Seahawk kickers Mare, Coutu survive cuts

SEATTLE — Josh Brown was such a key component to the Seattle Seahawks that it took two kickers to replace him.

When the Seahawks announced their 22 moves to trim down to a 53-man roster Saturday afternoon, no kickers were on the list. Veteran Olindo Mare and rookie Brandon Coutu both survived the cut, although it’s still unclear how Seattle will use them.

The Seahawks used a similar philosophy of safety-in-numbers at several other positions as well.

Six running backs made the final roster, including rookie Justin Forsett and veteran T.J. Duckett. Both players made solid impressions during the preseason, earning the right to join a running back group that also includes Julius Jones, Maurice Morris, Leonard Weaver and Owen Schmitt.

On the defensive line, the Seahawks kept 10 players, due in part to the one-game suspension of defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. He was one of five defensive tackles who made the team, along with Brandon Mebane, Craig Terrill, Howard Green and rookie Red Bryant. The Seahawks decided to keep five ends as well, including both Jason Babin and Baraka Atkins.

Among the defensive linemen who were cut was veteran Larry Tripplett, a former NFL starter who played at the University of Washington.

The positions that got clipped included receiver, where only six players were kept after Ben Obomanu was placed on injured reserve with a broken clavicle bone. Rookie Michael Bumpus was also among the cuts, leaving the Seahawks with just four healthy receivers: Nate Burleson, Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne.

The Seahawks also have receivers Bobby Engram and Deion Branch on the roster, but both of them are trying to come back from significant injuries. Coach Mike Holmgren said Friday night that Branch could resume practicing this week after being out seven months because of surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Engram is nursing a broken shoulder and should miss three or four games.

Seattle also kept just six linebackers, one fewer than usual. Dallas Sartz was cut, leaving the team with starters Julian Peterson, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill to go along with reserves D.D. Lewis, Lance Laury and David Hawthorne.

Because players like Payne, Babin and Atkins play special teams, the Seahawks were able to short-change themselves at the linebacker position.

The only veterans cut were Tripplett, fullback David Kirtman and wide receiver Bryan Gilmore. Most of the other cuts were first- or second-year players like Bumpus, Sartz and safety Jamar Adams.

Of the 16 non-veterans who were waived on Saturday, Kirtman was the lone Seahawks draft pick on the list. He was a fifth-round pick in the 2006 draft.

Mare and Coutu combined to make 11 of their 12 field-goal attempts in the preseason. The only miss came when Mare was wide left from 50 yards out in the San Diego game.

Mare showed a better leg on kickoffs, so he’s likely to handle those duties in the regular season. It is unclear whether Mare or Coutu — or both — will kick field goals.

Brown had been the Seahawks kicker since 2003, having made 80 percent of his field goals while kicking six game-winners in that span. But he left in late February, signing a five-year, $14.2 million contract with the rival St. Louis Rams.

Mare is entering his 13th NFL season, having been released by the New Orleans Saints in February. The 35-year-old Mare said that he asked for his release from the Saints.

Coutu was a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in the April draft. He made all seven of his field-goal attempts in the preseason, including a game-winner to beat Chicago in overtime.

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