Hawks FB settling into starting role
Last week, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren described fullback Leonard Weaver as a tough guy who is "growing up. " Weaver has already gone through...
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Last week, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren described fullback Leonard Weaver as a tough guy who is "growing up."
Weaver has already gone through a few major career changes in just his third year in the pros.
An undrafted free agent in 2005, Weaver was a tight end in college who immediately was converted to fullback by the Seahawks. He made the final roster and appeared in every regular-season game that season, mostly on special teams.
The next year, a high ankle sprain in the exhibition season landed him on injured reserve.
And in this year's exhibition season, Weaver didn't stand out with his play but managed to make the team.
The backup fullback at the start of the regular season, Weaver was thrust into the starter's role when Mack Strong was lost with a neck injury that ended his career. It took a few games, but it appears Weaver has settled into his role.
That role is primarily as lead blocker for Maurice Morris or Shaun Alexander. That's a departure from what Holmgren originally saw as Weaver's natural position, a ball-carrying back.
"He was a running back, then we put him at fullback where he had to learn to do this," Holmgren said. "He has gotten better each game, and [Sunday] he had a very fine game blocking."
Weaver has been an important part of the Seahawks' ability to generate a presence running the ball the past two games. While lead blocks aren't always noticeable to the casual observer's eye, Weaver has managed to stand out. On Sunday, he flattened Chicago safety Brandon McGowan with an open-field pancake block, freeing Morris for an 11-yard run in the third quarter.
"Those are the kind that give you that confidence boost and it feels great," Weaver said. "I feel very confident right now. That's something I've been working on every day. Pass pro[tection], run blocking, and it's definitely paid off."
The block was sure to draw a reaction in the film room among teammates.
"I think there's going to be a lot of oohs and aahs," Weaver said with a grin after the game.
The effort made Holmgren proud. Good lead blocking will only make the coach more so.
"The first thing you've got to do is keep your face up, your eyes up. When you're going to have a collision your natural instinct is to ... kind of wince," Holmgren said. "You can't do that, you have to see what you're going to hit, so that's the first thing. Second thing is to get his body, and teach the mechanics of blocking somebody using your hips and your legs underneath it. Then, of course the arms and the shoulders, that all comes in. There's a lot to being a good blocker."
While blocking is Weaver's first priority, the Seahawks haven't gotten away from using his talents as a runner and receiver. Weaver tied a career high in catches with four on Sunday. He had a 13-yard run as well, and he has 22 catches for 182 yards this season.
One of the grabs Sunday saw him leaping to pull down a pass and tiptoeing along the sideline before knocking Bears cornerback Trumaine McBride out of his way.
"It was a nice catch, and it was a good job by him of staying inbounds," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "Early in the game I think I was a little high on everything. That's the kind of stuff that we are trying to stress all week. Look downfield, take your shot downfield, if it's there. If not, check it down to your backs."
And then, an admission:
"I probably should have thrown it to him more [Sunday]," Hasselbeck said.
Weaver said, "It feels good any time a fullback can get out, catch a couple of balls. After blocking, it feels great, so I'm happy to be a part of it. The catch I made, I tell you, I shocked myself a little bit because I wasn't thinking I could do it."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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