News & Notes: Hasselbeck Stays Healthy


Posted Aug 17, 2009


The Seahawks accomplished their primary goal in playing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in his first preseason game -- keeping him healthy.

After missing nine games last season because of a bulging disk in his back and spending most of his time making sure his back was strong enough to endure the rigors of an NFL season, Hasselbeck made it through his first game action since a forgettable 2008 season unscathed.

Hasselbeck played two series -- a total of 10 plays -- before giving way to second-string quarterback Seneca Wallace. "With all the change that we've had so far, it was fun to get out there and put the new offense out there and test it a little bit," Hasselbeck said. "For the guys who were hurt last year, it was fun to watch them out there on the field again. I think we are headed in the right direction."

Seahawks head coach Jim Mora had said going into Saturday's game that Hasselbeck wouldn't play much. And Mora stayed true to his word. "What was nice was to see his uniform clean at the end of the time that he played," Mora said. "Matt looked comfortable out there and he spread the ball around."

In his short time on the field, Hasselbeck showed he still could move well, scrambling to his right after getting pressure up the middle of the pocket and managing to throw the ball away. "It was good to see Matt moving like that," offensive lineman Sean Locklear said. "We've got backups, but Matt is our starter and we don't want to see him taking hits -- especially after what happened last year."

He hooked up with Nate Burleson for a 12-yard gain on a sideline route to convert a first down in Seattle's second series. And after an 8-yard run by Julius Jones, Hasselbeck found what likely will be one of his favorite targets in T.J. Houshmandzadeh, locating the former Cincinnati Bengals' standout over the middle for a 5-yard gain and another first down.

However, the promising drive ended three plays later when Hasselbeck was off-target on a third-and-8 pass intended for tight end John Carlson.

Battle of the week: Olindo Mare vs. Brandon Coutu for starting kicker. Coutu, a second-year kicker, handled all of the kicking duties against San Diego, making two field goals -- both 38-yard efforts. Coutu placed his kickoffs on average inside the 5-yard line, with his last kick reaching the 1. Coutu worked with legendary NFL kicker Morten Andersen during the offseason on improving distance on his kicks, but that hasn't translated to the field yet.

Player of the week: Defensive end Nick Reed, an undersized rookie out of the University of Oregon, continues to prove his play in college with the Ducks was no fluke. Reed finished with a sack and an interception against San Diego. "We watched him in the Pac-10 for years," Mora said. "He's a playmaker. It was good to see him show up. I had a feeling he would show up and make some plays."

--Returning to the field for the first time in nearly two weeks, Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Walter Jones said he'll be a little more patient this time around.
The veteran offensive tackle, who had season-ending microfracture surgery on his left knee in December and did not participate in any of Seattle's offseason workouts, suffered back spasms after the first day of training camp. He hadn't been on the practice field since -- until Thursday.

"The first time I came out I don't think I was completely ready to be out there," Jones said. "I went through it but I don't think I was completely ready. I think you have a lot of excitement trying to get back out on the football field.

"After that I had the back incident. You just have to clear your mind. You had a major surgery, you just have to try to clear that and now that's done and hopefully I can come out here and get a few practices in so the team can feel good about me back on the football field."

With the Seahawks preparing for the team's opening exhibition game at San Diego, Jones found himself in unfamiliar territory -- working with the scout squad offense and running San Diego's offense. "I don't know if Walter has ever taken scout team snaps in his life, but today he did," Seahawks head coach Jim Mora said, jokingly.

Jones, 35, also went through individual drill work, practicing pass blocking and cut blocking with his fellow linemen. He seemed to move well while taking on defensive linemen Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp in pass protection. Jones said perhaps he tried to come back too early, and implied that his back spasms may have been tied to the knee injury.

"That's a tough call," he said. "It probably did (contribute to the spasms), but I don't know. It was just a situation where I think I was rushing it, trying to get back on the football field (when I should have taken my time and been) patient. But right now I feel pretty good."

Seattle's offensive line has been hit hard by injuries, with center Chris Spencer spraining his left ankle last Friday, right guard Mansfield Wrotto suffering a leg bruise on Tuesday and right tackle Ray Willis sitting out periodically to rest sore knees. Spencer did come back to start against San Diego on Saturday, while Wrotto was not available for Saturday's game. Jones, a perennial Pro Bowl selection, said he'd like to return to practice full time next week, and if everything goes well, be ready to play in the team's second exhibition against Denver.

