The report on WR: 'Great,' 'consistent,' 'playmaker,' 'trouble,' 'dangerous'

By CLARE FARNSWORTH
P-I REPORTER

KIRKLAND -- Call it the game within the game. Or, in this case, the game before the big game.

It's not word, but name, association.

The subject is Torry Holt, the ridiculously productive and remarkably consistent wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams -- the team the Seahawks play Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

What's the first thing that pops into your head when you hear Holt's name?

Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant: "Great receiver."

Rams running back Steven Jackson: "Very consistent."

Seahawks defensive lineman and former Rams teammate Bryce Fisher: "That dude makes plays."

Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson: "Trouble."

Hall of Fame quarterback and Seahawks radio analyst Warren Moon: "Dangerous."


Moon grinned before adding, "And a receiver I would have loved to throw the ball to."

Holt is having a typical season for the 4-1 Rams: 29 receptions, tops among wide receivers in the NFC; 372 receiving yards, fifth in the conference; four touchdown catches, tied for the NFL lead.

This is the same sure-handed, textbook route-runner who has averaged 101 receptions, 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns the past four seasons.

Here's the real catch: Holt is doing almost as much with fewer opportunities.

Under first-year head coach Scott Linehan, the former University of Washington assistant, the Rams have become much more balanced than during the tempestuous coaching tenure of "Mad Mike" Martz.

Through the first five games, quarterback Marc Bulger has thrown 169 passes -- 46 fewer than his five-game total from last season.

But make no mistake, Holt is the most dangerous option in an offense that also includes Bulger, Jackson and fellow wide receivers Isaac Bruce, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald.

Holt also is a more consistent and productive receiver than two who have been generating all the hype -- the Cowboys' Terrell Owens (17 catches for 232 yards and one TD) and the Raiders' Randy Moss (12 for 136 and two TDs).

"Torry puts up big numbers, and he's quiet about it," is the way Jackson put it.

Said Fisher: "The sad thing is that Torry doesn't get the notoriety that the guys who are showboats get. His numbers are better than anybody over the past six years. It's not even close how much better he is than those other guys.

"So we've got a real challenge trying to contain him."

The Seahawks defense had been playing well until its recent four-quarter meltdown against the New York Giants and Chicago Bears that featured 62 offensive points, four touchdown passes and six pass plays of at least 20 yards.

"Other than that, they've played pretty aggressively and done some good things," coach Mike Holmgren said. "But the home run, I mean, shoot, you've got to take care of that."

Now comes Holt, who is more consistent and potentially more dangerous than the Giants' duo of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer and the Bears' tandem of Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian.

Holt's strength starts with his ability to run such precise short and intermediate routes, which opens up the deep ball if defenders get too concerned with containing the shorter stuff.

It's a situation that only amplifies the necessity for Trufant and his mates in the Seahawks secondary to keep everything in front of them.

"It's the old bend but don't break," Trufant said. "You can give up the 4- or 5-yard pass, but don't give up the 40- or 50-yard touchdown."

The secrets to Holt's success are the things most people never see.

The way he prepares on Tuesdays, the players' "day off."

"He's probably getting three hours of work in, between lifting, running, catching balls," Fisher said. "He is an unbelievable worker."

The way he practices during the week.

"I have a chance to see Torry make plays at practice that you guys only have a chance to see on Sunday," Jackson said. "I think the guy is unbelievable. He has a work ethic, and he's so down to earth. He has that great blend."

The way he catches each and every ball that comes his way -- regardless of whether it's in a minicamp practice in May, training camp in August, a midweek workout in October or a postseason game in January.

"I love the way he catches the ball with his hands. Everything is with the hands extended," Moon said. "He's a pro. You can tell he works at it through the week. So you know that's what you're going to get in the game."

Great receiver. Consistent. Playmaker. Trouble. Dangerous.

That's Torry Holt. That's the Seahawks' challenge this week.

"Do Not Let Your Strength Become Your Weakness"