Focus is on the field, not fielding questions

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Monday, June 5, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

KIRKLAND – The star running back was in attendance. The Pro Bowl tackle was under contract and getting his reps.

There was no talk of salaries, of disgruntled veterans, nor of coaches with uncertain futures.

When the Seattle Seahawks returned to the practice field to open another minicamp Monday, there was a welcome lack of storylines.

Since coach Mike Holmgren extended his contract last month, the team has answered most of its offseason questions. The only issue that the defending NFC champions have right about now is how to get back to the Super Bowl.

“On paper, we’ve got it all. But that doesn’t get it done,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said as the Seahawks opened an eight-day minicamp. “If we just take the same approach we took last year, everybody working hard, we’ve got a chance to be the best Seahawks team ever. But it’s not going to come easy.”

As a testament to how important they see this time of year, all of the Seahawks’ healthy players were on hand Monday.

Reigning NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, who missed last summer while trying to negotiate a contract extension, was there. So was Walter Jones, who made a habit of skipping offseason workouts before signing a long-term contract 16 months ago.

And Holmgren is no longer wondering what he’ll be doing this time next summer, thanks to a contract extension he signed May 17 that will keep him in Seattle through 2008.

Holmgren said Monday that he was never overly concerned about his uncertain future, but he added that he felt a sense of relief at having it settled.

“We went through that, and I think I was being honest about my feelings at the time,” said Holmgren, whose original contract was scheduled to expire after the 2006 season. “But to have it done with, and to go on with the business of football, I think everyone can appreciate that.”

Alexander is among the players excited to have Holmgren under contract beyond 2006.

“I was happy because we’re in such a groove,” the Pro Bowl running back said. “We’ve got a good chance to be in the Big Dance for the next four or five years. (Getting Holmgren’s cntract extended) really makes us confident that we can go out and accomplish that.”

That begins this summer, when the Seahawks are laying the foundation for what they hope will be another Super run.

“We could be really good. We could be great. We could be much better than last year’s team,” Hasselbeck said. “But right now, we’re not. We haven’t put in the work. We haven’t put any money in the bank, so to speak, to draw from later. It’s just not that time yet. We have to decide individually what kind of effort we want to give this thing. That’s what’s going to affect how good we will be.”

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