Kitna not bitter about role, yet

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Sunday, October 8, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By SCOTT M. JOHNSON

Herald Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – He sat at his locker quietly dressing, one sock then the other, slowly and without much emotion. In the next room, the quarterback addressed the media following the Seattle Seahawks’ 26-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers. And there was Jon Kitna, sitting alone at his locker in silence.

It was the most difficult of circumstances for Seattle’s suddenly backup, who could only watch from the sidelines while Brock Huard struggled through his first NFL start. Afterward, Kitna was Huard’s biggest supporter.

“I think he played about as good a game as you could play your first game out,” Kitna said, without any trace of bitterness in his voice.

Huard’s debut was nothing to write home about. With brother Luke, a sophomore quarterback at the University of North Carolina, and his parents in attendance, Huard struggled to find his rhythm. The game plan was designed to protect Huard, both in blocking schemes and safe passing plays, yet the second-year quarterback just couldn’t get the offense moving until well after the final outcome had been decided.

But Seattle’s locker room was filled with people like Kitna, who had nothing but good things to say about the Seahawks’ new quarterback.

“He had a pretty good performance,” said wide receiver Sean Dawkins, one of many Seahawks who didn’t know what to expect from the 24-year-old lefty. “He stuck in there, he made some pretty good throws. We’ve just got to help him out.

“I think he had a pretty good performance for the circumstances. He came in with no experience, into unknown territory, and he played his ass off. I think he did all right.”

Coach Mike Holmgren was also encouraged.

“Brock’s going to be fine,” Holmgren said. “This is the direction we’re going. He would like to have a couple throws back, but he also made some great throws. He wasn’t helped a lot.”

Because of the outcome, Huard said he saw no encouraging signs. There were some, although they were few and far between.

Huard wasn’t asked to do too much in the first half, which is exactly what he accomplished. The offense had only one first down and never crossed midfield. In the second half, with the game all but decided, Huard settled down. He led the Seahawks on a seven-play drive that eventually ended on a failed fourth-down conversion in Carolina territory. Then he completed three consecutive passes on a drive that culminated in Rian Lindell’s 42-yard field goal.

Finally, when just about everyone wanted to get off the field in the waning moments, he led the Seahawks deep into Carolina territory before a sack and three incompletions left Huard and the offense empty again.

In the end, Huard completed 19 of 34 passes for 172 yards. The numbers could have been even better if not for five dropped passes, at least two of which were badly thrown but catchable.

“He definitely didn’t get any help from us,” tight end Christian Fauria said. “He could have been a lot better if we would have helped him out more.”

Huard seemed calm after the game, but was obviously hurt by the outcome.

“There’s nothing positive ever about losing,” Huard said. “I’ll look at film (Monday), I’ll try to correct a lot of the errors and get back to work.”

While Huard spoke, Kitna sat alone at his locker and mourned the loss in his own way. He wished he could have helped the team, but knew that he wasn’t going to get the call – no matter how bad things got.

“They’re not going to go to me,” Kitna said. “The only way they’re going to go to me is if Brock gets hurt. This is Brock’s deal. They want to see what he can do and see if he can help the team more than I was.

“They’re not going to go to me. That’s not a question at all.”

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