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Seahawks DT Tubbs back on field in return from debated knee surgery

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Forgive Marcus Tubbs if his knowledge of recent NFL injuries is a little shaky. He's been a bit absorbed in his own lengthy absence.

The Seahawks' No. 1 draft choice from 2004 returned to the field on Monday for the first time since last November. That was when the run-stopping defensive tackle had microfracture surgery on his left knee, a still-debated procedure in which holes are drilled into bone to regenerate cartilage around the knee.

"I haven't heard anybody in football getting it ... I don't know of it," a smiling Tubbs said after his morning practice, which came two weeks before the Seahawks expected him to play in an exhibition game.

The plan is still for Tubbs to practice some this week and next before playing Aug. 25 against Minnesota.

Dr. Kevin Auld, the former Seahawks team physician who left the team in the offseason, performed the surgery on Tubbs. Though it's becoming more common in the NBA, microfracture surgery is not as rare in the NFL as Tubbs thought.

Which could be good news for Tubbs.

Kellen Winslow recently returned to practice with the Cleveland Browns following the procedure. Marcus Stroud, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the Jacksonville Jaguars, is also coming back from it. So is Steve Gleason, a special teams standout with the New Orleans Saints.

Former NFL defensive lineman John Randle had the surgery near the end of his career when he was with the Seahawks. Former Cleveland cornerback Daylon McCutcheon missed all of last season following microfracture surgery on his knee. The Browns cut him in March.

"It's a risky surgery. A lot of people don't like to perform it. But I have full confidence in our doctors. And I think up to this point they've done a great job, along with our training staff," Tubbs said.

The 23rd overall selection three years ago out of Texas has so far failed to seize a full-time starting job in Seattle, mostly because he has missed 14 games over the last two regular seasons.

"But when he's played, he's played well. That's the tough part," Holmgren said.


"My knee is feeling good and I think it's going to be a good year," a trimmer-looking Tubbs said.

"As much as I appreciate and love this game, it makes you hungry for it. To be on (injured reserve) last year and have to sit at home and watch the team go the playoffs ... it hurts inside. It makes me appreciate this day."

Holmgren knows his defense needs a run stopper in the middle. It's why Seattle drafted Brandon Mebane out of California in the third round in April -- and why Holmgren has said Mebane will play this season.

But the coach still sounded cautious on Tubbs' immediate future.

"It's so good to have him back, I can't tell you," Holmgren said. "Now, I just have to keep my fingers crossed that his leg holds up and we do the smart thing as coaches in preparing him, because we need him to play and he wants to play. He has worked very hard to get to this position. ... We have to be careful about pushing him a little too fast."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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