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Seattle receivers Hackett, Burleson competing for a starting role

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Nate Burleson curled himself around the body of linebacker Lofa Tatupu just enough to stick out his left paw and grab the dart from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The one-handed catch drew 'oohs' from teammates.

Before Seahawks' coaches could fully process the play, D.J. Hackett crawled over rookie defensive back Josh Wilson to make an equally dazzling diving grab in the end zone.

It was just Day 2 of training camp, but one of the few decisions the Seahawks face - who starts opposite Deion Branch at wide receiver - could be quite entertaining.

"The receiver thing is going to be interesting, let me just leave it at that," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Branch will start, (Bobby) Engram will play and we will see what goes with the rest."

The competition at receiver between Hackett and Burleson is one in a handful of offensive changes for the Seahawks. There is a new tight end (Marcus Pollard) and possible spots available on the offensive line.

Experience and depth at receiver gave general manager Tim Ruskell the flexibility to move wideout Darrell Jackson right before the draft in April. He was traded to San Francisco for a fourth-round pick.

To accommodate the trade, Branch moved from the split end position he played in his first season with the Seahawks to Jackson's former flanker role. The void is expected to be filled by Burleson or Hackett.

"I don't really come out on the field every day competing against D.J. Hackett. I go out and compete with myself and push myself to be the best receiver on the field," Burleson said. "If I can do that then I know at the least on game day I'm going to get the ball thrown my way because I've been doing it in practice."

Burleson was Seattle's splashy signing in the offseason following its NFC championship and Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh. He was snatched away from Minnesota as the Seahawks' rebuttal to the Vikings signing of offensive guard Steve Hutchinson, a deal almost equal in numbers to Hutchinson and one that brought Burleson back to his hometown.

Seattle hoped Burleson would be a speedy a downfield target they previously lacked. Instead, Burleson's first season had a disappointing start. A thumb injury, the arrival of Branch and Holmgren using fewer four-wide receiver formations left Burleson languishing. He finally found a niche as a kick returner that eventually led to more chances in the passing game.

"The hardest thing for me was dealing with confidence issues about my thumb," Burleson said. "That basically followed me for the whole season."

Hackett also started slowly in his third season with the Seahawks, but by the middle of the year was getting consistent playing time and developed into one of Hasselbeck's favorite options.

Seattle's coaches have always liked Hackett's raw skills and his 6-foot-2, 208-pound frame. But Holmgren admits they thought Hackett was a little too "casual" when he arrived in Seattle.

"He has learned to do things our way and has done a great job that way," Holmgren said.

Hackett hopes to continue impressing Holmgren.

"I just take it as a compliment of what I'm doing on the field," he said. "They see my hard work and the plays I'm making."

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