KIRKLAND, Wash. – Among the players who will be at Qwest Field with the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday are two ex-Seahawks facing their former team.
Defensive end Chike Okeafor and middle linebacker Orlando Huff signed with the Cardinals during free agency. Both declined interview requests with the Herald this week.
Okeafor’s return has gained more publicity this week because of comments he made a few months ago. While the Seattle newspapers quoted Okeafor after he left the Seahawks, his criticism of unnamed players actually started late last season – before he left town.
After the Seahawks defense gave up 482 yards and 27 points in a Dec. 19, 2004, loss to the New York Jets, Okeafor questioned the desire and work ethic of some teammates.
“We’ve got to swell hearts up,” Okeafor told the Herald. “It’s about desire, want – almost need. It’s not desperation, but you have to want that (stuff) more than the (player) across the line.
“… Guys have to make up their mind whether they want to get it done, or whether they want to sit around and say they want to get it done. There’s a lot of talk, but the most powerful thing is less talk and more action.”
Okeafor repeated similar comments the day he signed with the Arizona Cardinals in March.
“There’s a different attitude here,” Okeafor was quoted as saying in the March 10 issue of the Arizona Republic. “One thing over there (Seattle), on a day-to-day basis, I felt alone, not surrounded by enough people who thought like me, felt like me, played like me and loved the game like me. I’ve been in search of that from teammates, and I felt that here.”
The few Seahawks defenders remaining from last year’s team had little reaction.
“He’s just venting when he leaves,” said defensive end Grant Wistrom, one of just nine defensive players left over from the 2004 team. “It doesn’t matter what he says. We’re a different team this year, and I don’t think anybody really cares about what he said.”
Rhodes’ role doesn’t change
Defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes will work in a supporting role again Sunday when linebackers coach John Marshall handles the defense for the third week in a row.
Rhodes did not attend practices this week, and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said he was comfortable with Marshall continuing to fill in as coordinator.
“(Rhodes) is most comfortable with that right now,” Holmgren said. “He’s getting better every day, but why push the envelope? He’ll be sitting right next to John (Marshall above the press box); they can confer. John’s doing a good job. We’ll just leave it like that for a while.”
Rhodes had a stroke Sept. 4 but returned to work last week. He was originally expected to resume his coordinating duties this Sunday.
Based on how he looked at practice this week, wide receiver Peter Warrick might finally be ready to contribute on offense.
Warrick, who was signed a few days before the opener, had his best week of practice, highlighted by one-handed catches with his left hand Thursday and his right hand Friday.
“I’m a receiver,” Warrick said, shrugging off the difficulty of the receptions. “I get paid to catch the ball. That’s what I do.”
The former Cincinnati Bengal looks more at ease – both in terms of learning the offense and playing on a knee that underwent off-season surgery.
“It’s at the point now where I’m just starting to get more comfortable,” Warrick said. “Once you get more comfortable, and you’re not out there thinking, it’s easy.”
Holmgren is hoping Warrick’s practices translate to the field.
“He has excellent hands, that’s obvious,” Holmgren said. “Now he feels a little more comfortable in the offense. I want him to be more comfortable catching punts, and the whole thing. We need him to show.”
Last week’s Pro Bowl battle between Seattle left tackle Walter Jones and Atlanta defensive end Pat Kerney was a walk-over, with Jones dominating all afternoon.
But Jones doesn’t expect a one-sided battle while facing his second consecutive Pro Bowler Sunday: Arizona’s Bertrand Berry.
“He’s a great speed rusher,” Jones said. “He’s relentless, and he keeps coming at you all the time. He’s one of those pass-rush specialists that live for the pass rush. You just have to stay focused and try to counter whatever he’s giving you.”
While Berry led the NFC with 13 1/2 sacks last season, he was held without a sack in two meetings against Jones.
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