More competition is good? Seahawks think so with Brandon Stokley
It remains to be seen whether receiver Brandon Stokley will make his debut Sunday when the Seahawks (2-1) visit the St. Louis Rams (1-2).
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ St. Louis, 10 a.m., Ch. 13
RENTON — On a brilliant autumn afternoon, Brandon Stokley worked overtime after his first Seahawks practice.
Nearly everyone had retreated inside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center with the exception of a handful of coaches and a pair of receivers.
In a corner of a field behind the practice facility, coach Pete Carroll and assistant Kippy Brown worked with Golden Tate, who repeatedly ran the same route but didn't quite perfect the technique to the coaches' satisfaction.
And then Stokley chimed in with a quick demonstration and a few words for Tate.
There he was, Seattle's oldest receiver at 34, mentoring the 22-year-old rookie and at that moment you got the feeling the Seahawks signed Stokley to do a little more than just catch passes.
"There wasn't a huge need for Brandon, but he makes us better in so many ways and it's not just what he brings to the field," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "He knows this system and he's been in this system.
"He can help guys that way and oh by the way, he's a pretty good receiver too. It just goes with the central theme around here, which is competition and always trying to get better."
Stokley, who is 6 feet and 192 pounds, is the sixth receiver on the roster. He arrives with the reputation of a daring possession receiver who operates primarily in the slot position and compares favorably with Deion Branch (5-9, 195) and Tate (5-10, 202).
"He's a gifted route runner," Carroll said. "He's a third-down specialist. He can go out and play the system right now."
It remains to be seen whether Stokley makes his season debut Sunday when the Seahawks (2-1) visit the St. Louis Rams (1-2) at the Edward Jones Dome.
He practiced sparingly Wednesday and said he feels no lingering effects from a groin injury suffered in training camp with Denver. He missed three exhibitions because of the injury and the Broncos — his team the past three seasons — placed him on injured reserve and released him with an injury settlement.
"We had an eye on him the whole time and he finally got healthy this week," Carroll said. "We brought him in here and gave him a workout (Tuesday) and he looked great."
Stokley's relationship with offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates played a major role in Seattle's decision. Bates was the passing coordinator for Denver when Stokley caught 49 passes in 2008.
"(I'm) excited to be playing football again," said Stokley, who also spent four seasons in Baltimore and Indianapolis. "When you're out and watching it on TV every Sunday, you realize how much you miss it. So (I'm) just excited to be a part of this team and trying to help win some games."
Stokley, a 12-year-veteran, is best remembered for a stunning 87-yard reception when he retrieved a deflected pass and raced into the end zone with 11 seconds remaining to beat Cincinnati in the season opener last year.
When asked where the catch ranks among his favorites, Stokley said: "It's up there in the top 2 or 3. Probably behind the Super Bowl (XXV) touchdown and maybe the 49th touchdown I caught for Peyton (Manning)."
That season (2004) Stokley set career bests for receptions (68), receiving yards (1,077) and touchdowns (10). Admittedly, he's physically not the same player, but his approach hasn't changed.
"I think I'm a guy that's not worried about stats, not worried about individual accolades," Stokley said. "Just trying to do whatever it takes to win football games."
On his first day with the Seahawks that meant staying late after practice and offering advice to a rookie.
• Rookie OT Russell Okung returned to practice for the first time since suffering an ankle sprain in the second exhibition Aug. 21 against Green Bay. Lineman Chester Pitts, who is recovering from a knee injury, also worked out at left guard alongside Okung.
• LB Aaron Curry (hamstring), DT Brandon Mebane (calf), CB Marcus Trufant (ankle), OG Ben Hamilton (knee) and DE E.J. Wilson (knee) skipped practice.
• St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (groin), wide receiver Laurent Robinson (foot), tight end Billy Bajema (knee) and free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (thigh) sat out Wednesday.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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