Matt Hasselbeck says he’s healthy. Now he’ll get a chance to prove it.
After missing nine games in 2008 because of a bulging disk in his back that caused a weakness in his right leg, Seattle’s veteran quarterback says his offseason weight-training regimen has been successful to the point that he’s ready to open the team’s minicamp today on the field.
A healthy Hasselbeck, who turns 34 in September, is a key to the Seahawks turning things around after a dismal 4-12 campaign in 2008. New coach Jim Mora understands that, if the Seahawks are to get back to their winning ways, Hasselbeck’s steadying influence behind center is needed.
“If Matt Hasselbeck is healthy for 16 weeks, this team has a chance to do some special things because he’s an outstanding player,” Mora said. “And we’d love to see that happen. And right now all indications are that he’s going to be fine.”
Hasselbeck said he believes the team should pass on taking a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick. Although he understands he has no say in the matter, Hasselbeck would like to see the Seahawks bring in another impact player, and not use the pick to bring in a promising quarterback such as Georgia’s Matt Stafford or USC’s Mark Sanchez to groom as his replacement.
“I’m a little biased here, right?” Hasselbeck said when asked about Seattle taking Stafford during an interview broadcast on ESPN’s local radio affiliate, KIRO 710-AM. “We could draft him, but it would kind of stink for him, because he would have to sit on the bench for awhile.”
Hasselbeck elaborated by saying he’s never been a fan of first-round picks at quarterback because he was a sixth-round pick and not invited to the NFL scouting combine as a senior coming out of Boston College. Hasselbeck said he thinks a lot of quarterbacks like himself – for instance, Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner – became good quarterbacks because they had to work their way up and earn the respect of their teammates.
Along with the status of Hasselbeck, the debut of Mora on the practice field as the team’s head coach will be one of the stories to follow today. The energetic Mora plans to be more hands-on during practice drills, a contrast to the quiet intensity of Holmgren, who didn’t say much during practice. However, when Holmgren he did speak, players listened.
Mora and his coaching staff, which includes five newcomers, will continue to work to install the team’s new offensive and defensive systems, along with changing the team’s overall philosophy.
Mora has said he wants his team to play with relentless effort, and that starts with the way the Seahawks practice. So the expectation is a fast-paced, intense practice session this afternoon.
Today’s practice may offer a glimpse into the health status of injured players such as offensive tackle Walter Jones (knee), receiver Nate Burleson (knee), defensive end Patrick Kerney (shoulder) and offensive guard Mike Wahle (shoulder), who all finished the 2008 season on the injured reserve list.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437
Time to get started
What: Seahawks mini-camp.
When: Tuesday through Thursday.
Where: Seahawks HQ, Renton.
Who: The 65 veterans on the roster.
What to expect: QB Matt Hasselbeck should be healthy after he missed nine games in 2008; also expect hints on the health of OT Walter Jones (knee), WR Nate Burleson (knee), DE Patrick Kerney (shoulder) and OG Mike Wahle (shoulder), who all finished the season on injured reserve.