Surprised Hasselbeck back to Seahawks with no limitations, some rust Print
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Monday, 04 June 2007 13:08
NFL Headline News

 KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) -Just as he expected, Matt Hasselbeck was a cheerleader during the Seattle Seahawks' first day of minicamp.
``Good start!'' yelled the quarterback who is recovering from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, clapping his hands after a short pass completion on the first play of a drill. Then he slapped the hands of each player in the offense's huddle.
What Hasselbeck did not expect was that the pass he was cheering was his own. And the huddle was his, not backup Seneca Wallace's.
The Pro Bowl and Super Bowl quarterback from two seasons ago was back Monday running the starting offense through an entire practice for the first time since surgery in January repaired torn cartilage in his left shoulder.
``I am happy that the surgery went so well and I haven't had any setbacks and I'm so far ahead of schedule,'' Hasselbeck said of the Jan. 18 procedure by noted specialist Dr. James Andrews, which repaired an injury Hasselbeck first sustained three years ago.
``Early on, I was hoping to be able to throw a little bit in this camp. Now, I'm really not limited at all in this camp.''
Except perhaps in accuracy. Hasselbeck, who had a career-high completion percentage of 65.5, a team-record passer rating of 98.2 and an NFC-best 24 touchdowns during the 2005 season, his last healthy one, scattered more bad passes than usual onto the rain-slicked turf on Monday.
``I've still got some things to work on,'' he said. ``I haven't been throwing a ton. I've been throwing two times a week, three times a week, which is less than I would normally be doing at this point. But I'm confident that things will be ready to go when they need to be.''
So is coach Mike Holmgren.
``There are no restrictions, but he is working through some of the rust, I would say,'' Holmgren said. ``I think he is fine, physically.
``He threw enough good balls today that he is close.''
A lot closer than five months ago, when the Seahawks said Hasselbeck ``should be ready for training camp at worst, if not before.''
But then he began working in the weight room at team headquarters so fiendishly that receiver Bobby Engram said, ``I bet he has the keys to the place, being in and out of it so much rehabbing.''
Hasselbeck's workouts have apparently been so aggressive, Seahawks doctors told him Monday to back off.
``There's some things I still need to be smart about in the weight room, because it hasn't been that long,'' Hasselbeck said after the meeting with the team's medical staff.
``I'm not getting tackled, obviously,'' he said. ``I don't feel anything at all.''
He felt almost everything last season, including failure. Hasselbeck sprained a knee and missed four games. He played through two broken fingers after he returned. He had his worst season statistically since his first as Seahawks starter in 2001, completing 56.6 percent of his passes, his lowest rate in five seasons. He threw 15 interceptions in the regular season. With three more interceptions in two playoff games, he had the most over an entire season in his eight-year career.
A year after winning the NFC championship game, Seattle lost in the second round to Chicago.
Hasselbeck is still talking about the void left last month when the Seahawks traded Darrell Jackson, the veteran receiver who shared an uncanny chemistry with him. Former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch is moving into Jackson's role as lead strong-side receiver - or will resume doing so once he returns from his honeymoon.
Holmgren joked that Branch ``might not be worth much'' on Tuesday, when he is scheduled to rejoin the team.
Hasselbeck sounded proud to say he picked out Branch's wedding gift himself instead of leaving it to his wife. He also sounded eager to develop a Jackson-like rapport on the field with Branch, acquired from New England in a trade last September.
``That's something that's going to be important,'' Hasselbeck said. ``That was definitely something that I was thinking about when I was trying to get back earlier.''
 

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