RENTON – Creature comforts at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center include a couple of rows of cushy recliner chairs up the middle of the Seattle Seahawks locker room.
You don’t see quarterback Matt Hasselbeck stretched out there very often, but there he was before Wednesday afternoon practice, having a visit with new receiver Brandon Stokley.
Hey, when you add a guy Tuesday who might play Sunday, you use every chance possible to get acquainted. Apparently, the rapid roster turnover makes player communication a little like speed dating for the Seahawks.
So Hasselbeck took the opportunity to grab five quick minutes with a guy he might count on soon to catch some crucial third-down passes.
Can’t be sure if it means anything, but the two looked pretty comfortable.
Yes, Stokley has been in the league 12 seasons and is 34, so it’s understandable that he and the 35-year-old Hasselbeck might want to put their feet up. But Stokley has been riding the Barcalounger more than he would like since being released by the Denver Broncos.
Having recovered from the groin injury that he suffered in training camp, he was called by the Seahawks for a workout Tuesday.
And he might be put to work soon.
“We’ve had our eye on him a long time,” coach Pete Carroll said, citing Stokley’s having played for offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates while in Denver. “He’s a gifted route runner; he’s a third-down specialist; he knows the system and he can go out and play the system right now. And he’s a bright kid. We like the thought of being able to utilize him in all types of situations. He gives us another guy to go to; we won’t wait too long.”
Boiled down, he’s a reliable slot receiver with good hands and an understanding of what he needs to do. If that sounds like former Seahawks receiver Bobby Engram, then that’s certainly something the Seahawks can use.
Nobody is sure how he will fit into the receiver rotation, with veterans such as Deion Branch and Mike Williams matched up with young guys Deon Butler and Golden Tate, and Ben Obomanu also serving as a versatile special teams player.
But GM John Schneider looks for players who can fill certain niches; and if he finds them, Carroll creates the specific niches for them to fill.
“(Stokley is) a uniquely talented player,” Carroll said. “You’ve heard me say this a lot of times: We’re looking for guys who do special things. We covet that kind of player. And the background he’s had in the system makes him a valuable addition. We’ll learn as we go how he fits in, but we have some ideas already.”
Stokley has fit in quite well at various places, playing four seasons with Baltimore, four with Indianapolis and three with Denver. He collected Super Bowl rings with the Ravens and Colts, and pulled in Peyton Manning’s record-setting 49th touchdown pass in 2004.
Although the catch he made to help Denver win the game against Cincinnati last season – off a tipped ball – is the one you’ll find online as a viral video. The late, game-winning catch tells a lot about Stokley. He was in the right spot, was alert and athletic enough to make the catch, and then savvy enough, as he neared the goal line, to jog sideways for a while to kill time off the clock.
“I’m excited to be playing football again,” he said. “When you’re out and watching it on TV every Sunday, you realize how much you miss it.”
Asked what he can bring to the Seahawks, he answered: “Veteran leadership … a guy who is willing to do whatever it takes to help win football games. … I just love to compete. I’m a guy who’s not worried about stats or individual accolades, I just try to do whatever it takes to win games.”
Nobody is certain of his role, or how much he has left, but it’s obvious that young guys such as Butler and Tate can learn from his approach to the game.
At the very least, the guy has been a winner. And he’s obviously eager to get off the recliner and back on the field.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org