Attacking opponents’ secondaries has been tough for Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck so far this season. Even with a talented stable of wideouts at his disposal, Hasselbeck has struggled to consistently move the offense, but he should get some help this week as one of his favorite targets will return from an injury suffered in training camp.
TE Jerramy Stevens has been missing since he went down during training camp in a non-contact drill.
Stevens injured his meniscus in his knee and because it is the piece of cartilage in between the knee and tibia and he was feeling pain every time he took a step. That problem has pretty much gone away due to the length of the healing time he and the team have allowed.
Following last year’s Super Bowl loss, Stevens had surgery on the same knee and was expected to miss two weeks of training camp. When he came back he re-injured the knee three days later.
“We had a good plan coming in, and I don’t think I came back to soon,” Stevens said of his return to action back in August. “I wasn’t in a contact drill when I got hit, that’s just football. I got tackled when I was unprepared, and probably wasn’t there yet. Some of this stuff happens in football.”
Now Stevens will see his first live action of the season and he’s champing at the bit to get back out on the field.
“Right now I’m excited to be back with the guys and being back playing football,” Stevens said. “I’m not nervous. Football is what I’ve been doing the last fifteen years, so I’m ready.”
While he was working on rehabbing his knee, Stevens got to watch a lot of football, but he was especially anxious during last Sunday’s blowout loss to Chicago.
“It wasn’t too hard until we went to Chicago,” Stevens admitted. “Obviously I would love to be out there, and I know I can make the team better, but I have to make sure that when I’m out there I’m one hundred percent doing what the team likes me to do. I can’t help if I’m not a hundred percent.”
Head coach Mike Holmgren said he’s happy with the progress his fifth-year tight end has made.
“I saw him run a couple routes and I thought he was moving well,” Holmgren noted. “The big test is after he does that how he feels tomorrow morning and then after he exerts himself how it feels. It is nice having the big guy back.”
With Stevens in the lineup Seattle can now boast six or seven receivers that can make plays almost anywhere on the field. He also creates mismatches with is size and athleticism – especially in the redzone.
“He was effective for us in the red zone,” Holmgren said. “You can find him, you can see him, and he is a good player down there for us. It will be nice to have him back.”
Stevens can also help re-energize a stagnant running game with his ability to seal the edge on running plays.
“He did a nice job blocking as a tight end last year,” Holmgren said. “I am hoping it helps because we haven’t been running the ball the way I think we will be able to. There is going to be a little bit of a learning curve period there because we have some new people in there and we’ve had a couple injuries. We have to get going and be a little more productive in the running game.”
Seattle’s upcoming opponent, the St. Louis Rams, lost the turnover battle with the Seahawks last year in their two meetings, but this year they lead the entire league with a plus-12 takeaway ratio.
They also lead the league in interceptions with eight and are tied for the most turnovers caused with 15. The defense isn’t the pushover they once were and Stevens, along with all of his teammates, realizes that this is a new year and a new Rams team.
Stevens admits the Seahawks need to look forward and not back.
“Last season is over,” Stevens said. “We’ve got to go forward. I feel like my best football is still ahead of me. I have to continue to work hard and take strides forward and not rest on what I did last year thinking that’s going to get me through. I’m going out there trying to make plays every time I’m on the field. That’s what the team wants me to do.”
More appropriately, that’s what this team needs him to do.