RENTON — The news out of Seahawks headquarters Friday was that cornerback Marcus Trufant is out because of a hamstring injury, defensive end Red Bryant is probable with a foot injury, and everybody who plays on kickoff units could be listed as “skeptical.”
Scuttlebutt from the NFL office that commissioner Roger Goodell was considering ways to eliminate the kickoff from football – out of concern for player safety – got the attention of those Seahawks whose livelihoods depend on it.
“Obviously, I don’t like it,” said Leon Washington, whose eight career kickoff returns for touchdowns is tied for the best in NFL history with Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs. “I understand the NFL’s side of it, and what they’re trying to accomplish. With the lawsuits and head injuries, they’re trying to cut down that part of the game – that’s the premise behind it.”
But for game-changing momentum and fan excitement? “There’s no other play that can replace it,” Washington said.
Seahawks special-teams ace Heath Farwell said the talk has him “pretty fired up.”
“We want safety as well, of course,” he said. “We want everybody to play as long as they can, and we don’t want anybody getting hurt. But it’s been a part of the game, and if they take that away, guys like me won’t have a job.”
One option reportedly considered would replace the kickoff with a situation whereby the scoring team would be offered the ball at its own 30 with the option of punting or attempting to convert a fourth-and-15 offensive play.
It’s the most radical concept that’s been considered as the NFL works to legislate against the effects of high-speed collisions that have made kickoffs a disproportionate source of serious injuries.
Michael Robinson, fullback and special-teams captain for the Seahawks, had an initial one-word response: “Terrible.”
Asked about the fourth-and-15 proposal, he shook his head.
“What’s that?” he said. “I understand it’s about safety; I don’t think that turning a contact sport into a non-contact sport is the answer. It’s a contact sport, that’s what I signed up for.
“I don’t think it’s good for the game,” Robinson added. “I think it’s a little bit of a PR stunt to show our commissioner’s concern for the players. But this is strictly my opinion.”
Robinson thought that a way to enhance player safety would be to mandate mouthpieces. Washington and Farwell both thought the elimination of the two-man wedge (previously allowed to be four men) would contribute to fewer injuries on kickoffs.
Washington made it clear that the talk makes the career-return record even more precious. “All I can do is take my opportunity to get that record while I can,” he said.
With the suspension of cornerback Brandon Browner added to the injury of Trufant, Walter Thurmond and rookie Jeremy Lane will be thrust into the lineup in base and nickel situations.
“They had a lot of activity this week,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Walter’s very comfortable with the opportunity for Jeremy, it’s a first-time shot. He’s a very talented kid, and he knows what he’s doing and he’s been practicing well all year at the spot, so it’s not that big a transition for him. We just need to see how he responds in the game.”
The Seahawks practiced outside Friday, in cold and drizzly conditions. “We don’t know what we’re going to get on game day,” Carroll said of the decision to go outside. “We got a good day of work yesterday inside, so we got a little bit of the elements out there (Friday); it’s good to be on the grass for us and mix it so we don’t pound it every day (on the artificial surface) inside.”
With guard James Carpenter out, it appears that John Moffitt and rookie J.R. Sweezy are in competition for action. “(Sweezy) practiced with the (starters) quite a bit this week to make sure he’s prepared,” Carroll said. “He and John will play the spot so we’re in good shape there.” In injury news other than Bryant and Trufant: Linebacker Leroy Hill (ankle) was limited in practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday. Safety Kam Chancellor (groin) and center Max Unger (hip) rested Thursday but practiced Friday and are probable. ... Key players on the Arizona injury report are DE Calais Campbell (calf), RB Beanie Wells (knee) and WR Andre Roberts (ankle), who are considered questionable.Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @DaveBoling