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Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - Page updated at 10:00 p.m.
Seahawks Ben Obomanu again a receiver on the NFL's bubble
By Danny O'Neil
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — The plane tickets don't get any cheaper while Ben Obomanu waits.
His folks tell him that as they begin planning their trip to Seattle to attend the Seahawks' first home game. They come every year, and every year, Obomanu waits until a week before the season starts to buy their flights.
"They don't get a plane ticket until after the 53-man cuts," Obomanu said.
That deadline is Friday this year, the day after Seattle's exhibition finale when the Seahawks' roster must stand at 53 players.
Obomanu is entering his seventh season as a Seahawk, the third-longest tenure of anyone on the team, but he has spent every one of those seven seasons on the bubble. That's where you find the guys who are playing for their jobs. The guys for whom nothing is assured and everything feels a little uncertain over these next three days as Seattle reduces its roster by 23 more players.
Decisions about the final roster are some of the toughest a coach makes. They must balance between players with proven track records and younger men with potential. Fulfilling one player's dreams of making a team means dashing those of someone else.
"They love this game," coach Pete Carroll said. "They're doing everything they can to play and make it a part of their life, and when it is taken away, it's a big deal. It's very emotional."
Obomanu was a seventh-round draft pick in 2006 who has made the team for three different Seahawks coaches and two general managers. He spent his rookie year on the practice squad and missed the 2008 season after suffering a broken collarbone in August. Otherwise, he has always found a way onto the team.
He is a jack-of-all-trades receiver and a special-teams mainstay, a veteran presence who has stepped in when injuries piled up the past two seasons and made 13 starts.
But now he is one of 11 receivers playing for perhaps six jobs. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate are slated to start, Doug Baldwin is penciled in as the slot specialist, and players like Obomanu, Deon Butler and Braylon Edwards are competing with younger players like Ricardo Lockette, Kris Durham and Charly Martin to make this team.
Obomanu used to be one of those young guys taking aim at a veteran's gig as he came to a team with established receivers like Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram.
"First couple of years, that was the obstacle," Obomanu said. "Trying to compete as a low pick against guys that had big contracts that were new to the team. I had a lot of big guys in front of me the first couple of years."
He outlasted big-ticket additions like Nate Burleson and Deion Branch. He made the team in 2010, a year the Seahawks paid T.J. Houshmandzadeh more than $6 million to go away.
But this week he is once again one of the guys who's playing for a job, not taking anything for granted while doing everything he can so he can buy his folks plane tickets for the first home game. Of course, that won't happen until after Friday.
"For seven straight training camps now, I've been that guy that has never made plans," Obomanu said.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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