Tim Hauck remembers returning to the University of Montana weight room to work out between NFL seasons and seeing a young David Kempfert.
“He’s come along from the first times I saw him,” Hauck said. “He’s a heck of a player now. He’s a big kid.”
The two Grizzlies graduates have a common goal these days: Making the Seahawks roster.
Hauck, from Big Timber, Mont., has carved a seven-year NFL career mainly via special teams. Kempfert’s a free-agent rookie hoping to be one of 10 offensive linemen who stick.
Hauck was pleased to be signed by the Seahawks, but probably not as pleased as starting safety Darryl Williams.
“Every guy I’ve backed up has been a Pro Bowl player, not every year (but at some point in their careers),” Hauck said after Thursday morning practice in Cheney. “There’s been (Chuck) Cecil, (LeRoy) Butler, (Steve) Atwater, (Tyrone) Braxton, and Fred Marion, he became All-Pro after I left. I’m good luck for the guy I’m playing behind.”
Though Hauck has no career interceptions, his dependable play has earned him jobs with New England, Green Bay and Denver.
“I’ve never really had an opportunity to start. I thought I would in Denver but some injury problems got in the way,” he said. “Special teams have made my career last. And I’ve been a good enough player that when I’ve got an opportunity I’ve played well on defense.
“Coming out of college, I don’t think anybody gave me a chance to make it. I still go back home and they go, ‘You’re still playing? I can’t believe it.’ But once people see you can play, it’s an easier road.”
Kempfert’s hoping to find that path.
“This is great,” the 6-foot-4, 288-pound Missoula native said. “It’s difficult, but it’s kind of like living the dream and giving it a shot. There have been some great people come out of Montana, Tim and Kirk Scrafford. They’ve proven it can be done. I-AA doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t belong here.”
He’s fitting in fine so far, offensive line coach Howard Mudd said. “He hung in there pretty darn well when we put the pads on with the big boys. He’s smart and he really worked hard before he got here.”
Kempfert has been working with the third team, which has benefits. Thus far, he hasn’t had to block defensive tackles Cortez Kennedy or Sam Adams.
“I’m getting reps, and one thing about playing against pros is there are no bad players out here,” he said.
And, as Hauck related, it’s not where you start but where you finish.
“I’ve been third team at the beginning of every camp except last year in Denver,” he said. “For a rookie, you just never think (training camp) is going to end when you get into four weeks of two-a-days. I’ve just let Dave know it eventually ends and to hang in there.”
Kempfert’s attitude is exemplary.
“A lot of guys sit and worry about if they’re going to get cut,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll know I gave it my best shot. If it does, I’ll be a very happy man.”
Brian Blades, who leads the Seahawks with 10 years of service in Seattle, took some friendly ribbing after watching Thursday morning practice.
“Brian Blades, you going to practice this afternoon or not?” brother Bennie chided as Brian left the field.
The Blades have been reunited for the first time as pros after starring at the University of Miami. They worked out together in Miami and Seattle this summer after the Seahawks signed Bennie away from the Detroit Lions.
“We’ve been playing with each other since he was 7 and I was 8,” said Brian, who sat out the morning session as a precautionary measure. “We love each other and we’re friends. It’s a real big thrill for our family to see us on one team.”
At 6-foot-1 and 221 pounds, Bennie is a sizable safety.
“One of the things Coach (Dennis) Erickson was trying to do in the offseason was improve the run defense,” Brian said. “We’ve got the guys out here to do that.”
“I had to block Bennie a couple times today,” wide receiver Joey Galloway said, “and that isn’t much fun.”
The holdouts of first-round draft picks Shawn Springs and Walter Jones continue. The Hawks and Springs exchanged proposals but no resolution was reached. … KHQ (Ch. 6) will air an hour-long special live from camp Saturday at 3 p.m.
Four youngsters from the Fox Kids Club carried the helmets of four players from the field to the locker room. The kids were selected by Jim Zorn, who is conducting popular post-practice clinics. … Warren Moon, for the second straight day, signed autographs by the dozens.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos
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