KEYS TO THE GAME: The Seahawks'
pass-first approach isn't expected to change much with RB Shaun Alexander available.
But don't be surprised to see Alexander get a few early carries, especially
on draw plays. QB Matt Hasselbeck is taking a pounding with defenses blitzing
with no fear of the run, and the Eagles got several good licks on Patriots QB
Tom Brady while playing an aggressive 3-3-5 look last Sunday. Hasselbeck is
also without his top playmaker downfield, injured WR D.J. Hackett. ... Whether
it's Donovan McNabb or A.J. Feeley under center, expect the Eagles to run the
ball far more than the 19 times they did against the Patriots. The Seahawks
are second in the league with 35 sacks and will get after either quarterback.
But their front seven is smallish and should have a tough time against the Eagles'
physical offensive line.
KEY INJURIES: Seahawks:
Hackett (ankle sprain) is out at least two weeks; Alexander (knee) and MLB Lofa Tatupu (ribs) are expected to play. Eagles: McNabb (ankle) hopes to return after
missing a game; DT Broderick Bunkley (knee/hamstring) is uncertain; SS Quintin Mikell (knee) is likely to miss a second straight game.
FAST FACTS: The Seahawks have averaged 28.2 points the past five games. ...
Eagles RB Brian Westbrook is on pace for 387 touches this season. His career
high is 322.
--RB Shaun Alexander practiced again Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
--RB Maurice Morris returned to practice Thursday and should play despite a
--LB Lofa Tatupu did not practice Thursday because of sore ribs but is expected
--DT Rocky Bernard did not practice Thursday with a sore groin but is expected
to play Sunday.
--QB Donovan McNabb didn't practice again Thursday and his status for Sunday's
game against Seattle remains uncertain. Coach Andy Reid said this week that
if McNabb is healthy he will start.
--QB A.J. Feeley took all of the first-team reps in practice again Thursday,
but still doesn't know whether he'll be starting against Seattle. With Donovan
McNabb out with ankle and thumb injuries, Feeley started last week's game against
--S Quintin Mikell, who is recovering from a sprained medial collateral ligament
in his knee, didn't practice Thursday and probably will miss his second straight
--S J.R. Reed is expected to make his second straight start Sunday at strong
safety in place of injured Quintin Mikell. Reed played very well last week against
the Patriots and had several big hits, including one on Randy Moss.
--DT Brodrick Bunkley practiced only on a limited basis for the second straight
day. Bunkley has a hamstring and MCL sprain, but hopes to play Sunday against
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Now that Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has made clear -- both through
his words and his actions -- that his team is committed to a pass-first offense,
teams are beginning to devise ways to more readily get to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
The Seahawks experienced their first go-round with that last week, when St. Louis Rams coordinator Jim Haslett sent just about everybody he could to flummox
Hasselbeck. That strategy resulted in two sacks on the first series, three sacks
by halftime and enough consternation on Seattle's sideline that the Seahawks
did not get a first down until 7:06 remained in the half.
Holmgren has made it a point of emphasis this week against the Eagles, who employ
a similar blitzing scheme as the Rams'.
"If anything, it's become clear that we have to put that at the top of
our list to fix or to start with in practice to make sure our protections are
right," Holmgren said. "I guess what we're doing is spending more
time on that."
Holmgren said he added an additional practice period every day to address the
issue with his offensive linemen, who have made a combination of mental and
physical errors. Holmgren also used some tactics against the Rams last week
that he may employ against the Eagles.
He used the hurry-up offense toward the end of the first half, taking the Rams
out of their blitzing schemes. He utilized the draw play more readily. He had
Hasselbeck roll out a few times.
But, more important, he told Hasselbeck to stop audibling because the Rams were
then adjusting to what Hasselbeck called and sending pass rushers to the place
that Hasselbeck changed the play from.
"I'm not planning on this being a big audible game," Hasselbeck said.
"Just what I can tell from Mike (Holmgren), he's going to call the game
in such a way that I'm not going to have to audible, which is nice. Especially
on the road, we'll just get up and we'll run our plays and do it the best we
It still is uncertain who will be the Eagles' starting quarterback Sunday when
they play host to the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field. Coach Andy
Reid said emphatically on Wednesday that Donovan McNabb will start if he's healthy.
But McNabb, who missed last week's game against New England with a sprained
ankle and jammed thumb, didn't practice Thursday. He also didn't practice on
Asked about McNabb's status Thursday, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
said, "He's day-to-day."
How late can the Eagles wait before making a decision on their starter?
"That's up to Andy," Mornhinweg said. "We've installed a game
plan and (we're ready) to go. We don't think too much about it. If Donovan's
ready then he'll go. It's that simple."
That would seem to indicate that the Eagles would be willing to wait until the
morning of the game before making a determination on McNabb's readiness. But
it's hard to believe they would put him in if he hadn't taken a single practice
snap in two weeks.
A.J. Feeley started against the Patriots and played very well, with the exception
of his three interceptions. He completed 27 passes in the 31-28 loss and threw
for three touchdowns.
One thing that might make Reid reluctant to play McNabb this week: snow is in
the forecast for Sunday. With McNabb still recovering from a torn ACL, he might
not want to risk him re-injuring it in a bad-weather game.