Hamlin back in action
By John Murphy, Yahoo Sports
September 2, 2006
SEATTLE – Seattle Seahawks starting free safety Ken Hamlin suffered a potentially career-threatening head injury during a scuffle outside a nightclub last fall. Even in recovery, he remained in pain as he dealt with the reality of missing the final 13 games (including playoffs) of the season. The campaign culminated in Seattle's first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
"(I) am very grateful to be back here and playing with my friends and teammates. … It was one of the hardest times of my life to sit and have to watch all those games last season," Hamlin said. "I was happy for what the team was doing but I really wanted to be out there."
Hamlin hopes to strengthen a unit that features a young core of defenders, including cornerback Marcus Trufant, strong safety Michael Boulware and rookie cornerback Kelly Jennings – all of whom are 25-years old or younger.
Perhaps in large part because of Hamlin's injury and opponents putting a heavy emphasis on passing to overcome deficits, the Seahawks were 25th in pass defense a year ago.
The middle of the D-line, featuring Rocky Bernard and Chartric Darby, is quick off the ball, but light. In addition, the line's depth has been sapped because of injuries to Marcus Tubbs and Russell Davis.
Second-year middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu continues to prove himself as an emotional and physical leader. He remained right upfront along the sidelines when most other starters had found their way to the bench in the preseason finale. He was always looking for someone to pat on the helmet or clap for as his second-and-third string teammates came off the field.
The team's biggest free agent addition came in the form of pass rushing outside linebacker Julian Peterson. The team hopes his arrival and the selection of defensive end Darryl Tapp will help them stay at or near the 50-sack pace they set a year ago.
The backup quarterback job is still a major discussion point. Current backup Seneca Wallace is more of an all-purpose player, and went only 13-for-25, while being sacked three times on those 25 pass attempts last season. Third-stringer David Greene has not been effective in most game situations, lacking ideal arm strength and accuracy on his passes.
Against the Raiders, Wallace once again flashed his all-around athleticism, which led to a touchdown pass to D.J. Hackett. However, Wallace is still making a lot of the same mistakes he made years past. He makes most of his plays with his feet, but fails to look off his first read and takes off running rather than using his mobility to step up in the pocket and look downfield.
Greene kept his composure in the pocket and threw the ball much more accurately than in previous weeks.
Rookie punter Ryan Plackemeier averaged 44 yards per punt in the preseason, but opposing teams averaged 19.8 yards per return, worst in the preseason. There was also one touchdown allowed.
The Seahawks decided to release veteran punter Tom Rouen in mid-June, which showed confidence in their young punter and also gave him the bulk of the work in the preseason. However, his hang-time has gotten them in trouble as he has out-kicked his coverage at times.
The release of Rouen also sets up another potential problem. If Plackemeier struggles, it would also impact the kicking game because it is hard to get a kicker acquainted with a new holder in-season, even if it is someone (Matt Hasselbeck) that he has worked with previously.
Speaking of special teams, some of the team's top coverage unit players are also their reserve linebackers, one area that coach Mike Holmgren noted would face some tough cuts this weekend. If someone like Isaiah Kacyvenski, D.D. Lewis, Kevin Bentley or rookie Lance Laury were to be released, it would have a trickle down effect on their special teams.
Kicker Josh Brown, who converted just 18 of 25 field goal attempts a year ago, made three 40-plus yard field goals against the Raiders.
John Murphy is Yahoo! Sports' NFL personnel and college prospect evaluator. Murphy's seventh annual NFL Draft Bible package for the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft coverage is now available. Learn more at www.nfldraftbible.blogspot.com.
Updated on Sunday, Sep 3, 2006 4:00 pm, EDT