Seahawks suddenly have abundance of receivers
Wide receiver Deion Branch is ready to absorb his first hit in his return from knee surgery. In fact, Branch is the one planning that hit...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ Giants, 10:05 a.m., Ch. 13
RENTON — Wide receiver Deion Branch is ready to absorb his first hit in his return from knee surgery.
In fact, Branch is the one planning that hit.
"I'm actually going to take that in practice," Branch said. "I know it sounds crazy, but I'm going to have the guys do it."
There's no sign-up sheet in the locker room for teammates to take a crack at him. No waiting list, either, as Branch is one of the more popular players on the team. But Branch said he'll talk to strength coach Darren Krein about a couple of exercises that will include some impact and recruit teammates to make contact.
"Hopefully I'll be able to sustain that and be OK," Branch said.
The Seahawks began their week of practice with fresh legs, because they didn't play Sunday, and plenty of hands at wide receiver. Branch worked out with the first-unit offense after he was limited in practice the past two weeks, and Bobby Engram practiced for the first time since suffering a broken bone in his shoulder in the team's first exhibition game.
That gave Seattle seven healthy receivers on its 53-man roster, going from a desperate shortage to an abundance at that position.
"We probably have too many," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I never thought I'd say that, but it's true."
There's Billy McMullen, who led Seattle with four receptions against St. Louis, and Keary Colbert, whom the Seahawks acquired from Denver by giving up a draft pick. Then there's Courtney Taylor, who slid down the depth chart after two games, slot receiver Michael Bumpus, who also returned punts, and Koren Robinson, who did not play against St. Louis because of a sore knee.
So will the Seahawks be making a roster move to reduce the number of receivers?
"Could be," Holmgren said. "Could be."
Engram returned to practice for the first time in almost two months. He did not answer questions from reporters after practice, and his coach said the prognosis for return is still a gray area.
"While he can do some stuff, you really don't know until he gets hit," Holmgren said. "The problem with Bobby is he wants to play, and he might not be totally honest with me."
The amount Branch plays will depend on practice this week.
"If he practices well and he handles it well, then we throw him out there," Holmgren said. "But to play the whole game? He's probably not ready to do that."
Branch is returning about eight months after he underwent surgery the first week of February to repair a torn knee ligament suffered in the team's playoff loss in Green Bay. Rehabilitation from the injury typically is about nine months, and many players have said it's not until the second season after that type of surgery that they're back to 100 percent.
Branch returned to practice the second week of the season, but he was limited and worked mainly with the scout-team offense.
"Two weeks ago, could I have played? I don't know," Branch said. "Could I have been effective? I don't know that either. I just know for a fact that I knew I wasn't ready."
Branch needed to regain his confidence in his leg even more to regain strength.
"My leg was healed a long time ago," Branch said. "It's the mental part I had to break through."
He expects to be the same receiver he was before the injury, and he said his approach won't change. The question is whether the results will.
"I'm pleased that I'm back and I'm going to just give what I have," he said.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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