GAME SNAPSHOTKICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
TV: FOX, Curt Menefee, Tim Green
SERIES: Second meeting. Panthers lead series 1-0. The only other meeting between these two teams came on Oct. 8, 2000, when the Panthers won 26-3 as Steve Beuerlein threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and Tshimanga Biakabutuka chipped in with 103 yards on the ground.
2004 RANKINGS: Panthers: offense 21st (22nd rush, 19th pass); defense 10th (28th rush, 5th pass). Seahawks: offense 13th (16th rush, 12th pass); defense 8th (8th rush, 12th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Panthers enter with a four-game losing streak while the Seahawks have dropped three straight, and both teams need improved play from their quarterbacks. Panthers QB Jake Delhomme has thrown seven interceptions to two touchdowns the past two games. But he isn't getting enough protection and has to hope RB Brad Hoover can continue to produce in the absence of injured Stephen Davis. Although LB Chad Brown is expected to return, the Seahawks are still very thin at the position and vulnerable to the run. Defensively, the Panthers want to get after Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck, who has been struggling to go through his reads under pressure. To help Hasselbeck, Seattle needs to go more to the running game after RB Shaun Alexander received just 28 combined carries the past two games.
Panthers: Won the only previous meeting, 26-3, in 2000. ... Have had five different starting offensive line combinations in six games. Seahawks: The team's average age spiked from 26.62 years to 26.96 with the addition of WR Jerry Rice, 42, and the release of C Dennis Norman. ... Hasselbeck is 10-1 in his past 11 home starts.
--FB Brad Hoover is likely to carry the load again this week, but probably won't get as many carries as he did last week.
--RB Stephen Davis is listed as out for Sunday's game against Seattle.
--LG Travelle Wharton is expected to start again this week for Carolina.
--RT Todd Fordham is likely to start ahead of Matt Willig again this week.
--DT Omari Jordan could see his first action in two weeks. He has been out with an ankle injury.
--CB Micah Ross was added to the Panthers' roster as a gunner to replace Jarrod Cooper, who was waived.
--FS Jarrod Cooper was waived on Thursday following his latest off-the-field problem.
--QB Matt Hasselbeck returned to practice Thursday and showed no effects from his sore heel. He'll start Sunday.
--RT Chris Terry, slowed by a sore right shoulder, missed practice again Thursday. His availability for Sunday is in doubt. That's bad for Seattle because Terry is needed to block Panthers DE Julius Peppers.
--WR Bobby Engram, slowed by an ankle sprain, missed practice again Thursday. It's looking like Engram will miss the Carolina game. That means more playing time for WR Jerry Rice.
--P Tom Rouen's strained right hamstring remains a problem. He missed practice again Thursday. It's looking like the team will re-sign P Donnie Jones from the practice squad in time for the Carolina game.
--CB Marcus Trufant missed practice again Thursday, but his sore shoulder wasn't expected to keep him out of the lineup Sunday. Trufant did some light shoulder work during practice. Coach Mike Holmgren said earlier in the week that Trufant should be "OK" for the game.
--LB Anthony Simmons remains sidelined by shoulder surgery.
--LB Isaiah Kacyvenski missed practice again Thursday and it's unlikely he'll play against Carolina. A severely sprained ankle is the culprit.
--DE Grant Wistrom remains sidelined by a knee injury.
--WR Koren Robinson keeps practicing and there has been no word from the league about a possible four-game suspension. ESPN and CBS have reported that Robinson faces a likely suspension. Until the league weighs in, Robinson will keep playing. He'll start Sunday against Carolina.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Strike three. You're out.
That's basically what the Carolina Panthers said to troubled safety and special teams star Jarrod Cooper on Thursday, waving the four-year veteran whose NFL career has been marred by off-the-field problems.
Cooper, who has twice previously been arrested on DUI charges, turned himself in to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest on the charges of "allegedly giving false information to a police officer."
After Thursday's practice, Panthers coach John Fox was asked if Cooper's history contributed to his release.
"Every personnel decision we make, we make to make us a better football team," Fox said. "They are all football decisions. We are not really able to comment on that without getting into specifics. We thought it was best for our football team."
The Panthers replaced Cooper on the 53-man roster with Micah Ross, who was waived on Monday by the San Diego Chargers. Ross is expected to replace Cooper this week as a gunner on special teams when the Panthers travel to face the Seattle Seahawks.
Simplifying the offense does not mean resorting to a vanilla attack, Seahawks QB coach Jim Zorn said. Rather, the team hopes to reduce the mental load on players in an effort to improve execution.
"It's not like we're going from 100 plays to 20 plays," Zorn said. "It's just a paring down. We're going to use all of our weapons, we're using the full force of our offense. We're just not doing it out of as many things."
The changes were made after QB Matt Hasselbeck tossed a career-high four interceptions last week in Arizona. But the intention is to help the entire offense, not just the most visible player.
"While Matt is very important to our success and I expect him to play well," coach Mike Holmgren said, "I think we have a good offensive team around him, which makes where we've gone the last couple weeks even more frustrating.
"It's not just Matt. Matt will be fine. Now I've got to get all 11 guys to be fine."
The team listed Hasselbeck as probable on the injury report, but his heel injury was not a factor as the quarterback returned to practice Thursday.
In the Panthers, Hasselbeck faces a team capable of putting pressure on the quarterback. The likely absence of WR Bobby Engram takes away one of Seattle's most reliable options, but the bigger issue could be on the offensive line. RT Chris Terry has yet to practice this week, and Seattle could have problems if backup RT Floyd Womack is forced to take on Panthers DE Julius Peppers.
Meanwhile, Hasselbeck is saying all the right things.
"I feel good about our team, I feel good about where we're at, I feel good about my ability to play in this offense," he said, "but it's going to take a lot of hard work and attention to detail and just improvement from here going forward.
"I have no doubt that's what we'll do, but we just have to work at it."