By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
KIRKLAND – No introductions are necessary. The new Seattle Seahawks quarterback, for one game at least, isn’t really so new after all.
With the playing status of Brock Huard looking murky, Jon Kitna appears to be the odds-on favorite to take over again this week when the Seahawks host the Kansas City Chiefs. Huard suffered a concussion in Sunday’s 31-3 loss to the Oakland Raiders, and after undergoing a second round of tests Monday morning, he was deemed not healthy enough to take part in meetings.
“Right now, the chances of Jon playing are greater than Brock,” coach Mike Holmgren said Monday. “However, let’s wait and see how Brock responds (today). He’ll be in here (for more tests) and he’ll be in here Wednesday. Let’s see how he responds.”
Holmgren said Huard underwent a series of tests following Sunday’s game, including one that almost any fifth-grader could answer: What is two times seven?
There was a long pause before Huard, a pre-med major at the University of Washington, finally answered.
“He finally got it,” Holmgren said, “but I mean, he’s a bright guy and that’s taking too long.”
Huard also underwent a CAT scan, then was tested again on Monday before being sent home.
Kitna also suffered a concussion in the loss, but it wasn’t as serious. He said he could not remember parts of the game and had a headache during the Sunday night flight home, but it paled in comparison to Huard’s injury.
“With Brock, everything shut down. His motor skills, everything,” Kitna said. “For me, I felt like I was still moving fine, still seeing things well. I felt like I was actually seeing things better. As far as seeing the defense, I was seeing things better. I was more in tune that way. But there was a couple plays they would call and I was like, ‘I don’t have a clue.’ I called timeout, go over there, they’re trying to explain it to me … It’s scary.”
If Kitna starts Sunday, it would be his 25th start – and 27th appearance – in the Seahawks’ past 29 games. He was benched following a Week 5 loss to Kansas City, but has come on in relief of an injured Huard in each of the past two games.
“I don’t know what they decided on him, but I don’t see him playing this week,” Kitna said. “I’m going to prepare like I’ll be in there this week.”
Huard’s immediate health is the team’s first concern. But also at risk is valuable evaluation time. If the injury keeps Huard out of the lineup beyond this week, he might not get enough playing time over the course of the season to prove his potential. With two picks in the first round of next year’s draft, the Seahawks would like to know whether or not Huard is their quarterback of the future.
“At the end of the season, obviously we have to make some decisions about that position. There is no question about that,” Holmgren said. “Very, very important stuff. And we’ll see. I’m hoping he doesn’t miss a lot of time. That’s my hope, so he can play some more.
“I was pleased with how he played against Indianapolis (last Sunday). He started out well against the Raiders. And it was not an ideal day to throw the ball around. (The wind) was very swirling, but I already know the other things he was doing pretty well – controlling the huddle, running the football team, preparing properly.”
A concussion is defined as a jarring injury of the brain resulting in dysfunction. It can be graded as mild, moderate or severe. Although Holmgren refused to put a label on Huard’s injury, he is handling the situation with care. Last season, a Seahawks special teams player, Dustin Johnson, suffered what appeared to be a typical concussion, but eventually had to have surgery to relieve pressure in his brain and can no longer play football.
Huard is being kept under close watch by team doctors, but the fact that he spent Monday at home is actually a pretty good sign.
“He looked like a zombie on the plane,” tight end Christian Fauria said of the flight from Oakland. “When you get concussions and you get knocked out, it’s weird. You get real emotional, you get almost like in a deep depression. It’s nothing that you can control. It’s all mentally and chemically where you’re not balanced. You can’t control anything because your brain is not working right.”
Like most NFL players, Fauria has suffered from concussions during his career. One such injury caused him to answer a trainer’s questions about his address by giving him a college apartment number from four years previous.
“It takes a while to come through that, depending on how severe it is,” Fauria said. “With mine, I was always better by Wednesday. But Sunday night and Monday morning, I would be like crying over my dog: wah-wah-wah. … So these things are not anything to mess around with. I’m sure they won’t rush (Huard) in too soon. He’s young, he’s got a lot of games left, so I wouldn’t rush him.”
Maybe Huard’s head will be clear enough for him to practice later in the week. But for now, Kitna is back in the forefront, with untested Matt Lytle and practice squad member Travis Brown as the only backups.
“I am one of only 31 guys in the world who have this job,” Kitna said. “A very low percentage of people have it, and so you have to respect the position in that sense. For me, I want to be in there, maybe now a little bit more than I did before.”
Just not under these circumstances.
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