By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
KIRKLAND – While almost all the Seattle Seahawks’ young players saw extended playing time in Sunday’s 30-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, rookie running back Shaun Alexander watched most of the game from the sidelines.
In the final three weeks of the season, that should change.
Coach Mike Holmgren, without getting specific, said Alexander will probably play more down the stretch.
“I don’t know what that means, just more snaps,” Holmgren said. “Now whether he touches the ball more, I don’t know.”
The reason Alexander sat for most of Sunday’s game was because of Ricky Watters’ pursuit of 10,000 career yards, a milestone he attained in the third quarter. Watters needs 50 yards this weekend at Denver to break the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth straight year.
Holmgren said he knows how well Alexander runs the football, but that he would like to see improvement in his pass-catching and blocking.
Despite the coach’s vote of confidence, Alexander realizes there are no guarantees.
“I don’t expect anything,” he said. “That’s what I’ve learned after being a sophomore (in high school) with an All-American in front of me, then being a freshman in college with an all-SEC guy in front of me. Now I’ve got Ricky Watters in front of me. I just get ready for everything. You can’t expect anything because you never know what’s going to happen.”
As for next season, Holmgren is not looking that far ahead.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Holmgren said. “I would suggest that I have to be creative and get them both in the game more together. That will be my challenge.”
Another reason could be the fact that his numbers are consistent but not eye-popping.
Watters has rushed for 100 or more yards only 11 times in the past four seasons, a span of 61 games. By comparison, Indianapolis’ Edgerrin James rushed for at least 100 yards in 16 of his first 29 NFL contests.
After posting a 69.7 quarterback rating through the first 10 games of this season – good for 14th in the AFC – he has an 88.1 rating over the past four weeks. The latter mark is the third-best in the AFC during that span (behind Baltimore’s Trent Dilfer and Oakland’s Rich Gannon) and the fifth-best in the NFL.
On the season, Kitna ranks 11th in the AFC with a 74.8 rating.
“You just go through times like I was earlier this season where just about anything that could go wrong goes wrong,” Kitna said when asked the reason for his turnaround. “You have a little slump, and maybe the team’s not playing as well as we would like, then everything gets magnified. When you’re losing, it’s going to come down on the quarterback.
“It’s just about sticking with it. A lot of it goes to my teammates. They believe in me, and I really believe that.”
“They hold a lot,” he said with a shrug.
When asked if he was joking, Holmgren added: “No. They hold a lot.”