Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says he doesn't second-guess decisions to cut T.J. Houshmandzadeh and trade Deion Branch, even with the team thin now at the receiver positions.
The Seahawks need more than just a hand in their passing game. They could use several pairs of hands attached to able-bodied receivers.
Seattle played without starters Ben Obomanu and Mike Williams on Sunday, starting Ruvell Martin, who had not caught a pass for the Seahawks this season. The Seahawks ended the game, a 40-21 loss at San Francisco, without flanker Deon Butler, who suffered a gruesome broken leg that required surgery.
The mass of injuries at receiver has become so critical you have to wonder if the Seahawks second-guess decisions to cut T.J. Houshmandzadeh and trade Deion Branch earlier this year.
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“I don’t regret it so much,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “We thought those were the right things to do at the time.”
Those were long-term decisions made with an eye toward developing younger players and building the roster for the future. But the subtractions carried a risk, too, and now Seattle is left waiting for Obomanu’s right hand to heal so he can catch passes and Williams’ left foot to recover. Neither was active for the last game, but both are expected to practice Wednesday, according to Carroll.
Butler was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season. He was replaced on the roster by guard Paul Fanaika, who was signed off Cleveland’s practice squad.
The receiver position changed more than any other on Seattle’s roster. Add in the free-agent departure of Nate Burleson, and Seattle lost its top three wide receivers from last season in the span of less than eight months.
Branch has flourished in his return to New England, catching five touchdown passes for the Patriots. He caught eight passes for 151 yards on Sunday, but Seattle received a fourth-round pick for Branch, considered a surprisingly high return, with Randy Moss fetching a third-rounder.
The departure of Houshmandzadeh was the most surprising if only because Seattle still will pay him more than $7 million for the 2010 season. Yes, he was high-maintenance, and no, he probably wasn’t going to suffer a lack of opportunities quietly, but he was Seattle’s leading receiver last season.
Still, hindsight is the only way to see Seattle being better off by keeping the two veterans.
“I think that’s a good second thought, after the fact,” Carroll said. “But I don’t know who would have been on the roster at this time when we would have had choices to play those guys.”
Second-round pick Golden Tate has not developed as quickly as Seattle hoped, a reality underlined by the fact that Martin started ahead of Tate and played more in San Francisco. Brandon Stokley has assumed the role as Seattle’s primary slot receiver, but had his hamstring tighten up.
Injuries are part of the game. It’s a chorus in the NFL, whether it’s coaches talking about replacement parts or players talking about adjustments in the lineup. And it’s true. Injuries are part of the game. In the case of Butler, the most painful part.
Here was a player who could very well have been a casualty of the coaching change.
Seattle drafted Butler in the third round in 2009, but that was a pick made by former Seahawks president Tim Ruskell. Carroll and his coaches didn’t see much of a role for Butler — not based on his rookie season.
But Butler was the offensive player who improved the most over the offseason, according to Carroll, and he emerged to catch 36 passes this season, second-most on the team.
But now his injury leaves the Seahawks searching for alternatives at wide receiver.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org