Alexander Among Seahawks Absent From Practice

Wednesday, November 7th 2007, 9:19 pm
By: News On 6

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) A broken left wrist, a twisted left knee, and a sprained left ankle are three reasons Shaun Alexander had been out of sight Wednesday during the Seahawk’s practice.

Seattle's stalled runner joined leading receiver Deion Branch (sprained foot), tight end Marcus Pollard (arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last month), defensive end Patrick Kerney (strained oblique), defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (strained groin) and outside linebacker Leroy Hill (strained right hamstring) all starters in missing the first major preparation day for the Seahawks (4-4) before they host San Francisco (2-6) Monday night.

Special-teams standouts Niko Koutouvides and Will Herring, a rookie, are also hurt. They have sore hamstrings, although Koutouvides practiced some on Wednesday.

``But some of them will come back. We'll practice them, hopefully, on Friday,'' coach Mike Holmgren said. ``I think we're going to have half of them for the game.

``Now which half? I don't know,'' Mike Holmgren said, chuckling.

``Herring I would say is doubtful, and all the rest of them have a shot. And I don't say that with a lot of conviction, but they have a shot.''

Shaun Alexander sustained the knee and ankle injuries while rushing for just 32 yards on 14 carries Sunday.

``The swelling has gone down. It was not a structural injury,'' Coach Holmgren said. ``It's just now the swelling has to go down, his range of motion has to come back. The inflammation is limiting his ability to bend his knee.

``Friday or Saturday he has to show me he can do what he does, otherwise we'll probably rest him.''

Deion Branch kept saying he was ``day-to-day'' but sounded like he will miss a third consecutive game. Branch watched practice from behind the wheel of an equipment cart, his foot heavily wrapped and propped onto a seat. Marcus Pollard favored his leg while walking through the team facility. That means wide receiver Bobby Engram, who had a career-high 14 catches in Sunday's 33-30 overtime loss at Cleveland, will again likely get passes that usually go to Coach Mike Holmgren's tight ends.

The absence of Shaun Alexander seemingly will have far less impact than it would have had even a few weeks ago, a sign of how far the 2005 league MVP has fallen.

Shaun Alexander has just 139 yards over his last four games. His total of 492 yards in eight games this season, the last seven of which he's played with a cast over his left wrist, is his lowest eight-game rushing total since 2000 when he was a rookie backing up Ricky Watters. His two touchdowns are 26 fewer than he had while leading Seattle into the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

Mike Holmgren declared again on Wednesday that he intends to replace many usual running calls with more passes from Matt Hasselbeck, the one consistent performer on an offense that has been mediocre all season. Then the coach showed that intention during drills.

``If today at practice was any indication or (has) meaning, we've got a lot more shots downfield, a lot more things that are sort of wide-open,'' Matt Hasselbeck said. ``A very aggressive offense.''

Yet an offense that is still in flux. Wednesday brought another tweak in the starting offensive line, part of Head Coach Holmgren's promise last week to mix and match in search of better run blocking. Veteran backup Floyd Womack worked in place of first-team right tackle Sean Locklear for much of practice. Locklear missed practice time last week with a sore ankle but was not listed by the team as injured Wednesday.

Last week, Floyd Womack practiced ahead of starting right guard Chris Gray and starting left guard Rob Sims, but Gray and Sims ultimately started against Cleveland.