Holmgren: Leonard Weaver as talented a fullback as any
There was an edge to Leonard Weaver's visit to the coach's office last August. It was the edge of the ax. Or at least the metaphoric one...
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — There was an edge to Leonard Weaver's visit to the coach's office last August.
It was the edge of the ax. Or at least the metaphoric one that NFL coaches wield when teams cut their rosters down to 53 players before the regular season begins.
And Mike Holmgren laid out the possibility that Weaver wouldn't be one of those 53 kept in Seattle last season. Not after the way he played in an exhibition game at Green Bay, letting A.J. Hawk rush in for a sack one play and safety Atari Bigby on another.
So Holmgren sat his backup fullback down and laid out the situation with all the subtlety of an uppercut.
"Look, if you don't fix this, you're not going to be here," Holmgren said.
No misinterpretations there. No room for mistakes in the final exhibition game, and no backing down from Weaver, who carried 16 times for 74 yards against the Raiders to run his way onto the roster.
"Pretty self-explanatory," Weaver said. "He let me know where I stand, and I performed, and look at me now."
He is a starting fullback for Seattle. A player who entered the league as an undrafted tight end from a Division II school in 2005, made the roster as a rookie and is now a bona fide NFL veteran who's receiving verbal bouquets tossed out by his coach.
"He is as talented a fullback as I've ever had," Holmgren said.
As offensive coordinator in San Francisco, Holmgren coached Tom Rathman. In Green Bay, he had Edgar Bennett and William Henderson, and here in Seattle, Mack Strong made it to a pair of Pro Bowls before he retired last season after suffering a neck injury in October.
Weaver stepped in to replace Strong and finished the season with 39 receptions last season, the most by any Seahawks running back since 2003.
In this training camp, Weaver stands as that rarest of things in the Seahawks offense: a known quantity.
The team is trying to find a halfback rotation with Maurice Morris and new additions Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett. The passing game is looking for someone to fill the flanker role while Deion Branch is recovering from a knee injury. Rookie John Carlson is trying to work his way into being a factor at tight end, and the offensive line has been reshuffled with the addition of Mike Wahle and a back injury to Chris Spencer has the team turning to Steve Vallos — a college tackle in 2006 — to play center.
The most questionable thing for Weaver is his choice of practice tunes. He was singing "Oh Happy Day" — a gospel hymn — last week when Holmgren asked him to cut it out.
No doubts about Weaver's playing, though. Not from Holmgren.
"The only thing that prevents him from being very, very successful every play is Leonard," Holmgren said. "He's strong enough, he's fast enough, he has great skill."
He's even become a good blocker. The best in the Seahawks' backfield, Holmgren said, which means that Weaver has come quite a ways in the 12 months since being called into the coach's office after those two blitzes he failed to pick up against Green Bay.
"I expected a lot from him," Holmgren said. "It wasn't happening. So I think in fairness to a player as you get down to that final roster cut, you better let him know where he stands. And so if he chooses to do something about it, he can."
Weaver did just that, and that's why he got a chance to do more here in Seattle.
"It got me on my toes," Weaver said of last season's meeting. "You can't let that happen again."
• Chris Gray's retirement Monday leaves LT Walter Jones as the only Seahawk whose tenure with the team began before Mike Holmgren's arrival in 1999.
Jones said that while the end of Gray's career wasn't upbeat, it was the right call.
"It's one of those things where a guy gave his all to this game and stuff," Jones said. "For it to end like that, it's sad, but you know, in that situation, you have to do what's right for you and your family. I think he made the right decision."
• TE Will Heller and WR Michael Bumpus were sidelined in practice Tuesday because of tight hamstrings. T Samuel Gutekunst, the international player assigned to Seattle by the NFL, is also not practicing because of an injury.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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