Sports

Second Time’s A Charm Springs Seeks Redemption In Denver Rematch

The Seattle Seahawks hazed rookie cornerback Shawn Springs during training camp in Cheney, taping him to a blocking dummy and pouring water on his head.

Springs’ regular-season hazing came via Denver’s John Elway and receiver Ed McCaffrey on Sept. 7 in the Kingdome. McCaffrey had six catches, including two touchdowns, and drew three flags on Springs as Denver won 35-14.

The difference? Springs covered the dummy much tighter than McCaffrey.

The rematch (not with the dummy) is today at Mile High Stadium, which, thanks to an open-air design, appears be big enough to accommodate Springs’ ocean of confidence.

Springs took that humbling September day in stride, smiling while answering dozens of questions and vowing the outcome would be reversed in November.

He’s sticking to his word because he hopes to stick to McCaffrey.

“If they throw my way, it’s going to be totally different,” Springs said this week. “Now, I’m more experienced. I use better techniques. I have more knowledge.”

Of those items, experience appears to be the most important.

“He’s going to be a great corner in this league,” Elway said. “With what they were doing in the secondary, a lot of things took me (his) way. They kind of put him on an island.”

And Springs sank.

“He’s a lot better player than he was then,” Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson said. “The thing with rookies, or anybody, is they learn from mistakes. If they don’t, they’re not very smart. They might come after him again, but I know he’s prepared for it.”

Springs says so, too. Fragile confidence and excelling at cornerback don’t mix, so he’s maintained a positive outlook. But he must be careful not to go overboard with his aggressive style.

“We tried to take advantage of his confidence,” Denver coach Mike Shanahan said.

Will the Broncos try again? Springs wouldn’t mind.

“As a corner you can never have your confidence shattered, especially me because I talk so much trash,” Springs said. “It would have crushed me if I got beat physically by Ed or if I was playing bump-and-run and he outran me a lot of times.”

Elway or Terrell-way?

At his current pace, Elway is on pace for one of his worst statistical seasons since he was injured in 1992.

Not that his numbers stink. Elway is on pace to throw 26 touchdowns, same as the last two years. But his 1,733 yards, if doubled, would beat only the ‘96 campaign. His efficiency rating (84.6) and completion percentage (56.6) also are below Elway’s post-‘92 numbers.

For all that, Elway could blame the emergence of running back Terrell Davis, a potential 2,000-yard rusher this season who has lightened Elway’s burden.

But you won’t hear Elway complaining.

“The offense has changed a little bit,” Elway said. “We’ve got to get the ball in his hands. Super Bowl teams play great defense and run the ball… . I’m just relied on in different ways.”

Friesz on hold

Seattle’s John Friesz (thumb) is expected to travel to Denver as the No. 3 quarterback. He threw after Thursday’s practice. He wasn’t sharp, which was to be expected.

His thumb, broken in the season-opener, isn’t completely healthy.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: HAWKS VS. BRONCOS The game: 1 p.m. at Mile High Stadium, Denver. Coaches: Seattle - Dennis Erickson, 20-20, 3rd season. Denver - Mike Shanahan, 28-13, 3rd season; 36-25 overall, 5th season. Television: NBC, with Tom Hammond and Randy Cross. Radio: KXLY (920 AM) with Steve Thomas and Steve Raible.

This sidebar appeared with the story: HAWKS VS. BRONCOS The game: 1 p.m. at Mile High Stadium, Denver. Coaches: Seattle - Dennis Erickson, 20-20, 3rd season. Denver - Mike Shanahan, 28-13, 3rd season; 36-25 overall, 5th season. Television: NBC, with Tom Hammond and Randy Cross. Radio: KXLY (920 AM) with Steve Thomas and Steve Raible.



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