by: Mike Parker
After a strenuous off-season rehabilitation regime, Nate Burleson says he's almost feeling like his old self again.
Burleson told the Tacoma News-Tribune's Eric Williams that he's about 90 percent recovered from the injury.
“Some days I don’t feel it at all,” Burleson said. “It feels good. I didn’t think I would have days like this, this early in the process.”And being only two weeks away from the team's first minicamp under Jim Mora, the ahead-of-schedule recovery will give him plenty of time to live up to the potential he flashed prior to 2008.
Losing Burleson in the first game of the season last year probably did more psychological damage to the young corps of receivers than anyone else. If nothing else, it had to have affected their confidence, especially considering the fact that guys like Logan Payne hadn't even played in an NFL game before. Leonard Weaver, of all people, said he felt the same.
“He was our only playmaker,” said ex-Seahawks fullback Leonard Weaver. “I mean we had the young guys in there, but he was our playmaker at the time, and he was a guy we were depending on to step into that role. So when he went down, I think it affected us quite a bit because we didn’t have that go-to receiver, which made it tough on the run game.”With the signing of TJ Housh, plus the breakout rookie season of TE John Carlson that highlighted an otherwise dismal season, the general consensus among the Hawks' receivers is that they're one of the most explosive in the league. On paper, that is certainly the case. However, the question marks are still there: Hasselbeck's health to Burleson's recovery time, Deion Branch's ability to keep up his impressive finish to 2008, and how the young guys perform in camp.
Ideally, this will be a very deep receiving corps that should have defenses scrambling to keep up all year. Housh is a monster in the slot, and should both supplant the departure of Bobby Engram and complement the presence of Branch and Burleson. The team will try to get the most out of every possible possession with this group, right down to the intricacies of every play.
“We’re not just going to be happy with an OK performance,” Burleson said. “If we can make a good block, then what other things can we do to help make a big play? If we catch a pass for 6 yards, how can we turn that into 10 yards? We just have to look at what we can do to make more big plays on the field.”Here's to a healthy and freakishly productive receiving corps in '09. -END-