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Monday, December 29, 2003
Injured 'hawk hopes to return
Three right knee surgeries in the past nine months have made Chad Eaton almost invisible.
The Seahawks' defensive tackle from Puyallup, a former Washington State star, often arrived at team headquarters in Kirkland early for rehabilitation on the knee and regular workouts. By the time the afternoon practice was set to start, he was usually gone.
Gone, so that he didn't have to answer reporters' questions about how his rehab was going, or whether he'd be back with the Seahawks next season, or how much of a factor he would have been if the Seahawks had him healthy late in the season.
Eaton wants to come back, but his contract could determine if he returns to the Seahawks. If Eaton's contract forces the Seahawks to take a big salary-cap hit, he might be looking for a new employer. That could be difficult for Eaton, who spent the entire season on injured reserve. Before that, he played two seasons with Seattle and five with New England. Eaton declined to be interviewed while the Seahawks are still playing, not wanting to attract attention or be in the public eye during a critical time for the team. But he is missed, because the Seahawks don't have an experienced run-stuffing defensive tackle in the middle of their front four.
Eaton was the first defensive lineman to go down when swelling in his knee during training camp forced a second surgery. Then, nine-year veteran Norman Hand, who was acquired to rotate with Eaton at the position, was lost for the rest of the season on Nov. 11 because of a torn biceps in his right arm.
So will Eaton return?
"I'm not even sure of his contractual status right now," coach Mike Holmgren said late in the season. "We have to wait until his rehab is complete. I miss not having him this year, that's for sure."
Holmgren added that he didn't talk to Eaton much this season but said that Eaton misses playing.
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