The Seahawks are reaching into their past by adding former University of Washington coach Keith Gilbertson as an offensive assistant. Gilbertson, 57, worked under then-Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson from 1996 to 1998.
The move can only help because Gilbertson comes from outside the West Coast system. For too long, it seems, coach Mike Holmgren has relied upon an increasingly depleted staff. Gilbertson doesn't bring the notoriety of former Holmgren aides such as Steve Mariucci or Jon Gruden, but he is a respected coach with solid offensive credentials.
Gilbertson's shortcomings as a college head coach were well documented. He never seemed comfortable handling all of the non-football duties that make those jobs so challenging. But as a football strategist and offensive teacher, Gilbertson has long been highly regarded in the business.
The Seahawks had yet to clarify exactly how Gilbertson will be utilized. But it's probably safe to assume he'll work with the offensive line and tight ends.
Gilbertson counts Seattle line coach Bill Laveroni among his close friends; the two worked together at Utah State some 25 years ago. And his positive relationship with TE Jerramy Stevens should only help the former first-round pick break out of his underachieving ways. Stevens was already showing signs of significant progress this offseason; adding Gilbertson to the mix might bridge any remaining gaps between Stevens and the coaching staff.
Gilbertson spent the last two seasons as the Washington Huskies' head coach. His teams went 6-6 and 1-10, records that reflected the program's inability to overcome fallout from the scandal-ridden departure of former coach Rick Neuheisel.
In his previous incarnation with the Seahawks, Gilbertson spent one season as a defensive specialist and two coaching tight ends. Four players remain from his previous stint with the team: TE Itula Mili, LT Walter Jones, FB Mack Strong and RG Chris Gray.
CAMP CALENDAR: July 29 through Aug. 20; Scrimmage Aug. 6.
Players to watch in training camp:
--Left tackle Walter Jones: Under a long-term contract for the first time in years, Jones is notable for his first camp appearance since 2001.
--Defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs: He was the team's first-round draft choice in 2004. In his very first play as a pro, Tubbs drove Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera, then of the Packers, and into quarterback Brett Favre for a third-down sack. The impressive debut was only a tease, however, as Tubbs struggled through the emotional strain of watching his mother die from cancer. An ankle injury also conspired to ruin Tubbs' rookie season. This spring appeared to bring renewal to Tubbs, who reported to minicamps appearing quicker and in better shape.
The ankle is healed and Tubbs, a 320-pounder from Texas, said his mind is beginning to clear. His mother's memory comes with Tubbs on the field in the form of bracelets that raise awareness for breast cancer. The Seahawks expect Tubbs to challenge for a starting job this season. That would be big for the team given the chronic shoulder problems that threaten to sideline 2004 starter Rashad Moore.
--Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu: He might not be needed to start if second-year player Niko Koutouvides proves worthy of the job. But his development seems crucial as Seattle tries to fill a gaping hole in the middle of its defense. The Seahawks haven't had a long-term starter in the middle since journeyman Dean Wells manned the position in the 1990s.
The leadership skills Tatupu showed at USC made him particularly attractive to the Seahawks, who haven't had much direction on defense. Seattle made him a second-round draft choice with the expectation that Tatupu would help right away.
--Tight end Jerramy Stevens: A first-round pick in 2002, Stevens finally appears to have shaken the off-field problems that hurt him in the past. He has also become much more diligent in terms of off-field conditioning, a development that has made him a favorite with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Seattle isn't desperate for help at the position because veteran Itula Mili remains a reasonably dependable option. What Stevens offers, however, is a potentially dynamic player at a position usually manned by players without his physical attributes. Stevens stands 6-7 and has the ability to make the spectacular play.
The Seahawks probably helped his development by hiring Stevens' former college coach, Keith Gilbertson, as an offensive consultant. In Gilbertson, Stevens has one more positive influence in his life. That's good for Seattle given Stevens' past problems with alcohol abuse.
--The Seahawks made a couple of roster subtractions heading into training camp. They released FB R.J. Luke, who became expendable when the team drafted TE/FB Tony Jackson. Seattle also placed C Joey Hollenbeck on the reserve/injured list. He is recovering from shoulder surgery. Hollenbeck isn't expected back with the team, particularly after Seattle used first- and fourth-round picks on offensive linemen.
--Releasing WR Koren Robinson was the right thing to do. Robinson recently pleaded guilty in his DUI case, only to run afoul of authorities again by allegedly showing up intoxicated while attempting to serve a one-day jail sentence. Authorities in Kirkland, where the Seahawks are headquartered, set an Aug. 4 court date to help determine whether Robinson indeed violated terms of a court order that forbade him from consuming alcohol. Robinson's guilty plea in the DUI case indicated he did not expect the case to result in another NFL suspension. But his latest brush with the law could result in him serving a longer jail sentence, scaring away teams interested in taking a chance on the ninth player chosen in the 2001 draft.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "(Jamie Sharper) has played, he has made a lot of plays in this league and to have his maturity helps. Guys like Grant Wistrom and Jamie and those guys, that helps our young guys. They have someone to look to. I am asking a little more of Jamie than the other fellas because leadership plays a big part of that at linebacker for me." --Coach Mike Holmgren.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Matt Hasselbeck. Backups -- Seneca Wallace, David Greene, Gibran Hamdan.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- RB Shaun Alexander, FB Mack Strong. Backups -- RB Maurice Morris, RB Kerry Carter, RB Marquis Weeks, FB Leonard Weaver, FB Tony Jackson.
TIGHT END: Starter -- Jerramy Stevens. Backups -- Itula Mili, Ryan Hannam.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- FL Darrell Jackson, SE Bobby Engram. Backups -- Jerome Pathon, Jerheme Urban, Alex Bannister, Marque Davis, Joe Jurevicius, Taco Wallace, Jason Willis, D.J. Hackett.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Walter Jones, LG Steve Hutchinson, C Robbie Tobeck, RG Chris Gray, RT Floyd Womack. Backups -- C Chris Spencer, G Jerry Wunsch, G/T Sean Locklear, G Andy King, G Steven Gibbs, G William Henry, T Ray Willis, C Joey Hollenbeck.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LDE Bryce Fisher, LDT Cedric Woodard, RDT Rashad Moore, RDE Grant Wistrom. Backups -- DE Antonio Cochran, DE Otis Leverette, DE Jeb Huckeba, DE Joe Tafoya, DE Kevin Emanuel, DE Christian Mohr, DT Chuck Darby, DT Cedric Woodard, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Marcus Tubbs, DT Ron Smith, DT Craig Terrill. Returning injured starter -- Wistrom.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- SLB Jamie Sharper, MLB Niko Koutouvides, WLB D.D. Lewis. Backups -- MLB Lofa Tatupu, LB Isaiah Kacyvenski, LB Solomon Bates, LB Cornelius Wortham, LB LeRoy Hill, LB Tracy White, LB Kevin Bentley, LB Terrence Robinson, LB Tim Galloway.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Marcus Trufant, RCB Andre Dyson, SS Michael Boulware, FS Ken Hamlin. Backups -- CB Kelly Herndon, CB B.J. Tucker, CB Kris Richard, CB Kevin House, CB Omare Lowe, CB Michael Harden, S John Howell, S Terreal Bierria, S Marquand Manuel, S Junior Rosegreen, S Jordan Babineaux, S Jamaal Brimmer, S Terry Holley.
SPECIAL TEAMS: P Leo Araguz, P Chris Kluwe, P Ryan Dutton, K Josh Brown, LS J.P. Darche.