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Camp notebook: It's boom time for punters
Seattle Times staff reporter
CHENEY — The wind was blowing to the north at Woodward Field, and it just so happened that the punters were kicking in that direction during the Seahawks' scrimmage last Saturday.
The punters — Chris Kluwe, the lanky rookie, and Leo Araguz, the seventh-year veteran — blasted punts that traveled 65 and 55 yards, respectively, eliciting cheers from the fans.
For Araguz and Kluwe, that was just the introduction. The pair will split time in the upcoming exhibition games to see who opens the regular season as the new Seattle punter.
"Both guys have improved tremendously since we started working with them in April and May," special-teams coach Bob Casullo said. "Let's see what happens in the games, but so far so good."
Casullo had Araguz in for a tryout last season, when Casullo coached special teams for the New York Jets. Araguz, out of the league at the time, thought he punted well enough to be signed, but the Jets didn't make an offer. Casullo remembered the effort, however, and brought on Araguz for the Seahawks.
"The big thing we're looking for is consistency," Casullo said, "and Leo's kicked in the league and he's done a consistent job. And Chris, to his credit, is getting much better in his consistency level."
"It's got to be one of us," Kluwe said. "I think I've kicked pretty well [in camp], and I'm pretty confident with what I've done."
Camp highlights, Day 12
Big plays: LB Tracy White, who is quietly having a solid camp, made two big ones. Though other linebackers have had a hard time covering tight ends in practice, White blanketed TE Ryan Hannam to prevent a completion in the end zone, and moments later broke up Seneca Wallace's pass for TE Brock Edwards.
Temperatures: 79 degrees in the morning, 91 in the afternoon.
Snapshot: The defensive coaches are bound to freeze the videotape and cringe when they review what the red-zone offense did yesterday afternoon. WR Darrell Jackson caught three touchdowns from QB Matt Hasselbeck, and Wallace hit five different receivers for scores from inside the 20-yard line.
Quick quip: DE Joe Tafoya was leaving the dining commons yesterday, shuffling along slowly in obvious soreness. "My kids are going to play golf," he said with a smirk and a sigh, drawing laughter from reporters.
Josť Miguel Romero
Araguz said good punting in practice is one thing, but performance in games is center stage when it comes to winning the job.
"I don't want to go out there and hit the 70-yard punt, then the next one go out and hit a 35-yarder," Araguz said, acknowledging Kluwe's stronger leg. "He's going to hit the boomers. You want to make sure the team is going to know you're going to hit the 45-yarders every time."
After three days of missing practice and being held out of the intrasquad scrimmage as a precautionary measure, running back Shaun Alexander was back at work yesterday.
Alexander took snaps with the No. 1 offense and looked fine carrying the ball on what was a sore hamstring.
"He made a couple of cuts that led me to believe that thing has held up pretty good," coach Mike Holmgren said.
The team training staff held a meeting last night to determine which injured players will make the trip to New Orleans for the first exhibition game Friday, and which will stay in Cheney for rehabilitation. Alexander's status will be known today.
Holmgren said the starters who play Friday will be in for about one quarter.
Hackett's best hack
Wide receiver D.J. Hackett never saw a minute of action as a rookie last season. He was on injured reserve from Nov. 5 until the end of the season because of a hip injury, and he was declared inactive for all of the games leading up to that.
But the former fifth-round draft pick has had a good training camp, establishing himself as a downfield and red-zone threat whose size and separation ability have led to a number of good catches in practices.
The Seahawks are loaded at the position, but Hackett has established himself as, at very least, on the bubble to make the final roster. "I'm just working hard each day trying to do anything I can to make them [coaches] notice me," Hackett said.
Holmgren likes Hackett's speed and athletic ability, plus his 6-foot-2 height.
• The Seahawks signed DT Cleveland Pinkney yesterday, filling the roster spot left open by the release of Solomon Bates on Monday. Pinkney (6-0, 300 pounds), who has played for Tampa Bay and Carolina, practiced yesterday morning after arriving from his home in South Carolina at 1 a.m.
• WR Joe Jurevicius returned to practice after missing two days to tend to a personal matter.
• LB Jamie Sharper was also back and participating after taking two days off for rest. His availability for the New Orleans game will likely be announced today.
• RB Maurice Morris is still out with a hamstring problem, as is LB Lofa Tatupu. Tatupu was running on the side during practice yesterday, however.
Josť Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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