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Wednesday, August 11, 2010
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Competition OK

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

RENTON, Wash. -- T.J. Houshmandzadeh ranks 59th on the NFL's all-time receptions list, tied with Anquan Boldin.

That qualifies as impressive company for Houshmandzadeh, but past accomplishments matter little at Seattle Seahawks training camp, where jobs are on the line and a rookie receiver -- Golden Tate, for instance -- can get more reps than an established veteran if he earns them.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has 586 career receptions, welcomes the competition in Seattle.
The only guarantee for Houshmandzadeh might be his $7 million salary for 2010. He says he welcomes the competition.

"The only reason I am here is because of competition," Houshmandzadeh said after practice Wednesday, pointing to his humble beginnings as a seventh-round draft choice.

Three days earlier, I marked down Houshmandzadeh for appearing to sulk after quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw incomplete on a deep ball for Deion Branch, never looking toward Houshmandzadeh on the other side of the field. Houshmandzadeh has reacted similarly in past seasons -- he took his time jogging back to the team in this instance -- but with new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll emphasizing competition, and with other receivers commanding more attention this summer, I wondered how Houshmandzadeh was handling the new environment. Most days it seems as though two or three catches in practice are carrying more weight than the 586 career receptions on Houshmandzadeh's resume.

About that play Sunday?

"I know exactly what you are talking about," Houshmandzadeh said. "But see, the thing about that is, like, and I probably do, not knowingly, but I don't try to show the quarterback up."

Houshmandzadeh pointed to his friendship with his former quarterback in Cincinnati, Carson Palmer. He said the two speak weekly and exchanged text messages as recently as Tuesday night. And we all know Houshmandzadeh wanted the ball in Cincinnati, too.

"I don't have problems with guys," Houshmandzadeh said. "I don't start (stuff). I don't have problems. I wanted the ball (on the play Sunday), but he didn't throw it to me -- OK. I felt like I was open. There was no guarantee I would have caught the ball."

The 10th-year receiver again pointed to his days with the Bengals, noting that he and former teammate Chad Ochocinco pushed one another, and coach Marvin Lewis was always telling each man not to let the other one outwork him.

The situation in Seattle is less defined. Tate, Deon Butler and Mike Williams are having strong camps to this point. Branch is a factor as long as he's healthy. Houshmandzadeh appears to be working hard, as usual, even though his body language occasionally suggests a disconnect.

"I had to fight for everything in my life -- I lived with no food before," Houshmandzadeh said. "People will say I act like this, I act like that. I act like that because I know how far I've come. When you are a seventh-round pick and fighting to make the team, they appreciate the toughness and the competitiveness, but if they think you have arrived, all of a sudden it's a bad thing now. I don't get it, but I'm going to calm down a little bit because I think it rubs people the wrong way."