Seahawks Scramble to Sign Receivers

Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren led off his weekly Wednesday news conference by informing reporters: "We are having receiver tryouts this afternoon if anyone wants to give it a shot."

That Holmgren would jokingly solicit job opportunities from out-of-shape scribes speaks to the level of desperation the Seahawks have reached regarding their receiver position, which has been decimated by injuries to Deion Branch, Bobby Engram, Ben Obomanu and Nate Burleson.

When the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field on Sunday, they will have two inexperienced receivers in Courtney Taylor and Logan Payne, newly signed wideouts Billy McMullen and Samie Parker, as well as backup quarterback Seneca Wallace.

Wallace had what he called his first full practice at wide receiver on Wednesday afternoon and very well could be used as the team's starting split end, which was vacated when Burleson was lost for the season after tearing his ACL on Sunday in a loss to Buffalo.

"Normally speaking, I don't really want to do that," Holmgren said. "The only reason I can think about doing it now, there's two reasons. One, it's a little bit of a unique position at the wide receiver position, and then (two), (quarterback) Charlie (Frye) did OK in the preseason. He stepped it up and he played pretty well."

Either Payne or Taylor is likely to start at flanker, though some of that depends on how quickly McMullen picks up and conforms to Holmgren's playbook.

The reason they chose McMullen over 30 other candidates - including former troubled Seahawks receiver Koren Robinson - was because he played for the Eagles under Andy Reid and was in Washington's camp under Jim Zorn and is familiar with the West Coast offense. Holmgren is hoping that that will help McMullen assimilate quickly enough that McMullen can be used as a viable third option in the three-receiver set.

Holmgren also admits that the creativity usually seen in some of his play calling will be curtailed

"I don't want to scale down too much," Holmgren said. "I want to just continue to play offense the way we play offense, but then I have to see how we practice and how the guys absorb stuff."

While Holmgren said that the team very well may make more moves, Wallace appears to be the only candidate on the roster able to return punts, although Taylor could probably do it as well.

But then Holmgren runs into the same conundrum he faced with Burleson: Putting one of the top wide receivers back to catch punts and risk getting injured at a time that this club can ill-afford more injuries.

NOTES, QUOTES

--When Mike Holmgren was coaching at San Francisco State, they had a scrimmage against the University of Pacific, whose offensive coordinator at the time was Mike Martz, now the offensive coordinator for the 49ers. "We used to recruit the same areas," Holmgren said.

--WR Jordan Kent, who was released and then signed to the practice squad, said the team told him that the entire receiving unit had too much youth and that they needed some players with game experience. "I've always tried to help the team win, and the best way to do that now is to be the best player I can be on the scout team," Kent said.

--Newly signed punter Jon Ryan played for the Green Bay Packers when they beat the Seahawks in the playoffs last season in a snow-filled game. "I remember that game was like playing in a snow globe," Ryan said. "I obviously have much better memories of the outcome of that game than most of the people in this locker room."

--Backup QB Seneca Wallace, who has been working out at wide receiver, said he will attend quarterback meetings this week instead of receiver meetings. "When you play quarterback you understand what he is looking for on certain routes," Wallace said.

--Coach Mike Holmgren said the Seahawks considered signing wide receiver Koren Robinson, who was released from the Seahawks after multiple legal complications. Holmgren said he would have had no trouble coaching Robinson again but insinuated that his was not the only voice on the matter. "Right now, whether it's Koren or anybody else that could come in and help the football team and contribute, I think you have to, at the very least, talk about him in the meeting," Holmgren said. "And that's what we did. My comfort level with that would be OK, but again, there's more to discuss."

--S Jordan Babineaux, who was suspended by the league last week for violating the league's substance abuse policy, said he was surprised at their decision. "I didn't put it out there, they did," Babineaux said. "They issued the punishment, and I handled my business, took care of it, put it behind me and now I am ready to press forward and look forward to the rest of the season."

--Holmgren was asked if he has rethought his decision to return, given all the adversity the Seahawks have already faced this season. "The one thing that I absolutely know is that I did the right thing," Holmgren said. "This is not the first time that I have, or the team has, faced some adversity. It's one game. Hey, let's go. I'm OK."

BY THE NUMBERS: 10-4 -- Mike Holmgren's regular-season record against the team that gave him his start in the NFL. This will be one of the last two times he faces them.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I bring a big playmaking ability. They have seen me at Oregon and they know what I'm capable of doing. I'm going to try to bring that to the NFL level." -- Newly signed wide receiver Samie Parker.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

With two new receivers and a season-ending injury to Nate Burleson, the Seahawks have re-shuffled their receiving corps. Though nothing has been finalized, there is a good chance that Seneca Wallace and Logan Payne start at the wideouts, though Courtney Taylor remains a candidate for that. Billy McMullen is likely to be used as the fourth wide receiver.

Meanwhile, with Rob Sims being placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle, Floyd Womack will start, with Mansfield Wrotto his backup. Jon Ryan will now be the team's punter, as well as its holder, replacing Ryan Plackemeier, who was released on Tuesday. And Rocky Bernard is back to starting at defensive tackle, backed up by Craig Terrill, while Jordan Babineaux is the third safety and nickel back, with Josh Wilson playing the dime back.

Julius Jones will start at running back with Mo Morris sidelined for two weeks at least, and T.J. Duckett will back him up.

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Marcus Trufant injured his hand in Thursday's practice. He is probable for Sunday's game.
--WR Deion Branch went through practice with Seattle but at only about half speed. He is not likely to play until Week 5.
--OT Sean Locklear sat out Thursday's practice and will not play Sunday.
--RG Rob Sims tore his pectoral muscle and is out for the rest of the year. He was placed on injured reserve.
--WR Nate Burleson was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and is out for the year.
--RB Maurice Morris sat out practice with a sprained knee and will not play against the Niners.
--P Ryan Plackemeier was waived and replaced by Jon Ryan, who last played with Green Bay.
--WR Jordan Kent was released by the team but signed to the practice squad on Wednesday.
--RB Justin Forsett was released and was picked up by Indianapolis.
--WR Billy McMullen was signed to a contract and is likely to play Sunday against San Francisco.
--WR Samie Parker was signed to a contract and will be used in a limited role on Sunday.
--LB Lofa Tatupu, who injured his right thumb in Sunday's loss, is wearing a cast on his hand. He will play Sunday.

GAME PLAN: The Seahawks must concentrate on stopping running back Frank Gore and dare quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan to beat them. Sullivan had three turnovers against Arizona last week. Offensively, the Seahawks need to establish their running game behind Julius Jones because their passing game has so much uncertainty right now.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Seahawks WR Seneca Wallace vs. 49ers secondary - Wallace could be getting his first start as a split end. He'd face a 49ers secondary that has veteran CBs Walt Harris and Nate Clements.

Seahawks LBs vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore: Former 49er Julian Peterson and Pro Bowler Lofa Tatupu anchor Seattle's linebacker corps. Two years ago, Gore had games of 212 and 144 rushing yards against Seattle.

INJURY IMPACT: LB Lofa Tatupu is wearing a soft cast on his injured thumb, but he appears to be unaffected during practice. WR Deion Branch participated in the entire practice but he will not play this week.

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