News & Notes: Avery's the Next Target

With veteran receiver Torry Holt now in Jacksonville, the Seattle Seahawks have a new target to stop when the face the St. Louis Rams in the regular-season opener at Qwest Field - Donnie Avery.

The rookie receiver has the ability to make big plays down the field with his speed, so defensive backs coach Tim Lewis understands his secondary will have to know where Avery is at on every play. The University of Houston product finished with 53 receptions for 674 yards and three touchdowns in his first season in the league.

"He can make the tough catch," Lewis said. "And he adjusts well to not very well thrown balls and has good body adjustment."

The Seahawks will have to deal with Avery with a revamped secondary. After recently releasing starting free safety Brian Russell, the team will now start Jordan Babineaux in his place. Lewis said Babineaux beat Russell out in the competition for the starting spot during the exhibition season.

To add experienced depth, the Seahawks signed University of Washington product Lawyer Milloy, who also should challenge for a starting position if Babineaux struggles. Seattle also will have to get by without its top cover corner, with Marcus Trufant starting the season on the physically unable to perform list, missing the first six weeks of the season.


-- QB Matt Hasselbeck looks to bounce back from a dismal 2008 season. Hasselbeck has looked healthy during the preseason, and also has developed a nice rapport with new No. 1 target T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

-- RB Edgerrin James got his first taste of action with Seattle during the team's 31-21 win over Oakland in the team's final preseason game. James rushed twice for 11 yards, and appeared to have a good feel for the team's zone blocking scheme.

-- TE John Carlson looks to improve on his 55-catch performance as a rookie, but his run-blocking is a work in progress. That's why the Seahawks went out and got another Notre Dame product in tight end John Owens from Detroit. Expect the team to run a lot of two-tight end sets.

-- The team's No. 3 receiver, Deion Branch, returned kicks for the first time this year, as the Seahawks try to get the most out of the $4.94 million they will pay him this season.

--S Lawyer Milloy joined the Seahawks this week, replacing recently released safety Brian Russell. However, the Seahawks will not start the four-time Pro Bowler, going instead with Jordin Babineaux, who defensive backs coach Tim Lewis said beat Russell out of the position.

-- CB Ken Lucas will have to be the Seahawks' shutdown corner with Marcus Trufant out on the physical unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the season. Seattle picking up Lucas during the offseason has proved an important decision that has added experienced depth to the defensive secondary.

-- DT Brandon Mebane has switched to more of a pass rush defensive tackle from inside and looks to improve on his team-leading 5.5 sacks from a season ago.

--K Olindo Mare held off second-year player Brandon Coutu to win the Seahawks kicking job for the second straight season. The difference was kickoffs, as Mare consistently put the ball into the end zone, while Coutu struggled to get the ball to the 6-yard line. Top Stories