Sinclair returns to bolster Hawks’ thin defensive line

  • Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Friday, January 4, 2002 9:00pm
  • Sports

By Scott M. Johnson

Herald Writer

KIRKLAND – Good news arrived Friday afternoon when Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Sinclair returned to practice. Although Sinclair hasn’t exactly had his best season, the Seahawks could use all the defensive linemen they can find for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sinclair was held out of practice for most of the week because of a sore hamstring.

Seattle’s other starting defensive end, Lamar King, hasn’t played since Nov. 18 because of a strained calf muscle and was placed on injured reserve Friday. As a result, the only seven linemen on the roster are Sinclair, veteran tackles John Randle and Chad Eaton, and four relatively inexperienced players: Antonio Cochran, John Hilliard, Cedric Woodard and Joe Brown.

Cochran and Hilliard, who were drafted as defensive tackles, have played valuable minutes at end this season because of King’s injury. Cochran has a career-high four sacks to show for it, while Hilliard has contributed in other ways while starting in King’s place.

“John Hilliard has shown that he’s a player and he’s a keeper,” Eaton said. “Antonio Cochran has stepped up, has four or five sacks and has proven he can play every position on the line. That’s a hot commodity right now.

“We’ve found players that can play. You look down the line and we have some older players there, so the youth has really helped us.”

Sinclair was not the only hobbled player to return to the practice field Friday. Cornerback Shawn Springs (sore hamstring) took part in his first full practice, while linebacker Anthony Simmons (strained hip) practiced for the first time this week. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (separated left shoulder) also took part.

Coach Mike Holmgren said he expects all four to be available for Sunday’s game, although he has not decided whether Hasselbeck will be the No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback.

Holmgren also is weighing whether to start Springs or rookie Ken Lucas at cornerback.

The only active player not expected to play is linebacker Marcus Bell, who is listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report because of a neck stinger.

Good-bye? A number of Seahawks could be playing in their final game this weekend.

The most notable is left tackle Walter Jones, who was voted to the Pro Bowl earlier this week. Jones is the team’s top free agent, and the Seahawks are in the process of trying to sign him to a long-term deal.

Also up for free agency after the season are four other starters – quarterback Trent Dilfer, right tackle Todd Weiner, fullback Mack Strong and tight end Christian Fauria – as well as Cochran, tight end Itula Mili and offensive lineman Floyd Wedderburn.

Running back Ricky Watters, who is on injured reserve, is another former starter who will be a free agent.

Holmgren has expressed interest in bringing both Dilfer and Watters back next season, but they probably would have to return as backups.

Third-string quarterback Brock Huard is a restricted free agent, meaning the Seahawks would have the right to match any offer.

Resignation stuns Randle: Seahawks defensive tackle John Randle couldn’t believe the news that Dennis Green, his coach for nine years with the Minnesota Vikings, stepped down Friday.

“It was kind of shocking,” Randle said. “For it to happen right now, especially on a Friday, was shocking. Hopefully the team can continue to perform at a high level.”

While shocked by the news, Randle has followed Minnesota’s 5-10 season close enough to understand why it happened.

“When I was there, (Green) had a lot of discipline on the team,” Randle said. “Being an outsider this year, I guess maybe it all just stems from the Randy Moss situation. That’s put a lot of bad publicity on the team.”

Coincidentally, the Seahawks might need Minnesota and interim head coach Mike Tice, a former Seattle tight end, to beat Baltimore on Monday night so the Hawks would qualify for the postseason.

Pride on the line: Director of player programs Nesby Glasgow, a former defensive back for the Seahawks, was the center of attention after Friday’s practice. The 44-year-old Glasgow was trying to win a $50 bet with Seahawks return man Charlie Rogers by doing 200 situps and 200 pushups in a 10-minute period.

Glasgow tried to pull off the feat in a small circle that was made out of trash cans inside the locker room while almost the entire team looked on. He tapped out at 135 situps and 131 pushups when time expired.

“I knew I couldn’t make it,” Glasgow said. “When you get old, you still think you’re young and start making all these statements. I just got called on it.”

The funniest moment during Glasgow’s attempt came when Seahawks linebacker Levon Kirkland put on a hooded jacket – grim reaper-style – and began circling the former player.

Quick slants: With the roster spot created when King was placed on injured reserve, the Seahawks promoted cornerback Harold Blackmon from the practice squad. … Holmgren refused to disclose whether he intends to use James Williams or Koren Robinson as the starting receiver opposite Darrell Jackson on Sunday. Williams started last week while Robinson was being disciplined for being late to several team meetings. … Game balls from last week’s victory were given out Friday: Darrell Jackson (offense), Randle (defense) and Rogers (special teams).

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