Hawks notebook: Kluwe kicks way past Araguz after release

KIRKLAND — Football fortunes can change fast with a change of scenery, as is the case with castoff punter Chris Kluwe.

The former Seahawk, who spent the exhibition season and training camp competing with Leo Araguz to be Seattle's punter, is flourishing with the Minnesota Vikings after the Seahawks released him before the start of the regular season. Araguz won the job, and now he's hearing the jokes from teammates about where Kluwe is in the punting rankings.

Kluwe, a rookie, is the NFL's leading punter at 49.9 yards a kick. His net average, or punt distance after a return, is 42.3 yards, third-best in the league.

Araguz is tied for 23rd in the league in punting at 41.6 yards per kick, and his net average is 35.7, tied for 21st. Both numbers are below the goals set by special-teams coach Bob Casullo on a weekly basis.

"I thought he didn't kick as well as he's capable of kicking [Sunday]," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said of Araguz. "But he'll be fine. He's a veteran. He knows how to do it, and he knows what to do. So I would just write that off as he'll have better days."

The distance numbers don't tell the whole story. Araguz, a seven-year veteran, has had three more punts than Kluwe and three downed by the punt coverage team, while Kluwe had not had a punt downed this season.

That means Araguz is at least allowing his teammates to get downfield to make a play on the ball. Casullo said Araguz has placed all but two of his punts where the team wants them in games.

"After three games out of 16, he's doing very well," Casullo said of Kluwe. "Let's see what happens after 16. I like the kid and I'm very happy for him. In no way does that detach away from how we decided to do things."

Araguz admits he's in a slump, with six punts of less than 40 yards in the past two weeks.

"I know myself and I know what I can produce," he said. "The past two games, I've been off. It's early, and I can get out of it."

Another former Seahawks punter, Donnie Jones, whom the team released even before training camp this year, is 14th in the league in punting.

Injury report

Seahawks wide receiver-punt returner Peter Warrick has a left groin muscle injury and is questionable to play Sunday at Washington. He missed practice yesterday and was replaced at backup flanker-No. 4 wide receiver by D.J. Hackett.

If Warrick cannot play, cornerback Jimmy Williams will serve as the punt returner.

Also, cornerback Kelly Herndon (neck stinger) is probable, tackle Floyd Womack (triceps) is doubtful and tackle Wayne Hunter (hamstring) is out. Herndon did not practice yesterday but is expected back today.

In other health news, defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes, hospitalized for a mild stroke the week of the Seahawks' first regular-season game, made his return to the practice field for the first time in almost four weeks and will go with the team to Washington. Also, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck split snaps with backup Seneca Wallace in practice because of a sore throwing arm, but Hasselbeck will take all the snaps with the No. 1 offense by week's end, Holmgren said.


• Now through Nov. 6, Seahawks fans can vote for the 30th Season All-Time Team at participating Macy's department stores in the Seattle area. Those current and former Seahawks on the ballot have played at least 64 career games or started 40 or made a Pro Bowl appearance for Seattle since the team began play in 1976. A team of 24 position players, one coach and three write-ins will be announced Nov. 13 at halftime of the Seahawks-St. Louis game.

• The Seahawks held tryouts for five wide receivers this week, including one-time Seahawk Kevin Kasper, who played in four games in the middle of the 2002 season. Former Seahawks CB Michael Harden tried out with New England and ex-safety Reggie Tongue worked out for Detroit, as did former Seattle CB Kris Richard.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com