Forsett: Hard to Stop, Harder to Cut

Forsett: Hard to Stop, Harder to Cut

The Seattle Seahawks are going to have a very difficult decision to make regarding rookie running back Justin Forsett, a seventh-round choice from California.

It would be one thing if Forsett had had only a good week of practice and one good game. Then, the coaches could wave him off as a one-hit wonder.

But Forsett has been perhaps the best player in training camp. He led the team in rushing in its intrasquad scrimmage and its second preseason game and would have led the team in rushing in its first preseason game had he not been thrown for a four-yard loss on the Seahawks' final offensive play of the game.

Here are the issues with Forsett: He is small. Though he is listed at 5-8, 194, he is more like 5-6. More than that, though, he is caught in a numbers crunch. The Seahawks usually keep five running backs for their two-back offense, and they have filled it out with Julius Jones, Maurice Morris, T.J. Duckett, Owen Schmitt and Leonard Weaver.

With wide receiver Bobby Engram injured, it deducts one roster spot from an already full offense, meaning Forsett does not have much room.

But he continues to make plays, making it almost impossible for the coaching staff to ignore what he has done. Against the Bears, he had 136 rushing yards despite playing running back for only a half. He added 117 return yards, and that does not include a 43-yard punt return that was called back for holding.

"That's a decision, that will be a tough call at the end," Holmgren said. "He will be involved in that decision at the end, absolutely."

More than a few observers feel that Forsett deserves a roster spot more than Duckett, who has been average in training camp and below average in games. He fumbled twice against Minnesota, gaining only nine yards on seven carries. And though he had a 1-yard touchdown run against Chicago, he dropped a swing pass that would probably have been a touchdown and had 27 yards on 12 carries.

The issue is that Holmgren envisions Duckett being a short-yardage power back to address one of his team's shortcomings last season. An even bigger issue is that Tim Ruskell gave Duckett $4 million guaranteed as a free agent.

That's why Holmgren waffles whenever he is asked about Forsett's future. If he were any other player and the circumstances were different, he would be a lock to make the team. But Holmgren continues to reference his lack of size and that the team is full at running back.

"Right now if I said anything about the roster, it would be premature, it really would," Holmgren said. "I like the player and his teammates like him and he produces, but it is a couple games and we have a ways to go here."

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp closes on Aug. 21. The team moves to its new facility in Renton on Aug. 18.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Rookie K Brandon Coutu made all five of his field goals against the Chicago Bears in the Seahawks' 29-26 victory. Coutu, competing for a job with veteran Olindo Mare, said he never had attempted five field goals in a game before.

--OT Sean Locklear sprained his left knee in the victory over the Bears and is likely to miss at least the remainder of the preseason. He will be replaced by Ray Willis.

--Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck did not play against the Bears, both because he cited a sore back during the week and because Mike Holmgren wanted to see Charlie Frye play a full game. Hasselbeck suffered the sore back on the flight to Minnesota a week ago, and said he never should have said anything about it.

--The Seahawks improved to 2-0 in the preseason for the first time since 1998. They had not played Chicago in a preseason game in 30 years.

--Friday was the last day the team spent at its practice facility in Kirkland. It will move to its new facility in Renton on Monday. "Give me a desk and a TV and decent chair and nice fields, and that's really what we get used to," coach Mike Holmgren said. "So in that respect this place is very comfortable. The one thing I will not miss is the bubble, or the moldy smell or anything that went with that, like the darkness."

--While discussing fantasy football, Holmgren said one of his daughters was kicked out of a league because the other players thought she was getting inside information.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Packers tickets were hard to come by but the toughest ticket for me was the preseason. I would have all my friends come out and family come for the preseason. Then during the regular season I was just giving my tickets away to teammates. It was a very important time, very stressful time." -- Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, remembering what it was like to play only in the preseason.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

--CB Derrick Johnson was waived. He injured his toe on the third play of his first practice and was unable to play thereafter. CB Marquis Weeks was signed to replace Johnson.

-- LB Matt Castelo was waived with a leg injury. LB Dallas Sartz was signed to replace him on the roster.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Brandon Coutu vs. Olindo Mare for place-kicker -- After kicking off last week, Coutu was given field goal duty this week. Mare went from field goals to kicking off. Mare sent his first kickoff out of the end zone and had two touchbacks in his first three kicks. Coutu, meanwhile, made all five of his field goal attempts, including a 36-yarder in overtime to win the game.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: DT Howard Green continues to make noticeable plays while Chris Cooper and Larry Tripplett have been unable to take the field because of injuries. ... P Reggie Hodges, signed to give Ryan Plackemeier competition, has made it a battle for the starting job with Plackemeier unable to punt because of injury.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: RB Justin Forsett - The smallest player on the team once again came up big, combining to total 261 yards of rushing, receiving and return yards against the Bears. He also had a 43-yard punt return called back for holding. He had 56 rushing yards on the team's final game-winning drive in overtime.

ROOKIE REPORT: DE Lawrence Jackson has been starting with Patrick Kerney injured, though Kerney is expected back this week. ... TE John Carlson had three penalties called against him against Chicago, two false starts and a holding call. ... DT Red Bryant remains sidelined with an injury. ... FB Owen Schmitt continues to earn praise from coach Mike Holmgren for making plays. ... LS Tyler Schmitt is out with a sore back. ... PK Brandon Coutu made five field goals. .. Justin Forsett led the team with 136 rushing yards on 15 carries.

INJURY REPORT: WR Deion Branch (knee) is out. The team says he could be back the first week of the season. Common sense says not until October.
--P Ryan Plackemeier (pectoral) will play this week.
--LB Will Herring has an undetermined illness that makes his joints swell. He is out for the foreseeable future.
--C Chris Spencer (back) has missed all of training camp and is not making progress.
--DE Patrick Kerney (calf) will practice in full this week.
--DT Larry Tripplett (leg) is day-to-day.
--DT Red Bryant tore cartilage in his knee and will miss 4-5 weeks.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck (back) will be back this week.
--OT Will Robinson suffered (ankle) could miss several weeks.
--CB Jordan Babineaux (knee) is day-to-day.
--DL Chris Cooper (knee) is day-to-day.
--OT Sean Locklear (knee) is out for the remainder of the preseason.
--WR Bobby Engram cracked a bone in his shoulder is out 6-8 weeks.
--LS Tyler Schmitt (back) is day-to-day.

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