RENTON – Seneca Wallace’s days of pulling double duty may be over for awhile. He still wore a red jersey traditionally reserved for quarterbacks during practice Wednesday, yet Wallace donned receiver gloves to cushion his hands for the steady diet of fastballs quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tossed his way.
Wallace appeared comfortable in his first full practice as a receiver for the Seattle Seahawks. Pressed into duty with Seattle’s top four receivers out because of injuries, Wallace ran crisp routes and caught everything thrown his way. Based on the amount of reps he received during practice Wallace should see plenty of time at receiver Sunday in the team’s home opener against NFC West division rival San Francisco, and perhaps will start.
Wallace splitting out wide has been a wish for many Seahawks fans, and is now a risk Seattle coach Mike Holmgren is willing to take because of the dire situation created by a season-ending knee injury to Nate Burleson, along with veterans Deion Branch and Bobby Engram still weeks away from being ready to play. However, Holmgren said the move is temporary; Wallace is still a quarterback first.
“Seneca has been prepared to do both of these things for a long time,” Holmgren said. “I feel pretty comfortable now. We don’t have much choice, but I feel more comfortable now because of Charlie’s (Frye) situation than I did in years past, perhaps.”
Wallace said he hasn’t played receiver full-time since his days at Sacramento City College, and relishes the chance to see regular playing time this week.
“I’m confident,” Wallace said. “I’ve just got to go out there and be able to make sure everything is correct. No busted routes. And after that, you’re just out there playing football. You’ve got to catch the ball.”
Engram also is anxious to see Wallace in action, having caught glimpses of his electric ability over the years, but never getting a chance to see the full display.
“Seneca is a playmaker,” Engram said. “He brings a lot of athleticism, a lot of speed. A lot of confidence. So I’m excited to see what he can do. He’s a tremendous talent. He’s probably one of the most athletic guys in this locker room, if not the most athletic. So I think he’ll be able to help us out when he’s on the field.”
Wallace’s shift to receiver was one of several moves the Seahawks made Wednesday. Receivers Billy McMullen and Samie Parker both signed with Seattle and got their first action. The Seahawks re-signed receiver Jordan Kent to the practice squad after he cleared waivers, but they were not so lucky with running back Justin Forsett, who was claimed by Indianapolis.
Also, defensive lineman Rocky Bernard and defensive back Jordan Babineaux returned to practice after serving one-game suspensions.
“They issued the punishment,” Babineaux said of the suspension. “And I handled my business, took care of it, put it behind me and now I am ready to press forward and look forward to the rest of the season.”
Newly signed punter Jon Ryan, who replaced a struggling Ryan Plackemeier, also practiced for the first time with the Seahawks.
Seattle is at its roster limit of 53 players, but with two kickers and 10 defensive linemen, Holmgren hinted more moves could be in the works this week.
McMullen is a big target at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, and is familiar with the West Coast offense after stints in Philadelphia and Washington. Parker is more of a familiar face to folks in the Pacific Northwest because he played at the University of Oregon, where he also ran track. Both McMullen and Parker should see playing time Sunday, along with young receivers Logan Payne and Courtney Taylor.
“All the terminology is pretty much the same,” McMullen said. “I’m just trying to add what I can on the offensive end and also special teams.”
With the Seahawks putting offensive guard Rob Sims on the injured reserve list with a torn pectoral muscle, thus ending his season, Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack worked with the first unit at right guard. A backup at guard and tackle, Womack said he’s ready for Sunday.
“I’ve been in this position before,” Womack said. “So I’m comfortable with it. You’re always one play away, so you’ve always got to be ready to go. So right now I’ve just got to work on my technique and the things that are going to help me during the game.”
Holmgren is hoping the patchwork situation at receiver will tide his team over until the Seahawks reach the bye week, when they expect both Branch and Engram to return for a Week 5 contest in New York against the Giants.
For his part, Engram said it’s been hard to watch from the sideline. But he also knows it’s important for him to come back healthy so there’s less of a chance of reinjuring his shoulder.
“I’m just trying to keep my conditioning at a high level so when I come back I won’t miss a beat,” Engram said. “Everything in me wants to be out there for this game. But I don’t think that would be a smart decision for me personally or for my team.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437
seahawks Coach’s corner
Coach Mike Holmgren said the Seahawks considered a list of about 30 receivers, including former Seahawks wideout Koren Robinson, before settling on signing Billy McMullen and Samie Parker.
