Hawks expect energy, enthusiasm from Mora

Published on December 29, 2008 by     Seahawk Fanatic

Renton – He’s been described as a hands-on coach with boundless energy who thrives on driving players to perform their best. And he had some success during his first head coaching stint with Atlanta.

When training camp rolls around at the end of July, there will be some interest in how different things are run with Jim Mora taking over the coaching reins of the Seattle Seahawks.

The some of the differences are obvious. Mora’s 47 years old, Mike Holmgren is 60. Mora is a defensive guy and Holmgren’s focus is on offense.

However, both seem to share a commitment to get the best out of players and focus on what it takes to win.

“Obviously, it’s going to be a little more different personality,” said linebacker Julian Peterson, who played for Mora when he was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco. “Jim’s a little fiery, a little younger and moves from sideline to sideline a little faster than Coach (Holmgren). But other than that, it’s still going to be getting back to work and guys getting ready to play. And I’m pretty sure they’re going to be getting us back to where we need to go.”

Defensive end Patrick Kerney is the only Seattle player who experienced Mora as a head coach with Atlanta. Kerney described Mora as a Type A guy who is focused on bettering himself and his players.

“Jim, being hands-on, is very high energy,” Kerney said. “And when I say that he’s demanding, when we’re running from drill to drill at a pretty high tempo, he’s right there running with us. And when a guy works with you, you just want to work harder for him. And it’s something I had fun with in Atlanta, and I look forward to embracing that here.”

Mora led Atlanta to the NFC Championship Game in his first season and finished with a 26-22 record in three seasons with the Falcons. Mora was fired after the third year, with Atlanta finishing a disappointing 7-9. So there remain questions about how Mora will fare in Seattle.

“He hasn’t been a coach here, so we don’t know,” safety Deon Grant said about Mora taking over, although Grant emphasized he enjoyed playing for Mora as defensive backs coach for Seattle. “When that happens, then I can give you all that information, but right now he’s just been a defensive backs coach for us, and we’ll see what the head coaching skill is like.”

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said during Holmgren’s last meeting with the team Monday he gave Mora his vote of confidence and basically told the other players to follow Mora’s lead.

“Basically, his message to the team was, ‘Hey, listen, they’re not going to be the same as me, but you’ve got to buy into what (they’re saying),’ ” Hasselbeck said.

Stars expect to be ready

Starting quarterback Hasselbeck missed nine games this season because of a bulging disk in his back. Veteran tackle Walter Jones, the anchor of the offensive line, missed the last four games to have microfracture surgery on his left knee. However, both key cogs in Seattle’s offense are expected to be healthy next season.

Hasselbeck said that Dr. Stan Herring would not give him clearance to play late in the season, but he expects to be ready at the team’s first voluntary workouts of the spring. Hasselbeck said his therapy and rehab training for his back helped him learn more about his body and how to better take care of future injuries.

Jones walked without a limp Monday and seemed optimistic about his chances to return to the field next season.

“It went real good,” Jones said about the surgery. “Hopefully I’ll come back and be healthy and be strong. That’s the plan. … It’ll be awhile before I can get back on the field doing stuff. They’re going to take it real slow to make sure it heals perfectly and I come back strong.”

Kerney, whose third consecutive season ended in surgery, said he thinks the injury bug is behind him and he’ll rebound from his latest shoulder surgery.

“ ‘It’s part of what we sign up for,’ is what I always say when you get hurt,” he said. “If you go out there and play the right way for long enough, you’re going to get injured. It’s just a matter of rehabbing as well as you can and getting back to the full player you were before.”

No guarantees for Mare

Kicker Olindo Mare exceeded expectations this season for the Seahawks, yet his starting job may be in question. He kicked 24 field goals in 27 attempts with a long of 51 yards, made all 30 of his extra-point kicks and had 22 touchbacks on kickoffs, tied for second most in the league.

However, Seattle drafted Brandon Coutu in the seventh round in 2008 as the team’s kicker of the future, and kept him on the active roster so another team could not pluck him off the practice squad.

Mare credited holder Jon Ryan and long snapper Jeff Robinson for his success, and said he’s ready to come back and compete for the job if he has to.

“It shows how mentally strong you are,” Mare said. “And I proved that.”

He said he thinks he made the kicks that were expected and proved he’s strong on kickoffs, “helping out in the field-position battle.”

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437

blogs.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

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