Notebook: Seahawks Rise Above Injuries

Every NFL team suffers injuries. The Seahawks have suffered more key injuries than most teams, one reason they should be grateful to have a 6-3 record and No. 3 seeding in the NFC playoff race. "This is the most injuries on one side of the ball (offense) that I can remember," coach Mike Holmgren recently said.

The 2002 Seahawks were decimated by injuries. They rallied from a 4-9 start to finish 7-9. Holmgren lost his GM title after that season, but the strong finish helped him keep his job as head coach. Seattle has the best record in the NFC from 2003 to the present. But with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander out, the Seahawks are no longer NFC favorites.

Alexander could return from a broken foot Sunday in San Francisco. Hasselbeck (knee sprain) is probably another week away. It remains unclear whether they'll regain top form upon returning.

"I think that is asking quite a bit from anybody if they haven't practiced or done anything in (several) weeks," Holmgren said. "To come in and shoot lights out right away, I think that is a little bit of an unfair expectation.

"I think it is a little easier with the running back position than the quarterback position. You probably have the same amount of rust, but you're asking the quarterback to do a lot more things."

The Seahawks have also been without 2005 receiving leader Bobby Engram, who remains sidelined by a thyroid condition. Starting tight end Jerramy Stevens missed the first six games with a knee injury. Left guard Floyd Womack missed much of the season's first half, also with a knee injury, while starting right tackle Sean Locklear remains out with a severely sprained ankle.

Things became even more interesting when center Robbie Tobeck missed the most recent game after falling ill hours before kickoff. He remained flat on his back Monday.

"I am very proud of the football team in the last few weeks when we have been kind of holding them together with band-aids, particularly on offense," Holmgren said. "The guys have stepped up and really gave great efforts. We've dinked it around a little bit and haven't been as efficient as I would like, but we managed to scrape out a couple wins.

"That is all good. When we get these guys back, including Bobby Engram, it might come just at the right time."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Seneca Wallace will probably make a fourth consecutive start against the 49ers because starter Matt Hasselbeck isn't all the way back from a sprained knee. Hasselbeck can run, but he can't change direction very well because the knee lacks stability. Wallace has played well during back-to-back victories.

--RB Shaun Alexander will practice Wednesday and make a run at playing against the 49ers on Sunday. The ground game has picked up momentum over the last two weeks, with backup RB Maurice Morris topping 120 yards rushing both times. Alexander won't play Sunday unless his broken foot lets him cut and move effectively in practice.

--RB Maurice Morris aggravated a shoulder injury against the Rams, missing the final few plays. The team expects Morris to play against the 49ers. His workload could diminish if RB Shaun Alexander makes a return from a foot injury. Alexander will try to practice Wednesday.

--TE Itula Mili no longer factors into the offense. Starter Jerramy Stevens is back from a knee injury and the team isn't using many double-tight sets. Stevens caught a 15-yard TD pass against the Rams. He is clearly the first option at tight end.

--TE Jerramy Stevens, embroiled in controversy following his dustup with Raiders DE Tyler Brayton, quietly caught a 15-yard TD pass against the Rams. That was a good sign for Seattle's passing game. Stevens has the athletic ability to stretch defenses when healthy.

--WR Deion Branch absorbed a sack against the Rams when coach Mike Holmgren called a receiver pass in the second half. The Rams did not bite on the trick play. Coach Mike Holmgren rarely runs trick plays and he isn't likely to run this one again after it failed miserably.

--WR Darrell Jackson is already within two touchdowns of a career high. He has seven in nine games, matching his 2004 total. That was the year Jackson set a franchise record with 87 receptions. Jackson had nine touchdowns in 2003.

--WR D.J. Hackett's yards-per-catch took a hit with a late 2-yard reception against the Rams. The catch was important because Seattle was trying to inch forward into position for the winning field goal. Hackett remains a big-play threat even though he catches quite a few shorter passes.

--LB Julian Peterson gets a shot at his old team Sunday when Seattle visits the 49ers. Peterson already has a career-high eight sacks. He didn't get one against the Rams last week, but he did set up a teammate for a sack by flushing Rams QB Marc Bulger.

--SS Jordan Babineaux missed a chance for a game-turning interception that might have led to a touchdown Sunday. Babineaux broke on the ball so hard that he almost overran Marc Bulger's red-zone pass. The ball hit Babineaux's back shoulder as he shot past the receiver. Babineaux needs to make those plays given that Seattle's cornerbacks rarely pick off passes.

--CB Kelly Herndon played one of his finest games Sunday against the Rams. Herndon helped the Seahawks hold Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt without a big play, a huge factor in the Seahawks' 24-22 victory.


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