KIRKLAND — The sight of Matt Hasselbeck throwing passes to Bobby Engram was a welcome one at Seattle Seahawks training camp Friday.
But it wasn’t the first time the two players have hooked up this summer.
Onlookers in the Lake Chelan area may have caught a glimpse of the pair working out together during dual family vacations over the past month.
“We did get interrupted once,” Hasselbeck said Friday. “We got kicked off a field because of a high school 7-on-7. We told them we were eighth-graders.”
The impromptu sessions, not to mention the seven seasons in which they’ve worked together as Seahawks, paid off when Engram attended the opening practice of training camp Friday morning. It marked the first time Engram had practiced with the Seahawks since early May.
“Throwing to Bobby is just like riding a bike,” Hasselbeck said. “It just kind of comes back right away. He had a great day.”
Engram skipped most of the summer minicamps because of a contract dispute and seriously considered delaying his participation at training camp. But in the end — perhaps because of a $15,000-per-day fine levied by NFL teams for signed players who skip training camp — Engram decided to report on Day 1 of camp.
“A couple weeks ago,” he said of when he made the decision to report to training camp, “just thinking things through and figuring out what was the right thing to do. I made the decision to come, get prepared and get ready for the season.”
Coach Mike Holmgren said that Engram’s decision was admirable.
“He cares about the team,” Holmgren said. “He had personal feelings about what he needed, and it’s very indicative of how he plays the game that he was able to put those personal feelings aside and come in. He’s the ultimate team guy.”
Engram is in the final year of a two-year deal that is scheduled to pay him about $1.5 million in base salary. He caught a franchise-record 94 passes last season, so he was hoping to restructure his deal.
In the end, he decided to put the negotiations aside.
“My focus right now is just to play football,” he said. “They will have to approach us. We said our reasons and everything we need to say. Now it is time just to focus on working on my skills and getting better and helping us win games.”
Engram’s presence is crucial to a Seahawks team that is thin at the receiver position. Both of the opening-week starters from 2007 are missing — D.J. Hackett signed a free-agent contract with the Carolina Panthers, and Deion Branch is expected to miss all of training camp following knee surgery — so the Seahawks could use Engram’s experience.
“I don’t think it’s any secret: That’s where I throw the ball a lot,” Hasselbeck said. “And there’s a reason.”
To hear Engram tell it, the decision to report to camp was not so much a financial one as it was an ethical one.
“I’m under contract,” Engram said. “I’m going to honor that contract.”
And as for the future?
“I know after last year I can play at that level for three, four, five more years,” he said. “Hopefully, I think (I’ll remain in) Seattle, but if that is not meant to be, we will just have to deal with that when the time comes.
“For now, I’m happy to be here. This has been a special place for me. I will continue to play hard and play well.”