Seahawks News & Notes

With their second minicamp of the offseason under way, the Seattle Seahawks are starting to sort out the way they will use their new stable of running backs. Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said that Julius Jones will get the bulk of the carries, in part because Jones possesses the versatility that Shaun Alexander never had.

Besides being a downhill runner, Jones can also catch passes out of the backfield and is not afraid to block. "Julius, he appears to have good quickness, good hands ... the right guy," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I don't see any downside to him. I think that will work out fine."

Jones will be backed up at halfback by Maurice Morris, the seventh-year back from Oregon who backed up Alexander for so many years. Morris is in the final year of his contract, but like Jones possesses the same versatility that will allow Holmgren more flexibility in his offensive play-calling.

Leonard Weaver, who stepped in for Mack Strong last season after Strong suffered a career-ending neck injury, will start at fullback, backed up by rookie Owen Schmitt, the Mohawk-wearing former walk-on at West Virginia University.

The one player for whom Holmgren does not yet have a role defined is T.J. Duckett, signed in the offseason from Detroit and given $5 million in guaranteed money. "I have to kind of work out how we're going to use Duckett," Holmgren said. "That is really the question, as to how we're going to use a player. Is he a fullback? Is he a halfback? Do I use him on short yardage and who comes out of the game if I do that? It's all that kind of stuff."

Rookie Justin Forsett has impressed in minicamps with his speed, but because he is undersized and because the team added so many backs in the offseason, it seems unlikely Forsett will crack the rotation should he make the team.

For a team that stresses signing players with character to their roster, the Seattle Seahawks have had an unusual number of public transgressions this offseason. First, Rocky Bernard was arrested on charges of domestic violence assault for allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend in the forehead with a closed fist.

Then, all-pro linebacker Lofa Tatupu was arrested for DUI, blowing a .155 and a .158, almost twice the legal limit of .08 in the state of Washington.

Then, wide receiver Bobby Engram has decided to skip voluntary OTAs because he wants a contract extension after recording a record-setting performance last season.

Still, coach Mike Holmgren downplayed the issues.

"I don't think it's been any really different than any offseasons we've had before," Holmgren said. "There is always a chance you have a contract thing and that's why we've got that thing with Bobby (Engram), there's always a chance that a good guy gets jammed up a little bit and that's what happened with Lofa. And you guys know him, he's a good guy. So, I would say the offseason is pretty much the way it always is."

Bernard was in court on June 2 for a pre-trial hearing, but he was granted a continuance until June 16. It is unclear what if any problems will arise from his case. His attorney said the continuance will be used to further investigate the assault, and perhaps speak with the prosecutor in the hopes of resolving the case.

Tatupu, meanwhile, still has not been charged, though he was arrested on April 21. "You know stuff happens and it's life and he has felt very, very bad about it," Holmgren said. "He is a good man. He is a leader of this football team and people that know him know that and so he learned from this. It will never happen again and now we move on."

As for Engram, he has skipped his second consecutive minicamp in protest of a contract that will pay him $1.7 million, half of what injured receiver Deion Branch and third receiver Nate Burleson will make.
Engram wants a two-year extension that will allow him to finish his career in Seattle. The Seahawks say they will not negotiate until after the season.

At the very least, Engram's absence has allowed the team's stable of young receivers to get as many reps as they can in the minicamps.

"I think that's huge for those guys to get the reps with our first group," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "That is rare. Whether it's young receivers or young tight ends, it doesn't really matter. If you're out there getting coached by your position coach and getting reps with the starters, it's just a great opportunity to learn."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Because of heavy rain, the Seahawks had to move the second day of their latest minicamp to the University of Washington's indoor practice facility. The Seahawks' new facility in Renton, 15 miles away, does not open until late August and they did not have their inflatable bubble raised. "I thought it was great," Matt Hasselbeck said. "Mike Holmgren said it best, 'practice was a sloppy start.' He said, 'Guys this was not in the plan but sometimes stuff happens and sometimes you go out there and you play a game and you've got a blizzard and you just have to deal with it and adjust, or it's raining or whatever.' He made that analogy and I thought it was a good one and your focus has to be the same. You can't be thinking about that or make excuses. You just have to adjust and improvise and do the best you can."

--Rookie TE John Carlson, who the team projects as the starter, has been restricted by a sore hamstring in this minicamp.

--Rookie DT Red Bryant has stood out more than anybody in the most recent minicamp. One day, he broke into the backfield and sent rookie RB Justin Forsett flying even though it is a non-contact camp. Another he nearly squared off with an offensive lineman. And in a third, he bull-rushed center Steve Vallos so hard he almost bent Vallos over backward.

--S C.J. Wallace could not participate in this mini-camp because he had an appendectomy on May 29 in Sacramento and was told he could not fly for a week.

--The Seahawks will hold one more segment of this last minicamp from June 9-12 and then won't convene again until training camp.

--If Nate Burleson is going to be the team's starting split end, he likely won't have as many -- or any -- return duties like he did last season. "He's a valuable special teams player and he's good for us, but if he is our starting split end I might have to reevaluate that," Mike Holmgren said. "Then I have to see if someone can do what he did. We are working on that."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm making a prediction. I'm thinking Celtics in three. That's how good they are. They're so much better than the Lakers. That's my prediction. Write it down." -- Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck on the NBA Finals, which includes his Boston Celtics. Hasselbeck attended Boston College.

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