Into the great wide open
Posted by Danny O'Neil
By Danny O'Neil, The Seattle Times
Nate Burleson is back and some say he hasn't lost a step, which is a surprise considering he's not quite one year removed from surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.
He's a frontline player, one who isn't fighting for his livelihood. Burleson, Deion Branch, Deon Butler and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are certain to make the team, barring injury. Who rounds out the rest of the receiving group is probably the hottest competition in Seattle's training camp.
Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne are young players who've shown talent and potential, all vying for a spot and now they enter the exhibition season with a chance to show they're worth on of those spots.
Hey, wait a minute. That sounds kind of familiar. Weren't we asking the same sort of questions about the same group of players a year ago? Why, yes, we were as a matter of fact.
The stakes were a little higher 12 months ago, the starting flanker spot was open since Bobby Engram was out with a shoulder injury and Deion Branch hadn't returned from offseason knee surgery. But the names were same. There are a few new additions as Mike Hass is now in training camp and showing the kind of hands that allowed him to win the Biletnikoff Award for the nation's top collegiate receiver, but for the most, the conversation is the same as it was a year ago.
Young players who've shown talent and potential, and now have a chance to show and prove, and that's probably diluted some of the intrigue about the position. It kind of feels like a re-run.
But what if it's not? What if Kent is ready this time? He made the active roster last year. He's 6 foot 4 with top-end speed that makes him so tantalizing. Trouble is, he came to the NFL after only one year of college football, and when he found himself in a regular-season game in his second professional season, the coaches felt he pretty much short-circuited and didn't follow his routes.
Taylor has shown signs of being an athletic playmaker, but he never got his hands around the chance last season. He dropped some balls, didn't follow through on some routes and went from the active roster to the practice squad.
Obomanu suffered a broken collarbone in the exhibition finale last year and was placed on injured reserve, missing the season. Payne went down with a season-ending knee injury on his very first catch in the second game of the year.
So the quartet returns this year. None have more than 15 catches in their respective NFL careers, all will have a chance to grab hold of one of two expected roster vacancies at wide receiver.
A starting job may not be on the line this year, but Seahawk careers certainly hang in the balance, which means this isn't a re-run, more like must-see TV.
Here's the history of the receivers Seattle has carried on the 53-man roster after final cuts the previous seven seasons:
|Deion Branch||Deion Branch||Darrell Jackson||Darrell Jackson|
|Nate Burleson||D.J. Hackett||Bobby Engram||Bobby Engram|
|Bobby Engram||Nate Burleson||Nate Burleson||Joe Jurevicius|
|Logan Payne||Bobby Engram||D.J. Hackett||D.J. Hackett|
|Courtney Taylor||Ben Obomanu||Maurice Mann||Jerheme Urban|
|Jordan Kent||Courtney Taylor||Alex Bannister|
|Koren Robinson||Koren Robinson||Koren Robinson|
|Darrell Jackson||Darrell Jackson||Darrell Jackson|
|Bobby Engram||Bobby Engram||Bobby Engram|
|Alex Bannister||Alex Bannister||Alex Bannister|
|D.J. Hackett||James Williams|
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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