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Seahawks starters Bernard, Babineaux suspended

SEATTLE -- The Seahawks were absorbed in keeping two kickers plus summer running star Justin Forsett at the bottom of their regular season roster.

The NFL was focused on suspending two of Seattle's players at the top of it.

Starting defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and nickel back Jordan Babineaux were suspended Saturday by the league for next week's season opener at Buffalo. Bernard violated the league's personal conduct policy. He was arrested in April for allegedly hitting his girlfriend in the head at a nightclub and received a two-year continuance of a charge of domestic violence.

Under an order from Seattle Municipal Court, the 300-pound lineman must have no contact with the woman for two years and must attend domestic violence treatment. He also must have no other violations and own no firearms during that period, and must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation.

The former first-round pick is earning $4 million in the final year of a $13 million, three-year contract extension he signed in 2006. So he is out $235,294 for being suspended without pay.

Babineaux was fined a second game check for violating the league's substance abuse policy. At a base salary of $610,000 this season, he will lose $35,882.

Both players will be eligible to rejoin the team Sept. 8, the day after the opener.

Ben Obomanu was placed on injured reserve one day after breaking his clavicle in the preseason finale against Oakland, the latest major injury to the wide receivers.

Seattle already is without Bobby Engram, who set a team record with 94 catches last season but broke his shoulder this month and may be out into October.

Deion Branch, the former Super Bowl MVP, is seven months into rehabilitation from reconstructive knee surgery. He is scheduled to test the knee for the first time at practice this week, but no one would be surprised if he misses the first few games.

As for who will fill the void, Seattle cut camp surprise Michael Bumpus from Washington State. He lost out to Logan Payne, a practice squad player in 2007, and Jordan Kent. Holmgren loves Kent, a former Oregon basketball player, for his sprinter's speed and size (6-foot-4).

Seattle made the rare decision to keep two kickers, at least until Bernard and Babineaux return to the active roster.

Veteran Olindo Mare, a bust with New Orleans last season, apparently will handle kickoffs after booming them out of the end zone throughout the preseason -- something that rarely happened with the now-departed Josh Brown. Rookie draft choice Brandon Coutu was 7-for-7 on field goals and seemingly will continue in that role to begin the season.

"I feel like I did what they brought me in to do," Coutu said Friday night after kicking two field goals against the Raiders.

Then the confident rookie from Georgia laughed and said: "Nobody got by me in the preseason -- I had three tackles. So I did all I could."

Incumbent Ryan Plackemeier won back his punting job after missing much of camp with a torn pectoral muscle and then getting a stern challenge from Reggie Hodges, who was released.

The team also placed veteran defensive lineman Chris Cooper on injured reserve.

It terminated the contracts of veteran defensive tackle Larry Tripplett, the former University of Washington Husky, and wide receiver Bryan Gilmore.

The following long shots to make the team were waived: safety Jamar Adams, quarterback Dalton Bell, defensive tackle Kevin Brown, centers Nick Jones and Ben Claxton, defensive backs Marquis Floyd and Kelin Johnson, fullback David Kirtman, guard Pat Murray, tight end Joe Newton, linebacker Dallas Sartz, wide receiver Trent Shelton, defensive end Nu'u Tafisi and offensive tackle Kyle Williams.

Some of Saturday's cuts, such as Bumpus, will likely resurface on the practice squad that gets finalized by Monday.

Copyright 2008 by the Associated Press

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