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Saturday, October 16, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Christian Fauria remembers the Kingdome fondly. That's right, those words really are in tandem.
The former Seahawks tight end remembers the last game there, Jan. 9, 2000, a 20-17 playoff loss to the Miami Dolphins. He caught three passes for 31 yards.
"It was a memorable game," Fauria said, lounging in the New England Patriots' locker room this week. "I remember the atmosphere of that game more than anything.
"At first, I didn't like the Kingdome. But then I grew to love it. It was home."
Fauria calls New England home these days after spending the first seven seasons of his career in Seattle. The Seahawks let Fauria walk in 2002 in order to give Itula Mili a chance to start.
"I thought Itula would become a really good player as soon as I left," Fauria said. "With me playing, I don't think he got a lot of reps as he would have liked. Once he became the head guy, you could see what he's capable of."
Mili is grateful to Fauria for mentoring him. The two were Seahawks teammates from 1997 to 2001. And Mili, who hasn't talked to Fauria in years, will know where to find his old friend during pregame warmups tomorrow because Fauria helped Mili develop his own readiness routine.
"If he wasn't here, geez, it probably would have been really tough for me," Mili said. "His actions and the way he prepared himself, that's something I really got out of him. So I think I've been able to have my career last this long because of that."
Most of the Seahawks' offense is the same from when Fauria played in Seattle. But he doesn't recognize the youthful defense. He keeps in semi-regular contact with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, fullback Mack Strong and a "couple of the trainers."
Fauria caught 28 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns last season with the Patriots. This season, he has three catches for 29 yards, or less yardage than in that final Kingdome game. He's mentoring Daniel Graham (five touchdowns) these days, content with his Super Bowl ring.
Punter Tom Rouen kicked before yesterday's practice, but coach Mike Holmgren said he didn't think Rouen punted well and that he didn't have the range of motion needed. Rouen is still dealing with a strained right hamstring and is questionable to play tomorrow.
Rouen could not perform all of the stretches to full flexibility, which cast further doubt on his status. Still, Holmgren would not commit to either using kicker Josh Brown or signing rookie punter Donnie Jones off the practice squad. A decision will be made by game time.
The Brady-Hutch connection
Seahawks left guard Steve Hutchinson and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady played together at Michigan, and still admire each other's football skills.
"I was lucky enough to play with him for four years," Brady said. "No one knows how tough he is more than me. It's no surprise he is one of the best guards in the league already, and it's only his fourth year."
Both players have been to one Pro Bowl each, Brady in 2001 and Hutchinson last season.
"Tom was just what he is now," Hutchinson said, recalling the days of maize and blue, "an on-field general. He's a lot like Matt (Hasselbeck). He has control of the huddle."
One game at a ...
That's how every coach in America addresses questions about their schedule. One game at a time. Well, the Patriots play four tough games in a row, starting tomorrow with the Seahawks.
After Seattle, the Patriots host the New York Jets, then travel to Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Reporters tried everything short of bribing coach Bill Belichick to talk about the slate, but the stoic economics major wasn't biting.
"The next part of the schedule is Seattle," Belichick said. "We don't look any farther than that. We can't do anything about any game other than Seattle. That's really where our focus is. It's ... "
We know. One game at a time.
Believe it or not, the Seahawks have trailed for exactly one second this season. That's it. They had not trailed in a game until the Rams' overtime touchdown last Sunday.
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