RENTON - Mum's the word.
Now that three of the most senior members of the Seattle Seahawks receiving group have departed in less than seven months, second-year receiver Deon Butler says things are a little quiet during the team’s film sessions.
“Our meetings got quieter person by person,” joked Butler. “First it was Nate (Burleson), then when T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) left it got a little quieter, and Deion (Branch) stepped up. Now Deion is gone and we have a bunch of mutes in our wideouts. Now it’s just going to be Coach Kippy Brown and the tape rolling.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll announced Wednesday that Butler would replace Branch, traded to New England this week, as the team’s starting flanker.
The Penn State product has been working toward this moment since Seattle drafted him in the third round last year. However, when new general manager John Schneider took the job in January, bringing with him a preference for big, strong receivers, some observers thought Butler would be moved out in one of the dozens of roster moves the team has made since January.
Instead, Butler proved during the exhibition season he could be a reliable target for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. And now he has to show the same kind of results as a starter.
“I don’t have to do anything more amazing,” Butler said. “Whatever I’ve done now to this point has pretty much given them the comfort level to slide me into a starting spot.
“Obviously I need to continue to get better. You can always get better, but I don’t need to go out and do something amazing and get out of my element and feel like ‘Oh, there’s this pressure.’ ”
Along with Butler, Carroll said Ben Obomanu should get more opportunities, along with veteran Brandon Stokley as a slot receiver. And rookie Golden Tate should see more snaps.
Stokley in the fold was one reason Carroll felt comfortable trading Branch.
“Stokley came in here and showed his ability just right off the bat, really with the background he had with Jeremy (Bates),” Carroll said. “And then his ability to come out here and prove it to us that he was ready to take over that role really made it an opportunity for us. It gives us a pick that we didn’t have and it gives us some ability in free agency that we didn’t have that will help us down the road.”
Butler said he’ll miss Branch, who served as a mentor.
“I have learned so much just as far as leverages, coverages and how you see things,” Butler said. “How basically not every route is run like it’s drawn up on paper. It might be drawn up this way, but according to the coverage you might want to change it.
“So I remember all that veteran stuff that he taught me before. I learned so much, and I’ll continue to talk to him.”
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Although running back Marshawn Lynch has had only three days of practice, Carroll reiterated that Lynch will see significant playing time Sunday at Chicago, although Carroll said it would be later in the week before he announces whether Lynch will start.
“He really has the full range of ability to do whatever we want to do,” Carroll said. “Now we’re anxious to see how it fits together. And he’s going to get a lot of work in this game; he’s doing really well picking things up. There’ll be much growth here in the next few weeks, but at this point he can play in the game plan.”
One place Lynch should help is running the ball on first down. The Seahawks rank second-worst in the league in total rushing yards on first down with 152.
John Carlson was excused from practice to be with his wife, Danielle, who is expecting their first child. Offensive guard Chester Pitts (knee) made it through practice as he prepares for perhaps his first action in more than a year after microfracture knee surgery last year while he was with Houston. Carroll will toss the tipoff for tonight’s Portland Trail Blazers scrimmage at Garfield High in Seattle. Doors open at 6 with tipoff at 7. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the school activity center today. Proceeds will be donated to the Garfield School Foundation.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks