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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.
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November 30, 2007

A light moment in practice

Posted by Jose Romero at 1:31 PM

Coach Mike Holmgren can be pretty serious in practice, but even he couldn't help but turn around and laugh at left tackle Walter Jones when Jones started barking during practice.

But let me give you the backstory: Rookie DT Brandon Mebane is often ordered to bark out the word "huddle" by his veteran teammates. So as the defense huddled up Friday -- and countless times before -- someone had Mebane shout the word. Only when he does, it sounds more like a dog or sea lion barking.

Jones was watching and started laughing, then barked back at the defense in mockery of Mebane. Jones happened to be standing by himself, and Holmgren was the closest person in earshot.

Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

McNabb doubtful

Posted by Jose Romero at 11:57 AM

The official injury report for Sunday's Seahawks-Eagles game is out, and Eagles QB Donovan McNabb is doubtful with ankle and thumb injuries after not practicing Friday or any day this week.

That means A.J. Feeley will likely be the Eagles' QB against the Seahawks Sunday. The report listed RB Brian Westbrook, the Eagles' do-everything offensive threat, as probable with a knee injury because he missed Wednesday and Thursday's practices.

For the Seahawks, WR D.J. Hackett is out.

Shaun will start

Posted by Jose Romero at 11:47 AM

Coach Mike Holmgren said Shaun Alexander will start at running back Sunday at Philly. Holmgren spoke to reporters after today's practice.

Alexander was able to practice all week, including today. Holmgren said Alexander is moving well and has no pain. But the coach also said backup Maurice Morris, who didn't practice too much this week because of a hurt ankle, will also play.

"Mo will probably play a little bit more than before Shaun was hurt, and Shaun understands that. He's handling it like a real professional," Holmgren said.

Holmgren said he didn't know if the game would come down to a 50-50 split as far as playing time for the two running backs.

"We're getting back the MVP of the league," Holmgren said, referring to when Alexander was the NFL Most Valuable Player in 2005. "Last year when he was hurt, we struggled just a little bit. He came back and gave us a little bit of a burst at the end there, and I'm hopeful he'll do the same thing this year."

LB Lofa Tatupu, S Mike Green and DT Rocky Bernard all practiced Friday, their first practices of the week. Tatupu (sore ribs/oblique) is expected to play while it might be a game-day decision on Bernard (groin) and Green (knee).

Game balls from last week's win went to Patrick Kerney on defense (his second straight honor), Matt Hasselbeck for offense and Green for special teams.

McNabb doubtful for Sunday's game

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:50 AM

Coach Mike Holmgren said Wednesday the Seahawks were preparing for Donovan McNabb, no matter what coach Andy Reid and others with the Eagles were saying.

Well, Reid officially said McNabb is doubtful on Friday when NFL teams must submit their official injury reports. Sounds like McNabb's ankle is more of an issue than his thumb.

"He's working like crazy," Reid said, according to the Associated Press. "It's his lateral mobility, his ability to push off right or left and keep himself in a safe position. Until he has that, he can't go out there."

Looks like the Seahawks may be facing A.J. Feeley.

McNabb did not practice Friday with the Eagles, meaning he missed a second consecutive week of workouts. He did not play last week because of injuries to his ankle and thumb. Feeley passed for 345 yards against New England last week.

November 29, 2007

Practice attendance

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:30 PM

WR D.J. Hackett is out.

DT Rocky Bernard (groin), S Mike Green (knee), LB Will Herring (hamstring) and LB Lofa Tatupu (oblique) did not practice.

RB Maurice Morris practiced fully, and DE Darryl Tapp is no longer wearing a red jersey denoting no contact.

For Phialdelphia: QB Donovan McNabb, S Quintin Mikell (knee), RB Brian Westbrook (knee) did not practice. DT Brodrick Bunkley (knee/hamstring) was limited in practice.

Canning talk of the time change

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:11 PM

An alarm bell went off in coach Mike Holmgren's head Sunday. Actually, might have been more like an alarm o'clock because he felt his team wasn't primed for the start of Sunday's game in St. Louis when the offense went more than 20 minutes without a first down.

With three games to be played in the Eastern time zone this season, Holmgren sought out an answer. So Holmgren designated someone to look at shifting the Seahawks' weekly schedule up this week.

"Practicing at 8 in the morning, to try and simulate when you'd be playing in the game," Holmgren said.

He even had a schedule printed out. There was a cost to the shift, a domino effect on all the meetings the Seahawks have during the week to review last week's game, to preview this week's game plan, etc. There was also an element of caving.

"For 25 years, I've run the same schedule," Holmgren said.

And Seattle is still running it this week. Holmgren welcome the players to their work week on Wednesday by addressing the fact he had a new schedule for this week, but he tore it up.

"I'm just not going to talk about it anymore," Holmgren said. "You know we have three games on the East Coast out of our last five. You know what it is. This is the last time you're going to hear anything from me about that."

Won't be the last time you'll hear from me on this subject. I'll have a more comprehensive look at the team's performance in East Coast games later this week.

November 28, 2007

Maurice Morris limited at practice

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:31 PM

Running back Maurice Morris participated in practice to a limited extent on Wednesday. He suffered an injury Sunday when he was pulled down by his facemask in St. Louis.

Shaun Alexander returned to practice and said is expecting to be ready to play on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Shaun Alexander expected to practice

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:59 PM

Shaun Alexander will take the first step toward being 100 percent on Wednesday when he practices for the first time in three weeks.

Meanwhile, Maurice Morris is not expected to practice. He suffered an ankle injury when Will Witherspoon pulled him down by his facemask in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game. Morris should be available later this week, Holmgren said.

Holmgren did not provide an answer to the question of how the workload would be divided between Alexander and Morris should both be healthy and active Sunday.

November 27, 2007

The significance of a single yard

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:27 PM

Consider for a moment the difference three feet can make.

That's all that separated the Rams from the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute on Sunday. One yard, one play and one bad snap changed the entire tone of this week for the Seattle Seahawks.

The pivotal of Sunday's game really had very little to do with anything Seattle did. It didn't change the fact the offense went 20 minutes without gaining a first down or that the defense allowed a long first-quarter scoring run for the second consecutive game.

That one play really didn't change a single thing about how the Seahawks played. It fundamentally altered how Seattle is talking about the Seahawks' game, overshadowing all those warts Seattle showed.

An NFL team spends all week preparing for an NFL game. They watch film, they study formations and for three hours on Sunday they propel themselves into an opponent on darn near every play only to have the whole exercise decided because the backup quarterback stepped back from the reserve center too soon, failing to grab the football, and dropping the game right into Seattle's lap.

Better lucky than good, huh?

"It bears out the old adage, you keep working hard, you keep trying and something good is going to happen," coach Mike Holmgren said.

I first covered the Seahawks in 2005 and the Seahawks lost on the road in Week 4 that season in overtime at Washington after Josh Brown's field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter ricocheted off the upright. After that game, Holmgren said something to the effect, "Eventually, we're going to win some of these."

A team that puts itself in position to win is going to end up grabbing a few games it shouldn't necessarily win. Like last year's playoff victory over Dallas. And sometimes it will lose a game it should have. Like Seattle's overtime loss in Baltimore a few years back. Or that game this season in Arizona when the quarterback and running back collided in the backfield and fumbled the ball away just as Seattle seemed poised to kick the game-winning field goal.

Those quirky outcomes carry a lot more importance in the NFL. Lose a fluky game in the NBA and a team has 81 opportunities to make up for it. Baseball teams get even more chances. But an NFL team has 16 games in a season, and in a league in which half of the 32 teams currently have a record from 7-4 to 5-6, a team's playoff possibility may very well come down to the fact that a ball bounced left instead of right.

Take a look at the the Dolphins and the Broncos. Miami has been outscored by 94 points this season and lost six games by a field goal or less. The Broncos have been outscored by 74 yet they're 5-6 and in playoff contention because they've won three games by three points or fewer.

Now, it's not all luck. Coaching and quarterbacks loom large in close games. But there's also a lot of room for just plain old weird coincidence.

The Seahawks now ride a three-game winning streak into December instead of coming off a loss in the first of four road games to conclude the season. There is a sense of relief, a feeling of momentum even, instead of the hand-wringing that would have accompanied a loss to the team Seattle dusted by 27 points in October.

One play. One snap. One good break. That made all the difference on Sunday.

"You're going to play hard and you're going to focus on every play in the game," said safety Brian Russell. "Because you never know which one is going to make the biggest difference in the game. You really don't."

November 26, 2007

Matt Hasselbeck feels better this week

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:18 PM

Matt Hasselbeck was too sore to practice last week, and that was before he was sacked five times by the St. Louis Rams. Figures he'd feel terrible Monday, right?

Actually, he feels quite a bit better, he said.

"I feel pretty good, I feel pretty good," he said. "Not too bad actually. A lot better than I felt last Monday."

Coach Mike Holmgren said he expects Hasselbeck to practice this week, and the quarterback said Monday that his ribs aren't too sore and it's not too big of an issue.

Hasselbeck was ill after the game, which he attributed to exhaustion that led him to get ill.

"Reverse peristalsis I think it's called," Hasselbeck said.

D.J. Hackett out at least two weeks

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:17 PM

Seattle's revolving door at wide receiver took another turn as wide receiver D.J. Hackett will miss at least two weeks after reinjuring the right ankle he hurt in the season opener.

Hackett returned from a high ankle sprain after the Seahawks' bye, and he had more than 100 yards receiving in two of the four games he played before reinjuring the ankle when he was tackled on the sidelines in St. Louis on Sunday.

