By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
KIRKLAND – While the Carolina Panthers scramble to get ready for this weekend’s game with the Seattle Seahawks following the abrupt resignation of their offensive coordinator, Gil Haskell is butting out.
Haskell, who held that position with the Panthers last season before joining old friend Mike Holmgren in Seattle, is not talking to the media this week. Instead, Haskell released two brief statements to the media that basically removed him from any controversy.
Bill Musgrave, who replaced Haskell as coordinator during the offseason, unexpectedly resigned Tuesday.
“One day the guy is here and the next day he is gone,” shocked Panthers quarterback Steve Beuerlein said Wednesday. “Everyone in the organization feels the effect. You just have to keep everything together.”
Panthers coach George Seifert also expressed surprise over the resignation, going as far as to blame himself to a certain extent.
“I don’t personally agree with the decision, and I feel bad that it got to that point,” Seifert said. “There’s times when I can be tough to deal with, I’m not going to dodge any of that. But at the same time, I feel disappointed that it happened.”
Across the country, Haskell is staying mum on the situation.
“I haven’t been afforded the time to follow what has been going on in Carolina and led to Bill Musgrave’s decision this week, and I would hate to speculate,” Haskell said in a statement released through the team’s public relations department. “The only thing I can do is wish all those involved the best.”
Huard shines: Starting quarterback Brock Huard has looked pretty good at practices this week. During team drills Thursday, he completed every pass against the scout defense. But when playing against the first unit, Huard threw an interception that went off receiver Sean Dawkins and into the arms of cornerback Shawn Springs.
Huard was named the starter one day earlier, and will replace Jon Kitna at quarterback this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. His teammates are still trying to get used to the switch.
“I did not have a clue until I picked up our playbook and everything was geared for a lefty. I was like, ‘That’s odd,’” tight end Christian Fauria said. “Then our coach told us, and I was very surprised. But it’s not our call. It’s Brock’s now. It’s his deal now.”
Said Dawkins: “I’m just rolling with the punches. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with the quarterbacks.”
Huard, Part II: Teams that made a non-injury-related quarterback switch during the course of last season went on to win fewer than one-third of their remaining games. The New York Jets, who switched to Rick Mirer for only one game before going back to Ray Lucas, were the only team to fully recover from their QB switch, going 7-3 down the stretch while still missing out on the playoffs.
2,800-mile bond: Haskell isn’t the only member of the Seahawks organization with ties to Carolina. Seattle backup quarterback Matt Lytle spent training camp with the Panthers.
Carolina, meanwhile, has three former Seahawks on its roster: kick returner Michael Bates, safety Eugene Robinson and linebacker Dean Wells. Linebacker Lester Towns and center Frank Garcia are former University of Washington players.
Both head coaches also know each other very well, as Holmgren was offensive coordinator under Seifert while with the San Francisco 49ers from 1989-91. The two worked as assistants in San Francisco for three years before that.
Quick slants: Running back Ricky Watters, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and defensive end Matt LaBounty missed practice again Thursday, as did tackle Todd Weiner. Watters was in the Bay Area attending the birth of his first son, Ricky Amir Watters, who was born Wednesday. Kennedy is nursing a sore back, while Weiner was out with the flu. Only LaBounty, who is attending to a family emergency, is expected to miss the game. … The Seahawks will hold a brief practice this morning before leaving for Charlotte in the afternoon.
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