Hawks say they have plenty of versatility at tight end

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RENTON — The Seahawks aren’t afraid to make headlines.

That’s as true when it comes to cutting players as it is when adding them. Seattle demonstrated that when it cut Terrell Owens after a three-week look-see and just as true seven days later when tight end Kellen Winslow was shown the door a week before the regular season began.

And when the Seahawks returned to work Monday afternoon, Evan Moore wore the No. 82 that had previously belonged to Winslow, which kind of underscored the lack of internal hand-wringing over the decision to cut Winslow.

Expect to see more targets for Zach Miller, more time for backup Anthony McCoy and maybe even a chance or two for Moore.

“We’ll use all the guys with Zach and with Anthony,” said Darrell Bevell, Seattle’s offensive coordinator. “Then we’ll continue throughout this week to find out exactly what Evan can bring for us and then we’ll fit him in accordingly.”

Is it really that easy to fill in behind Winslow? He averaged more than 70 receptions during his three years in Tampa Bay, and has caught more than 62 passes in five of his past six seasons. Moore has caught 62 passes — total — in his career.

Winslow was supposed to be the receiving specialist among Seattle’s tight ends, someone who would line up in the slot as well as putting his hand down at the line of scrimmage. Without Winslow, is Seattle being forced to change its play-calling menu on offense?

“We still have that capability to be able to do that,” Bevell said. “You can really put any of those guys out there. Obviously, some of them would be better than others, but really all our guys know those positions.”

Familiarity is a new thing as this year was the first time since 2008 the Seahawks have the same offensive coordinator returning for a second consecutive season. But it’s not just the coach. The roster of offensive players is more similar to last season than many expected.

Sure, there’s a new quarterback in Russell Wilson and other rookies like running back Robert Turbin and right guard J.R. Sweezy.

But two weeks ago, you looked on the field and wondered how they were going to shoehorn Winslow and Owens into an offense that already included starters like Miller and Sidney Rice. Things aren’t so crowded now, and they’re a lot more familiar. Of the six receivers and three tight ends currently on the roster, only three are new: Braylon Edwards, Charly Martin and Moore.

Edwards could end up starting as split end Golden Tate’s status is uncertain. He did not practice Monday after suffering a knee injury in the exhibition game last Thursday. Friday, a source indicated the injury was likely to keep Tate out the next two weeks.

No talks between NFL, union as season nears

By BARRY WILNER

AP Pro Football Writer

NEW YORK — Officially — at least in their comments — NFL players and coaches aren’t concerning themselves with refereering.

The NFL and its locked-out officials weren’t talking two days before the season begins, a clear indication replacements will be on the field for Wednesday night’s opener.

Doesn’t matter, according to many of the guys who call the plays or carry them out.

Both sides met for three days last week, but did not reach an agreement to end the three-month lockout. The replacement officials who worked the preseason games amid much criticism will handle the Cowboys at Giants opener and the other 15 games on the weekend.

“You just have to play your game. You can’t even pay any attention to it now at this point,” Giants receiver Victor Cruz said Monday. “You just have to go out there and trust that they are spending time in the meeting rooms and those referee rooms, reading the plays and getting the calls down.”

The league and the NFL Referees Association, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.

With the stalemate, the NFL will use replacements in the regular season for the first time since the opening week of 2001, days after the terrorist attacks.

Many of those replacements came from the highest levels of college football, something that has changed drastically this year. The current replacement crews are comprised of mainly of officials from the Arena League, and the NCAA Division II and III levels.

The league said it will handle the officiating assignments the same way it does in any other year, with the crew for Wednesday night’s game not being announced in advance - even though there’s increased interest in who works the game.

“It’s one of those things where you just look out there and it’s like the difference between having a high school guy play in the NFL versus an NFL guy playing in the NFL,” Vikings punter Chris Kluwe said. “The speed’s totally different. Those guys are trying hard, but they’re just not used to the speed of the game and they’re missing a lot of stuff.”

But they are missing stuff for both teams. Coaches and players alike are trying not to let that enter their minds as they prepare for their openers.

“I know that these guys are coming in here doing the best that they can, but it’s really out of our control. It doesn’t matter if we have flag football officials, we’ve got to go out and play the best that we can and hopefully get a few calls along the way,” Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said.

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