Tubbs: Back on the Road to Recovery?

Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said this week that the return time of defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs may be moved up, to the point that Tubbs could be back in time for the start of training camp. It is a key point. Since he was drafted in the first round by Seattle in 2004, Tubbs has alternated between great play and serious injury frustration.

With injuries to both knees in consecutive seasons, his return to prominence may never quite happen. But if Tubbs could become a solid backup, he could add some significant talent to a defensive front that already is relatively strong.

Tubbs had microfracture surgery on his left knee two years ago and then he blew out the right knee in a preseason game last season, ending that year prematurely. There was some question whether Tubbs would be able to resume his career. But after extensive rehab, Tubbs has been back on the field doing some agility and running drills, and while Holmgren initially said he didn't expect Tubbs back until the beginning of the regular season, now he says Tubbs may be ready to begin training with the rest of the team in six weeks.

What it would mean is that a proven talent could be available to back up veteran Rocky Bernard, who has injury issues of his own in recent seasons, and first-year veteran Brandon Mebane, who proved during his rookie season that he is capable of creating problems for opposing running games.

With Craig Terrill and rookie Red Bryant added to the mix, the defensive staff could shuttle fresh players in and out much the same way they expect to do at defensive end, where Patrick Kerney, Darryl Tapp and rookie Lawrence Jackson will regularly rotate.

Otherwise, the other defensive tackle is likely to be either Chris Cooper, let go by Arizona, or Larry Tripplett, released by Buffalo.

--The Seahawks' coaching staff has switched philosophies with its young stable of wide receivers. Last year, with Deion Branch, D.J. Hackett, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram, they could afford to teach the receivers every outside position. With Hackett gone, Branch hurt and likely to miss a portion of the season and Engram holding out of this camp and possibly training camp, the staff decided to teach every receiver just one position.

"I think they have to be good right away," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "There's a learning curve involved certainly but I want to try and speed it up if I can do it. I think the best way to do that is to have them learn and get comfortable with doing one thing right now."

With that said, the brightest star of the bunch, Courtney Taylor, is being groomed as a flanker. The team ultimately projects Taylor to start opposite Nate Burleson at split end, provided that Taylor can remain healthy. Second-year receiver Jordan Kent is at split end, in part because he is so big but also because as a former track star he is the team's best deep threat. Logan Payne is being taught the flanker spot, though he is likely to end up in the slot at some point because he is better at getting underneath and finding seams that he can exploit.

And third-year Auburn product Ben Obomanu, a teammate of Taylor's in college, actually already knows all the responsibilities of each position and will be used accordingly.

Still, Holmgren said, as the Seahawks finish up their final summer minicamp and begin preparing for training camp in six weeks, he has no idea which player will wind up being the third receiver behind Burleson and Engram.

All have strengths -- but all have weaknesses, too. "When you throw Branch's injury into the situation and Bobby's situation, our wide receiver group I couldn't tell you how we're going to line up right now," Holmgren said. "The backup position, I believe we have good talent there; I just have to see how that will pan out after the amount of time those guys get."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren missed two days of mini-camp because he had minor surgery. Holmgren declined to discuss what the surgery was -- though quarterback Matt Hasselbeck chided him for having it during mini-camp. "He always says you have to know the difference between being hurt and being injured," Hasselbeck joked. "I'm just going to stay away from those questions. I've got all these great, funny things to day, but I just can't."

--WR Bobby Engram, who skipped voluntary minicamp because he wants a contract extension, recently said it is a possibility that he holds out of training camp -- though he would be fined a significant amount each day if he does so.

--Rookie FB Owen Schmitt is going to Cabo with his girlfriend before training camp -- the first time he will travel outside of the country.
"Well, I've been to Canada but you can't really count that," Schmitt said.

--DE Chris Cooper missed three days of the minicamp because his wife gave birth to their baby.

--Rookie TE John Carlson is getting married just before training camp -- honeymooning along the Oregon coast.

--LB Lofa Tatupu was officially charged with DUI, though he was arrested a month ago after registering a 0.155 and 0.158, almost twice the legal limit in the state of Washington. As it turns out, the Hyundai Accent he was driving when he was arrested was a rental car, not his own.

--QB Matt Hasselbeck is attending Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles to cheer on his beloved Boston Celtics.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I tell them all the time, there is enough food on the table for everybody, you just got to find you seat." -- WR Nate Burleson on what he's said to Seattle's young wide receivers.

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