Seattle has had its starting receiver tandem of Hackett and Deion Branch in the lineup together in only three of the team's 11 games. Branch missed four games with a mid-foot sprain.

Goal-line stands and quarterback pressures

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:41 PM

Patrick Kerney has six sacks in the past two games, and that's moved him to second in the league behind Green Bay's Aaron Kampman. Kerney has 10.5, half a sack fewer than Kampman.

The Seahawks finished the game with four sacks, continuing that trend that applying pressure to the opposing quarterback is the key to their victories.

In seven victories this season, Seattle averaged 4.6 sacks. In four losses, the Seahawks averaged 0.8. The Seahawks failed to get a sack in three different games this season, and they've lost all three. We're going to look at this trend more closely later.

The other thing worth noting is the defense that shows a tendency to bend and not break. Twice St. Louis had a first-and-goal on Sunday, twice the Seahawks kept the Rams from getting into the end zone. The first time, they forced St. Louis to kick a field goal. The second time, a turnover on downs after the fumbled snap doomed St. Louis' final play from scrimmage.

The folks at Pro Football Prospectus have looked at the very idea of a defense that shows bend-but-don't-break tendencies and whether this is a trait that a defense can demonstrate or more a matter of good fortune. That will be an idea worth revisiting this week.

November 25, 2007

How about those 49ers?

Posted by Jose Romero at 6:20 PM

So we were here at the EJD (Edward Jones Dome) writing our stories for tomorrow and Danny O'Neil and I kept glancing up at the Arizona-San Francisco game on the TV above us.

The Cardinals lost 37-31 in overtime to the lowly 49ers when Kurt Warner was sacked and fumbled in the end zone.

I could hear the bubbles and balloons bursting and popping in Phoenix as the Cardinals let a critical game slip away. The city was actually starting to believe in that team, which was kind of a cool story seeing how bad the franchise has been over the years.

But that is great news for the Seahawks, who are now two games up in the NFC West and 4-1 in the division compared to the second-place Cards, 5-6 and 2-2. Today's games and their outcomes were crucial as far as the division race, and the Seahawks have a good advantage with five games left to play including one against Arizona in two weeks at home.

The best the Cardinals could hope for is either a total Seattle collapse, or a tie at the end of the season and then letting the conference tie-breakers decide who wins the West. One of those is head-to-head play (Arizona is 1-0 vs. Seattle) and another is division record.

Mike Holmgren on 4th quarter FG decision

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 6:03 PM

Coach Mike Holmgren opted to try a 52-yard field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter instead of punting the ball away with 2:49 left in the game. Josh Brown missed the field-goal to the right, which gave St. Louis the ball at its own 42.

Holmgren said after the game he considerepunting the ball was a consideration.

"I didn't like our snap necessarily," Holmgren said. "It was a little high, I think that threw off Josh a little bit. He certainly had enough distance and last year we won it with a 54-yarder. And had he made it, it would have been an eight-point game.

"All those things went into that decision, but I did think about punting it briefly."

Seattle beat St. Louis twice last season, both on Brown field goals in the final minute of the game.

There is going to be a lot of discussion about this decision, but I don't know if there's a definitive right answer.

On one hand, the Seahawks are playing a team with its backup quarterback in the game, the Rams haven't scored a point in the second half and it makes all the sense in the world to put as much distance as possible between St. Louis and a touchdown. That means punt.

A couple of things about that. It's still a one-possession game by kicking the field goal. Granted, a field goal guarantees you won't lose on that one possession, but still, St. Louis could tie. Second, what if the punt ends up in the end zone for a touchback? A touchback would mean the coach sacrificed a chance to eliminate the possibility of losing in the fourth quarter for 22 yards of field position?

Finally, there's the player involved. Josh Brown is a kicker the Seahawks regarded highly enough to make their franchise player. He kicked four game-winners last season and St. Louis is one of the very best venues for a kicker. Not only that, he was kicking toward the same goal where he made the 54-yarder to beat St. Louis last year.

In effect, Holmgren sacrified field position for the chance to make it so Seattle couldn't lose on a fourth-quarter touchdown. The total field position sacrificed was between 22 and 41 yards. Sounds like a pretty good exchange to me, and while the risk didn't pay off, it also wasn't like St. Louis ran out of time. They had the ball at the Seattle 6 with 2 minutes with 1:32 remaining in the game and time to move the extra 30 or so yards of field position that Seattle sacrificed because of its field-goal attempt.

Running game thread

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:36 AM

Rams quarterback Marc Bulger has been taken to St. Louis' locker room and was replaced by Gus Frerotte. Bulger's injury was announced as "back soreness." Bulger stayed down after Leroy Hill hit him, forcing a fumble on third down on the Rams' first possession, but stayed in the game. His next pass -- an attempted screen -- resulted in an interception after the ball was deflected.

Seattle has not earned a first down in its first three possessions. They've given up two sacks, been penalized twice for false starts, given up a safety and missed a field goal.

Isaac Bruce's 15-yard touchdown catch with 29 seconds left in the first quarter was the first touchdown pass allowed by Seattle in five games.

Update at 10:58 a.m.: Bulger is diagnosed with a concussion, and he is out of the game. It's the third time the Seahawks knocked a starting quarterback out of a game. Jeff Garcia missed about a quarter of the season-opener in Seattle, but returned in the final period. Alex Smith was injured on the 49ers first series in San Francisco in September and now Bulger.

Update at 11:04 a.m.: Cornerback Kelly Jennings suffered a shin injury. His return was announced as questionable. Josh Wilson replaced him at the outside corner in the Seahawks nickel package this past possession.

Update 11:19 a.m.: Jennings returned in the second quarter.

Halftime summary: Barking could be heard near the field the final 2 minutes of the first half. A little whining maybe, too. And after the Seahawks offense looked like a real mutt in the first half, the halftime show was put on by frisbee-chasing dogs. Needless to say, the dogs had more catches than the Seahawks did in the first half when Seattle's only points were scored on a kickoff return.

St. Louis is blitzing the Seahawks. Hard. There are times the Rams sent everyone in the box, and Seattle hasn't had any answer except for Hasselbeck to chuck the ball for an incompletion and try and duck away.

Update: WR D.J. Hackett was hurt on the third-and-19 play on Seattle's third-quarter possession. He caught a pass and was driven out of bounds. He stayed down on the sidelines. Trainers helped him up. He put no weight on his right leg, and trainers appeared to be working on his ankle on the sidelines.

Update at 12:36: Steven Jackson took a blow to the head and is being evaluated.

Couple of post-game notes: Players like to say call football a game of inches. Well in this case, those inches were the gap between Gus Frerotte's hands and his center's ample posterior that resulted in a fumbled exchange on the most important snap of the game.

Seattle was the beneficiary of that, winning on the road for the second time this season. No apologies came from the locker room, but there was plenty of recognition that Seattle got the benefit of some good fortune.

Dome-field advantage

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 9:01 AM

The Rams are winless at home this season, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a story on Sunday morning about the recent success at home -- or more accurately, the recent lack of success.

Linebacker Chris Draft appealed to the crowd that will be attending the game, asking for three false-start penalties, continuing a compliment to Seattle's crowd:

Seattle, you know, they've got their 12th Man. Last time we went there, they had Ichiro with a pink scarf -- what was it, purple? -- getting the crowd up?

Here's a link to the story right here.

D.J. Hackett playing, Shaun Alexander among inactives

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:51 AM

Seattle's inactive lists for Sunday's game against the Rams was just released. The eight Seahawks who will be inactive: RB Shaun Alexander, DE Jason Babin, LB Will Herring, G Mansfield Wrotto, T Ray Willis, WR Courtney Taylor, DT Howard Green and QB Charlie Frye, who will be in uniform as the third quarterback.

Hackett was listed as questionable on Friday, but is active and expected to start.

St. Louis' inactive list: WR Brandon Williams, LB Tim McCarigle, C Nick Leckey, C Dustin Fry, T Mark LeVoir, TE Dominique Byrd, DE Trevor Johnson and WR Marques Hagans will serve as the emergency quarterback.

The Rams also have three lineup changes along the offensive line. C Brett Romberg will start at center, not Andy McCollum. G Todd Steussie will start at right guard, not Nick Leckey. Tackle Rob Petitti will start at right tackle, not Brandon Gorin.

November 23, 2007

Friday at practice..and injury report

Posted by Jose Romero at 2:34 PM

Official NFL injury report for Seahawks-Rams


RB Shaun Alexander (knee) is out. S Mike Green (knee), WR D.J. Hackett (knee), QB Matt Hasselbeck (ribs) and LB Will Herring (hamstring) are questionable. LT Walter Jones (shoulder) and ST Rocky Bernard (groin) are probable.

All but Alexander and Herring practiced Friday. Hackett looked a little gimpy for a moment on his leg but finished. Hasselbeck, Hackett, Jones and Bernard practiced for the first time this week. Hasselbeck took snaps with the starters and threw in practice, which he wasn't expected to do at all this week.

"Yesterday it was feeling pretty good and it felt even better today," Hasselbeck said of his sore ribs.


DE James Hall (ankle) is questionable. T Alex Barron (neck), C Brett Romberg (ankle) and LB Will Witherspoon (foot) are probable.

November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving practice report

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:56 PM

Running back Shaun Alexander did not practice again on Thursday. He came out to the field to watch the final few minutes of the workout after receiving treatment. While the team won't make a final pronouncement on his playing status until Friday, coach Mike Holmgren repeated on Wednesday Alexander won't play until he is healthy enough to practice a full week. Expect Maurice Morris to start his third consecutive game.

Matt Hasselbeck also did not practice, but that's not surprising. That's what Holmgren said would happen. We'll see if he throws some on the side on Friday in the team's final practice before leaving for St. Louis.

Backup safety Mike Green did not practice because of soreness in his knee. S C.J. Wallace, limited in practice on Wednesday, completed the full practice on Thursday. LB Will Herring was limited in practice on Wednesday and he only watched Thursday's workout.

Right guard Chris Gray returned to practice on Thursday so it appears he got a veteran's day off on Wednesday.

The most noteable continued absence is D.J. Hackett, who missed his second consecutive practice. He said Wednesday he had swelling in his knee, but the fact that he was available for interviews on Wednesday, and he was out on the field to take part in catching drills with the rest of the receivers. Combine that with the fact Holmgren hasn't mentioned Hackett as a player not expected to be available, and it doesn't seem like Hackett's status for Sunday's game is in doubt. But he hasn't practiced in two days, and his availability will be something that Holmgren will be asked about on Friday after practice.

Not practicing for Seattle: T Walter Jones (shoulder), LB Will Herring (knee), WR D.J. Hackett (knee), DT Rocky Bernard (groin), RB Shaun Alexander (knee) and QB Matt Hasselbeck (ribs), S Mike Green (knee).

Not practicing for St. Louis: DE James Hall (ankle).

Limited practice for St. Louis: T Alex Barron (neck).

WR Torry Holt and C Brett Romberg both practiced on Thursday. Holt sat out practice on Wednesday. His knee has been sore much of this season.

November 21, 2007

Practice attendance

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:17 PM

A few Seahawks missed practiced on Wednesday: QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander, LT Walter Jones, RG Chris Gray, WR D.J. Hackett, DT Rocky Bernard and LB Will Herring.

Hackett did not indicate the injury was serious, saying it's just a little swelling in his knee. Gray and Jones were watching practice. Ray Willis played guard in Gray's absence.

DE Darryl Tapp practiced in a red jersey, meaning no contact. He suffered a neck stinger last week in practice and also has a broken hand.

Update at 4:18 p.m.: The team just released the official practice attendance.

Did not practice: RB Shaun Alexander (knee), DT Rocky Bernard (groin), G Chris Gray (team decision), WR D.J. Hackett (knee), QB Matt Hasselbeck (ribs) and T Walter Jones (shoulder).

Limited participation: LB Will Herring (hamstring) and S C.J. Wallace (knee).

For the Rams:

Did not practice: T Alex Barron (neck), DE James Hall (ankle) and WR Torry Holt (knee).

Limited participation: C Brett Romberg (ankle).

Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck not practicing

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:37 PM

Coach Mike Holmgren said the team is getting healthier. Linebacker Will Herring may be back at practice. We'll see if Darryl Tapp is out there.

Two guys not expected to practice are Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck. Alexander may do some running drills on Wednesday, but he's not expected to be part of the team's practice, which would mean he'll miss his third consecutive game. Holmgren previously said Alexander won't return until he's on the field for a whole week of practice and his knee is entirely healthy.

Hasselbeck will be in the training room for part of practice and may come out to watch some of practice. Holmgren said the hope is Hasselbeck will be able to throw on the side later in the week.

Holmgren said no one is exactly certain when Hasselbeck was injured on Sunday against the Bears. Holmgren initially thought an opponent hit Hasselbeck, but Wednesday he said it was possible Hasselbeck suffered the injury when he twisted awkwardly and was bent.

"He started grabbing it early of the game," Holmgren said. "But he doesn't remember necessarily. I thought it was when he got hit once. He's sore, I know that much."

Jackson turns down no action

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:38 AM

Shaun Alexander and Steven Jackson are two of the eight different running backs to rush for more than 1,500 yards at least once in the past two seasons.

Each has been hurt this season. Both have experienced declines in their rushing totals. Jackson was asked why that might be on Wednesday.

"You get a lot of attention," Jackson said. "You require a defensive game plan around you to stop that person. That's why young guys, or guys that have not had such the marquee name, they pop up all over the place because a defensive coordinator may not pay that much attention as [they would] to a Shaun Alexander."

But the similarities between Jackson and Alexander stop with their success. Jackson is the kind of back who doesn't avoid hits nearly so much as he seeks them out.

"I don't turn down no hits over here," Jackson said. "We don't do that over here. The moment I do is the moment I stop playing."

Does he ever worry about that affecting his longevity?

"The life span of a running back is four years," Jackson said. "I hear a lot of veteran guys like Stephen Davis, if you make four, you make four you make eight."

Players Past 2 seasons   This season
  Avg. carry Avg. game   Avg. carry Avg. game
Larry Johnson 4.7 110.6   3.5 69.9
Tiki Barber 5.1 110.1   Retired  
LaDainian Tomlinson 4.8 102.4   4.2 81.4
Shaun Alexander 4.5 106.8   3.3 61.5
Edgerrin James 3.8 86   3.6 73
Steven Jackson 4.3 83   3.6 73.7
Frank Gore 5.2 76.8   3.9 59.9
Clinton Portis 4.3 85   42.1 85.1
November 20, 2007

Matty's got his gun

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:29 PM

Coach Mike Holmgren didn't quite see the Seahawks' first shotgun snap on Monday evening against San Francisco. He saw Matt Hasselbeck bend down to scoop up the ball, but he had no idea center Chris Spencer hiked him a ground ball.

"I didn't really see what happened until I looked at the film the next day," Holmgren said.

Too late then to do anything but laugh over a formation that has become an increasingly large component in the Seahawks offense. Seattle ran 17 plays from the shotgun formation against Chicago on Sunday. The Seahawks ran 16 plays from the shotgun against the 49ers the game before that.

Holmgren said Monday the Seahawks don't have any plays designed specifically for the shotgun. That formation is simply an option Hasselbeck has, one the Seahawks are using more frequently to combat a blitzing style teams have increasingly used against them.

The advantage for the quarterback is clear. He has a better view of where the rush is coming from. The disadvantage -- and the reason the shotgun was not previously used much in Holmgren's offense -- is one of timing.

"The timing of the routes and the quarterback dropping is rather predictable and it works," Holmgren said. "The system is built on that."

The patterns are timed so the quarterback can pass at the moment he completes his drop in the pocket, whether that's a five-step or a seven-step drop. In effect, the quarterback's dropback serves as a timing mechanism and he doesn't have to rely on an internal clock or count alligators in his head.

That's the tradeoff with the shotgun formation. The quarterback gets the ball in his hands with an eye on the defense, but now his own sense of timing must be sharper. There's not dropback to help him time it.

And after two games of using the dropback, I thought it would be worth it to breakdown Hasselbeck's performance based on the shotgun:

vs. San Francisco
Formation Cmp Att Yds TD INT Sacks QB rating
Shotgun 9 12 78 0 0 1 91.7
Regular 18 28 200 2 1 0 94.4
vs. Chicago
Formation Cmp Att Yds TD INT Sacks QB rating
Shotgun 11 18 127 0 0 1 92.4
Regular 19 26 210 2 0 1 122.3

Now quarterback rating is hardly a perfect measurement for the quarterback's effectiveness, but it is telling the offensive performance is not markedly better in the shotgun. In fact, it's a little bit worse in terms of productivity and sacks. There are three plays the Seahawks ran the shotgun for not reflected in the chart. One shotgun play against San Francisco was nullified by a penalty and two others resulted in scrambles by Hasselbeck.

November 19, 2007

Hasselbeck not expected to practice this week

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:17 PM

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is not expected to practice much this week, coach Mike Holmgren said Monday.

"He's real sore," Holmgren said. "He had ice all over his body when I went down there this morning."

Holmgren said Hasselbeck will be available for Sunday's game in St. Louis, and he hopes Hasselbeck will be able to throw some balls toward the end of the week.

"What he has to do is prepare himself to play without getting the practice time," Holmgren said.

Hasselbeck suffered a strained oblique against the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 21, but Holmgren said Hasselbeck's soreness resulted from a hit he took on Sunday and not an aggravation of the previous injury.

"He got a shot in the ribs," Holmgren said. "It was a pretty good bang in there. But he'll play."

Holmgren also said Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, Darryl Tapp and Rocky Bernard are not expected to practice much on Wednesday. Holmgren again reiterated Alexander will not play in a game until he has a full week of practice, but he held off on declaring Alexander out, saying that while Alexander isn't expected to practice Wednesday, there is no definitive determination of that.

Holmgren said Alexander did not get approval from the medical staff to play without the cast on his left wrist, however the cast may be smaller when he does return.

To be sure? No. The QB was sure.

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:18 AM

My assessment going into Sunday's game was the outcome would depend largely upon Rex Grossman. He's a short guy with a big arm and a very strong tendency to throw long. He can be very good at that. The Seahawks know. Grossman completed three passes to Bernard Berrian of 40 yards or more in the two games last season. He can also come completely undone and look very much like he's just throwing the ball up for grabs.

So I expected Grossman's performance would decide the game. He would either be very good -- like he was against Seattle in Week 4 last season -- or he would be awful. Turned out he was simply very, very efficient. He showed a willingness to throw the checkdowns. He showed great touch on that pass Bernard Berrian dove to catch in the fourth quarter. He was never intercepted.

And still, Chicago lost a game that was a much more entertaining feature -- even at its matinee starting time -- than the Patriots' romp over the Bills. Why did Seattle win?

Because quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was better.

Most NFL games are decided by who makes more mistakes. Sunday's game was decided by the quarterback who made more plays. Grossman and Hasselbeck had one turnover apiece, each stripped of a ball on a sack.

