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Old Bears nemesis Cliff Avril becomes Peyton Manning’s problem

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril speaks during news conference Sunday Jan. 26 2014 Jersey City N.J. The Seahawks Denver

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril speaks during a news conference Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. The Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are scheduled to play in the Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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Updated: January 27, 2014 2:50PM



JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The Bears caught a break when defensive end Cliff Avril left the Detroit Lions for the Seattle Seahawks last offseason. He’s now a problem for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Avril signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Seahawks, leaving behind the up-and-down world of the Lions and making NFC North quarterbacks smile. It’s been quite a journey for the talented pass rusher who was part of the Lions’ 0-16 season as a rookie in 2008 and now is dealing with all the hubbub of Super Bowl week.

“That’s the first thing I thought about,” Avril said. “My rookie year I didn’t win any games, and then five, six years later I’m at the big show and hopefully about to win it. It’s been a long run I guess, in a sense.”

Avril had plenty of success against the Bears before leaving for Seattle. His eight sacks in 10 games against the Bears are his most against any opponent.

Now, he’s a key part of the best defense in the NFL. His playing time has decreased with the Seahawks – he only started two games during the regular season after starting every game in 2011 and 2012 for the Lions – but he still had eight sacks.

“The defense was pretty good before I got here,” Avril said. “It was all about just finding my role. Obviously, I’m taking less snaps than I was in Detroit and what not, but the defense was good.”

Before Detroit’s late-season collapse, which opened the playoff door for the Green Bay Packers and Bears, Avril was hopeful that he’d get a chance to face his former team in the postseason.

“I thought there was going to be a chance that we would actually play those guys in the playoffs because they were playing so well,” Avril said. “Then, a few weeks later I guess they lost like three of four last-second (games) or whatever. It’s unfortunate. I really wanted to play them.”

Avril has no regrets leaving Detroit behind. He said there were no talks with the Lions last offseason, even though he had 20.5 sacks over his last two seasons with them.

“I think they were just ready to move on, which is understandable,” Avril said. “They probably studied some guys in the draft or whatever that could replace me. But again, I’m not tripping over it.”

All he is looking forward to is getting after Manning. Having played in the NFC North and against the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers for five seasons, chasing down the best quarterbacks in the league is nothing new for Avril.

“We have to be consistent,” Avril said. “I think he’s going to pass the ball a lot, obviously, because it’s Peyton Manning. It’s all about getting pressure in his face, making him feel your presence, and making him think about the D-line.”

Just like he did in Detroit.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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