To some of the Seahawks, it feels as if they've added a first-round draft choice to their roster. In a way, they have. After starting preseason on the physically-unable-to-perform list, defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs has been activated and has started returning to limited duty.
He's taken part in drills, but is being eased back into contact sessions.
How valuable the 2004 first-round pick is to the Hawks can be statistically evidenced by last year's run-defense averages. In the five games in which he played, they held opponents to 82 yards a game rushing. In the 11 games in which he was sidelined, opponents averaged 143 yards.
Tubbs' microfracture surgery of his left knee caused him to spend a long winter and spring rehabbing.
"It's a risky surgery," Tubbs said. "A lot of people don't like to perform it. I have full confidence in our doctors and I think up to this point they've done a great job, along with the training staff. My knee is feeling good and I think it's going to be a good year."
Tubbs spent considerable time doing cardio work in the pool, running in water to reduce the impact on his knee. Although he won't divulge his weight, his body composition clearly is leaner and more powerful.
"Yeah, it's different," he said. "I've trimmed down a whole lot."
Tubbs said it was difficult watching games from home because he felt as if he had let down his teammates and the staff.
"That really hit me; that kind of thing touches you. It certainly motivated me to come back stronger this year. As much as I appreciate and love this game, it makes you hungry for it. To have to be on IR last year and have to sit at home and watch the teams go to the playoffs and stuff, it hurts inside. It makes me appreciate this."
Without Tubbs last season, the Seahawks played small in the middle, with Rocky Bernard (308) and Chuck Darby (297) starting inside. The inability to hold strong up the middle made the season tougher on middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu.
"It's so good to have him out there, I can't tell you," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Now I just keep my fingers crossed that his leg holds up and we do the smart thing as coaches in preparing him because we need him to play. He has worked very hard to get to this position."
Holmgren said it's hard to fight the urge to get Tubbs back onto the field too soon.
"I think it's difficult for all of us because he is a talented man and he has been injured a little bit but when he's played he has played well. That's the tough part. We have to be careful about pushing him a little to fast, which is what the coaches want to do and also what he wants to do. He wants to be more involved. I just hope that we do the right thing and we're smart with that."
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