CHENEY – In the kind of move that would leave Pavlov chasing his own tail, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren chided his team for a sloppy practice Tuesday, then gave the players today off.
Holmgren called it an “unprecedented” move, canceling both of today’s practices so the players could get some rest.
“I don’t do this normally,” he told the media after Tuesday’s practice, “but we had a very sluggish practice today, and that’s not their nature. This group, they go hard, so I’m just trying to help them a little bit if I can that way.”
Tuesday’s morning practice saw plenty of bodies piling up, several missed assignments and an overall lethargic attitude. When Holmgren brought the team together afterward, he chastised the players before delivering the good news.
“I think we were all in shock; I know I was in shock,” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. “I think (offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson) was actually crying, he was so happy. I thought he was going to kiss coach Holmgren.
“It’s like the best gift I’ve ever received in my entire life. I don’t even have words to express it.”
Holmgren’s promise of a day off did come with a couple asterisks. The players will still be required to attend afternoon meetings, and if there were any curfew violations Tuesday night, today’s afternoon practice would go on as originally scheduled.
“I’ll tell you right now,” Hasselbeck said Tuesday afternoon, “if somebody screws it up, there are going to be some fights. But I don’t think that will happen. I think we’ve got a group that finally gets it more than in the past.”
Holmgren has been complimentary of this year’s Seahawks’ work ethic, so their performance Tuesday seemed to be an aberration.
“I’ve been pleased with the camp,” Holmgren said. “It’s been good that way, and the effort has been tremendous. (Tuesday) was a little uncharacteristic, so I said, ‘Let’s try this.’”
Holmgren is hoping that the players use today to rest sore muscles and study their playbooks. Hasselbeck said that’s exactly what he has in mind. “And probably to say thank you to coach Holmgren at some point,” he added.
Someone to watch over them: Hasselbeck has made an annual ritual out of rewarding his offensive linemen. Past gifts included framed action photographs, 100-pound meat lockers and dinners on the town.
This summer, Hasselbeck took the unconventional route by giving his linemen watch-winders. Pro Bowl offensive lineman Walter Jones has a watch collection, and the other linemen also have expensive watches, so Hasselbeck figured it would be a useful gift for everyone involved.
“It’s hard to shop for those guys because they’re all a little different,” he said, “so that was my idea for them this year. … It’s not so much what you get them; it’s just the fact that you tried.”
While Hasselbeck has spent plenty of dough on his protectors during his first four seasons in Seattle, his presents have only been reciprocated once. After the linemen gave up seven sacks in a 2001 loss to Philadelphia, they presented Hasselbeck with gift certificates for a massage at Gene Juarez.
“But it said: ‘To Matt, from Walter,’ or ‘From Robbie or Chris or Todd,’” Hasselbeck said of the gift certificates. “So I’d go in and use them, and I was feeling a little awkward. I know what (the salon employees) were thinking. But what are you going to do, right?”
Quick slants: Reserve offensive lineman Wayne Hunter hurt his right leg during Tuesday’s morning practice but limped off under his own power. Although he was taken from the field on a cart after the practice, Hunter is expected to recover. … Wide receiver Darrell Jackson returned a few punts Tuesday, mainly as a safety valve in case Bobby Engram were to get hurt. … The Seahawks are trying to cram a lot into the next few days because next week won’t offer much practice time. The players have a game against Dallas on Monday night, have Tuesday off, then practice once per day on Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Kansas City for Saturday’s preseason game against the Chiefs.
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