Notebook: Seahawks' Starters Back Soon?

The Seahawks could have their MVP running back on the field for the first time since mid-September. But their Pro Bowl passer might miss a fourth consecutive game. Shaun Alexander expects to practice Wednesday and possibly play against the 49ers on Sunday. More importantly, the Seahawks plan to have Alexander on the field.

"I plan to have him practice on Wednesday," coach Mike Holmgren confirmed. "That's what my feeling is. And again, we'll have to see and then how he tolerates practice."

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tested his sprained knee Monday. The session didn't go as well as it could have. But Hasselbeck has not been ruled out for the San Francisco game. "Matt worked out this morning and he has pretty good movement," Holmgren said. "There are some limitations in his going around the cones and doing some things.

"But it's Monday and he has a chance to play this week. I can't say for sure that he will but he has a chance. If he can't move, then I'm probably not going to stick him back there."

The team has some latitude with both players because their replacements are playing well. Maurice Morris has rushed for at least 120 yards in each of the last two games, both victories. Seneca Wallace has six touchdowns with two interceptions in three starts, including three touchdowns and no interceptions over the last two games, both victories.

"I've been very pleased with how Seneca has played and how Mo has played," Holmgren said. "They have done a great job for us. But when Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck can play, they are going to play.

"And it has nothing to do with where we are in our division or league or whatever."

The Seahawks have a two-game lead on the Rams and 49ers in the NFC West. They have swept the Rams already.

"I'm really not looking at it that way," Holmgren said. "Now, do I have a little more confidence in our ability to play with those other guys given the last three weeks? The answer to that question is yes.

"I believed they could do it but until they do it, you don't know. I think they've done it."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Nate Burleson's 90-yard punt-return touchdown gave the Seahawks life against the Rams. The touchdown was sweet for Burleson, who has needed time to become assimilated into the Seahawks' offense. "Whatever it is, I'm willing to do," Burleson said. "I pride myself on my versatility."

Burleson's role in the offense has taken a back seat since the team acquired Deion Branch from New England. The team expects Burleson to become more involved late in the season and heading into next season. In the meantime, he's a punt returner and part-time receiver.

"When we signed Deion, Nate came into my office and we had a good talk," Holmgren said. "He said that he understood it, and he was disappointed as I would expect him to be. But he said, 'Anything you need me to do, I'll do.'"

--The Seahawks probably won't call the play that gave the Rams an 89-yard fumble return for a touchdown Sunday. The play left QB Seneca Wallace alone in the backfield. And when the Rams blitzed up the middle, taking away the QB draw, DE Leonard Little tagged Wallace in the back, knocking the ball free.

Instead of going ahead 7-0, the Seahawks were behind 7-0. They had to rally for a 24-22 victory. "It's definitely frustrating," RT Tom Ashworth said. "You're marching down the field and you think everything is going great and then all of a sudden -- boom -- the coin is totally flipped over."

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Shaun Alexander will practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering a broken foot nearly two months ago. The team hopes Alexander can play Sunday against the 49ers.

--QB Matt Hasselbeck will not practice Wednesday. He probably won't play Sunday against the 49ers, although the team has not ruled him out. Hasselbeck ran through some cones Monday, but the session didn't go quite as well as the team had hoped.

--RT Sean Locklear could miss another game. He has a high-ankle sprain that is worse than the team initially thought. Tom Ashworth likely remains the starter another week.

--LB D.D. Lewis' toe is not healing very quickly. He's a candidate for injured reserve unless the toe starts healing faster. The team plans additional tests for this week.

--DT Marcus Tubbs will have surgery on his knee and won't be ready until mini-camps in 2007, coach Mike Holmgren said Monday. Tubbs was placed on injured reserve Saturday.

--C Robbie Tobeck remained sick Monday and might not be ready for practice Wednesday. Chris Spencer played well in Tobeck's place Sunday against the Rams.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. RAMS


PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Seattle tossed two touchdown passes without an interception, but there were other problems. QB Seneca Wallace held the ball too long on a play that led to a sack, forced fumble and 89-yard touchdown return. Wallace lost two fumbles while dropping back to pass. WR Darrell Jackson scored another touchdown, but he also dropped a pass near the sideline.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- RB Maurice Morris topped 120 yards for the second consecutive week. Though no one knew it at the time, Morris had been playing with some nagging injuries that limited his effectiveness. He found ample first-half running room against the Rams' soft defense. C Chris Spencer was very physical in the ground game while filling in for injured veteran starter Robbie Tobeck.

PASS DEFENSE: A -- CB Kelly Herndon played one of his finest games of the season as Seattle held Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce without a touchdown reception. Holt in particular had given Seattle problems over the years. The Pro Bowl wideout averaged only 10.8 yards per catch in rainy conditions against an improved secondary. SS Jordan Babineaux nearly picked off a pass while DT Chuck Darby, starting in place of injured Marcus Tubbs, had two sacks. LB Julian Peterson did not get a sack, but his pressure led to at least one sack by a teammate.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Seahawks kept Rams RB Steven Jackson from racking up huge numbers. Jackson found running room and the Seahawks never really stopped him. But they contained him just enough so that Jackson, who rushed for 98 yards, didn't influence the outcome of the game. Jackson's size was a concern after Chiefs RB Larry Johnson dominated Seattle on the ground late last month.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- The Seahawks can't complain about a 90-yard punt-return touchdown or another game-winning field goal. There were some warts, notably a kickoff out of bounds early in the game, but Seattle could live with those given the big plays. RB Josh Scobey set up the winning field goal with a 33-yard kick return in the final minutes. Seattle special teams played one of its best games when the team needed it most.

COACHING: B --
Special-teams coach Bob Casullo has taken plenty of heat when things didn't go right. He deserves some credit after Seattle's special teams essentially won the game. WR Nate Burleson changed the momentum of the game with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. K Josh Brown made his third game-winning kick of the season. The offensive plan was solid in terms of focusing on the run, but two play calls stood out as questionable. One was an ill-fated receiver pass. The other was an empty-formation play that exposed inexperienced QB Seneca Wallace to a blind-side hit from unblocked Rams DE Leonard Little. Defensively, the staff got more out of its secondary than expected against such a high-powered offense. SS Jordan Babineaux made aggressive plays on the ball. CB Kelly Herndon played an outstanding game. A few blitzes got pressure at key times.


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