Seahawks Turn To Youth at Punter Position

The Seahawks' decision to release veteran punter Tom Rouen means the team will enter the 2006 season with its third opening-day punter in as many seasons. The instability has hurt Seattle on special teams.

Rouen, 38, seemed to punt well during the Seahawks' recent minicamp. At the very least he appeared likely to make it through training camp as the veteran alternative to youngsters Ryan Plackemeier and Gabe Lindstrom.

Plackemeier and Lindstrom punted well enough this offseason for the Seahawks to take their chances with less experienced players. Plackemeier enters camp as a seventh-round pick from Wake Forest. He's a massive guy at 6-3 and close to 250 pounds, with the powerful leg to match. Lindstrom spent his spring punting for the Cologne Centurions of NFL Europe. He has gone to camp with the New York Giants in recent seasons, only to lose out in the end to former Seahawks punter Jeff Feagles.

Seattle probably made a mistake by letting Feagles go in the first place. Feagles has dropped 81 punts inside the 20-yard-line in three seasons since leaving the Seahawks. Rouen, Ken Walter, Donnie Jones and Leo Araguz have combined for 73 such punts in Feagles' absence.

Rouen proved to be a suitable replacement for Feagles when healthy, but a severe hamstring injury limited him to only four games in 2004. The team went with Araguz to start last season, a big mistake that contributed to poor field position during the Seahawks' 2-2 start; Seattle was 11-1 after releasing Araguz, less of a coincidence than one might think.

Last season, the Seahawks released young punters Jones and Chris Kluwe in favor of Araguz at the behest of new special teams coach Bob Casullo. Presumably, Casullo will now be asked to expand his personnel acumen to punters under the age of 35.

Plackemeier is probably the favorite to win the job this season. Like many young punters, he needs to work on placement and direction. Power certainly won't be a problem. Plackemeier set a Wake Forest record with an 82-yard punt. He also had a 74-yarder. He averaged 56.4 yards per punt in a game against Georgia Tech.

Plackemeier led the ACC with a 47.2-yard gross average as a senior, but he also had a punt returned for a touchdown.

Lindstrom, 30, has been trying to land an NFL job since 2001.

 


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