Hamlin returns to Seahawks sideline; future unknown

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren had just come off Qwest Field and was turning a corner into the Seattle locker room when he bumped into Ken Hamlin.

"He sounded good, looked good," Holmgren said of his starting safety, who is still recovering from severe injuries suffered in an Oct. 17 beating outside a Seattle bar.

"Heck, he looked like he could put on a uniform and play," he said.

Holmgren, Hamlin and the Seahawks know that will not happen this season. And they do not know whether it will happen in 2006 or beyond, either.

Hamlin came to Seattle from his family's home in Houston. He has been there for weeks recovering from a fractured skull, bruised brain tissue and a broken hand. Seattle police say Hamlin was apparently beaten by two men outside a downtown Seattle nightclub hours after he played in the Seahawks' Oct. 16 win over Houston.

He spent three days in intensive care and six days in all at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.

On Sunday, Hamlin was on the team's sideline enjoying a 41-3 rout of San Francisco. He also visited a team practice Nov. 11. Holmgren said Hamlin wanted to attend games last month, but doctors told him he was not ready for that then.

As for whether Hamlin might be putting on a uniform in 2006, Hamlin's agent, Lawrence Temple, said he and his client are focused on Hamlin's recovery before they will consider him playing again.

"As his health continues to improve, we will begin to focus more on his return to the field," Temple said last month.

Holmgren echoed that Monday.

"I think that's a real positive sign," the coach said of Hamlin's appearance. "But I don't think anything has even been talked about for next year yet or anything like that.

"But I was encouraged by how he felt yesterday. He said it felt great," he said.

The Seahawks are paying all of Hamlin's $380,000 base salary this season, even though they are not required to.