Taylor primed for second chance
The Seattle Seahawks' second-year wide receiver knows that there are people out there who think he can't play at this level.
"I'm pretty sure that's the way it is," Taylor said. "From what happened, and the way it happened, I'm pretty sure people might be questioning that. But I'm pretty high on myself. I know I can play this game. I've just got to go out and do it now."
This Sunday, Taylor will get a second chance to prove himself. The Seahawks signed him to the active roster earlier this week and intend to give him some playing time in Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Both Taylor and the Seahawks hope that the second chance goes much better than his first.
Slated as the opening-week starter because of injuries to veteran teammates, Taylor proved to be a not-ready-for-prime-time player earlier this season.
"We overwhelmed him a little bit," was how offensive coordinator Gil Haskell summed up Taylor's two-game stint with the team before getting benched.
By the beginning of October, Taylor had been demoted to the practice squad. That's where he spent the past five weeks, practicing with the scout team while getting the Seahawks' first-team defense ready for game days.
Earlier this week, the team released veteran Keary Colbert following a two-drop performance. Taylor was re-signed and given a second chance.
"I hope he's more ready than he was then," coach Mike Holmgren said earlier this week.
Taylor is eager to make up for his early struggles.
"I feel like I proved enough because I'm back," a smiling Taylor said Friday. "But now I've got to prove myself to myself -- and to all the fans. I know I can play this game.
"I had a tough go the first time around, but my whole mindset is to go out and play sound, fundamental football."
Weaver, Wallace practice: Fullback Leonard Weaver and quarterback Seneca Wallace were back at practice on Friday, but Holmgren said their roles in Sunday's game are still unclear.
Wallace had been out with a sore groin that he suffered in last Sunday's loss to Miami. Holmgren said he had not decided whether to use Wallace or Charlie Frye as the primary backup this week.
Weaver has been nursing bruised ribs this week, and he hopes to play Sunday. But Holmgren compared his situation to that of wide receiver Deion Branch last week, when the receiver practiced Friday but was a last-minute scratch Sunday.
"I can't afford to have any of them go in there for five plays and then go: 'I can't play anymore,'" Holmgren said.
If Weaver can't play, Owen Schmitt would be the primary fullback. Schmitt has seen a lot of playing time the past two games because of injuries to Weaver's foot and ribs.
"I'm very pleased with how he's handling things," Holmgren said of Schmitt earlier this week. "In all likelihood, he's going to have to play a big role Sunday."
Old Whise Man: With 14 career victories, 46-year-old Ken Whisenhunt is on the verge of becoming the elder statesman among NFC West coaches.
San Francisco and St. Louis have already fired their coaches this season, while Seattle's Holmgren plans to retire after the 2008 season. That would leave Whisenhunt, who is in his second season, as the division's longest-tenured coach.
"I still feel like the new guy," Whisenhunt said this week. "Somebody told me I was going to be the dean of the NFC West. It's sobering to think about, considering I have only coached 25 games in this division."
'Must-win': Holmgren typically shies away from placing hyperboles on individual games.
But Sunday's game that pits the 2-7 Seahawks against the NFC West-leading Cardinals carries so much weight that even Holmgren can't ignore it.
"It's pretty important," he said Friday. "I've always said that until you're mathematically eliminated, you have hope. We're getting to that point, and so this is a must-win for us."
Quick slants: Holmgren said that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck passed all his tests this week and has been cleared for Sunday's game. He added that the quarterback had a "wonderful" week of practice after missing five games with a bad back. Ö Branch is also expected to return to the lineup on Sunday. He practiced all week and showed no signs of the heel injury that kept him out of five games. Ö The only three players ruled out of Sunday's game are defensive end Patrick Kerney (shoulder), linebacker David Hawthorne (calf) and safety C.J. Wallace (hamstring). The absence of Hawthorne and Wallace could hamper Seattle's special teams units.
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