Rookie Kelly Stouffer was called the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback...


SEATTLE -- Rookie Kelly Stouffer was called the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback of the future when he signed earlier this year, but an injury to starter Dave Krieg has made the future now.

Stouffer's solid performance in a victory over Atlanta in his first NFL start last Sunday has already lessened the loss of Krieg, a nine-year veteran who is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a shoulder separation.


'The future is now for me,' Stouffer said. 'I haven't thought much about Krieg coming back and what that will mean for me. I am just worried about the next few weeks. Whatever happens, this is great experience for me.'

In six quarters, Stouffer has completed 22 of 36 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown. He also has impressed his teammates and coaches by the way he has handled the Seahawks' offense, which struggled over the first four games.


'He has substance to him,' said Steve Moore, Seattle's offensive coordinator. 'The comments I've heard is that he showed good, quiet leadership in the huddle. I feel that filtered down through the team and helped us against Atlanta.'

Moore said he likes Stouffer's attitude.

'I don't know what the future is for this team,' Moore said, 'but I liked the way he competes. If everyone does as well as he did (against Atlanta), we're going to win some games. I'm very excited about him. I like seeing a player grow in large chunks, rather than by inches as is usual.'

'Yeah, I feel I'm the leader out there,' said Stouffer, a native of Rushville, Neb., who tends to be understated except when talking about his football skills. 'I mean, it's my job to get full command of the huddle. I think I got everyone's respect.

'But this team has a lot of veteran leaders, like Steve Largent, Curt Warner and Jacob Green,' he said. 'So I don't feel I have to assume all that much team leadership. I know my role.'

The Seahawks were impressed enough with Stouffer's physical skills to sign him to a four-year, $3.1 million contract after they obtained him in April from the Phoenix Cardinals. Stouffer never reached agreement with the Cardinals, who drafted him out of Colorado State in the first round of the 1987 draft.


'He's tall, he sits in the pocket beautifully and he has a great arm,' Moore said. 'His potential is unlimited. All he needs is experience.'

Stouffer said he tries not to think of his contract or the high expectations when he is on the field.

'I just take things as they come and have fun while I'm doing it,' Stouffer said. 'I try not to confuse things. I approach lifeand my job the same way, and it works for me.'

He feels it is critical that a quarterback not overburden himself mentally.

'I try to learn as fast as I can, but I don't want to overburden myself with the mental aspect of the game,' he said. 'If I do too much thinking, then my physical skills aren't allowed to flow. I've noticed that even some veterans try to figure out what too many people are doing and that leads to trying to do too much.'

Stouffer's biggest asset, he said, 'is the fact I sit firm in the pocket and don't feel that much pressure. I will sit and take my shots. I won't look to get out. I'm staying there until the lights are out, and that helps me as a passer. It keeps my footwork even and lets me throw the ball strong and accurate.'


Stouffer said he is confident the Seahawks can advance to the playoffs with him at quarterback.

'If we play emotional and as hard as we can,' he said, 'we can be a playoff team with me at quarterback.

'If that's the way it works out,' he added after a short pause.

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