Holmgren laments loss of kicker Josh Brown

Holmgren laments loss of kicker Josh Brown
KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) - If Mike Holmgren shakes his head as he watches the Seahawks' placekicking battle between Olindo Mare and Brandon Coutu this summer, it may not be because he's unhappy with either guy.

He's disappointed there is even a competition.

Seattle's coach and one-time general manager says he uncharacteristically got involved in contract negotiations with former kicker Josh Brown during free agency in March - to no avail.

Brown signed instead with the rival St. Louis Rams for $14.2 million with a $4 million signing bonus, the league's largest for a kicker. The deal was worth only about $200,000 more than what the Seahawks were offering to keep their remarkably accurate long-range weapon on field goals.

"I was disappointed," Holmgren said Monday, the day of Seattle's first training camp practice devoted entirely to special teams. "I did get involved in that a little bit, which I don't normally do with contracts and so on anymore. And I thought it was too bad."

Holmgren believes a lack of understanding among the Seahawks, Brown and Brown's agents led to Brown's departure.

Brown played his first four NFL seasons for the Seahawks. He was a good friend of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and other teammates and had a weekly morning radio show on a Seattle country-music station.

"I don't think the communication was really great all the way around. And it surprised me," Holmgren said. "I believed he liked it here, people liked him. There wasn't a great deal of money difference."

The Seahawks have said Mare, a former top scorer with the Miami Dolphins, and Coutu, a seventh-round draft choice from Georgia, are evenly matched heading into preseason games. Those begin Aug. 8 at Minnesota.

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YIKES ON HIKES: Holmgren said he expects starting center Chris Spencer and veteran Chris Gray, expected to back up Rob Sims at right guard this season, to be out another five or six days. Spencer is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Gray, entering his 16th season, injured his back in practice Saturday.

Gray had been the first-string center in Spencer's absence. Now Steve Vallos, a 312-pound guard, is snapping with the starting offense and Mansfield Wrotto, another guard who weighs 320 pounds, is on the second team. Wrotto failed to get at least one snap back far enough to backup quarterback Seneca Wallace during the morning practice, causing Holmgren to erupt the same way he did throughout most of Sunday morning's drills.

"We're having a very difficult time snapping the ball. And if you don't snap the ball, it's hard to run the play," Holmgren said. "But we will get better at that particular thing."

As for other adventures on snaps, Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had his foot stepped on soon after one Sunday morning and was limping for a while, though he returned to practice Sunday afternoon and seemed fine for Monday morning's lone practice for the full team. Hasselbeck appeared to be wearing some kind of wrap or brace over his left ankle, under his sock Monday.

"Yeah, he has his foot stepped on," Holmgren said, bracing for the questions on his star's health. "And then, as you know, then it's Hollywood and the stars, it's 'As the World Turns.'

"He's all right."

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QUICK HITS: WR Courtney Taylor, a candidate for more playing time with Deion Branch still recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and D.J. Hackett gone to Carolina in free agency, injured his hamstring during the morning practice. Holmgren said the muscle is "a little tight. He should be OK, though." ... Branch is running well on the sidelines, but Holmgren said he will stick to the estimate that Branch's first game back may not be until the opener Sept. 7 at Buffalo, if then. ... The Seahawks remain on track to move into their new luxurious Renton waterfront headquarters on Aug. 18. That will end 22 years for the team in its headquarters next to the campus of Northwest University in Kirkland.