Those turnovers didn't make the difference, though. Rather it was the throws Hasselbeck made. The scrambling, sidearm fling to Nate Burleson in the end zone. The perfect placement on that throw to D.J. Hackett for a 59-yard completion after Hackett beat the opponent's jam at the line. And in my opinion, Hasselbeck's best throw of the game was one that resulted in an incompletion when he zinged a pass that Hackett should have caught in the end zone at the end of the second quarter. Now, Hackett leapt, and Hasselbeck put some heat behind that throw. It wasn't an easy catch, but it's a catch he should have made.

Here's Steve Kelley's column from Sunday's game, which takes a look at Hasselbeck's third 300-yard passing performance in his past five games.

The view from Chicago was quite a bit different. The Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Marriotti wrote someone must tell Rex Grossman it's over for the Bears this year.

But as the Sun-Times reporter Mike Mulligan wrote, this loss wasn't due to Rex Grossman.

The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh begins his assessment with a great phrase:

Like the reputation for being a turnover machine that followed him to the Pacific Northwest, Rex Grossman just couldn't outrun Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney.

Grossman's mistakes didn't really unplug the Bears in this game, though. It's just he didn't make as many big plays as his counterpart in Seattle's offense.

The Seahawks players have the day off, but coach Mike Holmgren will hold his usual day-after press conference at the team's headquarters at 2:15 p.m. I'll post an update after Holmgren finishes.

November 18, 2007

Sunday night retrospective

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 8:36 PM

The Seahawks didn't need to rely upon memory to account for their shortcomings early in Sunday's game.

They had a picture that the defense looked at on the sidelines. Actually, they had a few to choose from.

Freeze-frame shots of the alignments. Images that showed the position of Seattle's defense during Cedric Benson's 43-yard run on Chicago's second play of the game. Benson ran for 20 yards the next time he touched the ball so the Seahawks saw pictures of that, too.

That gave a graphic demonstration to just where Seattle's assignments broke down.

"When you've got eight in the box and a guy breaks free, you've obviously got a mistake in the gaps," safety Brian Russell said.

Gap fits are the most common explanation for any defense when it gives up rushing yardage. Not the fact that the opposing offensive line pushed them around. Not an opposing back so nimble he could avoid raindrops.

Gap fits. Gap discipline. That's what defensive players always talk about. Each player has a responsibility to occupy a certain space on the field. To plug that gap and not necessarily make the tackle but occupy that space so the back can't go through there.

Most of the time, citing the gap fits is a way to address the problem without singling any player out or admitting to too great a shortcoming. Gap fits implies the problem isn't ability, but discipline.

But Sunday's game really was a matter of gap discipline. The early breakdowns were mental, not physical. How else can you explain the fact that Seattle's defense stiffened so significantly after those two early runs.

Seattle gave up 63 yards rushing on the first two carries of the game and allowed 44 yards rushing on the next 20. The Bears didn't have a double-digit rushing play after Benson's first two runs. Only two runs gained more than 5 yards after those first 63 yards.

So what happened those first two plays?

"We just didn't execute," defensive end Patrick Kerney said. "That's how precise this game is. You have to execute every down."

Usually, when NFL players start talking about all the little things that make the difference it's when a big shortcoming has shown up. In this case, the Seahawks had the same players, same coaches and same game plan throughout Sunday's game against Chicago. The execution and discipline is what changed after those first two runs.

"I'm proud of the way we fought," linebacker Lofa Tatupu said.

The defense has been hot or cold so much of this season. One game it's great, the next not so much. On Sunday against Chicago, the Seahawks showed they have an ability to make adjustments over the course of a game.

One final note on the pass rush: The Seahawks sacked Rex Grossman five times in the second half after failing to get him down in the first half. Some of that pressure was the product of a situation. Once the Bears trailed in the fourth quarter, they had to put the ball in the air. The Bears rushed the ball twice in the fourth quarter, both scrambles by Grossman. The fact Seattle sacked him four times in the period spoke to the fact the Seahawks knew he was going to be dropping back to throw.

Some postgame thoughts

Posted by Jose Romero at 8:24 PM

Good win for the Seahawks. Looks like the players will be given a victory Monday, meaning they will get Monday off, after their victory. It seems fitting. There will be some soreness for some guys for sure, especially Matt Hasselbeck, Rocky Bernard and Kelly Jennings.

I asked Mike Holmgren if Sunday's game felt anything like the Seahawks' home loss to New Orleans earlier this season, when the Saints jumped out to an early lead and the Seahawks had to rally, but came up short in a 28-17 loss.

This time, the Seahawks dug themselves a 10-0 hole in the first quarter, but came back to win.

"It flashed through my mind," Holmgren said. "We couldn't start a game any poorer in both situations. I think our team right now really, though, is at a point where we are better able to deal with that. I don't think it is a good way to start, and I hope we don't do it any more. And you almost can't pull it off if you're on the road. But at home, our fans stayed with us, bless their hearts, and they made it very difficult the whole game for the Bears. I thought about it just for a second there, yes."

Some other notes, courtesy of the Seahawks media relations staff:
-The Seahawks are now the NFL defensive leaders in forced three-and-outs with 39.
-The Seahawks are tied with Detroit for most forced fumbles with 16.
-The Seahawks are second in the NFL in sacks with 31. The New York Giants have 34.

Game thread

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:26 PM

Cedric Benson ran 43 yards for a touchdowns on Chicago's second offensive play from scrimmage, the longest touchdown the Seahawks allowed this season. The previous longest was a 35-yard pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh of Cincinnati. The longest run from scrimmage allowed by Seattle this season was a 45-yard run by Pittsburgh's Najeh Davenport.

Update at 1:55: First quarter just finished and the Seahawks have the ball, trailing by one missed field goal. The Seahawks outgained the Bears 132-111 in the first period. More than half of Chicago's yardage came on Cedric Benson's first two carries of the game. He gained 63 yards on those two plays.

Seattle DT Rocky Bernard suffered a concussion during Chicago's last possession after it appeared he collided with Julian Peterson as the two arrived at quarterback Rex Grossman.

Update at 2:16: Bernard returned for the Seahawks in the second quarter.

Halftime summary: If Rex Grossman played the Seahawks every game, he might be a Hall of Fame candidate instead of someone who's in and out of a starting job and now back in again. He completed 12 of 16 passes in the first half, none longer than 19 yards but most importantly for Chicago nothing that was intercepted.

Benson gained 63 yards his first two carries, but the Bears rushed for only 20 more yards the rest of the half.

D.J. Hackett caught five passes, but it was the one that went off his hands that forced Seattle to settle for a field goal in the final minute of the period.

Hasselbeck reached for his back after his 5-yard scramble. Could be that he aggravated the strained oblique he suffered against St. Louis.

Maurice Morris rushed for 55 yards in the first half and scored on a 19-yard touchdown run. Seattle scored touchdowns on both its red-zone possessions, continuing its trend of being more effective at that end of the field.

Third-quarter update: CB Kelly Jennings has a right knee sprain, his return questionable. He was taken into the locker room. Jennings came up limping when he and safety Deon Grant converged on Bernard Berrian on a third-quarter incompletion.

CB Jordan Babineaux replaced Jennings at corner.

Update at 4:01 p.m.: Jennings returned to the game with 8:08 left in the fourth quarter.

Game wrap-up: The Seahawks pass pressure came to bear in the second half when Seattle took the lead, forcing the Bears to take to the air. Seattle had no sacks in the first half, five in the second, including three by Patrick Kerney.

The defense showed its resiliency in this game, giving up 63 yards on the Bears' first two rushes of the game and only 44 yards rushing the rest of the game.

This was Seattle's strongest victory of the year. The Seahawks trailed by 10 to a team with a quality defense and worked their way back with a quarterback making strong decisions and a defense that didn't give up a touchdown int he second half.

I'll check back later with audio files and I'll also have a post-game analysis that should be online by about 9:30.

Deion Branch active, Nathan Vasher out

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:21 PM

Deion Branch is active and will play in today's game, his first back since suffering a mid-foot sprain in Pittsburgh in October.

The Bears will be missing starting cornerback Nathan Vasher, who was limited in practice this week. Trumaine McBride will start in Vasher's absence.

Seahawks other inactive players: RB Shaun Alexander, S C.J. Wallace, LB Will Herring, G Mansfield Wrotto, T Ray Willis, WR Courtney Taylor and DE Baraka Atkins. QB Charlie Frye is inactive, but in uniform as the emergency quarterback.

Bears inactive list: WR Mark Bradley, CB Nathan Vasher, FB Lousaka Polite, S Josh Gattis, LB Darrell McClover, G Josh Beekman, WR Mike Hass and QB Brian Griese, who is the emergency quarterback.

Griese was Chicago's starter until suffering a shoulder injury last week. Kyle Orton will be Chicago's backup behind starter Rex Grossman on Sunday in Seattle.

November 16, 2007

Official injury report

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:38 PM


Out: LB Will Herring and S C.J. Wallace.

Questionable: RB Shaun Alexander (knee), DE Baraka Atkins* (ankle), WR Deion Branch* (foot), LB Leroy Hill* (hamstring), T Walter Jones (shoulder), DE Darryl Tapp (shoulder) and T Ray Willis* (knee).
* - Indicates player participated in full practice on Friday.

Probable: DT Rocky Bernard (groin).


Questionable: DT Tommie Harris (knee) and CB Nathan Vasher (groin). Harris did not practice Friday and Vasher was limited in practice.

Probable: QB Brian Griese (shoulder) and S Brandon McGowan (shoulder). Both completed all of Friday's practice.

