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Sunday, November 21, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Greg Bishop
KIRKLAND The Seahawks see the promise in defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs, the talent that flashes like bolts of lightning, striking with unmistakable force only to disappear and reemerge and disappear again.
Tubbs admits he started slow. He further admits he's coming along slowly, all that potential just waiting to be tapped and poured into half-a-dozen Pro Bowls lingering inside a body that's not in perfect shape and a mind still processing how to turn potential into production.
To teammates and coaches, it comes down to a simple question.
Does he want it?
"You manifest your own destiny," said Chike Okeafor, a defensive end who occupies the locker next to Tubbs. "He has the ability. He has some desire. He has to turn that into the yearning to be the best and be respected as the best. And only he can control that part.
"In the big picture, he's got to put that all together, produce that finished product, henceforth manifest his destiny. He's on the right path."
The Seahawks see the talent as it flashes, the size and speed that shoved all 324 pounds of Marcus Tubbs into the first round of last year's draft.
"There are no limits for this man," Okeafor said.
"I concur," Tubbs said, laughing.
Promise that, nine games into Tubbs' rookie season, has not yet been fulfilled.
"Not as fast as I would like," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I talked to the rookies specifically this week. Right now, their season is over what they're used to. Right now, we're at the point in our season when you really have to push. And he's got to step it up ... So I'm putting it on him. I'm pushing him a little bit."
Tubbs doesn't mind being pushed and prodded because he knows he has some catching up to do. He's a defensive tackle, and rookie defensive tackles can play immediately in the NFL. But there are reasons Tubbs is behind, most of them personal.
He doesn't delve into specifics, but Tubbs missed the beginning of training camp to be with his sick mother in Texas. He arrived late and out of shape and quickly tweaked a hamstring.
The nagging injury compounded nagging homesickness. For the first time in his life, Tubbs who grew up in Texas and went to college at the University of Texas spent an extended period of time away from home.
His parents never missed a game he played in, traveling across the country, even for away games, until this season. But his mom's health won't allow that anymore.
So when Tubbs' brother arrived in Seattle on Thursday, Marcus called it "a big relief, just to know that someone who loves you will be there watching" when the Seahawks host the Miami Dolphins at 1:05 p.m. today at Qwest Field.
"It's been hard," Tubbs said. "I'm used to my parents being able to come to all my games. Coming to the NFL, I was hoping to have the same expectations, but God dealt my family a hand. It may not be what we want it to be, but as a family, we understand that God has a plan."
Which doesn't mean his family ever strays far from Tubbs' heart. Or ear, for that matter.
Tubbs is hard on himself, harder even than the coaches are. Asked to provide his best game this season, Tubbs, owner of nine tackles in eight games, said, "It hasn't happened yet."
That drive comes from his family, who he talks to almost every day. Their conversations are always laced with equal doses of football and humor, usually about the last game Tubbs played and anything embarrassing that game entailed.
After the Seahawks lost to New England and a Patriots lineman knocked him silly with a block he never saw coming, Tubbs' mother called.
"Baby, you have to keep your head on a swivel," she told her son. "You have to keep your eye on those people. I don't want them to hurt my baby."
She can be comforted by the amount of people helping her son at the team's headquarters. Okeafor is a veritable fountain of information, detailing hand efficiency, maximizing power and workout tips to his teammate. Rashad Moore even gave Tubbs a nickname: Wubbsy.
Some lessons, though, Tubbs learns on his own. Some lessons, like the one against the Patriots, he learns the hard way.
"In college, you can tend to get by on just natural talent," Tubbs said. "In the NFL, it's not just being on the field. You have to put more time into it. I'm not going to say I put (in) all the time that I should. But I'm still young. And I'm still learning."
How much he learns and how quickly he applies it are essentially up to Tubbs. Asked for a favorite Tubbs story, Okeafor starts telling one, then stops.
"I got big plans for this kid," he said. "He's about to blossom. That's going to be the story. It's actually happening as we speak. It's just going to take a little bit longer."
Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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