Nate Burleson has taken some criticism for catching only seven passes in his first five games with the Seahawks. I found it noteworthy today that two Pro Bowl-caliber players -- Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck and Minnesota's Matt Birk -- showed great respect for the fourth-year receiver. Birk called Burleson one of the toughest receivers he has encountered. Hasselbeck said Burleson's contributions go well beyond the stat sheet.
"I think it is really unfair to judge Nate by his statistics because he has already meant a lot to our team," Hasselbeck said. "Darrell Jackson wasn't around for minicamp or training camp and Nate stepped in and really learned our system, learned Darrell's spot, learned Bobby's spot, we've been moving him all around. He's very explosive, very fast; he's very good at helping get other guys open."
More Hasselbeck on Burleson:
"There have been opportunities this year for him to make plays and the ball has gone somewhere else. He stepped in and has been a very unselfish guy, a veteran guy, and I am really happy to have him on our team. For me, adding Nate is very much a long-term thing. I'm looking forward to being his teammate, and all these guys, for a few years at least. Five or six games in is a little too quick to judge what he has meant to our team because he really has been great and he has been part of the reason that group is getting along so well, and they really are getting along well and I think that has helped our team chemistry."
"I remember a couple of years ago, Randy Moss was out, Nate was playing. He had a broken finger, and a bad shoulder. He went out there. He had an increased load because Randy was down. Nate stepped up, kept making plays, never complained about how bad he was hurt, and it really helped us out, and helped us win some games."