SEATTLE – Under doctor’s orders, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes was restricted to being an interested spectator from a coaching booth at Qwest Field on Sunday.
Anybody who has been around Rhodes knows that he would have rather been calling defenses to try to stymie an Atlanta rally in the second half.
Actually, Rhodes, a former NFL defensive back and receiver, probably would have preferred donning a uniform and chasing after elusive Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.
Instead, Rhodes will have to settle for the game ball from the Seahawks’ 21-18 victory over the Falcons. Rhodes suffered a mild stroke on Sept. 4 and was limited to working part-time last week. He missed the opener at Jacksonville.
“He’s going through some hard times right now,” safety Ken Hamlin said. “This will bring his spirits up a little bit.”
Coach Mike Holmgren asked the team if it approved of giving Rhodes the game ball and his response was met with “everybody cheering,” cornerback Marcus Trufant said.
“I think it was pretty important for him, especially with how well the defense played today. He’s probably not going to make a big deal about it, that’s not Ray, but we wanted to do well for him.”
Linebackers coach John Marshall has called the plays in Seattle’s first two games. Rhodes is expected to be back at practice Wednesday. Rhodes’ crew did a respectable job of containing Vick and allowed just 223 total yards.
Rhodes’ competitive demeanor makes him a difficult patient at times, Holmgren said.
“As long as he does what the doctors are asking him he’s going to be OK,” he said. “As long as he eases back into things. The hard part for him is that’s not his nature. This time, I think he will do what everyone tells him to do.”
So far, so good.
“He’s recovering well and appears not to have any type of deficits after the stroke,” Seahawks team physician Brad Shoup said in a news release.
Rhodes offered words of encouragement to defensive players in the locker room prior to the game. He is a demanding coach, but players speak in reverent tones when Rhodes’ name is mentioned.
“With something like this, you really see how important he is to our defense,” defensive tackle Rocky Bernard said. “He’s the creator of it. He has all the guys he wants in here. With him gone, it’s a little different, but we still run the defenses that he calls.”
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