.NET Q&A: Clare Farnsworth, Part 1

There are times when fortune simply smiles upon Seahawks.NET. This would be one of those times. Clare Farnsworth, the dean of Seattle football journalism, recently answered .NET Reporter Scott Eklund's questions about the Seahawks - everything from positional battles to the team's future. This is required reading!

.NET: What is your take on the Peter Boulware saga - do the Seahawks have a decent shot to sign him? What will be the determining factors?

Farnsworth: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Peter Boulware thinks that some team is going to give him a ton of money. At this stage of free agency, that’s a bad read by the pass-rushing linebacker and ex-Baltimore Raven.

Also in the mix is Boulware’s injury situation. He didn’t just have knee surgery, he had the microfracture procedure - where holes are drilled in the bone so that blood can drip through and form a replacement cushion for the cartilage that no longer is there. It’s the same procedure that John Randle had a few years ago, and it can take 18 months to two years to fully recover. Some players never return to their previous productivity after having this done.

The Seahawks do have two things in their favor, however: Boulware wanting to play on the same team with his younger brother, strong safety Michael; and a pass-rushing role that plays to his strength. Now, it’s a matter of Boulware accepting a contract to match that situational status, and the club being comfortable that he is healthy enough to deliver what they would be paying for.

.NET: From what you saw in the limited workouts, does rookie Ray Willis have what it takes to start this season, or is Sean Locklear probably going to win the starting spot at right tackle?

Farnsworth: Actually, I think the line that starts the season will be unchanged from the one that finished last season – left tackle Walter Jones, left guard Steve Hutchinson, center Robbie Tobeck, right guard Chris Gray and right tackle Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack.

That’s not to say that first-round draft choice Chris Spencer won’t push Tobeck at some point this season, or that Womack won’t slide over to right guard.

The line of the future could be Jones, Hutchinson, Spencer, Womack and either Willis or Locklear at right tackle. Willis is a wide-body – but like Hutchinson, not Pork Chop. Willis also could end up playing guard. But I don’t see him starting this season.

.NET: Talk about the crowded field at wideout. After the release of Koren Robinson, the top three are pretty much set with Darrell Jackson, Joe Jurevicius and Bobby Engram. Who makes the cut and will the Hawks keep five or six on the final roster?

Farnsworth: On Tuesday, coach Mike Holmgren told us that Engram was Robinson’s replacement, and that it was Engram’s job to lose.

Jurevicius has been impressive working the middle of the field in the minicamp practices and catching everything thrown at him. So he could provide what will be missed (in the slot) with Engram moving outside.

Other than that, the battle between Jerome Pathon, Jerheme Urban, D.J. Hackett, Taco Wallace and Jason Willis for the remaining three spots will be something to keep an eye on all summer – as will Alex Bannister’s recovery from his broken collarbone. Right now, I’d give Pathon, Urban and Hackett the edge, but Bannister will count as a wide receiver even though his real value is on special teams.

Pathon needs to get into better shape before training camp opens. Urban is the Energizer Bunny of the group, and also a very good special teams player. Hackett still possesses all that potential – and size – that first attracted the Seahawks. But these guys will have to not only make plays, but make the most of every opportunity that comes their way during training camp and the preseason.

.NET: What are the chances that Shaun Alexander holds out the entire training camp and returns the week before the opener, a la Walter Jones? Any chance something gets done contract-wise before camp?

Farnsworth: That is the question of questions right now. Even Alexander’s camp is sending conflicting signals. While one person says that Alexander will get a long-term deal done between July 15 and the start of training camp, another says he is miffed about being named the franchise player and will pull a Walter Jones.

Also at question is the Seahawks’ level of interest in getting a long-term deal done. Do they really want to sign a high-mileage, 28-year-old back to the huge deal Alexander is looking for? Can they afford to do it? The better scenario for the team would be to milk one more productive season from a perturbed and motivated Alexander and then let him become an unrestricted free agent, if the coaches know they have or can obtain a back to replace him. Right now, neither Maurice Morris nor Kerry Carter has shown they can do that.

I see the Seahawks playing without Alexander all summer, but hope I’m wrong.

.NET: If Alexander holds out, is there a number-one back or will it be running back by committee? Is Kerry Carter or Maurice Morris ready to take the bulk of the carries?

Farnsworth: Oops, scooped myself a bit with that last answer. It has to be a running back by committee approach without Alexander, because Morris has not shown the ability to remain healthy while running between the tackles and Carter really hasn’t shown anything. He has a lot of potential – not to mention that upright style and uniform number (32) that reminds everyone of Ricky Watters – but it’s time to turn it into some consistent production.

.NET: Will third-year QB Seneca Wallace be positioned as a Kordell Stewart-type player who Seahawks fans could see lining up to return punts?

Farnsworth: Those words come directly from the mouth of Mike Holmgren. He wants to get Wallace on the field “more” – his word. Actually, just getting Wallace on the field at all would be an improvement.

Wallace is one of the best athletes on the team, if not the best athlete, and an electrifying runner in the open field. So the punt return role that they don’t want Bobby Engram to handle anymore is a great place to start with Wallace. But I’d like to see Holmgren live up to his innovative reputation and find other ways to use Wallace – say, as a running back near the goal line, where he could take a direct snap and run with the ball or go in motion to become a receiver. Fans didn’t get to see Wallace play wide receiver and safety on the scout team during practice last season. He has skills that need to be used.

.NET: Is Donnie Jones really the answer at punter, or is Leo Araguz good enough to earn the punting duties? Is Ryan Dutton, who finished second in the NFL Europe League with a 41.7-yard average, a possibility as well?

Farnsworth: If it were my call, I would have re-signed (former Seattle and current Carolina punter) Tom Rouen. I’m not sold on Jones, yet, and Araguz has been inconsistent in the minicamps. I haven’t seen Dutton punt, so can’t climb out on that limb.

Somebody has to punt for this team, and it might turn out to be that the job isn’t lost, rather than anyone actually winning it.

.NET: At linebacker, what is your predicted lineup? Do rookies Lofa Tatupu, LeRoy Hill and Cornelius Wortham have the talent to start? Who sees the most playing time of the three draftees?

Farnsworth: The opening-day lineup will be D.D. Lewis on the weak side, Niko Koutouvides in the middle and Jamie Sharper on the strong side. But the coaches love Tatupu and he’ll probably rotate with Koutouvides, as Koutouvides did with Orlando Huff last season. Just like last season, don’t be surprised if at some point the order of the rotation flops, with Tatupu starting and Koutouvides rotating.

So to answer the second part of this question, Tatupu gets the most reps, followed by Hill and then Wortham.

.NET: Is Jerramy Stevens ready to take the next step and actually start the entire season?

Farnsworth: A better question might be: Will Jerramy Stevens ever be ready to start an entire season?

Stevens is doing and saying all the right things this spring. He’s there to catch when Matt Hasselbeck wants to throw. He’s working hard in the offseason program and the minicamp practices. He still possesses all that potential, that big body and those soft hands.

But Stevens needs to prove that he can maintain this focus for an entire season, or Itula Mili will remain the most consistent and productive tight end on the roster.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Q & A with Clare Farnsworth, which will run tomorrow!

Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.

Clare Farnsworth has written professionally about the Seattle Seahawks for twenty-seven years. He is a well-respected and highly trusted reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Feel free to contact him at clarefarnsworth@seattlepi.com.

The staff of Seahawks.NET would like to extend our gratitude to Clare for the time and care he took with this interview. We're honored to present it.

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