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The Seahawks Shouldn't Be a Tough Sell

By Christian Swezey
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 8, 2004; Page H13

It was raining and 53 degrees when the Seahawks had their final practice that was open to the public in late August, so maybe that's why only 35 fans showed up. The team also is in the lower third of NFL merchandise sales.

But the Seahawks won't be such a well-kept secret for long.

_____ Seattle Seahawks _____
Seahawks Section

_____NFL '04_____
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A WR's tools of the trade
Top 5 end zone celebrations
The NFL's Top 10 storylines of '04

_____Team Previews_____
In predicted order of finish

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys
Washington Redskins
New York Giants

NFC South
New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons

NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams
San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals

AFC East
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans
Houston Texans

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

Coming off their first 10-win season since 1986, Seattle has running back Shaun Alexander (1,435 yards rushing last year), quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (3,841 yards passing) and four players who caught at least 46 passes.

The defense did not give up a touchdown in the first three preseason games. There are four new faces there: cornerback Bobby Taylor (Philadelphia) and defensive end Grant Wistrom (St. Louis) came via free agency; tackle Marcus Tubbs (Texas) and safety Michael Boulware (Florida State) were drafted.

Even truculent tight end Jerramy Stevens, a former first-round pick, appears to have shed his attitude for the better of the team. He had six catches in the first three preseason games after having six all of last season.

"I mean, it's time for him," Coach Mike Holmgren told reporters. "I've said this and I will stick with it: As long as he's healthy he can play. . . . But yeah, he has been in the principal's office a fair amount, young Jerramy."

Like most NFL teams, Seattle has had some injuries in the preseason. Linebacker Chad Brown (85 tackles, seven sacks) is out until October with a broken right leg; it appears Tracy White (Howard) will replace him. White is Howard's all-time leading tackler -- he had 500 -- and was once clocked at 10.6 seconds in the 100-yard dash. Isaiah Kacyvenski, a Harvard graduate, also will play until Brown gets back.

Third-string quarterback Brock Huard is out for the year with a back injury. His absence has opened the door for former Iowa State option quarterback Seneca Wallace, who was the team's leading passer for most of the preseason.

The offensive line had problems, too. The opposition noticed: Green Bay and Denver blitzed the Seahawks 50 percent of the time in their preseason games.

Starting tackle Walter Jones is holding out and was not expected to sign until the regular season was closer. (He did the same last year.) Also missing for part of the preseason was starting guard Steve Hutchinson. He was with his wife when she gave birth to their daughter, Lily Reece, in late August.

"Steve's wife is a beautiful woman and, fortunately, the baby looks like her and not him," Holmgren said. "I'll give him all sorts of advice about having little baby girls because I have zillions of them around."

Actually, Holmgren has only four daughters. But it's easy to get carried away in Seattle these days.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company