By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
KIRKLAND — A relapse of sorts has put the immediate future of Brock Huard in question, and now the status of the Seattle Seahawks’ longterm quarterback situation is up in the air.
Coach Mike Holmgren announced Monday that complications from a concussion Huard suffered more than two weeks ago will probably keep the quarterback on the bench again this week. That means Huard will play five more games at most this season — not enough in Holmgren’s mind to solidify the future of the position.
"We have to address that position in the offseason," Holmgren said at his Monday press conference. "(Huard’s status) certainly factors into that, but we are going to press on anyway. Five games is not a lot to judge somebody on."
Holmgren did not rule out Huard as the team’s quarterback of the future, adding that the University of Washington product could still win the job outright "if he shoots the lights out" over the final five games. But chances are, another quarterback will be added to the mix during the offseason, whether it be through trade, free agency or the draft.
The list of available free agents is slim and this year’s rookie quarterback crop doesn’t offer much more. The most realistic addition may come by way of trade. Rumors have begun to surface about Trent Green or former Holmgren quarterbacks Brett Favre, Mark Brunell or Matt Hasselbeck coming to Seattle, but nothing is going to happen until the season is over.
"Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it," Holmgren said. "If we have to go after a quarterback, it’s either in the draft or trade or free agency. If that’s the way we have to go, then I’ll juggle things to make that happen. What we’ve done right now (with the salary cap) has given us a chance to do that. Whereas (coming into) this year, I couldn’t."
The more immediate concern is for Huard’s health. Although Holmgren said the lingering effects of the concussion are characteristic of more severe concussions, Huard will undergo a CAT scan today to see if there is any further damage.
"My head just isn’t right yet, and that’s nothing I can control," Huard said. "I can’t ice and stretch and numb my brain."
Huard underwent running and passing drills over the weekend, then began to feel similar symptoms of his concussion Sunday night, including illness and headaches. By Monday morning, Holmgren found himself back in a familiar position: with Jon Kitna as his starting quarterback.
"I came in fully expecting what I told you (Sunday) after the game, that (Huard) was going to play this week," Holmgren said Monday. "I came into my medical meeting this morning, and I was stunned. He’s very doubtful for this Sunday, and I thought he was going to start."
When informed of Huard’s condition, Kitna felt immediate concern for his teammate.
"I just hope that Brock gets over this," Kitna said. "Any time it lingers this far, there’s a lot of concern there for him and his well-being. Hopefully, he gets over it and he’ll be able to play this week."
Huard suffered the concussion in a 31-3 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 22. He sat out the last two games to let the injury heal, and said late last week that he was feeling like himself again. But a weekend of physical tests proved to be a setback for the 24-year-old.
"I wasn’t lying to you when I said I felt better last week," Huard said. "That’s a step in the process. Then working out Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I still got sick and the headache and was still pretty light-headed. That’s just a sign that my brain isn’t quite right yet."
"My only concern now is that it has taken longer now than we all thought," Holmgren said. "We’re going to make sure he’s fine before we put him back out on the field."
For Huard, the injury could end his chances of winning the quarterback job outright. He replaced Kitna as the starter in Week 6, but played only three games before going back to the bench with the concussion. Although the plan is to have him back in the starting lineup for a Nov. 26 game against Denver at Husky Stadium (the Seahawks’ bye falls next week), it may be too late for Huard to be named the long-term solution at quarterback.
"Getting a taste of the game, that’s what’s hard to be missing right now," Huard said. "That’s even harder than the headaches and not feeling good, is missing these opportunities. But, God willing, I still have five of them.
"There’s a lot of football plays in those five games that (Holmgren is) going to get to see and evaluate. But I’m not going to put any added pressure. I’m just going to go out and play when I can play."
When asked what he could prove over those final five games, Huard just shook his head silently. The unspoken words didn’t need translation.
"He desperately wants to play," Holmgren said. "He’s feeling bad about everything. But, shoot, he’s a young man and he’s just starting in this thing. We just want to make sure he’s right. He sees it as missing an opportunity."
An opportunity that Huard might never get back.
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