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Monday, September 18, 2006 - Page updated at 04:56 PM

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Branch will play against Giants on Sunday

The Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. – Deion Branch will make his Seahawks debut on Sunday against the New York Giants. And he won't be the only new member of Seattle's so-far skittish offense.

Coach Mike Holmgren said Monday that his 2-0 team will activate Branch, the former Super Bowl MVP acquired in a trade last week from the New England Patriots after a long contract holdout. Seattle has a two-week roster exemption for Branch, so they are not required to add him to the roster yet.

But Holmgren is already scheming how Branch will divide plays at split end with Nate Burleson, the offseason free agent arrival from Minnesota who has struggled. Flanker Darrell Jackson and slot receiver Bobby Engram's roles will remain the same.

"He will be ready to go," Holmgren said of Branch. "We will activate him for the Giants. That's the plan right now."

Holmgren also announced left guard Floyd Womack has a serious knee injury from Sunday's win over Arizona that could keep him out six weeks, though the exact nature of the damage is still unknown. Chris Spencer, the team's top draft choice in 2005 as a center, will start for Womack as Seattle continues to look for a consistent replacement for All-Pro Steve Hutchinson. Hutchinson unexpectedly signed a $49 million free agent contract with Minnesota last spring.

Seattle's good injury news was that tight end Itula Mili's knee injury is not as serious as initially feared. Holmgren is not sure how long Mili will be out, and the Seahawks began trying out potential, free-agent replacements on Monday.

Seattle is already without starting tight end Jerramy Stevens at least until mid-October. Stevens had a second knee surgery in four months in mid-August. Veteran Will Heller is the only other tight end on the roster.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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