“Koren has a history here. Any player that had a history here before, it’s been talked about. I probably had a fair amount of criticism on how I handled Koren, but that’s old news. Right now, whether it’s Koren or anybody else that could come in and help the football team and contribute, I think you have to, at the very least, talk about him in the meeting. And that’s what we did. My comfort level with that would be OK, but again, there’s more to discuss.”
• Holmgren said that he and San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike Martz developed a friendship after knowing each other for years, since their college coaching days.
“We used to recruit the same areas. It’s been years. And then all of the sudden, you go to owners meetings, and you’re sitting around and you chat when it’s in a non-competitive situation and you realize, hey, these guys aren’t all that bad. That’s how it happened.”
• Cutting punter Ryan Plackemeier and signing Jon Ryan was a hard decision, Holmgren said.
“That was a tough call because Plack is a good guy and he had a tough ballgame. I don’t think there were ideal kicking conditions. Clearly it was wet, windy, all that kind of stuff. The punting and kicking in the league, it’s rather tenuous. There are punters and kickers, because every team has one, that are kind of out there waiting for their chance.”
• Scaling down the playbook may be an issue with all of the shuffling at receiver, Holmgren said.
“Well, I have to see how we practice first, really. I don’t want to scale down too much. I want to just continue to play offense the way we play offense, but then I have to see how we practice and how the guys absorb stuff.”
• Holmgren also gave these reasons for releasing Jordan Kent and Justin Forsett:
“Well, the only thing I’d say there is that the preseason is the preseason. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. It’s different. And then, sometimes when you release a player, it’s because of a logjam at a position, sometimes there are other reasons. … I think both those players are young players with an upside, but right now, we’re trying to do some things that help right now. So, yeah, you’re going to have guys in preseason get opportunities and do well. Then when the lights come on, it’s not the same. And that’s really what you’re being judged on.”
Eric Williams, The News Tribune THE SEAHAWKS’ OPPONENT THIS WEEK
San Francisco 49ers (0-1)
1:05 p.m., Sunday, Qwest Field; Ch. 13, 710-AM
Coach: Mike Nolan, 16-33, fourth season as head coach.
Last week: The 49ers lost to NFC West rival Arizona, 23-13, after they committed five turnovers, including one interception and two fumbles by quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan, who won the job over injured Alex Smith.
Against the Seahawks: The Seahawks lead the series, 10-8, after sweeping both games last year by a combined score of 47-3. The Niners swept the series in 2007. Seattle has won eight of the past 10.
Stats and stuff: This could be the final season for Nolan if he is unable to turn around the fortunes of a once-proud franchise. Nolan drafted Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers, then chose O’Sullivan to play ahead of Smith, whose career with the 49ers possibly ended Wednesday when he was put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury that started with a Rocky Bernard sack last season. O’Sullivan was 14-of-20 last week for 195 yards in the first start of his six-year NFL career. RB Frank Gore was impressive, gaining 151 total yards last week, 97 rushing. The Niners added Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson to their offense. The defense is led by linebacker Patrick Willis, last season’s rookie of the year. Cornerbacks Nate Clements and Walt Harris will be tough against Seattle’s young receivers.
Quotable: “It’s pretty bad. Pretty tender.” – San Francisco backup quarterback Alex Smith, on the shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve. He is out for the season.
9/7Arizona, L 13-23
Sundayat Seattle 4:05 p.m.
9/21Detroit 4:05 p.m.
9/28at New Orleans 1 p.m.
10/5New England 4:15 p.m.
10/12Philadelphia 4:15 p.m.
10/19at N.Y. Giants 1 p.m.
10/26Seattle 4:15 p.m.
11/10at Arizona 8:30 p.m.
11/16St. Louis 4:05 p.m.
11/23at Dallas 1 p.m.
11/30at Buffalo 1 p.m.
12/7N.Y. Jets 4:05 p.m.
12/14at Miami 1 p.m.
12/21at St. Louis 1 p.m.
12/28Washington 4:15 p.m.
Frank Hughes, The News Tribune