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

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August 8, 2008 7:58 PM

Game notes

Posted by Danny O'Neil

The good

The running game
Now, it's just an exhibition game. But it turned out to be an exhibition that the Seahawks running game may indeed be much improved. Maurice Morris gained 62 yards in the first quarter, Julius Jones put a blitzing Minnesota linebacker into a face plant and T.J. Duckett and Owen Schmitt each galloped to first downs on third-and-short. All good signs for Seattle.

The passing game
Matt Hasselbeck completed seven of eight passes and threw for a touchdown, and Seneca Wallace completed 15 of 20 and threw for three scores.

Howard Green
He plays a position thinned by injuries to Larry Tripplett, Red Bryant and Marcus Tubbs, who's still not back from knee surgery. But Green had two sacks in the game, one in which he tackled Gus Frerotte and the other in which he stripped the football from behind. Training camp began with him competing for a roster spot. It would be hard to see him not making the team at this point.

David Hawthorne
The rookie linebacker from Texas Christian forced two fumbles with a pair of thunderous hits. He blew up Albert Young on Minnesota’s first play of the third quarter and then sent the ball popping out of Maurice Hicks' hands later in that period after Hicks was stood up by safety Jamar Adams. The free-agent departures of Kevin Bentley and Niko Koutouvides leaves some openings on the defense.

Michael Bumpus
It would be a stretch to think he’s going to make the 53-man roster, but the receiver from Washington State looked good in practice and he made a pair of catches in the second half of Saturday’s game. That was two more receptions than Ben Obomanu and Courtney Taylor had combined.

Lawrence Jackson
The rookie defensive end chased down John David Booty, forcing a fumble in Seattle territory toward the end of the third quarter. Jackson showed some gumption, twice chasing plays downfield to be part of the tackle.

The bad

Marcus Trufant
Now let’s not get carried. It was an exhibition game and all, but he certainly didn’t look like the cornerback who played his way to his first Pro Bowl last season. He missed a tackle in the first quarter that resulted in a 28-yard gain on third down and was penalized for pass-interference in the second quarter, setting up Minnesota’s second touchdown. He’s not going to get cut, obviously, but he wasn’t very good.

Seattle's secondary
Minnesota completed five of its first six passes in the first quarter against Seattle’s starting secondary on Friday and scored on a 6-yard pass to fullback Thomas Tapeh. Vikings starter Tarvaris Jackson – who was never confused with being an adequate quarterback last season – completed seven of 10 in the first half. He threw for 108 yards and had a quarterback rating of 138.8. He had a quarterback rating higher than 100 in only two games last season

The ugly

T.J. Duckett
He fumbled twice and Seattle lost both. The first was negated by a face-mask penalty against Minnesota, the second overturned after a replay review showed Duckett was down before he lost the ball in the third quarter. That probably won't keep Duckett from getting an earful about ball security, though.

Not-so-special coverage
Kicker Brandon Coutu made a pretty good tackle at midfield, preventing a touchdown, but that’s always a bad sign for a coverage unit. The Seahawks gave up a 53-yard return on their first kickoff of the game. Seattle also allowed a 23-yard punt return in the second quarter.

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August 8, 2008 5:42 PM

Matt Hasselbeck nearly perfect

Posted by Danny O'Neil

MINNEAPOLIS -- Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck played the first two series in Seattle's game against Minnesota. He completed seven of his eight pass attempts for 70 yards. He completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Kent to cap Seattle's first drive. Hasselbeck was knocked down once as defensive end Jared Allen knocked him down after he released the ball, but Hasselbeck was fine.

Seneca Wallace came in to replace Hasselbeck at the end of the first quarter.

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August 8, 2008 5:01 PM

Cue Ragnar

Posted by Danny O'Neil

There are nods to the Nordic nature of Minnesota's nickname all over the play. A horn sounds whenever groups of Vikings players run through the tunnel from the locker room and enter the field during pre-game warmups. There is an inflatable ship that is in place when the team runs onto the field.

And then there's Ragnar, the wild-haired fur-clad Viking mascot, who led the team onto the field while riding a purple and gold Harley Davidson. That's what the great Nordic warriors rode around town on for their pillage and plundering, right? Garishly colored choppers?

I didn't think I would ever see anything as dumb as Oregon's Donald Duck-looking mascot driven onto the field at Autzen Stadium aboard a motorcycle. I was wrong. A Viking riding a Harley is dumber. Or would that be more dumb?

