A little Q&A

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Dipping into the mailbag twice in one week? It seems the more questions the team answered in the draft, free agency and during minicamp practices, the more questions it generates from the fans.

Today’s mailbag goes global – in the scope of inquires, as well as geography – as we field questions from Moses Lake to Orange Park, Fla.; Carson City, Nev., to Afghanistan; and Phoenix to Barrie, Ontario. And the topics range from how’s-he-doing, to who-plays-where, to who’s-helping-who.

So let’s get to it …

Q: Now that the Seahawks have picked up Mike Reilly, what are they going to do with Mike Teel? Do you think they will keep 4 QBs? – Rich, Moses Lake

A: The Seahawks have always taken at least four quarterbacks to training camp, Rich. They went through last week’s minicamp with only three on the roster – Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst and Teel. Bradley George, a rookie from Texas State, was in for a tryout. But he didn’t do much, or show much.

That led the club to claim Reilly this week after he was released by the Rams. Reilly spent some time with the Packers last season, when new GM John Schneider also was in Green Bay. Reilly had a very productive career at Central Washington and possesses the skills needed to play in a West Coast offense.

So while the club will carry four QBs through camp, expect Reilly to challenge Teel for the third spot on the 53-man roster.

Q: Is Deion Branch going to play in the 2010 season? – Bob, Orange Park, Fla.

A: In a word, Bob, yes. But, to add the obvious disclaimer when it comes to Branch’s tenure with the team: If he remains healthy. The veteran wide receiver just had a cleanout arthroscopic procedure on his left knee, the same one that needed reconstructive surgery after the 2007 season and then another scope last offseason. The latest scope forced him to sit out the just-completed minicamp.

But coach Pete Carroll has been praising Branch’s talents, and how they fit with the new offense being installed by coordinator Jeremy Bates, since shortly after he was hired in January. Carroll only ratcheted his assessment after seeing Branch in the first minicamp.

“Deion Branch had a very, very good three days,” Carroll said. “He showed up, and showed off a little bit today.

“He’s going to have a big role in the offense. I think he recognizes that and really embraced that and really is excited about what’s going on. We have to go to him. He’s just too well equipped. He’s in great shape. He’s worked out hard. He performed beautifully in this camp. And showed that all those thoughts we had about him coming in are legit.”

Q: How is Lofa Tatupu’s return to football going? Will he be ready to play? – Clint, Carson City, Nev.

A: Tatupu’s recovery from the torn pectoral that forced him to miss the final 10 games last season has been very visible, Clint. At the first minicamp in April, the three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker took part only in seven-on-seven and individual drills. At last week’s minicamp, Tatupu was full-go – meaning he took part in full-team drills, as well as the seven-and-seven and individual segments.

Tatupu, of course, played for Carroll at USC. And Carroll recently explained the importance of having Tatupu on the field when asked about Aaron Curry’s performance during his rookie season.

“Last year, Aaron played his best football when Lofa was out there,” Carroll said. “And Lofa helped him a lot, frankly. It got harder for Aaron without that experience right next to him. … Lofa affects guys. He helps people understand the game.”

Which leads us to …

Q: My question is surrounding our linebackers. First, how is Lofa recovering? Second, with the monster year that David Hawthorne had last year do you think he’ll be starting beside Aaron Curry and Tatupu? I know I’m missing Leroy Hill’s name here, but with his off-field issues and being ordered to stay away to get that sorted out, he might be the odd man out. What are your thoughts? – Tarry, Barrie, Ontario, Canada

A: We just answered the first part of your question, Tarry. As for Hawthorne’s role this season, after he led the team in tackles as Tatupu’s replacement last season, he was working at Hill’s spot with the No. 1 defense in last week’s minicamp.

Whether that continues depends on what happens to Hill. The club is waiting for the league to decide that, and has told Hill not to attend any of the team activities until then. Because of his off-field problems last offseason and again this offseason, Hill could be disciplined by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

If that happens, the Seahawks are prepared, because Hawthorne has played a lot in the two minicamps – at middle linebacker for Tatupu in team drills, and with Tatupu and Curry in the seven-on-seven drills at the first camp; and at weakside linebacker with Tatupu and Curry in all drills at last week’s minicamp.

Q: I’ve read the articles saying that Lawyer Milloy has taken Earl Thomas under his wing. My question is what about Kam Chancellor, our fifth-round pick? Is he getting the same mentoring as Thomas? I think he is the hard-hitting STRONG safety that we need to inspire fear in the deep ball and with the right coaching could be a beast. – Matt, Afghanistan

A: Chancellor isn’t getting as much attention as Thomas, Matt, because he wasn’t named the starter the same day the team selected him. But, yes, he is being tutored – by Jordan Babineaux, who has moved from free safety to strong safety with the addition of Thomas.

Babineaux agrees with your assessment of Chancellor, a physically imposing 232-pounder out of Virginia Tech.

“When Kam walked in I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” Babineaux told me this week. “He’s the physical specimen that you dream of.

“I sat down with Kam and Earl during lunch (at the minicamp) and we just went through some of the calls and some of the checks. Just to give them some things to start thinking about, because at that first minicamp they get a lot of information thrown at them in a short amount of time.”

The Seahawks also have re-signed former University of Washington safety Lawyer Milloy, who has played in the league for 14 seasons. And new defensive backs coach Jerry Gray was a Pro Bowl cornerback during his NFL career and also has served as a defensive coordinator in the league.

So Chancellor and Thomas will not be wanting for direction.

Q: When did the current Seahawk uniform replace the Seahawk blues, and why wasn’t Steve Largent’s number (80) ever retired? – Anthony, Phoenix

A: Largent’s number has been retired, Anthony. It happened in 1995, when Largent also was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The only other numbers retired by the club are 12 (in 1984, to honor the fans) and 71 (last week, when tackle Walter Jones retired).

You might be confused because Jerry Rice was allowed to wear No. 80 for the one season he was with the Seahawks (2004) before it went back into retirement.

The Seahawks made the switch from their old uniforms to the current ones in 2002, to coincide with the move into the new stadium. The uniforms also were tweaked in 1983, the year Chuck Knox took over as coach and led the Seahawks to their first playoff appearance – not to mention the AFC Championship game. Those changes featured the helmet logo being included on the jersey sleeve and the smaller uniform number that had been on the sleeve being moved to the shoulder.

But the ’02 change was a complete makeover: New colors, a more menacing-looking logo and the white and blue jerseys and pants that have mixed and matched during the past eight seasons.


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