Leon Washington. The running back who was acquired in a draft day trade with the New York Jets is scheduled to start in Saturday night’s third preseason game against the Vikings in Minnesota – after Julius Jones and Justin Forsett got the starts in the first two games.
Washington, who severely broke his right leg last October, warmed up by breaking several nice runs during this afternoon’s 2-hour, 10-minute practice. He used his speed to get outside and his quickness to explode through holes in the middle of the line.
In his first game action since being injured, Washington got five touches against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night. He rushed four times for 19 yards and scored on an 11-yard run. He also gained 6 yards on a screen pass. That was after waiting until the second quarter.
This week, the first number called will be his.
“It’s just an opportunity to go out there and, instead of waiting a little bit longer, I have an opportunity to set the tempo,” Washington said. “I’ll try my best to take advantage of it.”
Washington is a fiery competitor, so waiting is not one of the things he does best.
“It was tough last game,” he said. “I knew I was getting in, but I had to kind of wait until the second quarter. It will be good to get warmed up in pre-game and go right back out there.”
Offensive line. Mike Gibson getting the start at left guard, a possibility coach Pete Carroll mentioned Tuesday, moved closer to reality today when Ben Hamilton sat out to rest a sore knee. That left Gibson to take all the snaps with the No. 1 line.
Joining Gibson in that unit were left tackle Mansfield Wrotto, who is starting because Russell Okung (sprained ankle), Ray Willis (damaged knee cartilage) and Chester Pitts (recovering from microfracture surgery) are out; center Chris Spencer, left guard Max Unger and right tackle Sean Locklear.
On the No. 2 line were – from left tackle to right – Jacob Phillips, Steve Vallos, Jeff Byers, Mitch Erickson and Joe Toledo. Phillips and Byers are rookie free agents.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, whose cubicle is next to Wrotto’s in the locker room, was asked about him making his first start at tackle since his senior season at Georgia Tech in 2006.
“He’s a quiet guy; real smart guy, bright guy” Hasselbeck said. “He’s excited for this opportunity. He’s waited a long time and it’s a great challenge.”
Right cornerback. The competition between Kelly Jennings and Josh Wilson for the starting job rages on. Today, it was Jennings’ turn to work with the No. 1 defense, and he made the most of it – despite playing with the left elbow he hyperextended against the Packers.
First, he made a lunging deflection of a pass intended for Kole Heckendorf. Later, he tipped away a deep pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
ON THE FIELD
Things got physical during the full-pads practice, which covered everything from working goal-line to two-minute to third-down situations.
In an early drill, safety Lawyer Milloy drilled wide receiver Deon Butler just as he had caught a pass. Later, cornerback Roy Lewis knocked down Brandon Jones and Ben Obomanu on back-to-back plays.
Practice ended with a two-minute drill, and the drill ended when cornerback Marcus Trufant intercepted a pass at the goal line.
Tight end Chris Baker and safety Kevin Ellison returned to practice after sitting out Tuesday.
In addition to Hamilton, Okung, Willis and Pitts, six other players did not practice: defensive linemen Kentwan Balmer (ankle contusion) and Nick Reed (knee scope); linebackers Leroy Hill (sprained knee) and David Hawthorne (undisclosed injury); tight end Cameron Morrah (undisclosed injury); and cornerback Josh Pinkard, who remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
FOLLOW THE LEADERS
After two preseason games, combo-back Quinton Ganther leads the team in rushing with 41 yards and Houshmandzadeh is the leading receiver with six catches – one more than Mike Williams.
Rookie Dexter Davis shares the lead in tackles with rookie cornerback Walter Thurmond (eight each) and leads the team with two special teams tackles and two sacks.
Punter Jon Ryan is second in the league with a 48.9-yard average.
The players will have an 11 a.m. practice on Thursday – which is actually Friday in this week’s schedule. On Friday, there is a walk-thru at 10:30 a.m. before the team flies to Minneapolis for Saturday night’s game.