Sharper's Season Ends

In Jamie Sharper's first eight NFL seasons, he never missed a game. Through his time as an outside linebacker in Baltimore (1997-2001) and as a middle linebacker in Houston (2002-2004), he was renowned for his durability. He started 127 of a possible 128 games, and that reliability was a big reason the Seahawks signed Sharper to a five-year, $17.5 million contract with a $1.5 million signing bonus in April.

Through the first eight games of the 2005 season, Sharper manned the strong side admirably for the Seahawks, providing run support and veteran leadership. He had amassed 37 tackles and a forced fumble through the first half of the season.

But Sharper was added to the team’s injury reports beginning on Wednesday, November 9 - just a few days before the Seahawks faced the St. Louis Rams for the second time in 2005. The team announced that Sharper had a right knee infection, and that fluid first had to be drained from the knee on Tuesday, November 8th. Rookie linebacker Leroy Hill replaced Sharper in the lineup, and immediately began making an impact. Currently, Hill has 41 tackles, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He has excelled in blitz packages and helped fellow rookie Lofa Tatupu redefine Seattle’s revolving-door linebacker corps.

Sharper hasn’t played since, and began to appear to be the odd man out with Hill’s ascendance. On Friday, coach Mike Holmgren made the end of Sharper's season official to the media. “He had the infection and it was a bad infection,” Holmgren said. “(Recovery) has just taken a long time. They had to switch antibiotics just in the last couple days because he had a little bit of a setback which pushed the whole thing back even farther. It didn’t appear as though we were going to have him this year.”

Although Holmgren extolled the depth he has enjoyed at Sharper’s position this year, he also recognized what the loss of a veteran like Sharper could mean to this young defense. “I feel bad for Jamie. As always, a guy gets hurt here and the next guy steps up. This team has done a nice job of that. I feel bad for Jamie. He is a very competitive guy. He likes being here and he wanted to play. He just had one of those injuries that it is hard to explain. It is just an infection. But, it is serious. He has to get well. I feel bad for him.”

Team depth, a point established by new team president Tim Ruskell through the offseason, was a subject on Holmgren’s mind today. “It has helped us, particularly in the secondary. We kept extra defensive people. We have needed them in the secondary and at linebacker for sure. That has helped us.”

Sightlines and Audibles:
When asked if WLB D.D. Lewis would play against the 49ers this Sunday, Holmgren was less sure. “D.D. is the biggest question mark, I think. He did not practice this week. He could play in the game. I just have to see if we want to rest that thing and let it heal up pretty good.”

Holmgren announced that cornerback Michael Harden, signed to the practice squad on December 8th, will be added to the 53-man roster in Sharper’s place.

In addition, Holmgren confirmed that Jordan Babineaux will be the starting left cornerback in place of Andre Dyson, whose high ankle sprain in the Seahawks’ 42-0 Monday Night thrashing of the Eagles ended at least his regular season. “(Babineaux) looks good,” Holmgren said. “First of all, he did a great job to make the football team. He has made big plays this season. He has also played both safety and corner. We just keep loading it on him. There is nothing he has done to make me think that he can’t handle this. Now he has a great opportunity.”

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at Top Stories