Matt Hasselbeck knows of one proven,
healthy Seahawks wide receiver still standing.
"Steve Largent," Seattle's quarterback deadpanned Monday,
referring to the team's first Hall of Fame player, after hearing
the surprising news wide receiver Nate Burleson is out for the
season with a knee injury.
An MRI Monday showed Burleson tore the anterior cruciate
ligament in his left knee while trying to cut outside on a pass
pattern on a rain-slicked, synthetic field in Buffalo on Sunday
during Seattle's 34-10 loss in its season opener. The non-contact
injury occurred midway through the third quarter when he appeared
to trip over his own feet - or the 20-yard line.
"Tried to plant. Nobody around me at all. I don't know if I got
caught in the grass," said Burleson, who caught Hasselbeck's only
touchdown pass of the day. "It's tough news - especially after a
loss, man. ... Just one of those things that was meant to happen, I
guess. I've got a tough journey ahead."
Burleson joins Deion Branch, Bobby Engram and Ben Obomanu with
major injuries at a position where Seattle now has just three
healthy bodies heading into this Sunday's game against San
Francisco. Coach Mike Holmgren says Branch and Engram remain out
indefinitely. Obomanu is on injured reserve.
Branch, a former Super Bowl MVP, is seven months into recovery
for reconstructive knee surgery similar to what Burleson now faces.
Engram, who set Seattle's record with 94 catches last season, may
be out into October with a broken shoulder.
"I was just trying to hold it down until Bobby gets back, until
Deion gets back," Burleson said, quietly.
"It's a huge loss," said Hasselbeck, the three-time Pro Bowler
who missed almost all of the preseason with a bad back then was
17-for-41 throwing to Burleson and a cast of unknowns Sunday. "And
we've got to get some answers."
Holmgren said one may be the stopgap signing of a veteran free
agent before practice on Wednesday. The coach also said dynamic
backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, who fair caught two punts for
Burleson late in the loss to the Bills, "quite possibly" will
have a primary receiving role against the 49ers. The Seahawks also
may promote from the practice squad rookie free agent Michael
Bumpus out of Washington State.
The only healthy wide receivers on the roster are Jordan Kent, a
former basketball player and track runner at Oregon, 2007 undrafted
free agent Logan Payne and second-year man Courtney Taylor, who has
seven career catches and dropped two passes on Sunday.
"It's been a very unusual situation," Holmgren said. "I
haven't been in this one - ever."
And there's more: starting running back Maurice Morris will also
miss at least the next two games with a sprained right knee. Former
Dallas lead runner Julius Jones will have the starting job at least
until Morris returns, with T.J. Duckett as the backup.
"It's not as bad as it could be. A couple weeks," Morris said.
All this is in the wake of Seattle's second-largest margin of
defeat in any of its 33 season openers. The offense couldn't run,
couldn't catch and couldn't pass block against the Bills.
"I don't think we could be much worse," Holmgren said.
"In any NFL season you are going to face adversity,"
Hasselbeck said. "It's Week 1, and here it is for us. We're facing
a lot of adversity right now."
Burleson's loss was particularly stinging because after Sunday's
game he said the injury was minor and he would play against the
49ers. He first felt instability in the knee during the first
quarter, but put a protective sleeve on it and kept playing.
"After the game, I was able to put pressure on it. I was able
to walk," said Burleson, in his third season with his hometown
team following a trade from Minnesota.
As late as Monday morning, before Burleson got further tests,
Holmgren thought Burleson would be OK. Then came the MRI showing
the ligament tear.
Burleson said he was shocked.
"We were all a little surprised. I think yesterday we left the
locker room and I don't think anyone was too concerned,"
Hasselbeck said. "To get the news today, it was tough to handle."
They have five days to get a grip before the 49ers arrive.