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Originally published Friday, November 14, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Seahawks Notebook | Kelly Jennings works on confidence

Seahawks cornerback Kelly Jennings is trying not to put too much pressure on himself to make a play after struggling over the first half of the season.

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — Kelly Jennings hopes his recent troubles in one-on-one coverage are behind him.

The third-year Seahawks cornerback struggled the first half of the season, beginning with his inability to keep Buffalo wide receiver Lee Evans from having a big day in the season opener. Jennings lost the starting right cornerback job to Josh Wilson in Week 5 and hasn't regained it, but he thinks he's regained his confidence.

It returned with one play, when Jennings deflected away a second-down pass for Miami's Ted Ginn just before halftime on Sunday.

"It's kind of been a while since I made a play like that and it's been frustrating not doing it, so I definitely think that was a confidence booster," Jennings said.

"You're always looking for signs, and maybe that's a sign," defensive-backs coach Jim Mora said.

Jennings, Seattle's first-round pick in 2006, can only keep studying the film and focus more as he tries to improve.

"I think I try to think too much and put too much pressure on myself," Jennings said. "I just kind of have to release that and just play football."

Jennings had probably better get himself right fast. Sunday, the NFL's second-best pass offense is in town, the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Kurt Warner. Jennings is familiar with the Cardinals' star receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, but now Steve Breaston has emerged a solid third option.

Jennings and starters Wilson and Marcus Trufant will be at a size disadvantage to Arizona's receivers. It's imperative the cornerbacks play well because they could be in one-on-one coverage often.

"I feel like I haven't been having fun," Jennings said. "Going out against guys that I am familiar with and just the mindset I'm going in with, it does help.

"Just got to find a way."

Hasselbeck on track

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Thursday was the big day, offensive coordinator Gil Haskell said, for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to show that he didn't suffer any adverse effects of a full, crisp practice on Wednesday.

Hasselbeck emerged from it well, based on observations from Thursday's practice. He was running the two-minute offense at the end of the session and running with purpose down the field.

Hasselbeck has been cleared to play Sunday. Whether he does depends on how he practices, and Thursday was a positive step. Haskell said there were only two bad plays made by the first team offense under Hasselbeck in Wednesday's practice.

Branch return

Seahawks wide receiver Deion Branch, expected to play Sunday for the second game this season, said now is the best he has felt since he left the game against the New York Giants with a heel bruise on Oct. 5. Branch hasn't played since.

"Unfortunately it was a fluke injury to my heel and it may only happen that one time," Branch said.

Branch had offseason knee surgery that kept him out of the first three games, then got hurt in his first game back. On his seventh play of the game, an opposing player stepped on the back of his heel. Three plays later, it happened again, and Branch wasn't the same.

"They could have put me on IR [injured reserve], but they didn't and I feel like I owe this team and fans everything," Branch said.

Branch practiced Thursday but was limited.

"The only question I have in my mind is to do the right thing," coach Mike Holmgren said. "How many snaps should he get? If he has a good week of practice, he's going to start the game."

Note

• RB Julius Jones, who missed Wednesday's practice because of illness, was back Thursday.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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