Branch, Engram will see first action of 2008 when they start against Giants

Updated: October 4, 2008, 3:10 AM ET
Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. -- Deion Branch will start for the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday against the New York Giants, eight months after the veteran receiver had reconstructive knee surgery.

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said Branch and Bobby Engram passed their tests of three consecutive practices this week. Both receivers will make their season debut at New York. The coach added after practice Friday morning that Keary Colbert or Billy McMullen will start opposite Branch. Engram will be in his normal role as the slot receiver.

[+] EnlargeBobby Engram and Deion Branch
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonDeion Branch (left) and Bobby Engram were all smiles this week at practice, and both will start their first games of 2008 on Sunday against the Giants.

"They really did have a good week. Now, how much they play in the football game, we kind of have to see," Holmgren said after Friday's short, light practice just before the team flew east. "They'll be honest about it, they'll let us know.

"They'll be excited to play again and they'll probably be gasping a little bit just from being out there again ... so we have to be smart with how we do that."

Branch is a former Super Bowl MVP who tore a knee ligament in Seattle's playoff loss at Green Bay in January. Engram set a Seahawks record with 94 receptions last season.

Running back Maurice Morris and receiver Koren Robinson are questionable to play Sunday. Both did not practice because of knee injuries.

A noticeably large gang of eight healthy receivers walked off the practice field, smiling. It was five more than the Seahawks had just a few weeks ago.

Two of the smiles belonged to Branch and Engram.

"I'm ready," Branch said.

Engram, who set the team record with 94 receptions last season, hasn't played since breaking his right shoulder in the first exhibition game on Aug. 8.

Their return makes quarterback Matt Hasselbeck smile, too.

"Bobby brings experience and calmness to our offense," said Hasselbeck, who spent much of September at the bottom of the league's passer rankings. "He is just a very steady guy and makes plays."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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