Shaun Alexander, expected to be out

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 2:15 PM

By Danny O'Neil

KIRKLAND -- Running back Shaun Alexander is not expected to play on Sunday, missing his second consecutive game because of a knee injury.

Coach Mike Holmgren said Friday he spoke with Alexander earlier in the week and said his running back won't be back in the lineup until he has a full week of normal practices under his belt.

"If you're worried about an injury or some sort and you can't make your cuts, you really are open to more injury," Holmgren said. "So I'm not going to put him on the field until he can do what he does."

Maurice Morris will start his second consecutive game. He gained 87 yards on Monday against San Francisco and averaged a little more than 3 yards per carry.

Holmgren said he spoke with Alexander this week to explain his rationale.

"He appreciated that," Holmgren said. "We had a good talk. That's where it sits."

Alexander did not miss a game because of injury in his first six seasons in the NFL. He missed six games last season with a fractured bone in his foot. He suffered a sprained knee in Cleveland and could not finish that game.

Friday practice report

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:43 PM

DE Darryl Tapp did not practice on Friday. He suffered what coach Mike Holmgren characterized as a neck stinger on Thursday. He got the day off, and Holmgren said he will be OK to play on Sunday.

LB Leroy Hill practiced on Friday. He injured his hamstring in Cleveland two weeks ago. He rotated in during the team session.

S C.J. Wallace did not practice, which was the case all week. LT Walter Jones did not practice, and has been sore this week, Holmgren said, but he will play on Sunday. RB Shaun Alexander did not practice and is not expected to play on Sunday.

Holmgren said the availability of WR Deion Branch and Hill still has not been decided for certain. Branch has practiced all of this week.

November 15, 2007

Practice report

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:28 PM

Shaun Alexander was on the practice field in sweats, but did not practice. That's not a surprise. Coach Mike Holmgren said he doesn't expect Alexander to practice until Friday when the team announces status of injured players.

Leroy Hill practiced some, but was limited in team practice.

C.J. Wallace, Will Herring, Walter Jones and Rocky Bernard did not practice for the Seahawks on Friday.

DE Darryl Tapp was limited with shoulder soreness, as was DE Baraka Atkins (ankle).

For the Bears, DT Tommie Harris did not practice due to knee pain, and QB Brian Griese (shoulder), LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (foot), S Brandon McGowan (elbow), T Fred Miller (ankle), CB Nathan Vasher (groin) and DT Darwin Walker (knee) were limited Thursday.

Update at 4:21 p.m. Yes, Deion Branch did practice. I should have included that in the earlier update.

Not-so-special teams

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:02 AM

Nate Burleson returned two punts more than 90 yards for touchdowns in his 25 games as a Seahawk.

Don't expect any more. At least not if coach Mike Holmgren has anything to say about it.

"You have a rule," coach Mike Holmgren said. "Don't field a punt inside the 10-yard line."

Burleson broke that rule in Cleveland and then broke off a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Monday against San Francisco, Burleson fair caught a punt at his own 6 in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Burleson didn't come forward to catch a ball that first landed beyond the 20 and it was downed at the Seattle 6.

Holmgren not only compared the situation to instructions he gives to a quarterback, he then play-acted some dialogue to make it even funnier.

"If you see this coverage, I want you to throw the ball there," Holmgren said, pointing to his right. "And he throws the ball there." Holmgren pointed to his left.

That merits a reminder.

"Now maybe I said it wrong," Holmgren said. "You see that coverage I want the ball there."

Again Holmgren pointed to his right.

"And he throws it there," Holmgren continued, now pointing to his left. "Now, you've got to grab them by the throat. You really do."

Either that was a metaphor or there were some players in distinct danger of being throttled as the Seahawks began preparations for Chicago on Wednesday. And it wasn't just Burleson. There were plenty of errors on that side of the ball. Tight end Will Heller committed a holding penalty that nullified one made field goal. Chris Spencer committed a false start that cost the Seahawks another three points.

And then there was Burleson's "Adventures in Punt Returning."

"You can say what you want about aggression and the want to and it's exciting, but no," Holmgren said. "No. It's like parents and children, you know. I'm the adult, you're the kid, these are my rules. Do it that way."

No stretch to think about Holmgren as the iron-fisted patriarch of the Seahawks house.

November 14, 2007

Deion Branch practices

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:22 PM

Wide receiver Deion Branch practiced the entire workout on Wednesday. He missed the previous four games after suffering a mid-foot sprain in Pittsburgh on Oct. 7.

Practice preview

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:52 PM

Coach Mike Holmgren just finished his Wednesday press conference. Starters Shaun Alexander and Leroy Hill aren't expected to practice until Friday. Alexander is coming back from a knee injury, Hill a hamstring. I wouldn't expect any definitive prognosis on their availability until the game on Sunday.

Wide receiver Deion Branch is expected to practice on Wednesday. We'll see how he looks.

The question hanging over personnel matters in the foreseeable future will be the distribution of plays between Alexander and Maurice Morris. That's something that Holmgren said he hasn't had to answer yet so he hasn't quite figured out how he will disbtribute the ball once Alexander is healthy again. Holmgren said first thing is first, and Alexander has to get healthy.

Bears new starter isn't gross, man. It's Grossman.

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:51 PM

So says Len Pasquarelli of He reports Rex Grossman will be the Bears starting quarterback. You can read the story right here.

QB or not QB? That is still Chicago's question

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:51 AM

Bears coach Lovie Smith is a friendly fellow. That just doesn't mean he's necessarily forthcoming especially when it comes to who's going to start under center for him on Sunday here in Seattle.

Brian Griese? The guy who replaced Rex Grossman earlier this season, but hurt his left shoulder during Sunday's game and couldn't finish. Maybe. Grossman? The guy who finished the game and threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian. Maybe.

You could listen to Smith's answer right here on an mp3 file until it came down to comply with NFL rules.

So is he looking for a competitive edge, keeping the Seahawks guessing right up until Sunday?

"We're not really looking at it that way," Smith said. "We practice today. There's no reason to announce any of those things. We're just letting it play out. Brian was injured in the game, and Rex finished the football. There's no reason to go into things like that.

"We'll just take it as it goes."

Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times gave an excellent assessment of Grossman, his demotion this season and Sunday's re-emergence against the Raiders.

November 13, 2007

Griese or Grossman

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:20 PM

Chicago is asking the same question the Seahawks might be wondering all week. Namely, who's going to start at quarterback for the Bears this Sunday.

Brian Griese took over as the starting quarterback earlier this season, replacing Rex Grossman. Then last week, Grossman's repetitions in practice began to increase, he was called upon after Griese suffered an injured left shoulder on Sunday and Grossman threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian against the Raiders.

Who's going to start? Coach Lovie Smith wouldn't say on Monday.

The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh took a look at the quarterback question in Tuesday's paper.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Jay Marriotti says Grossman should remain the backup.

November 12, 2007

What to make of Monday's victory

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:44 PM

"It's a statement," defensive back Jordan Babineaux said of a shutout.

So why does a 24-0 victory over a division rival leave so many questions?

Like what does another dominating performance over another dormant offense mean?

Or what does it say that the 49ers didn't have a first down until the final play of the first half yet they were a fourth-down conversion from bowling their way back into the game in the third quarter?

Or just where would the Seahawks be without the home-field advantage that the penalty-inducing environment at Qwest Field provides?

First of all, it's dangerous to be overly critical of a 24-0 victory in the NFL. This is a league where people shrug off upsets all the time as evidence of parity so it would be inconsistent to go and say that a result like Monday's game shows the competitive imbalance.

And this is the same team that turned the Seahawks into roadkill last season. Twice in fact. And then the 49ers plunged into free agency with big, fat sacks of cash to pull in cornerback Nate Clements, drafted linebacker Patrick Willis in the first round and plenty of people thought San Francisco was poised to contend for the division title.

All that seems kind of silly now. San Francisco has yet to score more than 20 points in a game this season, they lost their seventh consecutive game and are playing at an offensive pace that isn't just putrid, it's potentially historic. The 49ers are averaging 218.6 yards per game. Seattle has a little bit of experience in this type of futility. Back in 1992 the Seahawks put a team on the field that could rival the 49ers in terms of futility. Seattle failed to score a point in two consecutive games. They scored more than 20 points only once all season and averaged 210.9 yards of offense per game, the lowest for any team in a 16-game season.

So yes, the defense's dominant performance comes with a caveat. The 49ers are abominable on offense, but the Seahawks made them look as bad as anyone has this season. So that's got to count for something.

The biggest thing was the performance at the front of the defense.

"Our front seven really controlled the game," safety Brian Russell said.

The Seahawks sacked Alex Smith three times, and while Frank Gore averaged 5.5 yards per carry, the biggest indicator of Seattle's success was that San Francisco didn't gain a first down until the final play of the first half.

This wasn't a season-making victory, but the Seahawks did follow through on coach Mike Holmgren's declaration that they were going to throw more. Matt Hasselbeck passed for 200 yards in the first half alone.

The Seahawks opened the game with a long scoring drive for the third consecutive game, but after that the team continued to move in fits and spurts.

Maurice Maurice finished with 87 yards, but he gained 31 of those in the fourth quarter after Seattle led 24-0. Seattle did score its first rushing touchdown since Week 2, but if there was an improvement in the running game, it had as much to do with the situation as the productivity of the plays.

D.J. Hackett caught eight passes for 101 yards, only three short of his career high, tight end Marcus Pollard didn't start but he did get catch a couple of passes and the Seahawks will get Deion Branch back here before too long.

Game thread

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:34 PM

Marcus Pollard and Patrick Kerney are both on the active list, but Will Heller was introduced as the starting tight end. Maurice Morris and Leonard Weaver are the starting backcourt.

