While Mike Holmgren was more cautious about saying Deion Branch is ready to come back, Branch himself boldly stated that he is going to play against the Giants on Sunday.
He said he may not have been able to play two weeks ago, but he now knows he is mentally ready to go out on the field and give it his all. He is setting aside all talk about coming back too early (this will be only eight months) and says every person is different. He said Dr. Andrews told him his leg is healthy, now he just has to get his mind right -- and it is right.
He said he is going to get any anxiety about getting hit on the knee out of the way early by taking some shots on it in practice this week. He said he likely is not going to do that in front of reporters, but he will do that so he does not have concerns heading into the game.
As for Bobby Engram, we don't know what he is feeling because he declined to speak with the media today. He was practicing, running routes, and even fell on his shoulder on one play. But Holmgren said he does not yet know if Engram will be able to go. Practice will dictate that this week, depending on how it goes. Speaking of practice this week, Holmgren said they are not going to make any concessions regarding the three-hour time difference. He said the Buffalo game had nothing to do with what time they played; they just got kicked.
Sean Locklear is going to play at right tackle this week, but what remains to be seen is whether Pork Chop or Ray Willis will get playing next to him. Possibly both, since both were getting work there. Holmgren has been very complimentary of Chop, and the numbers have born out (beared out? not sure which) that success.
Mo Morris is not likely to play in Sunday's game. Of all the players coming back, he has made the least progress, Holmgren said. Which is probably good since the running game is on a roll right now.
The team released practice squad RB Yvenson Bernard from Oregon State and signed Matt Lawrence, who is wearing Bernard's #41. He's a 6-1, 210-pound RB from UMass.
Holmgren also said there is a chance the team makes a roster move this week because it actually may have too many WRs -- something he thought he'd never say. Koren Robinson may be the guy to go, given his sore knee.
Craig Terrill was limited in the one-hour practice under sunny skies. Holmgren said he has a sore knee that flares up every once in a while.
Hasselbeck said Keith Gilbertson must not have gotten the memo because Gilby attended each players-only practice last week. But Hasselbeck said there were some fun practices where the players got in some work staying in tune, but it was light.
There was a pleasant but stiff breeze during the practice session, which affected players' abilities to field punts. As they ran to catch the punt, the ball kept drifting back toward the punter, making it increasingly difficult to judge. Brandon Coutu handled kickoff duties during special teams drills, saving Olindo Mare's leg.
I asked Lofa if it was a good thing or a bad thing that Plaxico Burress is out. He said it's a good question because on the one hand they may not run stuff that they normally would for Plaxico, making them less predictable. On the other, they don't have one of their most talented guys. When it comes right down to it, though, they are going to go back to their bread-and-butter and what is working for them.