Wednesday in Hawkville

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A recap of the day’s activities:

PLAYER OF THE DAY

Lofa Tatupu. The new defensive coaches are asking the three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker to do more, and even do things a little differently, this season.

During the two hour, 25 minute practice in full pads, Tatupu did a little bit of everything. He got to the ball carrier in the backfield.  He came off a block to thump the running back as he was attempting to hit the hole.

New role. Same results.

“Lofa has done a really good job,” coach Jim Mora said. “He’s been focused. He’s intense. He’s accepted the changes in his role, although they’re very, very minor.

“Lofa’s a proud man, and he takes a lot of pride and he takes his craft seriously. He wants to be a great player.”

Last year, Tatupu played with a cast on his right hand and through other injuries. He did not go to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

“I think last year affected him,” Mora said. “What I’ve seen is a guy who’s come back very focused, intent on regaining the stature around the league that he enjoyed his first three years.

“I think he’ll have a good year.”

Especially if he plays like he was practicing Wednesday.

PLAY OF THE DAY

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane exploded through the line to get the running back just after he took the handoff.

POSITION WATCH

Punt returner. Yes, Nate Burleson is the starting split end. And yes, he’s coming off major knee surgery that ended his 2008 season in the opener. But yes, he will return punts this season.

Not on a steady basis, but in select spots.

“Nate’s one of the best punt returners in football, and we’re trying to win games,” Mora said. “There might be some people who question the logic of putting a starting wide receiver who’s coming off a knee injury back as a punt returner. But if he can make a play to help us win a game, then we’re going to do it.

“So you’ll see Nate back there at some point. You might see him back there this week; you might not. It’s going to depend on the situation.”

OUTSIDE IN

The players began practice outside, but quickly moved to their indoor practice facility when rain began to fall.

CAPTAIN CRUNCH

The players have elected their captains for the season.

Safety Deon Grant and Tatupu were repeat selections on defense, as were quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and tackle Walter Jones on offense. Linebacker Lance Laury also was a repeat pick for special teams, with the other co-captain being kicker Olindo Mare.

ROLL CALL

Tackle Brandon Frye practiced with the team for the first time since being claimed off waivers from the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It’s a suffocating experience to come in there and play in front of that crowd. They suck the air out of the place. With our fans, what we’d like to do is create an environment where a team doesn’t feel safe. They say, ‘I don’t want to be out here. I want to be in the locker room and then I want to get on the plane and go home.’ Our fans provide that atmosphere right off the bat, and then it’s up to us to make sure that we maintain it.” – Mora, on the obvious


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