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Tuesday, August 31, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Cutting Woods And Kane Surprises Their Replacements

KIRKLAND - Natu Tuatagaloa didn't believe what he was seeing. He had just put on his football gear and happened to glance toward the locker of his friend, Tony Woods. Woods was packing.

"It was disbelief at first," Tuatagaloa said.

And that's how he found out yesterday that Woods had been cut and that he was now the Seahawks' starting right defensive end.

Kelvin Martin got a similar jolt and promotion when he arrived for work.

Brian Blades quickly took him aside and gave him the news - Tommy Kane had been released.

Last week, Blades, Kane and Martin had talked about how important it was that all three stay healthy this season because they were the veteran trio in the three wide-receiver formation.

Martin said Kane's release "shocked me a great deal."

It also gave Martin what he left Dallas for - a starting position.

"If I would have ended up being the third receiver here returning punts and kickoffs, I could have stayed in Dallas," said Martin, who had been pushing Kane for a starting job.

Kane was gone by mid-morning and his No. 81 given to Michael Bates, one of two rookie wide receivers to make the team.

Kane and Woods won't be re-signed to the team today when the roster can expand from 47 to 53. Six released players who were expected back are running back Rueben Mayes, deep snapper Trey Junkin, quarterback Jeff Graham, wide receiver Robb Thomas, center Grant Feasel and linebacker E.J. Junior.

Graham is expected to be the team's No. 3 quarterback Sunday in San Diego because Dan McGwire is out with a chipped bone in his wrist. Feasel's career is extended because Joe Tofflemire isn't 100 percent after offseason shoulder surgery.

The 47-man roster after yesterday's cuts had 16 new players - all seven draft choices, plus rookie free agent Mack Strong, a utility back, were on it. Four new starters are on offense and two on defense.

The decision to cut Kane, who caught 52 passes in 1990, 50 in 1991 and 27 last year, and keep Doug Thomas invites criticism.

Thomas, the 1991 second-round pick who caught eight passes last year and dropped four, is likely to start Sunday since Blades is considered doubtful because of a hamstring injury.

Even if Blades were healthy, Thomas still would be one of the receivers in the three wideout formation.

Health not a factor

Flores said if the team had not acquired Martin, it probably would have kept Kane, the 29-year-old five-year veteran.

Flores said health concerns about Kane weren't a factor in the cut. Kane missed five games last year with knee and ankle injuries and missed 15 practices and two exhibition games this summer with an injured left Achilles' tendon.

Flores also said salary was not a factor in cutting Woods, who would have made about $750,000 this season.

Woods, who said being cut was "a shock,' and said he thinks his salary is one reason he is looking for a new team.

Flores said Tuatagaloa's improvement was a big reason Woods was released.

"Natu has had the best camp of all the defensive linemen," Flores said.

Tuatagaloa, entering his fifth season, made seven tackles, two sacks and intercepted a pass in exhibition games.

The Seahawks acquired Tuatagaloa last September. after The Cincinnati Bengals relinguished rights to him after he held out the entire summer and the first two games of the regular season.

ROSTERS AND CUTS

A look at the expected 47-man Seahawk roster and final cuts:

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Rick Mirer (first-round rookie), Dan McGwire, Stan Gelbaugh. Released: Jeff Graham # .

Running back: Chris Warren, Jon Vaughn. Released: Rueben Mayes # .

Fullback: John L. Williams, Tracy Johnson, Mack Strong (rookie free agent).

Tight end: Ferrell Edmunds, Paul Green. Released: Trey Junkin # .

Wide receiver: Brian Blades, Kelvin Martin, Doug Thomas, Terrence Warren (fifth-round rookie), Michael Bates. Released: Tommy Kane, Robb Thomas # .

Tackle: Andy Heck, Ray Roberts, Mike Keim. Released: Andrew Dees.

Guard: Darrick Brilz, Bill Hitchcock, Mitch Frerotte, Jeff Blackshear (eighth-round rookie). Released: Theo Adams.

Center: Ray Donaldson, Joe Tofflemire. Released: Grant Feasel # .

DEFENSE

End: Natu Tuatagaloa, Jeff Bryant, Michael McCrary (seventh-round rookie), Antonio Edwards (eighth-round rookie), Michael Sinclair. Released: Tony Woods.

Tackle: Cortez Kennedy, Joe Nash, Tyrone Rodgers.

Outside linebacker: Terry Wooden (has roster exemption), Rufus Porter, Kevin Murphy, Dean Wells (fourth-round rookie). Released: E.J. Junior # , Anthony Davis.

Inside linebacker: Rod Stephens, Bob Spitulski.

Cornerback: Patrick Hunter, Dwayne Harper, Carlton Gray (second-round rookie), James Jefferson. Released: Stacey Hairston.

Free safety: Eugene Robinson, Dave McCloughan. Released: Dedrick Dodge.

Strong safety: Robert Blackmon, Rafael Robinson.

Kicker: John Kasay. Punter: Rick Tuten.

# Expected to be picked up by Seahawks today.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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