News & Notes: Hasselbeck Is Ready To Go

News & Notes: Hasselbeck Is Ready To Go

With just over a week of practices now complete, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's arm is starting to drag a bit. Hasselbeck had a big bag of ice on his throwing arm after each practice, but said the icing is preventative and his wing feels fine.

"My elbow was sore early on in camp," Hasselbeck said. "I think all of the quarterbacks, we all were feeling that way. But the situations have helped us the last, two days with short yardage, goal line - it's just part of camp, the ups and downs of camp. I think the receivers got a break too, but I'm feeling pretty good."

The 33-year old quarterback, who is returning from a season in which he missed nine games due to a bulging disk in his back, also said he's picking up offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's new version of the West Coast offense OK, which includes perfecting how to say the team's new terminology.

However, Hasselbeck did emphasize the team could use another week of practice before playing a game. Seattle's set to face its first, preseason opponent Aug. 15 at San Diego. Also, Hasselbeck said to expect the Seahawks to use the shotgun more. The crafty quarterback said he's getting used to being back in the gun more often, which was a rarity when during Mike Holmgren's tenure as head coach in Seattle.

"I need to practice it, he said. "We've done some shotgun here in the past, but we really didn't practice it. You like to practice what you're going to do in games. We're making everything realistic and situational. You've seen a lot on third situations, we just go gun right away because that's what realistic. So it's been good." Hasselbeck has had his struggles during practice, throwing the occasional interception or having his passes deflected at the line of scrimmage as he's late checking down in his progressions.

However, Hasselbeck and new receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh have developed a nice rapport during camp, connecting several times for touchdowns during red zone drills, as the two continue to develop more chemistry. "I know he's a good player and he needs to be part of what we do," Hasselbeck said about Houshmandzadeh. "It's just a matter of finding out what he's best at and working together. It's been a great process so far. He's easy to get along with and he's easy to throw to. I would say so far from what I've seen that he really show up in the red zone and he really shows up on third down."

With Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson and Deion Branch, all starting-caliber receivers, along with promising, second-year tight end John Carlson, Hasselbeck could have his hands full spreading the ball around to his talented receiving group. However, Knapp said he plans on doing just that -- spreading the ball around.

"From Day One I've emphasized that it's the philosophy of the group that everybody's going to be a part of this thing," he said. "There should be no dominant runner. There should be no dominant pass receiver. It's certainly my belief that everybody is incorporated into the system because from my experience in talking to defensive coordinators, it's harder on them."

CAMP CALENDAR: The Seahawks camp closes Aug. 20; they have no scrimmages scheduled at this point, but will hold a free practice open to the public at the University of Washington on Aug. 18.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Seahawks coach Jim Mora said cornerback Marcus Trufant is continuing to work through his rehabilitation in order to get back on the field. The team placed Trufant on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list at the beginning of training camp with a sore back. Mora said Trufant has been receiving treatment at the team's Renton practice facility and has attended meetings with other members of his position group.

"Every day, he gets a little bit better," Mora said. "I don't know that there's been a big breakthrough, but I had a good conversation with him before practice, and he's working diligently."

Mora said he doesn't have a timetable for when Trufant will be back on the field but reiterated that Trufant is doing better and misses being on the practice field with his teammates.

--According to Mora, the team dodged a bullet with Chris Spencer's left ankle injury, and Seattle's starting center could be back on the field this week. Spencer rolled his ankle when he got tangled up with defensive tackle Kevin Brown while pass blocking during a team drill on Friday. Spencer had to be carted off the field.
However, Spencer appeared to be walking OK at the beginning of practice Saturday. With Spencer out, Steve Vallos and Max Unger have shared the reps at center with the first unit.

--Mora also said Walter Jones, who has been out with back spasms since the beginning of training camp and only practiced on the first day of training camp, will not play in the team's first preseason game Saturday at San Diego. Jones, 35, had microfracture knee surgery last year, and the team is taking a cautious approach on bringing along the veteran, offensive tackle.

--Competition for the fifth and sixth receiver spots on the team got a bit leaner when the Seahawks waived Billy McMullen in order to make room for Aaron Curry on their 80-man roster. The Seahawks signed McMullen in 2008 to help fill the void at receiver because of injuries at the position. He finished last season with seven receptions for 124 yards in four games for Seattle, including two starts. McMullen was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 16 after suffering a broken pinkie finger during practice. The team waived McMullen two days later and activated linebacker Will Herring from the PUP list.

--The only player to win an NBA championship, NCAA title and an Olympics gold medal in a calendar year, legendary Boston Celtics player and coach and former Seattle SuperSonics coach Bill Russell talked for about an hour to Seattle Seahawks players on Thursday. Mora said he reached out to Russell, 75, because of the embodiment of te am that the former NBA center represents.

"If you read his book and you read about his philosophy of team, it just matches what we want to do," Mora said. "He's selfless. He's all about team. He sacrificed his ego for the team ego. And I wanted our players to hear those messages from a guy who's a legend."

Mora said he doesn't plan on bringing in speakers often. While he was head coach in Atlanta, Mora said, he brought Magic Johnson and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young in to speak with his team.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's got to buckle down and he's got a lot of work to do. He has a ton of catching up to do. As we go along with him we'll find out exactly what he's capable of and that's what we'll demand of him." -- Seahawks head coach Jim Mora commenting on the team signing first round rookie draft choice Aaron Curry eight days after the start of training camp.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The addition of linebacker Aaron Curry strengthens the team defensively, giving them another playmaker. However, with offensive tackle Walter Jones and center Chris Spencer out with injuries, the team may look to pick up another lineman if they are out for a prolonged period. Curry signed a six-year deal reportedly worth $61 million, of which $34 million was guaranteed. Curry's contract is the richest non-quarterback rookie contract in NFL history.

--LB Shane Simmons was picked up after the team waived linebacker Tony Taylor, who suffered a knee injury during camp.

--LB Tony Taylor was released after suffering a knee injury in the first week of training camp.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Mansfield Wrotto vs. Max Unger for starting RG spot -- Right now Wrotto is working with the first unit. The third-year pro broke in last season as all five of the team's projected starting lineman finished the season on the injured reserve list. Wrotto's strength is run blocking, but Unger, a rookie, second-round draft choice out of Oregon, seems to have a better feel for the game. Both could lose out though if the team decides to move Ray Willis, who is competing for the right tackle position with Sean Locklear, inside to guard.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said the competition for the last couple receiving spots is the most competitive he's seen in his 15 years of coaching during training camps, and expects play during preseason games to be the deciding factor for which guys ultimately make the team. The list of players competing for the final, two spots include Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne.

Knapp said whether or not they keep five or six receivers will depend on how the final, 53-man roster shakes out. He also said he expects to keep three tight ends because of the percentage of two-tight end sets the team runs.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: DE Darryl Tapp is slotted to back up Patrick Kerney at defensive end. However, Tapp has performed well during camp so far, and the team might have to find a spot for him on the field defensively with the first unit.

ROOKIE REPORT: Courtney Greene has gotten some reps with the second team defense, and is doing a better job maintaining his assignments and not getting beat deep in passing drills. ... University of Oregon product Nick Reed, although smallish in stature for a defensive end, continues to impress in pass rush drills. ... Receiver Deon Butler said the hardest transition from college to the pros has been learning the playbook and understanding the route adjustments on the run. Butler is expected to return punts and kicks in the upcoming preseason game against San Diego.

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