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Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Concussion still haunts Huard

Seattle Times staff reporter

KIRKLAND - The Seahawks have subjected Brock Huard to a battery of tests in an attempt to determine their starting quarterback's health. The concussion he suffered two days ago in Oakland erased portions of his short-term memory and temporarily impaired his motor skills.

They had Huard undergo a CT (computerized tomography) scan late Sunday night, a test that uses three-dimensional images to measure the tissue density in his brain.

And finally yesterday morning, they turned to simple mathematics.

"We asked Brock, what's seven times two?" Coach Mike Holmgren said.

Huard, a straight-A student and psychology major at the University of Washington, produced the correct answer, but it took awhile and the delayed response told the Seahawks all they needed to know about his availability this week.

"We sent him home (yesterday)," Holmgren said. "He's still experiencing headaches and that will be on a day-to-day thing until his symptoms get better." Huard will return to Seahawk headquarters today for more tests and evaluation, but as one who would know, Seahawk backup quarterback Jon Kitna gave a far less optimistic prognosis than Holmgren. "I don't know what they decided on him, but I don't see him going this week," said Kitna, who was also knocked from Sunday's game after a hard blow gave him a concussion. "I'm going to prepare like I'm going to be in there this week."

For Kitna, it was his third concussion since entering the NFL in 1996 and his first in two years. His last one occurred during an exhibition game against Dallas in 1998. He suffered his first concussion in 1997.

"Each one is different," he said. "This last one is nothing like those other two. I blacked out one time and this time, there was nothing like that."

The worst of it for Kitna were memory lapses on a few plays during the game and a splitting postgame headache on the plane ride back to Seattle.

He did not need a CT scan, but underwent an array of tests that showed his injury is far less severe than Huard's and that it should not prevent Kitna from regaining the starting position he lost four weeks ago.

"For Brock, everything just shut down, motor skills and everything," Kitna said. "For me, I felt like I'm still moving fine, still throwing, still seeing things well. I actually felt like I was seeing things better. But there was a couple of plays that they were calling that I didn't have a clue."

If Kitna starts, then third-stringer Matt Lytle, a first-year pro who played in his first NFL regular-season game Sunday, will move into a backup position.

The Seahawks are also considering activating quarterback Travis Brown to the 53-man roster. He is a first-year veteran on the practice squad who played in Philadelphia.

Barring a miraculous return, Huard will miss his first game as a pro because of injury and questions remain about his durability.

He's winless in three starts, but far more distressing is the fact that he's finished just one game.

Last week, Huard left in the fourth quarter of a 37-24 loss to Indianapolis because of a knee injury. He missed two days of practice before the Oakland game because of a groin pull.

"That's just bad luck," Holmgren said. "Goodness gracious, yeah. It's tough, bad luck. Once he gets over this, shoot, he might play for a long time without getting hurt again."

Still, after reviewing videotape, Holmgren will concede that the tackle that injured Huard appeared benign.

"It was not a violent play in my opinion," he said. "All of us have seen things were you go `My Goodness!' and it looks like a train wreck. This was not a violent type of play. He was being tackled and he got clubbed across the side of the helmet.

"He got up. Played two more plays in that particular series. You wouldn't say, `Wow! We better check him out after a play like that.' And then he played one more series . . . and it wasn't happening.

"That's when he came off and I asked him: `Are you OK?' and he was saying `I feel . . .' and I said: `That's it. Jon, get ready, and call the doctors.' "

Huard's expected absence this week delays Seattle's search for a long-term solution at quarterback. Kitna will step in, but his stay is likely temporary because he fell out of Holmgren's favor after a 24-17 loss to Kansas City.

"The reason I wanted (Huard) to play in Sunday's game (at Oakland) and not miss it because of the knee and the groin is because he is a work in progress and a young player who I want to find out about," Holmgren said.

"I thought he was off to a very good start. . . . Obviously at the end of the season, we have to make some decisions about that position. We'll see. I'm hoping he doesn't miss a lot of time.

Notes

-- Guard Pete Kendall, who also suffered a concussion Sunday, is expected to continue a streak of 64 consecutive starts.

-- Holmgren hinted that he may again tinker with the starting lineup after Seattle's fourth straight defeat, but declined to be more specific. Already, the Seahawks have fielded five lineups on offense and have made one personnel switch on defense.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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