Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell has convinced four of his former players to join him in Seattle

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Friday, August 5, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

CHENEY – When Mike Holmgren arrived as Seattle Seahawks coach and general manager in 1999, he was quick to add a dose of familiarity by bringing in some former players from his Green Bay days.

Less than six months into his tenure as team president, Tim Ruskell has already had a similar effect on the roster.

Four players who have played for Ruskell’s teams were brought in during the offseason. Joe Jurevicius, Chartric Darby and John Howell were part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl team, while defensive end Joe Tafoya was temporarily with Ruskell’s Atlanta Falcons last season.

“It just worked out that way,” Ruskell said. “I didn’t come in here saying ‘Geez, I have to get as many Buccaneers or Falcons as I can get.’ That just worked out, and I am happy it did because they love it. They are working hard, and it is nice to watch them work.”

None of the four entered camp with a guaranteed roster spot, although Darby has already won over defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.

Darby has plenty of competition at his position. He’s one of five defensive tackles in camp that have started in the NFL.

Jurevicius is mired in quite a battle at wide receiver, where eight players with NFL experience are fighting for five or six roster spots.

“I think I have a place on this team,” Jurevicius said. “My job is to do what I’ve done during my career, and that’s hold onto the ball and not make a lot of mistakes. I look at myself as a veteran leader.”

His 178 career receptions speak for themselves, but Jurevicius knows his ties to Ruskell had to help.

“Obviously, I think a lot of Tim Ruskell,” Jurevicius said. “He gave me a chance to come into Tampa and play, and I think I did enough things that it warrants me being given a shot here. I’m happy about the opportunity to play here in Seattle.”

Howell and Tafoya are at less competitive positions, but neither drew much interest during free agency. Nor do they expect to get any benefits from their ties to Ruskell.

“I don’t think that just because I’ve known Tim and had a relationship with Tim that that’s the only reason I’m here,” said Howell, a five-year NFL veteran.

Scrimmage today: The Seahawks could answer a few questions this afternoon when the players get their first live action in a game setting.

The annual intrasquad scrimmage, which has been held outside of Cheney the past three years, takes place at Eastern Washington University’s Woodward Field today at 2 p.m.

Several players are not expected to participate, including defensive tackles Cedric Woodard (knee) and Rashad Moore (shoulder), running backs Maurice Morris (hamstring) and Jesse Lumsden (sore hip), linebackers D.D. Lewis (concussion) and Lofa Tatupu (hamstring), and safety Ken Hamlin (shoulder).

A real sleeper: Lost in the talk of Seahawks wide receivers has been second-year player D.J. Hackett, a fifth-round draft pick who missed most of the 2004 season with a hip injury.

Hackett has quietly turned some heads at practices this week. He caught two long touchdown passes from Seneca Wallace in Friday’s morning session.

“He has had a great camp,” coach Mike Holmgren said. “He has caught the ball very well and he is a legitimate deep threat. He gives us something there that we need.”

The 6-foot-2 Hackett said he’s always been able to stretch a defense, even though his 40 time at the 2004 scouting combine was a modest 4.51 seconds.

“I don’t really see myself as fast,” Hackett said. “I just see myself as crafty in using my speed. My stride is real long, so a lot of times (defensive backs) can’t tell if I’m holding out or going all out.”

New guy on campus: Defensive end Ronald Flemons, who was acquired for cornerback Kris Richard on Thursday, passed his physical and was on the field Friday.

“It’s a fresh start,” Flemons said. “That’s all I really have to say about it.”

Flemons is a 6-foot-6, 276-pound defensive end who is battling just to earn a roster spot. He has played six games in four NFL seasons but is still looking for his first sack.

Bad call: Five NFL referees have been in town this week to help explain rule changes with players, coaches and media.

During their session with the media on Friday, referee Bill Vinovich said that last year’s Monday night game between Seattle and Dallas included a grievous error.

Vinovich said that a late touchdown by Keyshawn Johnson “should have been reviewed” by replay officials, adding that Johnson did not appear to have both feet in bounds when he caught the ball.

The no-call still irks Holmgren, who fumed after the 2004 regular season: “If the replay official hadn’t been out for a hot dog, we might have won another game this year.”

Quick slants: Morris and Shaun Alexander returned to practice Friday morning after missing the previous day with sore hamstrings. … Among those who attended Friday’s practice was Washington State coach Bill Doba. He and Seahawks consultant Keith Gilbertson, the former University of Washington coach, talked after the morning practice.

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