Seahawks WR Branch out another week, 7 months after surgery

RENTON, Wash. -- The return of Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Deion Branch is going to wait at least a week.

Branch was ruled out of Seattle's season opener at Buffalo by coach Mike Holmgren on Friday. Branch was trying to get back in time for the opener just seven months after having major reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

But Branch was very limited in practice this week, only participating in a few snaps of team drills on Friday and did not appear close to full speed.

"The process there is getting him to feel good about where he is at," Holmgren said before the team departed for Buffalo.

Branch tore the ACL in his left knee during January's NFC divisional playoff loss in Green Bay. He was hurt running a routine route early in the Seahawks' 42-20 loss.

Typical recovery time for that type of injury is a minimum of nine months. Had Branch been able to play on Sunday, it would have been seven months to the day of his surgery.

"Next week [he can try] a little bit more and maybe get him into some competitive things," Holmgren said. "At some point he has to do that just so he knows he can do that. That's the big hurdle now."

The sooner Branch can return, the better for Seattle's thin, inexperienced receiving group. Bobby Engram could be out into October with a broken shoulder. Nate Burleson (50 catches last season) and Courtney Taylor (five catches) will start against the Bills with Logan Payne and Jordan Kent -- both practice squad players last year -- the Nos. 3 and 4 receivers in Holmgren's offense. Holmgren has also said using backup quarterback Seneca Wallace is an option if needed.

"I'm expecting a lot of the young guys. It's very, very important that they play well," Holmgren said. "It's as unusual a situation at that position as I have ever had."

Holmgren also said it's unlikely that starting right tackle Sean Locklear will play. Locklear is listed as doubtful for the game and has been bothered by a left knee injury for a few weeks. Ray Willis would start in Locklear's place.

The Seahawks were also preparing special arrangements for left guard Mike Wahle to make the game in Buffalo. His wife gave birth to the couple's second child Friday morning -- a boy named Maddox -- and Wahle joined his teammates for the final few minutes of practice. Wahle was greeted by an ovation and handshakes from his fellow offensive linemen, and Holmgren believed he would be traveling with the team Friday afternoon.

"I didn't expect him to come to practice," Holmgren said.