by Matt Soltysiak
Mike Holmgren’s going away party was such a festive event. Seattle went 4-12 last season, after going 10-6 and 9-7 in the two previous seasons. Injuries were one of the biggest reasons, especially to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The biggest off-season move by the club is the signing of free agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who gives the receiving corps quite an upgrade.
In the draft the Seahawks focused on defense grabbing linebacker Aaron Curry with their first round pick. Seattle also drafted tackle Max Unger in the second round and receiver Deon Butler in the third.
What to watch for in training camp
Matt Hasselbeck had a horrible season last year, mostly due to injury (in 7 games he threw 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions). If he can return to good health and get some protection, watch out! Remember, in 2007 he threw for 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. See that he’s healthy.
Running the ball is going to be up to Julius Jones. Jones led the team in rushing, but managed only two scores. T.J. Duckett was used as their goal line back. Duckett returns, but Maurice Morris is gone to Detroit. This should give Jones more carries (he had only 158 last year in 15 games). See how the Seahawks use these two in the backfield and if anyone else emerges who could threaten to take away some carries. I expect Jones to at least be good for a thousand yards and six scores this season, with potential for more.
Catching those passes from Hasselbeck should be an improved receiving corps. Seattle brought in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson returns as well. Burleson started week one, but was sidelined for the remainder of the season due to injury before the first game ended. Burleson hasn’t lived up to expectations since coming to Seattle, but this could be his best opportunity if he’s healthy because T.J. should draw plenty of coverage his way.
Rookie Deon Butler and veteran Deion Branch may play a factor as well. It depends how well Branch can stay healthy (he’s only played a full season once in his 8 year career) and how quickly Butler can catch on. Don’t forget about the teams’ tight end either. John Carlson had a great rookie season leading the team in receptions (55), and also had 627 yards receiving and managed 5 scores. Those numbers are likely to increase.
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