Seahawks' Hamlin ready to hit after brawl

CHENEY, Wash. -- Seahawks free safety Ken Hamlin, sidelined
since sustaining a fractured skull and blood clot near his brain in
an altercation outside a Seattle nightclub last October, is set to
participate in contact drills Sunday.


"You guys just keep the cameras going and we'll see how that
first hit goes," the former Arkansas Razorback said Saturday when
asked if he was ready to dole out his first hits.

Meanwhile, coach Mike Holmgren said the Seahawks are close to
signing their top draft pick, Kelly Jennings, a 5-foot-11,
178-pound cornerback from Miami.

"It seems most of the first-round guys have signed, so I think
we're probably very close," Holmgren said.

Holmgren did not say whether Jennings is being fined, but
appeared frustrated that his first-round draft pick was not in

"For the life of me, I've never understood that deal: All of a
sudden everyone's frantic on the Friday before camp and then, bang,
bang, bang, bang, everyone signs," he said. "Why don't they start
on Wednesday? But they don't do it that way. I don't know. That's
why I don't negotiate contracts any more."

Hamlin's return brought a buzz to camp.

The 25-year-old free safety started six games last season before
being placed on injured reserve after the attack.

"I think it's great. That will be to me, if he can come back
and play, one of the great stories," Holmgren said after the
team's first no-contact workout Saturday morning. "He was hurt.
Here's a young man with a bright future. If he can do this, and we
think he can, then I think it's a great thing."

Hamlin was beaten by two men in a fight that police say began at
a bar and then continued outside. Hamlin spent six days in
Seattle's Harborview Medical Center after the assault. No arrests
have been made.

"Being out for a little while, you want to get back into the
groove or whatever, but physically, it doesn't feel any
different," Hamlin said. He was kept out of contact during a
recent minicamp while team physicians evaluated his progress.

"I'm just ready to play. It's just another step in the process
of preparation for getting ready to play this season," he said.
"I'm happy to be back out here, happy to be playing, happy to be
with my teammates."

Holmgren said the team wanted to ensure that Hamlin was ready
and no longer suffering headaches or dizziness before clearing him
to play.

"I think it's clear by everything the doctors have told me.
Obviously we want to do the correct thing and I think we have, and
now he's just got to go in there and play and my feeling is, he'll
be fine," Holmgren said after watching Hamlin practice without
pads. "I'm sure he's looking forward to banging around."

The Seahawks opened camp with sidelines littered with players
unable to play because of injuries, including defensive ends Grant
Wistrom and Joe Tafoya, wide receiver Darrell Jackson and tight end
Jerramy Stevens.

Holmgren said he expects all of his players to be back by the
final preseason game Aug. 31.

"As I've gotten a little bit older, I probably worry about the
injury thing a little bit more. We probably won't bang as much as
we have in the past," he said.

With a more experienced team, Holmgren said he has fewer
questions about players' abilities. "We'll save the banging around
for the games," he said. "That's not to say we won't do it."

Wide receiver Peter Warrick missed the first practice because
lightning storms delayed his flight from Florida, Holmgren said.
Warrick arrived in time for the afternoon practice, but remained on
the sidelines pending a physical exam.

Holmgren, who signed a contract extension in the offseason, said
he has shaken off the depression of losing the Super Bowl and has
come to camp with batteries recharged.

"I bounced back pretty good," he said.