Seahawks welcome back injured players


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

RENTON, Wash. -- Seahawks practice had the feel of a June minicamp today: make-you-squint sunshine, take-a-swim temperatures and no regular-season game on which to reflect.

The bye week officially ended for Seattle. Coach Mike Holmgren said he had no trouble with the rest of the division coming back toward the Seahawks in the form of losses by the Rams, Cardinals and 49ers. He was also happy to welcome back a few injured players.

Sean Locklear is back as the starting right tackle even though Ray Willis played well in his absence. Receivers Bobby Engram (shoulder injury) and Deion Branch (knee injury) figured prominently into the passing game. Branch worked as the starting flanker. Billy McMullen worked at split end. Engram filled his familiar role in the slot.

Those roles could change depending on which players are available. Engram started at split end in 2005. He started at flanker last season. And he has always been a threat in the slot.

Holmgren wasn't ready to declare Engram and Branch ready for the New York Giants in Week 5. He wants to see Engram and Branch work at full speed in practice Wednesday and Thursday. He also wanted to make sure Engram's shoulder was ready. Engram wants onto the field so badly, Holmgren said, that the team must make sure the receiver doesn't talk his way back prematurely.

The expectation all along was that Branch and Engram would be back no later than this week. I think that is still the expectation. Holmgren has simply learned to proceed with caution on these things. For Holmgren, seeing is believing.