By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
KIRKLAND – Another day, another change in the Seattle Seahawks’ starting lineup.
This time, the benched player didn’t take it lightly.
Strong safety Reggie Tongue, who signed a five-year deal worth $15 million as a free agent in the offseason, found out Wednesday that he had lost his starting spot to third-year veteran Kerry Joseph. As he walked off the practice field, Tongue sounded like he wished he had never left the Kansas City Chiefs in the first place.
“I didn’t expect all of this,” said Tongue, who will play in nickel and dime packages against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. “It does make me kind of miss where I came from because I had my spot out there. I made some mistakes out there, too, but the coaches worked with me and were straight up with me. I didn’t get jerked around.”
Tongue started the past three season for the Chiefs and was Seattle’s prized signing of the offseason, but he has failed to make much of an impact for the Seahawks.
Coach Mike Holmgren said the move was made as a reward to Joseph more than for anything Tongue had done.
“Let’s just say that we’re trying to get a spark going on both sides of the football and giving some guys that certainly deserve a chance – how they’ve played in the games and how they’ve practiced – a chance to start,” said Holmgren, who also confirmed that rookie Chris McIntosh will start at right tackle in the game. “It’s more of a positive thing for Kerry. It’s different situations. I’m kind of rewarding the real positive things he’s done.”
Tongue has been unimpressive in his first six games starting alongside veteran Jay Bellamy. But Holmgren’s decision to bench him came as a surprise nonetheless.
“The problem is a little bit of learning a new system,” Holmgren said. “It’s not tackling, effort. It’s none of those things. It’s the calls, learning a new system and right now I think it’s safe to say Kerry knows it better. He should, he’s been involved with it.
“I don’t expect this to be a permanent thing. But we’re just trying to shake the troops up a little bit and see if we can get the right combination in there.”
Tongue was shock by the demotion. He said he had not talked to Holmgren and was not satisfied with the explanation he got from defensive coordinator Steve Sidwell.
“(Sidwell) said I was reading the quarterback too much,” Tongue said. “I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He didn’t really give me a definitive answer, just that it’s the way they’re going and I’ve got to live with it.
“…I’m trying to make a point around the league that I’m a player to be reckoned with, and I can’t do that from the sidelines. I’ve made some mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes. For whatever reason, I make one and it’s a bigger deal.”
Tongue wouldn’t go as far as to say that he wished he had stayed with the Chiefs, but his feelings Wednesday certainly weren’t as sunny as the Seattle weather.
“I’m glad I came (to Seattle),” he said. “I don’t look back on it like I wish I stayed, but when things like this happen I kind of think I would have thought about it harder. I just wish things weren’t the way they are.”
Perhaps cornerback Shawn Springs summed up the situation best: “No job security – Not For Long. That’s why it’s called the NFL.”
Tobeck played guard on the second unit, and his return came at a good time. Starter Pete Kendall sat out Wednesday’s practice with a “stinger,” while backup Frank Beede was out with a calf injury.
“I’ve got a ways to go to catch up to these guys,” Tobeck said. “They’re in midseason form, I’m rusty. I just want to get my feet back under me and get used to the hitting and the physical nature of the game. It’s good for me to get back out there and go at it.”
The injuries created a lot of changes on the offensive line, as Todd Weiner – the starting right tackle for the first six games this season – moved to left guard while Kendall rested. Weiner will be replaced at tackle by McIntosh in the starting lineup in Sunday.
Other players who sat out Wednesday were fullback Reggie Brown (stinger), wide receiver Derrick Mayes (finger), defensive end Matt LaBounty (family emergency) and linebacker Chad Brown (undisclosed). Kendall, Beede, Mayes and Reggie Brown are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
“It was kind of a fluke deal,” Huard said. “I don’t even think I threw it that hard.”
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