motivation rather than lamenting on his shortcomings in that particular contest.
“Whenever you don’t play well, it’s hard to watch it,” he said. “Everyone wants to watch themselves doing good, but it’s hard for them to watch themselves doing bad. I’ve watched that game and play so many times.”
The play that Amadi is referring to is the Adams’ third-down reception that sealed the win for Green Bay late in the fourth quarter. On 3rd-and-8 from the Packers 22-yard line, Aaron Rodgers found Adams down the right sideline for a back-breaking 32-yard gain.
Amadi was in single coverage against Adams on the play.
“I was thrown in the fire, and it was tough,” he said. “I knew who I was going against, but all of my offseason training has been all about that. That’s something that I can’t forget. That’s something I’ve been preparing for – my technique, my feet, my hands, my eye coordination – all that stuff.”
He’s spent his offseason working at being more confident and stronger at the line of scrimmage. Amadi has also put in considerable work on the mental side of the position. Understanding how down and distance as well as personnel impacts a team’s (and receiver’s) tendencies and pre-snap route recognition have been particular points of emphasis.
“It’s checking off all those things just to help me out and put me in a better position,” Amadi said.
Earlier this offseason, Pete Carroll said that nickel job is Amadi’s to lose in 2020. That doesn’t mean Amadi won’t have competition. There will be others vying for the role, and if Seattle doesn’t feel comfortable with any of their options, the Seahawks could once again opt to remain in base defense at a higher rate as they did in 2019.
Every indication is that Amadi is well aware of the opportunity he’ll be afforded once training camp opens on July 28 and what it will take to earn considerable playing time in his second NFL season.
“I’ve always had that mentality, that my job is always at risk every day I come to work,” he said. “For me personally, I need to make sure I’m just as sharp as everybody out there and make sure that my iron is just as sharp as everybody out there. I’ve got to come back in shape and know the playbook.
“I’ve got to do everything right. There is no room for error for me. I’m only worried about myself, the man in the mirror.”
You can listen to the full podcast with Amadi here.