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August 8, 2008 3:51 PM

Seahawks inactives

Posted by Danny O'Neil

MINNEAPOLIS -- No surprises here. It's the guys who've been limited or held out of practice entirely: P Ryan Plackemeier, WR Logan Payne, S Jordan Babineaux, LB Matt Castelo, LB Will Herring, C Chris Spencer, DE Nu'u Tafisi, OT Samuel Gutekunst, T Floyd Womack, DT Red Bryant, WR Deion Branch, DT Marcus Tubbs, DE Chris Cooper, DT Larry Tripplett, DE Patrick Kerney.

Minnesota's list of players who will not dress: CB Marcus McCauley, TE Garrett Mills and DE Brian Robison.

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August 8, 2008 3:07 PM

Ruskell-Hutchinson shake hands in the red zone

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Remember that Hutchinson guy who used to play next to Walter Jones?

You know, the big guy who was pretty grumpy and went to Pro Bowls. The guy who played with barbed-wire toughness and whose exit was pretty prickly back in 2006.

Well, he's here in Minnesota now preparing for his third season as a Viking and it'll probably be a while before Seahawks president Tim Ruskell shakes the grief Seattle fans feel for losing guard Steve Hutchinson in free agency in 2006.

But Ruskell did shake Hutchinson's hand here just about two hours before the teams play in an exhibition game in Minnesota -- Hutchinson's new home. The two stood at about the 15 yard-line and talked. Ruskell even smiled slightly, and after the conversation Ruskell extended a hand and Hutchinson shook it.

I was in the press box, looking through binoculars and I'm no hardly a professional lip-reader. So I'll leave the content of that conversation to your imaginations ... and your comments to this post.

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August 8, 2008 2:32 PM

Multi-media message

Posted by Danny O'Neil

MINNEAPOLIS -- Checking in from the press box here at the Metrodome. Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Frye and Courtney Taylor are on the field warming up while position coach Bill Lazor is watching. This hasn't been mentioned yet, but Lazor has to be the absolutely best name for a quarterbacks coach. Every time, I hear his name, I can't help but wishing there was a little Dr. Evil voice from Austin Powers when he's requesting sharks with lasers on their heads.

Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu are playing catch, and the DBs are even trying their hand with the passing game. Kelly Jennings has a decent arm. He whistled a pass 20 yards downfield.

I'll have another post before the game, and I'll also be appearing on KJR (950 AM) this afternoon at 3:40 Pacific time.

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August 8, 2008 9:05 AM

Position paper: Running backs

Posted by Danny O'Neil

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Seahawks overhauled their backfield this offseason, signing Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett, releasing Shaun Alexander and then choosing Owen Schmitt and Justin Forsett in the NFL Draft.

Now I didn't major in math in college, but a formula in which four backs are added and only one subtracted equals one pretty crowded backfield. The Seahawks are facing the possibilities of some difficult choices. I outlined one of those backs vying for a spot in Friday's story.

Seattle has kept five running backs on the final roster cutdowns each of the past four seasons, but coach Mike Holmgren explained that the number the team usually shoots for is 11 players at the running back and wide receiver positions. Here's a look at the numbers from 2002 to 2007. Remember, this is at the time of final roster cutdowns before the regular-season begins so it does not reflect players added in midseason:

RBs + WRs11101211109


So that number of 11 is more of a guide than an absolute rule. And one other thing to consider when you measure the number of running backs the team might keep is where the special-teams players are going to come from. Remember, the Seahawks lost Niko Koutouvides and Kevin Bentley to free agency. Those pair werer standouts. Wesly Mallard was a candidate, but he's now on injured reserve. Some of Seattle's wide receivers may loom large in kick returns, but there's no coverage specialist in that group like Alex Bannister was. The road for rookies like Justin Forsett and Owen Schmitt to make this roster in a crowded backfield is going to be on special teams.

Now, here's a look at the roll call for running backs on the 53-man roster over the past six seasons:

Shaun AlexanderShaun AlexanderShaun Alexander
Maurice MorrisMaurice MorrisMaurice Morris
Alvin PearmanJosh ScobeyJosh Scobey
Mack StrongMack StrongMack Strong
Leonard WeaverJosh ParryLeonard Weaver
Shaun AlexanderShaun AlexanderShaun Alexander
Maurice MorrisMaurice MorrisMaurice Morris
Kerry CarterKerry Carter 
Mack StrongMack StrongMack Strong
Heath EvansHeath EvansHeath Evans
 Chris Davis 


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Recent entries

Aug 8, 08 - 07:58 PM
Game notes

Aug 8, 08 - 05:42 PM
Matt Hasselbeck nearly perfect

Aug 8, 08 - 05:01 PM
Cue Ragnar

Aug 8, 08 - 03:51 PM
Seahawks inactives

Aug 8, 08 - 03:07 PM
Ruskell-Hutchinson shake hands in the red zone







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