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Camp notebook: Rookie LB gets the call to start against Saints
Seattle Times staff reporter
CHENEY — When the Seahawks' defense takes the field tomorrow night in New Orleans for the team's exhibition opener, rookie outside linebacker LeRoy Hill will be in the starting lineup.
It's more than the third-round pick from Clemson could have imagined, especially so soon. But he has had a good camp, and with projected starter D.D. Lewis injured, Hill has taken advantage of more snaps in practice.
"I'm excited," Hill said. "I just don't want to be the rookie that messes up."
Hill, like so many of his teammates, is fired up to hit someone other than a teammate, which has been the case at training camp.
"It's all fun out here. It's business, but it's fun," Hill said. "Now we get to let loose on someone else."
As for key playing-time decisions in the game, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will start and play the first quarter, then give way to backup Seneca Wallace. Third-round draft pick David Greene will finish the game.
Also, Shaun Alexander will start at running back, coach Mike Holmgren said.
Seattle at New Orleans, tomorrow, 5 p.m., KONG
Bierria bears it
Terreal Bierria is going home to play for the second time in less than a year, but the circumstances are very different this time.
Last September, the Seahawks opened the regular season in Bierria's hometown of New Orleans, with Bierria the starting strong safety. Tomorrow, the Seahawks open the exhibition season in the Louisiana Superdome, and Bierria is now a backup.
He lost his starting job to Michael Boulware late last season, and is now in the role of trying to make the team and stay employed.
"I'm the underdog," Bierria said. "I'm like the person everybody's counting out. It's like I'm not even here. But it's cool to be able to prove myself and fight and go out there and perform to the level that I can."
Bierria is the first to admit he didn't play well last season, but said he feels much more comfortable now that he is more knowledgeable about playing in the NFL.
Camp highlights, Day 13
Big plays: Or lack thereof. Yesterday morning's practice featured a few glaring mistakes and coaches grumbling about some players' efforts. Rookie kick returner Marquis Weeks mishandled a kickoff, prompting some criticism from special-teams coach Bob Casullo. WR Marque Davis, back after eight days of missed practice because of a hamstring problem, dropped a pass near the goal line. CB Michael Harden was chided for not going hard for an interception. FB Leonard Weaver dropped a screen pass. And RB Shaun Alexander dropped another such pass, and was barked at to keep running until the play was over.
Temperatures: 77 degrees in the morning.
Snapshot: QB Seneca Wallace is widely considered the best all-around athlete on the team, and here's proof: Asked when he first dunked a basketball, he replied, "Eighth grade." Wallace, who is listed at 5 feet 11, said he performed the feat when he was 5-8.
Quick quip: Coach Mike Holmgren, on the competition for roster spots at linebacker: "I'm very anxious to see them play in the football game. That will be the strongest tool we have to evaluate. I love their athleticism. I like their enthusiasm. With those guys, the only thing that hinders them is their learning."
Jose Miguel Romero
"Now I have tough skin," he said.
Wunsch to IR
The Seahawks placed offensive lineman Jerry Wunsch on injured reserve, which means he is unlikely to play for the team this year. Wunsch, entering his ninth pro season, practiced sparingly at training camp, hampered by a surgically-repaired right foot.
The team has five days to reach an injury settlement with Wunsch, which would allow him to either play somewhere else or return to the Seahawks later in the regular season.
Wunsch appeared in 34 games for the Seahawks, including five starts in 2002 (right guard and right tackle).
"He would like to keep playing," Holmgren said of Wunsch. "He's a warrior. He is one of my favorite guys in the whole world. We shook hands yesterday and if nothing happens, there is always a possibility that he can come back."
With a roster spot available, the Seahawks signed running back Dante Brown, who made his practice debut with the team yesterday. Brown, 25, was with Pittsburgh in the 2003 exhibition season and Buffalo for one regular-season game last year.
• OT Sean Locklear will meet the team in New Orleans, having left camp for a personal matter. He was not at practice yesterday.
• Holmgren said he expects to have DT Cedric Woodard back in practice on Sunday, and DT Rashad Moore could be back next week. Woodard is coming off knee surgery and Moore shoulder surgery in the offseason.
• LB Lofa Tatupu figures to be back in practice once the team returns from New Orleans. He is one of 11 players not making the trip.
• Lewis is being sent back to Seattle to spend the weekend with his family. He is recovering from a concussion suffered last week in practice.
• Though FS Ken Hamlin has been practicing, he will not go New Orleans. Holmgren said he wants Hamlin to start hitting in practice, which Hamlin has yet to do since returning Sunday from shoulder rehabilitation.
• The Seahawks held tryouts yesterday for three players: RB Jesse Chatman, a former Eastern Washington player who rushed for 392 yards for the San Diego Chargers last season; DB-return man Kevin Moffett, a rookie from Southern University; and WR-RS J.J. Moses, who was cut by the Houston Texans in May after two seasons as the team's primary return specialist. Moses, 25, was the NFL's shortest player at 5-6 last season. Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said such tryouts will take place weekly all season long to build a list of players the team can look to if there is a need, but no signing is imminent.
Josť Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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