Seahawks notebook: Line working on new blocking scheme

KIRKLAND — For the Seattle Seahawks, fixing an anemic running game might take more than just jettisoning Shaun Alexander.

The Seahawks hope that a slight change in blocking scheme can help get the ground game back on track.

Starting lineman Rob Sims said Monday that the Seahawks have been using more zone-blocking schemes under new offensive line coach Mike Solari.

“Last year, we did a lot of man-on-man stuff,” Sims said. “This year, we’re doing more zone stuff, and that’s what (the players) wanted to do last year anyway.”

The zone scheme leaves offensive linemen responsible for areas, rather than opposing players. Sims said that it fits the personality of Seattle’s linemen.

“In the NFL, you’re going against the best of the best,” Sims said. “When you’re man-on-man every single snap, you can get beat. It’s one of those things where, if you’ve got five guys going man-on-man, they’re more likely to get beat.”

The Seahawks ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (101.2) and 26th in yards per carry (3.8) during the 2007 regular season.

Sims was often seen as a scapegoat for the problems in the run game. Down the stretch of last season, he was splitting time with veteran Floyd Womack at left guard. The team eventually brought in veteran free agent Mike Wahle to play left guard, moving Sims to the right side.

“There’s so much that I can still work on,” said Sims, “and this year I really, really want to get better.”

Coach Mike Holmgren said earlier this summer that the starting spot is Sims’s job to lose.

“Initially, I thought they might not have that much trust in me,” Sims said. “But I stuck in there, I grew up a lot and I think I showed them that I can play for a long time. I’m glad they’re starting to trust me a lot more.”

Sims returned to practice Monday, one month after undergoing a scope on his right knee. He played right guard with the No. 1 offense, joining a revamped line that also included Sean Locklear at left tackle and Ray Willis at right tackle.

The biggest question mark heading into this season is at center, where Chris Spencer continues to recover from offseason surgery. Spencer is expected to be back sometime during training camp, but he’s missing valuable time learning the zone-blocking scheme under Solari.

“There might be a little dropoff,” Sims said, “but a month is enough time to learn. I think we’ll be fine.”

Solari, 53, took over as offensive line coach after Bill Laveroni was fired in January. Solari has spent most of his 19-year career as a line coach, but he most recently served as the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator.

Plackemeier under the knife: After a weight-room mishap, punter Ryan Plackemeier will have to undergo surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Plackemeier tore the muscle while lifting weights and is scheduled to have surgery today.

There is no timetable for his return, but Plackemeier will miss the final three days of the current minicamp.

The only other punter on the roster is second-year player Reggie Hodges, who has been cut by the St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles and hasn’t played in the league since 2005.

No Big Show: Holmgren was not at Monday’s practice due to what the team was calling a minor medical procedure.

Holmgren, who celebrates his 60th birthday later this week, is expected to be back at practice today.

In Holmgren’s absence, offensive coordinator Gil Haskell ran practice Monday.

“I don’t think we’re any different,” cornerback Marcus Trufant said. “We always practice at a high tempo because that’s the way he teaches it. You don’t go out there thinking, ‘OK, coach isn’t here, so we can ease up a little bit.’ We’re just used to doing it a certain way.”

Quick slants: Defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs, who is recovering from multiple knee surgeries, ran sprints with a trainer on Monday. The team hopes to get Tubbs back sometime in August. … Linebacker Lance Laury (personal reasons) and safety C.J. Wallace (appendectomy) were among the players who did not attend Monday’s practice.

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