49ers first possession: Three-and-out. Kerney started at left end for the Seahawks, who blitzed Josh Wilson on third down to help force an incompletion.

Holmgren said the Seahawks were going to throw it more, and he was true to his word. Sixteen of Seattle's first 20 offensive plays from scrimmage were passes.

Matt Hasselbeck completed eight of 11 passes on the first drive, which ended in a touchdown, and the Seahawks second touchdown drive was keyed by a 48-yard completion to D.J. Hackett. Seattle brought Seneca Wallace into the game on first-and-goal after that play, put him out wide to the left and ran Maurice Morris to the right for Seattle's second touchdown of the game.

The 49ers' only first down of the first half came on the final play of the second quarter, a 45-yard completion to Arnaz Battle. That pass accounted for more than half the 49ers' 76 yards of total offense in the first half.

Seattle turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the second half, and the 49ers are about to start their third possession on the Seahawks half of the field yet San Francisco still hasn't scored a point.

Hope the discussion here continues. I'll be bowing out to focus on my work for our print deadlines. I'll check back in here and plan to post a follow up by about 10:45 or so.

Alexander is officially out

Posted by Jose Romero at 4:13 PM

The inactives for the game have been released, and both RB Shaun Alexander and WR Deion Branch are inactive.

Bobby Engram starts at WR for Branch and Maurice Morris will start at RB.

Also, Kevin Bentley will start at OLB for Leroy Hill, who is also inactive. Other Seahawks inactives are LB Will Herring, OL Ray Willis, DT Howard Green, DE Baraka Atkins and QB Charlie Frye, who is the third quarterback.

TE Marcus Pollard, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, was not on the inactive list, which means he'll likely play.

In a bit of a surprise move, but not so surprising now that I recall that he did get a few snaps with the first team offense, FB David Kirtman has been signed to the active roster and is eligible to play tonight. The Seahawks waived backup CB Kevin Hobbs to make room for Kirtman, who came from the practice squad.

No big names on the 49ers inactive list. RB Frank Gore was limited in practice last week but is active for the game.

Seattle rocks

Posted by Jose Romero at 3:33 PM

No, not, "Cleveland Rocks," the theme song to "The Drew Carey Show." Tonight, Carey will raise the 12th Man flag before kickoff at Qwest Field while Seattle rocks for Monday night football.

Weather looks pretty good so far. The sun is actually out. Matt Hasselbeck and the 49ers' Trent Dilfer, a former Seahawk, just shared a a hug on the field, as did former Seahawk Darrell Jackson and LB Kevin Bentley.

Rain, check

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:27 PM

The wind gusts aren't quite as stiff, but Monday's stormy conditions are enough to inspire a flashback to last year's prime-time game against the 49ers.

That was a Thursday, Dec. 14. The start of the game was delayed because water pooled up on the field. Apparently, that was not the result of the field's drainage, but had to do with a larger backup that affected much more of the city.

Coach Mike Holmgren said last week he plans to go back to his roots in terms of play selection, choosing more passes instead of seeking to establish the run. Will the weather affect those plans?

The Seahawks threw 37 times in that wind-storm game against the 49ers last season, and that wasn't necessarily out of necessity, either, because the Seahawks led 7-3 entering the fourth quarter. reported that Shaun Alexander and Deion Branch aren't expected to play, but the Seahawks won't provide any update on availability until the inactive roster is announced before Monday's game.

Shaun, Deion likely out

Posted by Jose Romero at 12:37 PM

So says in this from their Web site.

The Seahawks didn't confirm, but Alexander didn't practice Saturday and Branch was again limited. The good news is that DE Patrick Kerney practiced Saturday, so I would expect him to be able to play despite a sore oblique.

Also, I have learned that tonight's referee is going to be a wearing a device from Sprint that will give him constant weather forecast updates throughout the game, should officials see the unforeseeable need to delay the contest or call it off because of bad weather. This is a first in an NFL game.

November 9, 2007

Paula likes Leonard

Posted by Jose Romero at 6:05 PM

I happened to be watching NFL Total Access on the NFL Network about an hour and a half ago and saw a great Seahawks moment take place: fullback Leonard Weaver being chosen by 80s pop star and American Idol judge Paula Abdul as the winner of "NFL Idol."

OK, so it wasn't an official competition. But Weaver was better than two other contestants, one from the Cleveland Browns, and sang "My Girl" by The Temptations on key.

Paula had to deliberate for a second, but she announced Weaver's name as the winner. Weaver performed in front of an NFL Network camera the Seahawks have set up at team headquarters, the big guy with the gentle voice sporting a hoodie and a Mohawk hairstyle.

Weaver isn't the only Seahawk with some singing skills. Jordan Babineaux can bring it, as far as I can tell.

Frank Gore, Walt Harris questionable

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:55 PM

The 49ers released their injury report: RB Frank Gore (ankle), T Kwame Harris (back), CB Walt Harris (knee) and S Keith Lewis (hamstring) are questionable.

Gore and W.Harris were limited in practice Thursday. K.Harris did not practice Thursday.

DT Rocky Bernard is probable

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:51 PM

Just got the official injury report. Bernard didn't practice Friday, but he is probable for Monday's game against San Francisco.

Remember that 49ers-Seahawks game at Qwest Field last season? It was the night of a wild wind and rainstorm that battered Seattle and the area and knocked out power for days for some people. The start of the game was delayed and the power in the stadium went out momentarily.

"I don't think it can be any worse than it was last year," coach Mike Holmgren said when asked about the weather for this game. "That was about as bad as it can get."

The forecast for this Monday is 49 degrees for a high and an 80 percent chance of rain.

Mack on HBO

Posted by Jose Romero at 1:40 PM

Former Seahawks FB Mack Strong is featured in a segment on HBO's "Inside the NFL," this week, watching a Seahawks game (at Cleveland) from his home for the first time since his first NFL season, 1993, when he was on the practice squad.

"It was strange," Strong said.

The segment showed old highlights of Strong leading the way for Shaun Alexander, Ricky Watters and Chris Warren. The best part of it, to me, was when one of Strong's kids imitated Nate Burleson doing his tribute to the NBA's LeBron James after his return touchdown last week, clapping his hands together and spreading his arms.

LB Leroy Hill doubtful for Monday

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:18 PM

The Seahawks finished their Friday practice and coach Mike Holmgren gave an update on status of injured players.

T Ray Willis and LB Will Herring are out.

LB Leroy Hill is doubtful after suffering a hamstring injury last week in Cleveland.

TE Marcus Pollard, WR Deion Branch, DT Rocky Bernard, LB Niko Koutouvides, DE Baraka Atkins, DE Patrick Kerney, RB Shaun Alexander are all questionable.

Branch ran some routes during the team portion of practice at the end of Friday's practice. Kerney took part in some of the individual drills, but was not on the field for the team workout.

The team will practice on Saturday, the final workout before Monday's game against San Francisco. Holmgren said he will make an evaluation of the injured players on Saturday.

Alexander has not worked out on the field this week, but Holmgren said he has been doing conditioning drills and other training exercises.

November 8, 2007

49ers injury report

Posted by Jose Romero at 4:17 PM

RB Frank Gore (ankle), CB Walt Harris (ankle) and S Keith Lewis (hamstring) were limited in practice today for San Francisco.

OT Kwame Harris (back) did not take part.

Carey-ing on

Posted by Jose Romero at 3:54 PM

ESPN has announced that comedian/TV personality Drew Carey will be in studio with the network's Monday Night football broadcasters at Qwest Field next week.

Here's part of the announcement from ESPN:
"Drew Carey, the new host of 'The Price Is Right', is expected to make a third quarter booth appearance. One of the key figures reportedly working to bring a Major League Soccer expansion franchise to Seattle, Carey is a lifelong sports fan..."


Also appearing will be Rainn Wilson, a Seattle native and star of NBC's "The Office," who will be featured in a special Monday Night football opening segment which will give viewers a tour of Seattle.

And on Monday Night Countdown, ESPN's pregame show, fans tuning in can see Seahawks Deon Grant, Marcus Trufant, Brian Russell, Kelly Jennings and Jordan Babineaux competing in a fish-tossing competition at Seattle's famous Pike Place Market. Last year, the Seahawks receivers took part in the first event of this kind on Countdown with Deion Branch winning the competition.

Thursday practice report

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:32 PM

No changes in the practice status. The Seahawks practiced without six starters on Thursday: Deion Branch, Marcus Pollard, Shaun Alexander on offense; Patrick Kerney, Leroy Hill and Rocky Bernard on defense. The Seahawks don't have to give status on those players until Friday.

Niko Koutouvides did not practice. He practiced only part of Wednesday's workout. Rookies Will Herring and Baraka Atkins also missed practice as did tackle Ray Willis.

One injured player did return. Not to the field, but he was back in the locker room. Defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs is on injured reserve after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the final exhibition game. He suffered a torn anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee, and underwent surgery to rebuild the joint. He just got off his crutches on Monday and said the target will be for him to return for training camp next season.

"All I could do is start back rehabbing, get ready for next season," Tubbs said. "Just do my part, and my knees will hold up. That's all I can do."

Tubbs is a very engaging interview. He's a player who is very popular with his teammates and he worked very hard to recover from the knee surgery that ended his 2006 season. He's simply been injury prone in his time in the NFL.

Tubbs is a first-round pick, who has finished three of his four NFL seasons on injured reserve. He was a huge part of the success of Seattle's run defense during its Super Bowl season of 2005. He missed 11 games last season and his absence in those games was a factor in Seattle's struggle to stop opponents from running the ball.

