There was a time when the Seattle Seahawks’ wide receivers liked to spend their free time brushing up on their game skills.
Problem was, that game was all too often played with a joystick while sitting in front of a television monitor.
That was back when the Seahawks had a trio that liked to call themselves The Three Amigos, proof of not only their tight bond but also their youth (Darrell Jackson and Koren Robinson were still adolescents when a trio of Denver Broncos receivers originally took that nickname in the 1980s).
This year’s receiving corps is not only more mature, but also more focused on the task at hand. Starting flanker Deion Branch and No. 4 receiver Nate Burleson spent a good part of their summer working with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck after disappointing first seasons with the team in 2006.
“We lost a big weapon in Darrell Jackson,” Burleson said when asked why he put in the extra time. “But it’s also (about) knowing that any edge we can get to make ourselves better is going to help the team. The Super Bowl is the goal for every single team in the NFL. But at the same time, you’ve got to do stuff individually that will separate you from your opponent.”
In Branch, Burleson, D.J. Hackett, Bobby Engram and Ben Obomanu, the Seahawks have a receiving corps that not only has impressive credentials but also has a common goal.
“We’re very focused on what we want to get accomplished,” receivers coach Nolan Cromwell said. “We’ve talked about, as a group, always coming out and working hard. There’s time to have fun, but in practice we’re very focused on what we want to get done and continue to work on it.”
Burleson and Branch also hired a personal trainer to help them get ready for the 2007 season.
“We did everything we could to gain an advantage,” Burleson said. “And (training) camp went pretty well, so I think it’s worked so far.”
Engram is the only member of the current receiving corps who played with both Jackson and Robinson. He was the third member of The Three Amigos, despite his superior age and maturity level.
Now that his two close friends are gone, Engram isn’t quite as playful as he once was.
“I just try to focus on the job at hand,” he said. “When I’m on the field, I’m pretty much just focusing on what needs to get done to make this team better.
“And off the field, I’m getting used to Deion and getting used to Nate. I’m a little older now, and I’m a family man. We’ll go out and have dinner and socialize a little bit, but I don’t do much (with teammates) outside of football.”
Not that Engram always likes being an adult. He said that the childlike antics of his former teammates helped keep him young at heart.
“I don’t want to grow up too fast,” he said. “I’ve still got that kid in me.
“Deion and Nate, we joke around. It’s just getting familiar with each other, it takes time for those relationships to form. But we’re getting there.”
Not that this year’s receivers are a detached group.
“We have a few quiet guys,” Burleson said, “but once we get around each other and into the meeting room, we’re like brothers who enjoy each other’s company. We definitely enjoy the sport and enjoy being receivers, and that’s what makes it special.”
Football is still a game to the Seahawks’ receivers, but that doesn’t mean they spend all their time playing around.