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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

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July 26, 2008 9:01 AM

Nate Burleson still gets a kick out of returns

Posted by Danny O'Neil

As a starting receiver, Nate Burleson already has a pretty full plate of responsibility. That's why coach Mike Holmgren previously floated the possibility of taking Burleson off punt-return duty.

"For me, like I told Mike, I'm open and willing to try and juggle both returns and being the starting receiver," Burleson said.

That's quite a change from the attitudes of some players. Former UW Husky Jerome Pathon comes to mind. He was at Seahawks training camp in 2005, and playing on special teams was a sticking point with him. He wasn't altogether pleased about it. He missed one special-teams meeting, which may have been a miscommunication or it may have reflected his lack of enthusiasm for that endeavor. Either way, he ended up waived before the regular season began.

Burleson, Bobby Engram and Seneca Wallace fielded punts in the special-teams drills at practice Friday afternoon.

"I really don't want to relinquish the punt returns position," Burleson said. "For one, it's just such an adrenaline rush. It's a big part of a game. It's such a great momentum swing. And two, it was a big part of me getting my confidence back when I switched teams, coming in here to Seattle, struggling with my thumb and the confidence issues. That was one thing that helped me find myself a little bit, find an identity on this team."

Maybe adding punt returns to starting at split end is too taxing, and Burleson confessed that if the coaches make the decision that he'll play receiver exclusively, that's their discretion and he even brought up the possibility of being used occasionally on returns as Brian Westbrook was.

"But at the same time, I know it's going to take some wear and tear on my body," Burleson said. "Pretty much, I'm just open and willing to do whatever. They want to utilize me as a situational guy, kind of like Westbrook was in Philadelphia, I'm up for that, too. "

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