The Seahawks run defense ranks in the upper half of the league, and Sunday in Cleveland the Seahawks allowed Jamal Lewis 37 yards on 20 carries. Lewis did, however, score four touchdowns -- nearly doubling Seattle's total to nine rushing touchdowns this season.

Revisiting to the red dead zone

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 10:49 AM

Seattle is in the bottom third of the league in converting red-zone possessions into touchdowns. We talked about the Seahawks' struggles in the red-zone earlier this week, and coach Mike Holmgren was asked about that on Wednesday.

First, he said the team's situation at tight end affects that. The Seahawks are playing with a 35-year-old who has missed the past two games, a guy known primarily for his blocking and a third fellow who's been injured much of his NFL career.

The result is the tight end is really diminished as part of Seattle's passing offense, and Holmgren said that especially shows up in the red-zone productivity or lack of it.

The other factor is no surprise. The team just hasn't been able to run the ball.

For anyone that needs a look at the numbers behind the red-zone struggles, scroll down to Tuesday's entry for a fancy chart explaining it all.

The reason for those running struggles is interesting. Holmgren said that when a defense gets compressed in the red zone, one choice is to play a softer coverage -- a picket fence, Holmgren called it.

"They say, 'We are not going to allow you to throw it into the holes,' " Holmgren said. " 'We are going back up and play you kind of soft.' "

When the Seahawks saw that in 2005, they simply handed the ball to Shaun Alexander and let him run toward the end zone. The result was a single-season touchdown record for Alexander and Seahawks' offense that ranked No. 1 in the league in converting red-zone opportunities for touchdowns.

And now?

"They can that and we still haven't been able to take advantage of running it," Holmgren said.

November 7, 2007

Practice report

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:03 PM

LB Niko Koutouvides was in pads and watching practice, but didn't fully participate in practice. Other non-participants: Ray Willis (knee), Shaun Alexander (knee), Marcus Pollard (knee), Deion Branch (foot), Leroy Hill (hamstring), Patrick Kerney (oblique), Rocky Bernard (groin), Will Herring (knee), Baraka Atkins (ankle).

Floyd Womack worked some at right tackle with the first-string line, but Sean Locklear did not participate fully in practice at right tackle the past two weeks.

The 49ers did not practice on Wednesday.

S.Alexander: No structural damage, but sore

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:42 PM

Coach Mike Holmgren said a number of players will not be practicing this afternoon, but said that only tackle Ray Willis and linebacker Will Herring would be considered doubtful to play on Monday against the 49ers.

Other players like Niko Koutouvides, Leroy Hill, Deion Branch, Marcus Pollard, Willis and Herring are all among those who will not be practicing.

"But some of them will practice them, hopefully on Friday," Holmgren said. "I think we'll have half of them for the game. Which half? I don't know."

Holmgren said Alexander has no structural damage in Alexander's knee or his ankle and the swelling has gone down. Now it's a question of soreness and regaining range of motion, and his status will be something we'll watch over the rest of the week.

November 6, 2007

Red Dead Zone scoring

Posted by Danny O'Neil at 4:56 PM

Used to be one of the knocks against Shaun Alexander used to run harder at the goal line.

Well, that now constitutes the good old days for the Seahawks. Alexander scored two touchdowns this season and hasn't reached the end zone since the second week of the season.

But then you probably already knew that since his production has been such a hot spot for local talk.

10 43.5 23
22 52.4 14
43 71.7 1
31 58.5 8
31 62 4
29 50.9 20
19 51.4 11
28 60.9 2

Alexander is hardly the only Seahawk having trouble finding the end zone. The Seahawks rank among the worst 10 teams in the NFL converting red-zone possessions to touchdowns. Quite a fall from two seasons ago when the Seahawks were No. 1.

Now, this is just another statistic that points to the obvious, that the Seahawks are struggling? Why, yes. It is. But it is also the reason Seattle didn't win in Cleveland on Sunday. The Seahawks had two red-zone possessions in the second half in Cleveland and both resulted in field goals. The Seahawks were 1 yard away from having three red-zone possessions result in kicks, reaching the Cleveland 21 before settling for a field goal. If Seattle could have punched the ball in the end zone on any one of those three drives, there wouldn't have been an overtime.

Seattle ran 12 offensive plays inside the Cleveland 20 on Sunday. One of those was a spike to stop the clock. Of the 11 plays in which the Seahawks were actually trying to gain yardage here were the results:

  • 1st red-zone possession
    5-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Engram

  • 2nd red-zone possession
    6-yard pass to D.J. Hackett
    5-yard run by Shaun Alexander
    Pass-interference on pass to Hackett (No play)
    (-3)-yard run by Alexander
    (-1)-yard run by Alexander
    6-yard TD pass to Hackett

  • 3rd red-zone possession
    2-yard run by Alexander
    4-yard pass to Leonard Weaver
    Incomplete pass intended for Engram

  • 4th red-zone possession
    Incomplete pass for Burleson
    11-yard run by Maurice Morris
    Incomplete pass, spike to stop the clock

    To summarize, Alexander rushed four times in the red zone, gaining 3 yards. Eleven of Seattle's 14 yards rushing in the red zone came on a draw in which the Browns only concern was keeping Seattle out of the end zone, which they did. Hasselbeck was 4-for-7 passing in the red zone with two touchdowns, and that's counting the spike.

    The next question is what Seattle's red-zone statistics looked like earlier in the season and in previous years. That's something I'll keep looking at later in the week.

  • November 5, 2007

    Why not a QB sneak?

    Posted by Jose Romero at 5:52 PM

    Coach Mike Holmgren was asked earlier today why he didn't just let QB Matt Hasselbeck try to dive ahead for a first down on the fateful fourth-and-inches play that cost the Seahawks Sunday's game when they didn't get the first down.

    Holmgren decided such a play call wasn't a viable option because of how the Browns' defensive line lined up with their biggest guys over center Chris Spencer, and because he doesn't think Hasselbeck is the best at keeping the ball for a sneak.

    "This is going to sound kind of odd, but Matt is not a great quarterback-sneaker," Holmgren said "There are some guys who are very good at it and have a knack for it. I think if you asked him he would say the same thing."

    I did ask Hasselbeck if he wanted a shot at the sneak instead of handing to Maurice Morris, which the Seahawks did. He said everybody would, and who wouldn't?

    "It's too bad because it's one of those situations where they know what we're going to do and we still have to get it done," Hasselbeck said. "Most of the time we have gotten it done, but this year we've struggled a little bit there, and it's too bad."

    The schizophrenic defense

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 5:28 PM

    I wrote a column from Sunday's game talking about the schizophrenic nature of this defense, which is stingy one week and so flimsy the next week.

    Of course, it's easier to be stingy against teams like St. Louis and San Francisco, but still, it's pretty shocking to see the disparity of the defense's performance when you break it down by wins and losses. The gap is shown in the chart below.

    2007 Wins Losses
    Pass yds allowed 191.3 272
    Rush yds allowed 84 120
    Pass TDs allowed 0.3 1
    Rush TDs allowed 0.3 2
    Sacks 5 0.8
    Turnovers 3.5 0.8

    But then I wondered just how unusual that is since it's hardly surprising that a defense performs markedly better in victories than it does in defeats. The fact that a team gives up more touchdowns in games it wins than games it loses is hardly noteworthy.

    The interesting thing is the nature of the discrepancy. This season, turnovers and sacks have almost entirely disappeared in Seattle's defeats. The Seahawks have three sacks total in their four defeats and 20 in their four victories.

    It's too simple to say that Seattle simply can't pressure the passer in those games it loses. Linebacker Julian Peterson pointed out that in Cleveland, the lack of pressure was due to the timing of the Browns' offense. He said the quick drops and fast release of quarterback Derek Anderson simply didn't give the Seahawks pass rush time to have much of an effect.

    That puts the onus on the secondary to contest routes closer to the line of scrimmage.

    "The biggest thing on that is the coverage has to be nice and tight, which is tough on them," Peterson said of the defensive backs.

    Pressure on the quarterback is one of the most important factors in creating turnovers. The gap between the defense's performance in victories compared to losses is more severe this season than last season in terms of quarterback pressures and turnovers. The splits for last year's 9-7 team are listed below.

    2006 Wins Losses
    Pass yds allowed 205.8 200.6
    Rush yds allowed 84.8 182.9
    Pass TDs allowed 1.2 1.7
    Rush TDs allowed 0.3 1.3
    Sacks 3.7 1.1
    Turnovers 2.3 0.63

    So what does that tell us? Well, the Seahawks resembled road kill in the games they lost last season, simply getting run over. There is a gap in both sacks and turnovers between victories and defeats, but it's not as pronounced as this season.

    Now the Seahawks have played only eight games this season, giving 2007 half the sample size of last year's 16-game results. Maybe things will even out.

    But it's also possible that the disparity in turnovers and sacks reflects the fact that this Seahawks team is relying upon its defense more than ever before and when the defense can't generate turnovers and give the offense a boost, Seattle is more likely to lose.

    Any thoughts on this subject?

    Monday news updates

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:19 PM

    Coach Mike Holmgren has an idea about getting his team off the treadmill this week against San Francisco. The Seahawks' ground game is going nowhere fast, and he said Monday that he will go back to his roots and start firing the ball around a little bit more.

    No mystery why. The Seahawks' failures on the ground are well documented. Just take a look at Jerry Brewer's Monday column, which details the shortcomings.

    The passing game should be helped out by the return of WR Deion Branch and TE Marcus Pollard, who are both expected to play this Monday against San Francisco.

