RENTON—To say the 2008 Seattle Seahawks were injury-riddled would be putting it mildly.
By season's end, 14 Seahawks found their way onto the injured reserve list. The Seattle wide receiving corps was especially hard hit.
Three days into training camp, this year is already proving to be much better for the Seahawks' wideouts.
"Everybody's out on the field. Everybody's healthy," said receiver Deion Branch. "This time last year we only had about six or seven guys in training camp. This time we've got about 12 guys. Everybody is well rested. It's good."
Nate Burleson gives credit to the team's work ethic this offseason.
"With the guys who have been here for rehab, including myself, we took that serious," Burleson said. "Instead of taking that annual family vacation, we stayed here and worked out. Instead of hanging out an extra day during the week, we took that extra day and rehabbed. Then for the guys who weren't banged up, they attended the offseason workouts so they don't get injured and it's starting to show out here on the field with the attendance we have during training camp."
Branch missed the first three games of the season recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in the team's playoff loss in Green Bay after the 2007 season. After the team's bye in week four, Branch went down with a heel injury and would miss the next four games.
Burleson was the only projected starter able to play in the season opener in Buffalo, but he would suffer an ACL tear in the game and miss the rest of the season.
Bobby Engram missed the first three games with a cracked shoulder bone suffered in the first preseason game in Minnesota.
The team was so desperate it started working out backup quarterback Seneca Wallace at wide receiver only to see him injure his calf in warmups before the Seahawks' week two game with the San Francisco 49ers.
In all, 10 different receivers suited up for Seattle last year.
"It's a physical sport that we play, but we just had a lot of bad luck last year," Branch said. "Hopefully that comes around once every 20 years."
Branch had his reconstructed knee scoped during the offseason as a clean-up procedure that left him limited in mini-camps.
He said he didn't want to make a big deal of his most recent procedure, but he doesn't believe his knee will ever be back to normal. As in, how he felt in 2006 when Seattle traded a first-round draft choice to New England to get the former Super Bowl MVP, and then signed him to a $39 million contract with $13 million guaranteed.
Branch has played in only 33 of a possible 46 games since the trade and has 132 receptions for 1,799 yards and 12 touchdowns in his three seasons with Seattle.
Burleson has been on the sideline for almost an entire year after going down in week one last season.
He was thought to be poised for a breakout season for the Seahawks in 2008 after catching 50 passes for 694 yards and nine touchdowns in 2007. Instead, he had to sit and watch the MASH unit that was the Seahawks struggle to a 4-12 record.
"To run around is a good feeling," Burleson said. "Then to actually be catching balls and making plays is an added bonus. I'm excited just to be out here, to get this feeling, to have the jersey on and to not be looking from the window inside the training room and actually out here on the field."