Notebook: No Green Light on Alexander

Notebook: No Green Light on Alexander

The Seahawks won't have MVP running back Shaun Alexander for their Monday night game against Oakland. Coach Mike Holmgren made the announcement Monday. The news runs counter to expectations established last week.

"It doesn't look like we're going to get Shaun back this week," Holmgren said. "He had pictures (MRI, X-ray) taken and the medical people are reluctant to give me the green light on Shaun after what they saw on the pictures."

Alexander has missed the last three games with a cracked fourth metatarsal in his left foot.

"He is getting better, he is feeling better and his crack has healed a bunch," Holmgren said. "But they were not ready to hand him over to me, so to speak, this week.
"It appears as though he'll be at least another week."

Alexander's replacement, Maurice Morris, has averaged only 2.9 yards per carry this season. What people might not realize, however, is that Alexander was also averaging 2.9 yards per rush when injured. The Seahawks' problems on the ground run deeper than any one player. And since Alexander has been out, the Seahawks rank last in the NFL in rushing plays, rushing yards and rushing first downs.

"The part that is troublesome is we're not running the ball the way that we're used to, and it just is a problem right now that we have to try and fix," Holmgren said. "You can't be one-dimensional in this league and right now we can't run worth a darn. And so we're working really hard on that phase of our football this week."

Rookie Rob Sims played well at left guard while platooning with Chris Spencer against Kansas City. But the running game never generated much traction, in part because the Seahawks' defense couldn't get off the field for long stretches.

Seattle expects former starting left guard Floyd Womack to return from a knee injury this week. Womack was not playing well when he was injured, however, so there are no guarantees he'll return to the lineup or play well if he gets there.

The Seahawks will probably have to lean on their passing game until they can figure out how to get the ground game going. "The strength of our football team right now is our receivers," Holmgren said. "I want to strive for balance, but at the same time I've gotta move the football somehow, some way.

"So to do that, we have to become more effective in our rushing. We gotta work hard at that. We have to make it happen. We have to almost will it to happen right now. That's why the emphasis will be there this week."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Seahawks' decision to bench strong safety Michael Boulware seemed to make little to no difference against the Chiefs. Boulware, a second-round pick from Florida State in 2004, played only on special teams in Kansas City. The Chiefs racked up 499 yards and 30 first downs with Jordan Babineaux playing in Boulware's usual spot. The Seahawks encountered similar results the last time they benched a former second-round strong safety. In 2000, coaches benched Reggie Tongue in favor of Kerry Joseph. Those Seahawks went out and allowed 498 yards to Indianapolis the following week.

Seattle probably won't be shaking up its lineup on defense much this week. The team will get back to fundamentals instead.

--Players were off Monday, a bit of a surprise after such a disappointing performance on defense. The team does not play until Monday night, however, and that went into the thinking.
"That was the main thing," Holmgren said. "I really try not to be punitive with the players just because I was in a bad mood after the game. I make those decisions before the game, really.

"And so we had an extra day. That was the plan. To have me change my mind because I thought we didn't play very well, I don't like to do that. I don't think that sends a good message, either."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Matt Hasselbeck is on track to return after missing two more games, coach Mike Holmgren said Monday. Hasselbeck has a sprained right knee.

--RB Shaun Alexander will probably miss another game with the broken foot he suffered Sept. 24. "It doesn't look like we're going to get Shaun back this week," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He had pictures (MRI, X-ray) taken today and the medical people are reluctant to give me the green light on Shaun after what they saw on the pictures." Alexander has missed the last three games with a cracked fourth metatarsal in his left foot. "He is getting better, he is feeling better and his crack has healed a bunch," Holmgren said. "But they were not ready to hand him over to me, so to speak, this week. It appears as though he'll be at least another week."

--LG Floyd Womack should be available this week but it's unclear if Seattle will plug him back into the lineup. Rookie LG Rob Sims played well against the Chiefs. Chris Spencer provides another option. Womack's main problem is that he can't stay healthy.

--WR Bobby Engram remains week-to-week as he tries to get back his strength despite a thyroid condition. The Seahawks have flexibility at the position because WR D.J. Hackett is playing well in his place. Engram will probably try to practice some again this week.

--WR Darrell Jackson has six TD catches in six games as Seattle learns about life without RB Shaun Alexander. Jackson has made big plays in the passing game all season, making it conceivable that he could stay on his current pace even after Alexander returns. Alexander is the top option in the red zone, but Jackson has done much of his damage from farther out.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. CHIEFS

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus --
QB Seneca Wallace tossed three touchdown passes in his first start. One of his two interceptions resulted from a bad read. The other came on a tipped ball, and Seattle retained possession when WR Deion Branch forced Chiefs DE Jared Allen to fumble during the return. Branch and WR Darrell Jackson continued to make big plays despite limited opportunities. TE Jerramy Stevens caught his first scoring pass of the season. Even WR Nate Burleson got involved with a key 21-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Wallace was sacked only once after Seattle allowed 21 sacks in the first six games.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- The Seahawks couldn't run the ball with Shaun Alexander and not much has changed without him. The run game sputtered against the Chiefs, one reason the Seahawks controlled the ball for only 17 minutes in this game. The run blocking seemed better this week, but Maurice Morris couldn't get much going. Wallace wasn't much of a factor with his feet, a bit of a surprise.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- The Chiefs made big plays through the air almost at will. CB Marcus Trufant and FS Ken Hamlin were nowhere near Chiefs WR Eddie Kennison during a critical 51-yard reception that helped Kansas City retake the lead in the fourth quarter.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Seahawks missed more tackles than at any point this season. The Chiefs were much more physical with their two- and three-tight personnel groupings. They knocked Seattle off the ball and broke through weak attempts at tackles. Seattle had no answer as Kansas City handed off 39 times to RB Larry Johnson, who scored three of his four touchdowns on the ground.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Rookie P Ryan Plackemeier had his best game of the season, posting a 42.3-yard net average with two of his four punts downed inside the 20. He gave Seattle's defense good field position and it wasn't his fault the "D" did not capitalize. Seattle's special teams also scored a touchdown when CB Kelly Herndon returned a muffed field-goal snap 61 yards at a pivotal moment in the second half. The kick-return game remained mediocre with Josh Scobey taking over for the recently released Willie Ponder. And the Chiefs averaged 27.6 yards on kick returns, too fat a number.

COACHING: D -- The defensive staff is having a hard time getting players to meet their level from last season. Players are frequently out of position. They are not playing with much instinct. That needs to change for the Seahawks to re-emerge as strong playoff contenders. Those problems kept the defense on the field for more than 42 minutes against the Chiefs. The offensive plan seemed sound in that backup QB Seneca Wallace was comfortable despite making his first start. Coach Mike Holmgren didn't ask Wallace to do too much, but he did let him play, and the results were mostly positive. It was unclear why the staff removed LG Rob Sims in favor of Chris Spencer in the fourth quarter. The two split time, as expected, but Sims appeared to be in a very good rhythm when the final change was made. And when Spencer was re-installed, Seneca Wallace was set upon almost immediately.

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