    LB Leroy Hill (hamstring), RB Shaun Alexander (ankle, knee) and DE Patrick Kerney (oblique) are not expected to practice much this week, but Holmgren said it's possible they will play in this week's game.

    Seattle Week 11, time change

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:38 PM

    The Seahawks are not quite ready for prime time. At least that's what decision was made. Seattle's game against Chicago on Nov. 18 was scheduled for 5:15 p.m. and would have been televised nationally by NBC.

    Instead, the league announced the Bears game will be played at 1:15 p.m. at Qwest Field and replaced on NBC by the Patriots vs. the Bills. The Seahawks game will be televised locally by Q13 FOX.

    November 4, 2007

    Matt moves up the charts

    Posted by Jose Romero at 8:08 PM

    With his 318-yard performance Sunday, Matt Hasselbeck moved into second place in Seahawks history in all-time passing yards, ahead of Jim Zorn. Here's the top three in that category:

    1. Dave Krieg 26,132
    2. Matt Hasselbeck 20,245
    3. Jim Zorn 20,122

    Both Krieg and Zorn are in the team's Ring of Honor.

    Today in Ohio

    Posted by Jose Romero at 7:54 PM

    So the Seahawks lose a tough one here at the Dawg Pound, which I don't think is as loud as Qwest, by the way.

    This game reminded me a little of the Seahawks' 44-41 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2003. Seattle lost on an overtime field goal after leading by at least 17 points in the fourth quarter, I believe.

    The Seahawks were victims of a bad call by one of the officials that the NFL later admitted to in that Baltimore game. Against Cleveland, the collapse wasn't as big but the Seahawks did lead 21-6 late in the first half, and it seemed a little questionable for replay officials to automatically challenge the spot of the ball after Matt Hasselbeck's overtime run that was originally called a first down.

    The officials did review the next run, a fourth down try by Maurice Morris, but that wasn't all that close.

    But life goes on. Will you the fans blast coach Mike Holmgren for deciding to go for the first down in the overtime when a punt might have driven the Browns back near their goal line? Or do yo agree with his decision, seeing as the Seahawks weren't stopping the Browns on defense and might have had just one chance to score and win?

    Talk amongst yourselves.

    Interesting comment from former Seahawk and Ohio native Joe Jurevicius after the game. He was asked about coming to the Browns from Seattle after the 2005 season.

    "I will say that the Seattle Seahawks are a first-class organization," Jurevicius said, "but I think I said a long time ago that I came home for a reason. What we
    are seeing from our fans and our football team, I made the right decision."

    PS -- I got to tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton this morning. It was worth the drive from Cleveland, if only to look at the busts of all the enshrinees to see if they look like what they do in real life.

    Game thread

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 1:06 PM

    The Seahawks elected to receive the kickoff and took the field with the same starting lineup they've used at offensive line all season. No changes at guard, Rob Sims starting at left and Chris Gray at right guard.

    Add at 1:27 p.m.: The Seahawks took a 7-0 lead after a seven-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown. Hasselbeck completed all five of his pass attempts on that drive for 74 yards. He's completed nine of 12 passes so far in this game.

    Shaun Alexander limped off the field after a 3-yard run on that drive, favoring his lower left leg. He was observed on the training table behind the Seahawks bench. He's now sitting on the bench.

    The injury was just announced as a left knee and ankle sprain. His return is questionable.

    Update at 3:38: The first quarter ended. Alexander is now up on the Seahawks sidelines. He was jogging to test his ankle. He doesn't have his helmet with him so it's unclear if he will return to the game. His return was announced as questionable.

    Alexander just returned to the field in the fourth quarter.

    Safety Brian Russell left in the midst of the Browns' final possession of the first half after a very stiff hit against a Cleveland receiver. Russell was visibly wobby after the play and while he tried to stay on the field, trainers came out and pulled him to the bench. He's currently sitting on the bench, talking with trainers.

    Update at 1:45: Russell just returned to the field. The Browns have the ball, first-and-goal at the Seattle 5.

    Update at 1:50: Alexander has his helmet on so it appears he will be returning to the game though he's not on the field to begin Seattle's next series.

    Update at 2:30: First-and-goal at the Seattle 2 and the Browns chose to throw three consecutive passes, all incomplete. Kellen Winslow -- and Cleveland's crowd -- wanted a pass-interference penalty against safety Mike Green after a second-down throw. Green came from behind Winslow and appeared to make contact with Winslow as he made a play to deflect the ball.

    The stiffness of Seattle's defense in the red zone has been a strength for the Seahawks, one that has continued.

    Update at 3:21: Alexander left the field limping after his 6-yard run on the second play of Seattle's first possession in the second half. He hasn't been on the field since and he's currently pedaling a stationary bike behind Seattle's bench.

    Update at 3:35: Defensive end Patrick Kerney suffered a strained oblique. His return is probable. Linebacker Leroy Hill suffered a hamstring injury, and his return is doubtful.

    Deion Branch out for Sunday's game

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:55 AM

    WR Deion Branch is among Seattle's eight inactive players, meaning he will miss a third consecutive game because of a bruised foot. This isn't a total shock. Branch did not participate in practice this week, but coach Mike Holmgren left the door open that he could be activated.

    Seattle's inactive list: S C.J. Wallace, DE Jason Babin, G Mansfield Wrotto, T Ray Willis, WR Deion Branch, TE Marcus Pollard, DT Howard Green and QB Charlie Frye, who will be in uniform as the emergency quarterback.

    Cleveland's inactives: DB Kenny Wright, DB Ricardo Colclough, LB D'Qwell Jackson, OL Isaac Sowells, OL Nat Dorsey, WR Travis Wilson, DL Louis Leonard and QB Ken Dorsey.

    November 2, 2007

    Official NFL injury report for Seahawks-Browns

    Posted by Jose Romero at 1:29 PM

    TE Marcus Pollard (knee) and OT Ray Willis (knee) are out. WR Deion Branch (foot) is questionable. DT Rocky Bernard (groin) and LT Walter Jones (shoulder) are probable.

    LB D'Qwell Jackson (ankle) is out. LB Kris Griffin (Achilles) is doubtful. FB Lawrence Vickers (concussion) and CB Leigh Bodden (back) are probable.

    Jackson is a starting inside linebacker and Griffin his backup. Vickers and Bodden are also starters.

    Pollard out, Deion Branch a game-time decision

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 11:48 AM

    TE Marcus Pollard will not play on Sunday, coach Mike Holmgren said, but he should be on track to return to the field against the 49ers on Nov. 12.

    WR Deion Branch did not practice, but he has been doing some running drills on the side. He will travel to Cleveland and it will be a game-time decision if he plays, Holmgren said.

    Holmgren also said he does not expect the starting lineup of the offensive line to change, meaning Rob Sims and Chris Gray will remain the starting guards. Holmgren said Floyd Womack could see time on the field as well, though.

    D.J. Hackett had a good week of practice and is expected to play. Holmgren said he's not sure who will start, though, either Hackett or Nate Burleson and both are expected to play.

    Game balls from the victory over St. Louis went to Darryl Tapp (defense), Will Heller (offense) and Nate Burleson (special teams). Tapp wore a cast on his right hand, which was much smaller than the club-like cast he wore the past two days of practice.

    November 1, 2007

    Alexander to remain plastered

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 3:34 PM

    Shaun Alexander still has a small cast to protect his left wrist. He was asked Thursday if there is a date for when he can remove the cast. He said there will be more X-rays on Monday, which means he'll be wearing it again for this weekend's game.

    Deion Branch still did not participate in practice, instead running conditioning drills. Holmgren said Wednesday he has a 50-50 chance of playing Sunday in Cleveland.

    Seattle's practice attendance did not change Thursday. Branch, TE Marcus Pollard and T Ray Willis did not practice. DT Rocky Bernard (groin), T Walter Jones (shoulder) and T Sean Locklear (ankle) were limited.

    In Cleveland, DT Louis Leonard and WR Joe Jurevicius did not practice. Leonard was ill, Jurevicius' absence explained as "other." LB Kris Griffin (Achilles) and LB D'Qwell Jackson (ankle) did not prctice. CB Leigh Bodden was limited in practice while FB Lawrence Vickers (Concussion) was limited in practice after not working out at all on Wednesday.

    En garde

    Posted by Danny O'Neil at 12:37 PM

    In baseball, it might be called a purpose pitch. Something to get the batter's attention, make him think twice about stepping into a pitch.

    In football, it's not about intimidation. More about motivation. Or maybe there's nothing psychological about the insertion of Floyd Womack into the first-unit offensive line repetitions in preparations for Sunday's game in Cleveland.

    Womack worked at both right and left guard in Wednesday's practice, replacing first Chris Gray and later filling in for Rob Sims. Coach Mike Holmgren hinted at the changes Wednesday before practice, but was not specific about what's in place going forward.

    "You might see or notice different combinations at practice," he said. "And we will see what happens with that. I am not going to say exactly how that is going to come down here, one of the reason is I am not sure. But I am going to shake it up a little bit."

    So what to make of that?

    The Seahawks are looking for ways to have more success running the football. Pass protection hasn't been a problem this season. Running the ball has, and Holmgren wants to jump start the production, but he cautioned against identifying one person as a culprit in the lack of success.

    "You can't just take this guy and move him over here and everything will be fine," Holmgren said. "That is not the way this is working. That is not the way this analysis came out.

    "So, what do you do? I am just trying to stir it up a little bit, hit on some different combinations, light a little bit of a fire, get somebody to study a little bit more or whatever it is."

    Consider the moves a purpose pitch. One aimed at the middle of Seattle's offensive line.




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