Hawks Notes | Hurt Darche to miss rest of '06 season
Jean-Philippe Darche didn't miss a game in his first six seasons as the Seahawks' long snapper. He opened this season in the same role...
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — Jean-Philippe Darche didn't miss a game in his first six seasons as the Seahawks' long snapper.
He opened this season in the same role, handling the largely anonymous but critical role of snapping the ball for field goals, extra points and punts when the Seahawks played Detroit.
But Darche's streak of 97 consecutive regular-season games came to an end when the Seahawks placed him on injured reserve Wednesday because of a right hip injury. Darche, known as J.P. among the Seahawks, will be out for the season.
"He has no strength to push against anybody," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. "He made a valiant effort in the game on Sunday but it was painful to watch, and now we have to fix it."
Darche was on crutches Monday at the Seahawks facility. He was not at practice Wednesday.
Holmgren said the hip had been bothering Darche, and it was affecting him in Sunday's game. Darche's limited mobility kept him from executing his blocking assignment on the two field goals the Seahawks had blocked.
But Holmgren also made it clear that Darche was not to blame for the mishaps.
The Seahawks moved quickly to replace Darche, signing seventh-year pro Derek Rackley on Wednesday. Rackley, 29, was the Atlanta Falcons' long snapper until they released him in a cost-cutting move last month.
Rackley was with Atlanta since 2000. He flew Tuesday into Seattle, worked out Wednesday morning for the Seahawks and was signed.
After a physical, he was issued pads and a helmet that didn't fit but made it through practice.
"I just want to come in and fill in," Rackley said. "I just hope to pick up where [Darche] left off and get the timing right with the guys and be ready to go this weekend."
Ryan Plackemeier stood in a hallway at Seahawks headquarters earlier this week, admiring a photo in the collage the Seahawks make and display after every victory.
The photo was of Plackemeier getting off a punt against the Lions, the first one of his NFL career.
"A little nerves out there, but it was a good time," the rookie recalled of the kick.
The punt traveled 52 yards, and Plackemeier's subsequent efforts were crucial to the Seahawks' opening win.
Plackemeier was one of top performers on a day the Seahawks needed a lot of help from special teams. He punted five times for an average of 52.6 yards, and his net average was 42.6.
Only Mat McBriar of Dallas had a better game Sunday. McBriar, who was with the Seahawks for nine days before the 2003 regular season, had a 53.2-yard average on five punts with a net average of 43.2 yards.
"He kicked the heck out of it," Holmgren said of Plackemeier. "The last kick when we were kicking out of our end zone, that was the one average kick he had, but other than that I thought he kicked the ball very well, so that was good."
Plackemeier's final punt went for 40 yards, his shortest of the day. But the defense forced a Detroit punt in turn.
"I'm satisfied with the stats," Plackemeier said, "but I wish I could have helped our defense out a little more on the last punt."
How nervous was Plackemeier?
"[There were] more nerves the night before, just the anticipation and wanting to play," he said. "Other than that, once I got on the field I felt real comfortable, back to just doing something I've done a thousand times."
Being indoors at Ford Field helped, too.
"That's just one thing you don't have to think about," he said. "You have a lot of other things to think about, like 'Rookie' and 'Can I do it in this league?' but it's nice having the conditions ideal."
• LB Leroy Hill is questionable for Sunday with a pinched nerve in his left shoulder. He practiced Wednesday, and Holmgren said Hill needs to get his strength back before he can play.
• TE Jerramy Stevens will be out for at least two more weeks with his left knee injury.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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