As the Seahawks go through their final minicamp of the offseason, one of the biggest questions revolves around a wide receiver position where returners T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch are still recovering from offseason surgeries.
Both veterans were in uniform and took part in some one-on-one receiving drills Tuesday, but neither participated in the full team portion of practice.
Coach Pete Carroll said both are expected to be full-go when regular-season training camp opens on July 31, but acknowledged their absence has created a lack of continuity for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the new offense being installed by coordinator Jeremy Bates.
The plus side, Carroll said, has been the benefit of being thrust into the thick of things for youngsters like Golden Tate, Deon Butler and Ben Obomanu and free-agent hopeful Mike Williams.
“There’s a lot of questions because there are some unknowns here,” Carroll said. “Having the two experienced guys not part of the mix, we’ve had the opportunity to kind of dig in with some fellows and get a real good look at them.”
The new head coach said likes what he’s seen from a number of the 11 healthy receivers who are in camp, a number that got smaller with the release of former Husky standout Reggie Williams last week.
“Deon Butler has had a very good offseason for us and has improved immensely from where we saw him on film last year. Mike Williams has made an impact and the fact he’s 6-4 and 240, we like what he brings,” Carroll said.
“Golden has had a ton of reps and turns and he has a lot to learn, but he makes things happen and that’s what the special guys do. They kind of remind you that they’re special. And we have a lot of hope that he’ll be a contributor.
“Ben Obomanu has been pretty flashy. So it’s a young, emerging group without the experienced guys back and as we add them to it, it’ll be very competitive. Let the games begin and let guys battle it out. There are some exciting guys out there.”
Houshmandzadeh, nearly fully recovered now from sports hernia surgery seven weeks ago, isn’t about to be forgotten, of course. The 32-year-old led Seattle with 79 catches for 911 yards last season, but considered that a disappointing season.
“I’m very optimistic,” said Houshmandzadeh. “But we’ll see. I learned last year that optimism is different when the games come. But I feel like things will be very different offensively for us, just talking to Coach Bates and (wide receivers coach) Kippy (Brown). There’s just a different mindset.”
Houshmandzadeh believes there’ll be more emphasis on getting the ball to the team’s playmakers this season. And, of course, he feels he’s one of those.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “Jeremy’s philosophy is to almost put the game in your best player’s hands. If I’m one of those players, then the game will kind of fall on my shoulders. Not just myself, but (John) Carlson, the running game, Matt … we’ve got to get it done. It’s sink or swim. Either you fail or you succeed and I like that.”