Holmgren Won't Change His Approach

Holmgren Won't Change His Approach

Despite the Seattle Seahawks being unable to improve or hurt their positioning for the upcoming playoffs, coach Mike Holmgren said that the team is going to approach Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons like he does any other.

In other words, Holmgren said the team is going to play its regular players against the Falcons and hope that the players' individual pride will allow them to win the game even though the outcome has no impact either way.

"It's a funny thing," Holmgren said. "It will be talked about, not just with us, but a lot of teams, this week, on how to do this. I thought a lot about it. I'm not sure there's a right way to do it. I believe in momentum going into the playoffs. I do believe in that. At the same time, everyone holds their breath that no one gets hurt. So how do you balance that? So what we're going to do, we're going to practice hard this week. We're going to play the guys hard. They are approaching it that way and keep our fingers crossed."

Holmgren said that part of his motivation for playing his starters is to continue to build on the running game that finally seemed to emerge last week against Baltimore.

For the entire season, Holmgren has been seeking consistency from the running game. He finally got it against the Ravens, the second-ranked run defense, with 144 yards, including 73 from Shaun Alexander.

To go away from that against the Falcons, who have the 25th-ranked run defense in the league, relinquishing 125 yards a game, would be foolhardy, Holmgren feels.

"The running game, we were teased a little bit there and I kind of like some of the things we did," Holmgren said. "That's absolutely one thing I'm looking at."

Holmgren also is looking at the practical side of things.

"I think when you start wholesale substitutions before the game or early in the game, there really is a tremendous domino effect on the special teams," Holmgren said. "Take the linebackers as an example. Your backup linebackers in the game, if they're active, you've got six or seven. The three backup guys are your core special teams guys. If you make mass substitutions, now they're playing every play and special teams. You're not going to take your other guys and have them play on special teams. Now you're real thin there. You open yourself up, even a little bit more to injury, in those situations so there's a lot of little things to think about."

Holmgren did say that players with injuries, like Rocky Bernard and Walter Jones, will not practice at all this week, and he will make a decision on their availability later in the week.

He also said that if the Seahawks get an early lead against a Falcons team in the midst of a six-game losing streak, he would rest quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for the remainder of the half.

Other than that, though, this week will be, for the most part, like Week 5.

"When we got to the halfway point, we were 4-4," Holmgren said. "I challenged the football team to take it one at a time and let's try to win eight in a row. Let's run the table one game at a time and we almost did that. I did not like the feeling that we had two weeks ago (in a loss to Carolina) so we're going to play the game."

SERIES HISTORY: 11th meeting with the Falcons. Seahawks lead series, 8-2, including the last four meetings. The last three games have been decided by a combined 11 points, and one of the games went into overtime.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander wants to play as much as he can in Sunday's game because it is almost like he is going home. "You never want to go back (to) the south and watch," Alexander said. "It's a good middle spot between my college and my home. So there will be people from Florence, Kentucky there. Pretty much the whole state of Kentucky is invited, and the whole state of Alabama. It'll be exciting for me, no matter what coach says."

--Seahawks defensive backs coach Jim Mora Jr. is returning to face his former team for the first time since he was fired last season. "He's very much looking forward to the game," Mike Holmgren said. "But without overstating it, I believe he's moved on now and he's having fun coaching this year. I believe he's glad he's in Seattle. Would he still like to be a head coach? Yeah, certainly. That's obvious. But now he's moving forward so I think going back there, he's going to coach like he always does. He's going to get his guys ready to play."

--Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney, who spent eight years with the Falcons, said Atlanta's Keith Brooking is the player after whom he models himself. "He was the perfect model to follow," Kerney said. "A five-time Pro Bowler who walked the line day in, day out. He parked in the right place, did every lift, practiced hard, played with a broken back. That's not a joke either. He played with a broken back and he was a tough guy, a great guy to model yourself after so I was really lucky to have him around."

--PK Josh Brown needs three field goals to pass Todd Peterson and into second place on the team's all-time scoring list. Peterson was Atlanta's kicker the last time the teams played, in the season opener in 2005.

--Alexander said that his wife runs such a tight household that he had to go retrieve his daughter from her room at 8 in the morning on Christmas.

--If the Seahawks allow 13 points or fewer, they will set a club record for fewest points allowed in a season.

--Holmgren said he was not very impressed with the way Bobby Petrino left the Falcons earlier this year. "I am not going to cast judgment on that because I don't know all the ins and outs or things there," Holmgren said. "All I can say, that is bad. For me, I couldn't do that. If I ever reached the point to where it was as hard as it appeared to be, you just got to say, 'hey, you can't.' I couldn't do it. It wouldn't be any fun though, but I couldn't do it."

BY THE NUMBERS: 40 -- Number of yards Nate Burleson needs to set a franchise record for punt return yardage.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They've just had an unbelievably bad run of luck starting back with what happened this summer with Michael (Vick) right on down to injury situations with both offensive, both defensive tackles. It's just about too much for any team to overcome." -- Patrick Kerney, on his former team, the Atlanta Falcons.

Even though Mike Holmgren says that he will approach this game like any other, there is a chance that he rests some of his veteran starters with injuries. Most likely to sit are offensive tackle Walter Jones, who would be replaced by Floyd Womack to rest Jones' sore shoulder; Rocky Bernard, who sat out last week with a sore groin and was replaced by Craig Terrill; and, after getting a lead, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was replaced in last week's victory with eight minutes left by backup Seneca Wallace.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--OT Walter Jones did not practice on Wednesday because of a sore shoulder and is questionable for Sunday.

--DT Rocky Bernard did not practice because of a sore groin and is questionable for Sunday's game.

--WR D.J. Hackett participated in Wednesday's practice and could be available to play on Sunday. Hackett has missed the last three games with a high-ankle sprain.

--CB Josh Wilson had limited participation in Wednesday's practice because of a quad injury and is questionable to play in Sunday's game.

--S Mike Green did not practice because of a knee injury but is probable to play in Sunday's game against the Falcons.

--WR Deion Branch had limited participation in practice because of a calf strain but is probable to play on Sunday.

GAME PLAN: Against a team that has lost six straight and endured one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory, the Seahawks should be able to win this game just by stepping on the field. They are likely, however, to focus on their run game, which got untracked last week against Baltimore and is facing the 25th-ranked run defense this week. If that is not successful, Matt Hasselbeck will likely get some throws to get a lead, then be rested in the second half.

INJURY IMPACT: OT Walter Jones will not practice all week and is a game-time decision. Even if he plays, he is not likely to play the entire game. He is good enough to skip the game and be ready for the first round of the playoffs.

DT Rocky Bernard will not practice all week to rest a sore groin that kept him sidelined last week and is not likely to play against the Falcons. He will be replaced by Craig Terrill if he does not play. Bernard never practices so to skip the game would not be a big deal for the veteran.

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