Renton Seattle Seahawks running back Justin Forsett doesnt have to go too far to find one of his strongest supporters.
In fact, on Sunday Forsett be right across the field from him in Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
The two forged a relationship when Forsett was a sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley. Jones-Drews strength and conditioning coach in high school when he attended De La Salle High in the Bay Area, Mike Blasquez, is the head strength and conditioning coach for the athletics program at Cal, so the two running backs have worked out together for the past four years during the offseason at the East Bay college.
Forsett said the intense competition between Jones-Drew helped prepare him for life in the NFL.
Further, Forsett saw a person he could emulate in Jones-Drew. The two have similar body types, with Forsett coming in at 5-foot-8, 194 pounds, and Jones-Drew a compact 5-7, 208.
He was a hard worker, Forsett said about Jones-Drew. Explosive with a lot of power and a lot of intensity for the game. Hes very confident in what he can do, and he displays it on the field.
Just to see him was encouraging, Forsett said about watching Jones-Drew experience success in the league. Just him being a mentor to me during those times, telling me what to do and what to expect, especially coming into the league, different little tips to help me make my mark in the league, helped me out a lot.
Forsett said the two regularly keep in contact by phone or twitter, with Forsett getting blasted by Jones-Drew on twitter a few weeks ago when the Cal football team was drilled by Oregon.
Every day, he wanted to compete, to see who was the fastest running up the stairs, or to see who was the strongest, Jones-Drew said. We had little jokes back and forth. Its just good to have a good competition with a guy that was real hungry, that wanted to get out there. He did well.
Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will have to devise a strategy to contain the strong, shifty Jacksonville runner. Even though Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard performed well against Tennessee, Bradley says containing Jacksonville offensively still starts with running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Hes so strong, and we faced a back like that in (San Franciscos) Frank Gore, Bradley said. And the same challenge is set in that he kind of leads their train. I know they didnt run the ball much with him the last game because of a game plan change, but we know in order to be successful hes the first guy we need to do well against.
Similar to Gore, Jones-Drew has the ability to break big plays, so Bradley said it will be important that the defense rallies to the ball
Our big emphasis is its going to take 11 hats, Bradley said. You know, weve got to get everybody to the ball with a guy like that, because hes broke so many tackles. Hes a powerful runner, and a lot of times one guy cant bring him down, so its going to take all 11. And our emphasis is that 11 hats have to be on the ball carrier.
Hasselbeck on pace to play
For the second straight day Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck practiced, and he appears on pace to play on Sunday.
Hasselbeck (rib) was listed as a limited participant in practice on Thursday. After splitting time taking snaps with Seneca Wallace with the first unit, Hasselbeck took the majority of the snaps on Thursday and remains questionable for Sunday.
There were some concerns as to how Hasselbecks rib injury would respond after practice on Wednesday, but he appeared to loosen up OK after the early stages of practice.
Along with Hasselbeck, linebacker Lofa Tatupu (hamstring) was a limited participant on Thursday. LB Leroy Hill (groin), OT Walter Jones (knee), OT Sean Locklear (ankle) and OG Rob Sims (ankle) are listed as out. DE Patrick Kerney (groin) did not participate in practice. And CB Josh Wilson (ankle) and FB Justin Griffith (knee) were full participants in practice.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437