January 15, 2011 in Sports

Handle on career

Injuries don’t deter receiver Obomanu
Tim Booth Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Seattle receiver Ben Obomanu makes catch for a 42-yard gain against New Orleans last November. The Hawks threw to Obomanu a career-high 11 times last week.
(Full-size photo)

RENTON, Wash. – Ben Obomanu’s hand is finally healed. All the stitches, both internal and external, from the nasty gash suffered in early December are all gone.

It’s just in time for Seattle’s No. 2 receiver to deal with a dislocated shoulder suffered last week against New Orleans. True to his nature, Obomanu barely missed a quarter after having his shoulder pop out against the Saints. He didn’t miss a moment of practice this week either as the Seahawks prepare for the NFC divisional playoff at Chicago on Sunday.

It’s part of his nature developed after spending years on the fringes of making every Seattle roster during his five seasons in the NFL and has remained after he has finally taken advantage of his opportunity to be a starter this year.

And that effort was rewarded. Just before boarding their flight to Chicago on Friday, the Seahawks announced that Obomanu had signed a new three-year extension.

“For being a seventh-round pick and having to go into training camp each year and not having that luxury of missing time because of a hamstring, because of a finger or shoulder or anything like that, it’s just my mentality that’s what I’ve always had to do my whole career,” Obomanu said this week.

Obomanu finished last week with five catches for 43 yards against the Saints, but was targeted a team-high 11 times. The numbers aren’t great, but the fact Obomanu even returned to the game speaks to his character.

On Seattle’s second offensive series, and already in a 10-0 hole, Obomanu caught a short pass from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and dived to get the first down. Obomanu’s arms were outstretched as he landed, just as New Orleans safety Roman Harper landed on his back.

Obomanu’s right shoulder was briefly dislocated. He laid on the field for a few minutes, then jogged back to the sideline.

By the time Seattle got the ball back, this time early in the second quarter and trailing 17-7, Obomanu was already back in. He was even thrown to on his first play back on the field.

“From there I just had more confidence throughout the game,” Obomanu said.

This season is by far Obomanu’s best of his young career. When Deion Branch was traded to New England in October, it was partly because Seattle wanted to give Obomanu the chance to start. He’s flourished in his role, catching a career high 30 passes for 494 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season, after having a total of 16 receptions for his career before the season began.

And it’s been one of his more trying seasons as well. Obomanu was just emerging, catching a combined 10 passes for 246 yards in consecutive games against the Saints and Kansas City in the regular season, when he suffered a severe cut on his right hand.

The swelling still hasn’t completely subsided and Obomanu can’t fully extend his hand. He needed internal stitches in his right hand to keep ligaments held together and external stitches to reattach the skin.

In total, Obomanu needed more than 20 stitches, but he won’t need any work when the season is done.

“Maybe some cosmetic work, if they want to make it look better,” Obomanu said with a laugh. “But the function of it should be fine.”

Obomanu was slow to return from the hand injury, but his five catches against the Saints tied his career high. And with the Bears likely to pay plenty of attention to Mike Williams after what Williams did the first time this season against Chicago, Obomanu could be a big factor on Sunday.

“Different guys have emerged during the year and played some significant roles in games, and then it’s shifted because some other guys have stepped up,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s been kind of interesting to see how that goes. … Ben coming on like he’s done has certainly helped us.”

Tatupu practices

Seattle linebacker Lofa Tatupu went through a practice without helmets or pads, but has still not been cleared to play Sunday against Chicago in the NFC divisional playoff.

Tatupu practiced on Friday as the Seahawks held a light walkthrough before flying to Chicago. Coach Pete Carroll said because the practice didn’t involve pads or helmets, Tatupu could participate.

Carroll says the “signs are really good” he’ll be able to play against Chicago.

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