After 19 games as an NFL starter, Charlie Frye still seeks an answer to a familiar question – can he be a quality quarterback in this league?
Frye will get a chance to begin answering that question on Saturday, when he likely will start with the first unit against Chicago in the Seattle Seahawks’ second preseason game, and first home game at Qwest Field.
With starter Matt Hasselbeck sitting out practice all week resting a sore back, Frye worked with the first unit during practice this week. Coach Mike Holmgren already feels comfortable with what second-string quarterback Seneca Wallace can do, so the coaching staff would like to take an extended look at Frye on Saturday. Specifically, Holmgren wants to know if Frye could come in and effectively run the offense should the team decide to use the athletic Wallace to help bolster a young, inexperienced receiving group.
“As far as what Coach wants to do with that, that’s his decision,” Frye said about the possibility of Wallace playing receiver. “I’m just really trying to go out there and get this offense down, and if he feels comfortable with me that’s great.
“But my first couple of years (in the league) I played a lot of football so that’s come in handy and helped me be comfortable out there and confident. Right now I’m still trying to learn this offense and take that next step of making my reads faster and making good decisions.”
Frye’s experience should serve him well. At 26 years old, he has already dealt with some adversity, getting traded from Cleveland to Seattle after the first game of the season last year, and going from a starter to a third-team quarterback. Frye, an Ohio native who grew up rooting for the Browns, handled the change graciously, and has patiently waited for an opportunity to show that he can contribute.
So far, Frye’s play has been uneven. He finished 2-of-3 for 22 yards in mop-up duty in Seattle’s 34-17 win over Minnesota in the first week of the preseason. In the team’s scrimmage on Aug. 2, Frye played well, finishing 10-of-14 for 137 yards, including a 53-yard score on a deep route to speedster Jordan Kent.
But in practice with the first unit this week, Frye missed receivers while working with the first team, and still is working to get his timing down.
At 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, Frye has decent but not overwhelming arm strength. He’s struggled at times going against Seattle’s first-team defense, with tighter coverage and smaller windows to throw into.
However, Frye is easygoing and likeable, which seems to help him better relate and communicate with the rest of the players. First-year quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor also says Frye is smart and has a firm grasp of the team’s offensive system.
“For me, I’ve always just been excited to see him go,” Lazor said. “Because Charlie’s a guy that’s played before, when we practice he has a lot of experience from games in the past that he can draw upon, and that shows. Some young guys, and guys that are backups, don’t have that to work with. But I think it helps him practice because he’s been in some of these situations.”
Added Wallace: “It’s difficult to judge somebody when he’s first coming in and learning a position. But he’s followed through and he’s learned a new offense and those different things. There’s a big improvement from last year to this year.”
One thing Frye doesn’t have any more is a shirt representing his favorite superhero – Superman. Fyre’s custom during games growing up was to wear a T-shirt with the “S” emblem while playing in high school and college. But with the restrictive NFL dress code limiting what players can wear on the field, Frye had to retire the Superman T-shirt.
“That shirt’s probably smelling pretty bad right now,” joked Frye when asked about his discarded good-luck charm.
Frye doesn’t need to impersonate Superman on Saturday. Simply getting the ball to the right player, managing the offense and not turning the ball over will win Holmgren over in his search for more stability at quarterback.
Reporter Frank Hughes contributed to this report.
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With snapper Tyler Schmitt nursing a sore back, the Seahawks signed Tim Lindsey to a contract, releasing Eric Wicks to open up a roster spot. Lindsey was signed by the team in January but released in April, after Schmitt was drafted in the sixth round. Lindsey was actually on his honeymoon in Florida when the Seahawks called. “I feel badly,” special teams coach Bruce DeHaven said. “But not as badly as (Lindsey and his wife) feel.”
Hasselbeck out again
QB Matt Hasselbeck didn’t practice for the third straight day (sore back), and that virtually ensures he won’t play against the Chicago Bears on Saturday night at Qwest Field. Offensive tackle Sean Locklear also missed practice with a sore knee. His status for Saturday is unclear.
Kickers reverse roles
DeHaven said that kickers Olindo Mare and rookie Brandon Coutu will switch roles Saturday, with Mare handling kickoffs and Coutu taking the field-goal attempts. DeHaven said the team takes into account conditions when they are evaluating at the end of camp; Coutu kicked off in a dome against Minnesota last week, while Mare will kick in outdoor conditions at Qwest. Also, punter Ryan Plackemeier, who returned to practice this week after a pectoral injury, is not likely to play Saturday because the team is still worried about him getting hit. Reggie Hodges will do the punting.
Props for the offense
For one of the few times in this training camp, the offense got the better of the defense and, usually subdued, started barking at the more vocal defensive players on Friday. The best play came when the defense showed blitz, quarterback Charlie Frye called an audible for a quick-hitter up the middle by Maurice Morris, and Morris slid untouched through the defense. The play prompted more whooping and hollering by the offense.
Frank Hughes, The News Tribune