"I felt pretty good," Jones said. "I think the toughest thing now is just getting the confidence back. Just getting back and feeling confident that you can go out here and still do your job. And I felt good about that."

CAMP CALENDAR: The Seahawks break camp Friday, a week earlier than they have in previous season when Mike Holmgren was in charge; they have no scrimmages scheduled.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Seattle rookie linebacker Aaron Curry saw his first time on the field, playing most of the first half and parts of the third quarter in the preseason opener. Curry spent playing time at defensive end as the team attempted to evaluate his ability to rush the passer. The Wake Forest product said he has to be a little more patient on the field.

"There were some plays today where I was seeing stuff and I was running, but I just wasn't being as patient as I should have been," Curry said.
Curry finished with two tackles in his debut. He also recently received some good news; the rookie linebacker and wife Jamila are expecting their first child.

--Speculation persists that the team might wear an alternative, lime-green jersey during the regular season. The fluorescent green is part of the team's official color palette, along with the silver helmets and pants from the team's inception in 1976. The Seahawks media guide for the 2009 season also is adorned with the bright green color. So the green jersey, along with the team's throwback uniforms -- which the Seahawks have not worn since 2001 -- remains an option this season.

A report surfaced in April that the team would debut green jerseys during the regular season, but that was later chalked up as an April Fools' Day joke. Currently, the green alternative jerseys can be purchased at the Seahawks pro shop. The Seahawks remain tight-lipped on whether they will debut the green jerseys during the regular season, with a team spokesperson stating that the Seahawks have not announced plans for a third jersey, but it remains an option.

For his part, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has been wearing fluorescent green receiver gloves and black shoes accented with the same color during training camp, has no problem with the green jerseys. "If you've got style, you can rock anything," Houshmandzadeh said. "And I think I've got style, so I'm going to be just fine."

--Rookie Deon Butler got a violent welcome to the NFL in his first game. The sinewy Butler, all 5-foot-10, 182 pounds of him, got drilled on a slant route by San Diego strong safety Steve Gregory on a third-and-7 play from Seattle's 29 in the first half. The force of Gregory's hit caused Butler to lose the ball, costing the Seahawks a chance of converting a first down on the play.

However, Butler quickly got up after the play and seemed to be OK. The rookie finished with two catches for seven yards. Butler also spent time returning kicks and punts, returning one punt for 11 yards in the first half.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought our fitness level was good. And I think that allowed us to play fast late in the game. And that's how we want to be able to play. We want to be in great shape, and we want to be able to play harder, faster and longer than our opponent. And I don't know if we did that tonight, but that's our goal." -- Seahawks head coach Jim Mora on his team's 20-14 preseason win over San Diego.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Olindo Mare vs. Brandon Coutu for starting kicker. Coutu, a second-year kicker, handled all of the kicking duties against San Diego, making two field goals -- both 38-yard efforts. Coutu placed his kickoffs on average inside the 5-yard line, with his last kick reaching the 1. Coutu worked with legendary NFL kicker Morten Andersen during the offseason on improving distance on his kicks, but that hasn't translated to the field yet.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: In the battle for the last two receiver spots, no one stood out on the field Saturday. The list of players competing for the final two spots include Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent, Mike Hass and Logan Payne.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: DE Nick Reed, an undersized rookie out of the University of Oregon, continues to prove his play in college with the Ducks was no fluke. Reed finished with a sack and an interception against San Diego. "We watched him in the Pac-10 for years," Mora said. "He's a playmaker. It was good to see him show up. I had a feeling he would show up and make some plays."

ROOKIE REPORT

--Rookie QB Mike Teel of Rutgers had an impressive pro debut, completing 7-of-15 passes for 75 yards and an 18-yard touchdown to Mike Hass.
--OL Max Unger got his first start of his career at right guard. Unger also spent some time at center and seemed comfortable at both positions.
--Rookie RB Devin Moore out of Wyoming finished with a game-high 32 yards, and also looked good returning kicks.
--DL Michael Bennett out of Texas A&M had a sack in the preseason opener.

INJURY REPORT: CB Marcus Trufant and offensive linemen Cory Withrow, Grey Ruegamer, Mansfield Wrotto and Walter Jones did not suit up for the Seahawks game against San Diego. DE Patrick Kerney and C Chris Spencer, both game-time decisions, suited up and played in the first quarter.


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