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Saturday, July 26, 2008
Seahawks position battles

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Cornerback: Kelly Jennings vs. Kevin Hobbs

Coach Mike Holmgren created a mini-stir during June minicamps when he mentioned, somewhat casually, that Jennings' job at right cornerback might not be safe. A first-round draft choice in 2006, Jennings improved last season. He has enjoyed a strong offseason, but Hobbs still might be gaining on him.

Signed from Auburn in 2006, Hobbs flashed surprisingly impressive natural ability for a player undrafted out of college. The Seahawks signed him to the active roster late last season as Hobbs improved under new secondary coach Jim Mora. The trend has continued this offseason, creating a competitive situation. Hobbs holds a considerable size advantage over Jennings, but he's still the underdog in this race.

Intensity index: Mild

Kicker: Olindo Mare vs. Brandon Coutu

Life without Josh Brown could get interesting for the Seahawks, particularly during camp. Brown, one of the more clutch kickers in the game, signed a free-agent contract with the rival Rams. The Seahawks signed Mare in free agency before drafting Coutu in the seventh round. The race is wide open.

"When you have a placekicker that's been good and been with you, you kind of check that off your list and say, 'I don't have to worry about that too much,' " Holmgren said. "I believe both Coutu and Olindo, they're good, but they're new to me, and we'll see what happens."

Even with Brown connecting on 82.4 percent of his field-goal tries last season, the Seahawks posted a 1-4 record in games decided by three points last season. 

Brown was an accurate field-goal kicker who became increasingly prolific with his kickoffs. He had 25 touchbacks over the last two seasons, up from 12 in his first three years in the league. Brown had also learned to conquer the tricky winds at Qwest Field, where dank conditions can play with a kicker's mind.

Mare or Coutu will have a difficult time replacing one of the top kickers in franchise history.

Intensity index: Hot