Hasselbeck back on field earlier than Seahawks' post-surgery estimate Print
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Friday, 04 May 2007 15:46
NFL Headline News

 KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) -Matt Hasselbeck was back throwing on the field for the first day of Seahawks minicamp, far ahead of schedule in returning from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. And Bobby Engram has a theory why.
``I know how hard he was out here working out, though he won't tell you that,'' said Engram, Seattle's receiver said of his quarterback since 2001.
``I bet he has the keys to the place, being in and out of it so much rehabbing.''
Not quite. Even though Hasselbeck was throwing on the field Friday, less than four months after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left shoulder, it turns out he has the same keycard for Seahawks headquarters as every other player, coach and team employee.
And throughout the quiet offseason, he's had no more access than the receptionist at the front desk.
``I can't get in past six o'clock at night,'' Hasselbeck said, laughing as he walked into the team facility following practice. ``Actually, I can't even be in here past six o'clock at night.''
There's no need for 24-hour access now. The Pro Bowl and Super Bowl quarterback from two seasons ago is most of the way back to being ready for training camp. He spent Friday throwing and participating fully, like each of the other three quarterbacks in Seattle's first minicamp. But when the team got together to run plays between against the defense, Hasselbeck yielded to perennial backup Seneca Wallace.
``I'm not really in competitive shape right now,'' Hasselbeck said, citing a winter and early spring spent ``flying around the country seeing doctors. Not much fun.''
Noted specialist Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 18, after Hasselbeck sought a second opinion following Seahawks doctors advising surgery. The Seahawks originally said Hasselbeck ``should be ready for training camp at worst, if not before'' July. He first injured the shoulder during a Jan. 4, 2004, playoff loss at Green Bay.
``He is not participating in any of the team things or anything that would test his left shoulder at all - even handing the ball off,'' coach Mike Holmgren said.
``But he can throw the ball.''
The plus of getting back on the field followed the big minus that began Hasselbeck's week: The loss of Darrell Jackson in a trade to San Francisco for a fourth-round pick.
``It was tough,'' Hasselbeck said.
Hasselbeck often said that he and Jackson, his favorite target since he arrived in Seattle in 2001, shared an unspoken understanding of where the receiver would adjust his routes and where the ball was going to go on every pass pattern.
Now, Deion Branch assumes Jackson's lead receiver role. Fellow 2006 newcomer Nate Burleson will be competing with emerging D.J. Hackett for the other starting wide receiver job this preseason.
``We've got the relationship. I feel as comfortable with those two guys as teammates as I do with anybody,'' Hasselbeck said of Branch and Burleson. ``It's just a matter of getting on the field when no one's around, throwing 500 balls day after day to get to that point where we can do it with our eyes closed.''
One play Friday exemplified how far Hasselbeck and Jackson's replacements are from that point.
Hasselbeck threw a pass almost onto the sideline boundary well before Branch made his cut on a 10-yard out route. When the former Super Bowl MVP came out of his cut and turned his head, he saw where the ball was going and had to scramble to make a lunging catch, his arms fully extended.
``He was a little rusty today,'' Holmgren said of his recovering quarterback.
At their best, Hasselbeck and Jackson had such unique timing and an uncanny knack for anticipating each other that Jackson rarely had to reach for a pass, let alone scramble to one.
Branch acknowledged that kind of rapport will be a considerable factor in improving upon what was his less-than-splashy Seattle debut following last September's trade from the New England Patriots. He also acknowledged Hasselbeck's recovery from surgery hampers the development of that rapport.
``It takes a whole offseason, just to work on everything,'' Branch said. ``As soon as Matt get back there full stride, we'll do whatever we can do to get full reps in and work at it.''
 

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