Monday in Hawkville

A recap of the Seahawks’ practice at Bing Training Camp:

FOCUS ON

Lofa Tatupu. The Seahawks’ three-time Pro Bowl performer and four-time leading tackler was back where he belongs during this afternoon’s practice – at middle linebacker with the No. 1 defense.

Tatupu had missed much of the past two weeks to rest a troublesome hamstring.

“Oh yeah, we’ve been waiting,” coach Pete Carroll said when asked if it was nice to have his defensive leader back on the field. “We’re going to bring him back slowly, make sure he feels real strong and healthy and just take it one day at a time.

“But it’s great to have Lofa back on the field.”

That one-day-a-time schedule is fine with Tatupu, as long as it includes getting some reps in practice.

“I’ve been pretty anxious to get in there,” he said. “So I’m just trying to get my looks and my mental reps.”

And answer questions for the players who have been subbing for him – David Hawthorne, Matt McCoy and Joe Pawelek.

“They come to me as if I have all the answers,” he said, smiling. “I’m like, ‘I just play with what I see.’ I just read and react, because it doesn’t always happen the way it’s supposed to.”

That is, and has been, Tatupu’s strength: Those instincts that allow his first step to almost always be in the direction of where the ball is going.

ROOKIE WATCH

Kam Chancellor. The team’s fifth-round draft choice came up – what else? – big in Saturday night’s preseason opener. But his performance went beyond that fact that he is 6 feet 3, 232 pounds, or even his last-second interception to ice the 20-18 victory.

“Kam played extremely well,” Carroll said. “He was really obvious out there with his tackling. The big play at the end was kind of the icing on the cake for him, and he played very well on special teams, too.”

Chancellor was credited with two solo tackles, and had the big interception.

If he keeps it up, an already crowded situation at safety will only become more competitive because the group already includes starters Lawyer Milloy (strong) and Earl Thomas (free); Jordan Babineaux, the starter at free safety last season; Kevin Ellison, who was added during the offseason and played for Carroll at USC; and Jamar Adams, who has been with the team the past two seasons.

WAITING ON BALMER

Yes, the Seahawks traded for Kentwan Balmer on Monday. But no, the former first-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers did not practice. That is scheduled to happen Tuesday.

If anyone is more excited than Balmer about getting a fresh start with the Seahawks, it’s fellow defensive lineman E.J. Wilson. The Seahawks’ fourth-round draft choice played with Balmer at North Carolina and first met him on the basketball court during a Holiday tournament when they were in high school – Balmer as a sophomore at Weldon (N.C.) High and Wilson as a freshman at Brunswick High in Virginia.

“Kentwan said he’s very excited to come up,” Wilson said. “He still loves the game of football. It’s just that some things didn’t shake out the way he wanted them to shake out. He’s really excited to get a fresh start.”

Balmer was frustrated with his role in San Francisco and also dealing with personal issues. That’s why he left the team last week, a move that helped prompt the trade.

“I’m very, very happy to get him here,” Wilson said. “That’s my boy; one of my best friends. So I’m definitely excited to get him up here.”

Also count Carroll among those who are pleased about the trade for Balmer.

“He’s a big, strong kid,” Carroll said. “He’s another kid that as we’ve worked to get big and strong up front, he’s another guy that can play defensive end and three-technique (tackle) for us. He’s got a great lower body. He’s real physically capable of standing up against the big O-linemen that we’re going to play in our division. He’s active. He’s a good technician.

“What’s happened is in the past, as far as we’re concerned. We feel real good about him getting in here and helping us right away.”

WILLIS SIDELINED

Ray Willis did not practice, and won’t for a while. The veteran – and versatile – tackle will have arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his knee and be sidelined “for a bit,” as Carroll put it.

“We just kind of got that clearly diagnosed over the weekend and we’ve got to take care of him,” Carroll said.

It’s a blow to Willis, who started 16 games on the right side last season and was going to be given an opportunity to challenge Sean Locklear for that job this summer; as well as the team, which is suddenly very thin at the tackle position.

“That’s a concern right now,” Carroll said. “We didn’t have great experience at the spot going in, and Ray was flipping for us. So we’re going to have to work on this and fix this thing a little bit right now.”

Carroll said he does not expect Willis to be ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 12 against the 49ers at Qwest Field.

ROLL CALL

In addition to Tatupu, guard Mike Gibson and Pawelek also returned to practice.

Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was excused from practice because of a family situation.

Still sidelined are linebacker Leroy Hill and defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson. Today, they were joined by defensive linemen Kevin Vickerson, Nick Reed, Ricky Foley and Jonathan Lewis. Offensive lineman Chester Pitts and cornerback Josh Pinkard remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

UP NEXT

The players will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 1:30 p.m. They also will have a session Friday starting at 11 a.m., the final tune-up for Saturday night’s preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Qwest Field.

THE “IN” CROWD

Today’s practice, the last one open to fans, attracted a crowd of 2,321 – second largest of the 14 practices that were open at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.  The turnout pushed the total attendance to 22,386.

A Sunday afternoon practice at Husky Stadium on Aug. 8 drew a crowd of 6,231.

YOU DON’T SAY

“That’s why we play, they coach and the GM, you know, they do their thing.” – Tatupu, on his initial thoughts that rookie Dexter Davis should remain at end; only to see the seventh-round draft choice flourish in his dual role as a rush-end and outside linebacker after being switched to linebacker during the offseason


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