By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
KIRKLAND – A job demotion and foot injury haven’t dampened the spirits of Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Derrick Mayes. To hear him tell it, this is kind of what Mayes expected when the 2000 season began.
On the verge of playing in a game for the first time in three weeks, Mayes said Friday that his demotion from the starting unit in favor of rookie Darrell Jackson didn’t come as a surprise. When he signed a three-year deal in February, it was with the understanding that Seattle planned to take a wide receiver in the draft who might eventually start.
“I’m a hired gun,” Mayes said. “I’m a sharpshooter, and my contract reflects that. I’m not getting paid what the big-time receivers are. I serve a purpose: to be able to get open in the red zone, and to make plays on third down.
” … I know when I am in there it’s because the team depends on me to make the catch. Now, if you end up taking a different role like I did last year, you suck it up and do it. Thank God we have a luxury this year.”
Mayes, 26, was Seattle’s leading receiver last season, when he caught 62 passes for 829 yards and 10 touchdowns – numbers that exceeded the total of his first three years in the NFL. Even though he signed a three-year deal worth $5 million in the offseason, Mayes did not expect to be the go-to guy again.
“We were forced to do that last year,” he said, referring to a holdout by Joey Galloway that thrust Mayes into a starting role. “I’m pretty cool with (the demotion). I’m the first guy to let these guys know that only good things are going to come out of it. That was my outlook before the season started, knowing things were going to be different. Not necessarily worse, but different.”
Mayes started the opening game of this season, but coach Mike Holmgren benched him before a home date with St. Louis because of poor offseason conditioning, among other things. Mayes suffered an injury in that game that was later diagnosed to be in his foot. He practiced for the first time this week, and appears ready to return to the lineup as the No. 3 receiver.
“I don’t put numbers on it, because chances are I’ll still lead the team in receptions,” Mayes said. “What does that mean? It’s not really indicative of anything.
“It just takes a certain kind of receiver, not necessarily an all-around receiver, but a certain kind of receiver that knows the offense the way I know it.”
“(Fauria) was our starting tight end, and if he hadn’t been hurt, he’d be starting the season,” Holmgren said. “There’s not much not to like about him. He’s a good pass receiver, he has good hands, he’s a tenacious blocker. And he’s a good leader. He’s good to have in the huddle.”
The former Washington State University kicker played four preseason games with the Dallas Cowboys, but the atmosphere of Monday Night Football will make for more pressure.
“I understand what I’m doing to the young man, with Monday Night Football and all,” said Holmgren, who signed Lindell on Tuesday after cutting rookie Kris Heppner. “We’ll see. He’s had a good week at practice.”
Lindell said he’s not worried about the surroundings of his debut.
“I don’t even know what a Sunday game is like,” Lindell said earlier this week. “It’s just a night game, and I’ve played more night games than day games going back to high school.”
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