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News » Injuries not only thing facing flopped Seahawks

Injuries not only thing facing flopped Seahawks

Injuries not only thing facing flopped Seahawks
SEATTLE (AP) - Walter Jones lamented how tough it was to finally miss the postseason. Matt Hasselbeck kept repeating one word: "Disappointing."

Leonard Weaver had two boxes loaded onto a blue hand truck.

For the first time in six years, the Seattle Seahawks were packing for the offseason before the playoffs even began.

Weaver, a fullback and Pro Bowl alternate, was one of the Seahawks' only positives. He spoke for all of Seattle while discussing the defending four-time NFC West champions doing a 4-12 about face in 2008.

"Right now, you really want to get out, get away," he said.

The further removed from this mess, the better.

Injuries to Hasselbeck, the entire offensive line and seven different wide receivers - and just plain ineptitude from those who remained - doomed Seattle to its worst record since a 2-14 mark in 1992. An undersized defense buckled under the weight of carrying the sickly offense and perennially dismal Arizona replaced the Seahawks atop the division.

"It kind of set in a little bit (Sunday) when I was out there and realized, 'Man, the Cardinals are in the playoffs?' It blew my mind," defensive tackle Rocky Bernard said, referring to the 34-21 loss at Arizona that mercifully ended Seattle's season.

Mike Holmgren endured his worst record in 17 years as a head coach, and just the third losing season of his career. Hardly the sweet farewell the Seahawks planned before the NFL's winningest active coach takes his sabbatical and Jim Mora takes over in 2009.

Seattle has the No. 4 overall draft choice in April. It would be their highest choice, barring a trade, since the Seahawks took quarterback Rick Mirer second overall in 1993.

"It's tough," said backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, who proved himself somewhat in a career-high eight starts while Hasselbeck was out with a bulging disk in his back. "We've been on top for a long time."

Mora was to meet with Holmgren on Monday afternoon to begin a 10-day transition period. Holmgren, 60, is scheduled to give his final public comments as Seattle's coach on Tuesday.

The players - especially Jones, the nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle who was with Holmgren for all 10 of his years in Seattle - are already bracing for Mora's youthful exuberance that he was known for while leading Atlanta a few years ago. The 47-year-old Mora has been bringing that to the defense as the Seahawks' secondary coach for two seasons.

"We probably need that new energy, to say 'OK, what do we need to get back on track?"' said Jones, who had microfracture surgery on his knee and is unlikely to be on the field until next summer.

Added Bernard: "I think change will be good for this team."

Yes, change is coming.

Bernard's contract is ending. So are those of Bobby Engram, Hasselbeck's mainstay at receiver since they arrived together in 2001, and play-making outside linebacker Leroy Hill.

"I've been saying that all along I want to retire here, but the business side has to dictate that," said Engram, who held out of minicamps last spring because Seattle wouldn't give him a multiyear contract following his team-record 94-catch season in 2007.

Engram, who had 47 catches in 13 games this season, turns 36 next week.

Hill was often all over the field while making 81 tackles in 12 games. Then he missed the final four games of the season with a pinched nerve in his neck. The fourth-year veteran can become a free agent for the first time, though he says he'd love to stay with Seattle and will give the team an extra listen in contract talks.

He isn't worried someone will be giving him a rich deal soon.

"I think I set myself up good," he said, smiling. "If Seattle decides not to go forward with me, I think I'll have a job next year."

Jones turns 35 next month, not a prime age to be coming off major knee surgery. So Seattle had better find a new protector for Hasselbeck's blind side.

Hasselbeck missed the most games (nine) of his career. The 33-year-old did not play again following a crunching hit from Dallas' DeMarcus Ware on Thanksgiving Day, which caused his bulging disk to affect nerves in his leg for the second time since October. Doctors have told him his rested body should heal itself by the end of January and he does not need surgery.

"I think I'll definitely be stronger for it," the three-time Pro Bowl passer said, adding exercises to strengthen his torso have already made him a stronger thrower.

He said he will be back for minicamps in late April.

Wallace hinted he may not be around for those. He broke Hasselbeck's team record by throwing 184 consecutive passes without an interception, until throwing two in Sunday's finale. He apparently has performance clauses in his contract that could free him from Seattle, which drafted him in 2003. The four-year extension he signed in August 2007 calls for his base salary to jump from $605,000 this year to $1.5 million in 2009.

"I've got some things in my contract that can change some things," Wallace said. "We'll see."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 30, 2008

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