September 23, 1997 in Sports

Hawks’ Health A Worry Knee Injury To Kennedy Latest Setback; Streak Could End

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Dan Saleaumua faces an anxious reunion back home this week.

And he could have to confront it without a big security blanket: Cortez Kennedy.

The Seattle Seahawks’ most durable player is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s NFC West encounter at Kansas City - just one of a slew of injuries that has given coach Dennis Erickson a case of the sweats even as Seattle has fashioned a modest two-game winning streak.

Kennedy, the behemoth defensive tackle, made a club-record 100th consecutive start in Sunday’s 26-22 victory over San Diego - but sprained a knee on the second defensive series of the game and finally took himself out in the second half.

With end Phillip Daniels suffering a more severe knee sprain - he’s expected to miss three to six weeks - the Seahawks’ defensive line will take on a decidedly patchwork look against the Chiefs.

Saleaumua, released during training camp after eight seasons with Kansas City and signed by the Seahawks, will slide into Kennedy’s spot if the six-time Pro Bowler isn’t ready.

“Cortez ain’t that lost, let’s get that straight,” said Saleaumua, holding out hope that Kennedy can play.

“I told him, ‘You start 100 straight games and all of a sudden you want to take a dive now? Take a dive next week.’ I need all of my dogs this week.”

Journeyman Matt LaBounty, who had a sack against San Diego, will start in Daniels’ place - leaving the Seahawks with just one reserve defensive lineman, rookie Riddick Parker. “Either we go get another player,” said Erickson, “or we play with five.”

Bet on the former. Daniels revealed that the Seahawks have already contacted Antonio Edwards, a part-time starter for Seattle the past four seasons. Defensive line coach Tommy Brasher confirmed that talks have begun with Edwards, but wouldn’t speculate whether he’d be signed in time for practice Wednesday.

Kennedy has played in 116 consecutive games since joining the Seahawks in 1990, but said he “never did think about the streak. If something happens, it happens.”

And now it has.

“I was always messing with guys when they were in getting treatment, because I never wanted to hang out in the training room,” he said. “Now I know how they feel.”

Kennedy had the knee taped at halftime of the Chargers game and tried to play in the second half with a knee brace, “but when I couldn’t go without the knee giving out, I knew it was time to stop.

“What’s good is that we have the depth to get through this. That’s what I’ve said about this team all along. With me out, Walter hurt, Phillip, the receivers who are injured, what this organization did is give us the depth so we’ve got guys to back us up.”

In Kennedy’s case, it’s Saleaumua, who admitted “emotions will be flying around” when he makes his return to Arrowhead Stadium.

“It’s going to be something for me because I’m going back to Kansas City where I was for so long,” he said. “I never wanted to leave, but I’ve found a new home and I’m happy to be here. I’m trying not to make a big thing of it. I’m looking at it like it’s the most important game because it’s the next one on the schedule. But I’d like to come out with a ‘W.’ That would make my whole being here complete.”

Saleaumua isn’t sure what kind of reception he’ll get - other than from his mother, who he figures will clap.

“Hopefully, they’ll introduce the offense,” he laughed. “I have to come out of the right tunnel first.”

Other hurts

Injuries aren’t limited to Seattle’s defensive line. Offensive tackle Jones missed Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle and is questionable for the Kansas City game. Fellow linemen Pete Kendall and Kevin Mawae were banged up against the Chargers, but came back to play.

Erickson said receiver Brian Blades “still isn’t close to 100 percent,” though he played sparingly against San Diego. The coach thinks Ronnie Harris should be ready Wednesday, and James McKnight should practice this week, as well.

Anybody else?

“That’s enough,” Erickson said.

Pick trick

Seattle hadn’t managed a single interception in its first three games. Darryl Williams got three in a single afternoon - tying a club record set by Ken Easley and matched by Eugene Robinson.

“I’ve said before that I think Darryl has emerged as one of the better free safeties in the league,” said Erickson. “I hope this turns things around. We hadn’t had any interceptions and not a lot of turnovers. Sometimes these things come in spurts.”

Erickson’s regret was that only once did the Seahawks turn a Williams pick into points - the field goal that knotted the game at 13. But the other interceptions did help the Seahawks hold the Chargers without an offensive touchdown.

San Diego felt one of them was a gift, however. In the third quarter, Chargers quarterback Stan Humphries threw to where he expected Eric Metcalf to be - but Metcalf had been decked by cornerback Willie Williams, and Darryl Williams was there instead.

“I’ll take it though,” said Williams, laughing. “I’ll take it.”

One more Williams

Besides the fourth-quarter performance by third-string running back Steve Broussard - who rushed for 72 yards and the winning touchdown - Erickson was particularly impressed by left tackle Grant Williams.

Just a special teams player last year, Williams made his first start in place of Jones and “played an outstanding football game,” Erickson said. “He didn’t give up a sack and did a good job of run blocking, especially since he had to block Marco Coleman all day.”

Around the league

The most important right knee in San Diego could be out of action for two weeks.

Chargers scoring machine John Carney is listed as doubtful for this weekend’s home game against Baltimore after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his kicking knee moments after his fifth field goal in Sunday’s 26-22 loss at Seattle.

Atlanta Falcons linebacker David Brandon is out for the season after breaking his left leg in Sunday’s game against San Francisco.

Brandon, an 11-year veteran, who has been with the Falcons for two seasons, underwent surgery Monday to repair a fractured fibula, coach Dan Reeves said. He’ll be replaced by rookie Henri Crockett.

Reeves isn’t sure if quarterback Chris Chandler will be able to return for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos. Chandler suffered a bruised sternum against Oakland on Sept. 13 and sat out the 49ers game.

Convinced his offensive line can do no worse, Rams coach Dick Vermeil is putting Orlando Pace in the starting lineup.

Pace, the No. 1 pick of the NFL draft who held out all of training camp, will get his first start at left tackle Sunday at Oakland.

“You say, ‘What the heck?”’ Vermeil said. “What can it hurt?”

Pace has been saying for the last few weeks he’d learn faster if he were playing more. “I would have liked to have been in there at the beginning of the year. It’s something they thought was best for me. Sooner or later, I figured it was going to happen.”

The plan had been for Pace to come off the bench this weekend, then after the Rams’ bye week he’d start for the first time Oct. 12 at San Francisco.

Pace skipped training camp before signing a rookie-record seven-year, $29 million deal in mid-August and has been playing catch-up since.

, DataTimes


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