RENTON — Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t around Monday to confirm the good news, but it appears likely he will return from a five-game injury absence to start Sunday’s contest against the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field.
Hasselbeck, a three-time Pro Bowler, has not played since an Oct. 5 road game against the New York Giants. Hasselbeck hyperextended his right knee in that game, and doctors later determined there was weakness in his leg prior to the injury because of a bulging disk in his back.
After getting blown out that day in New York, the slumping Seahawks have since dropped four of five games — including a 21-19 setback at Miami last Sunday — to fall to 2-7, tied for last in the NFC’s West Division. Seattle needs to win its remaining seven games to finish with a winning record and, almost certainly, to have even an outside shot at a playoff spot.
Even with a healthy Hasselbeck, the odds of either one happening seem scant. Still, at this stage the Seahawks will happily take a lift wherever they can get it.
“Any time you get a player back who’s been injured at any position, I think you get a little boost,” pointed out Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren.
The team will take today off and return to the practice field on Wednesday. At that point Hasselbeck, who got in some passing work at practice late last week, is expected to be back working with the first team.
If all goes well, Holmgren said, Hasselbeck will start Sunday against the West Division-leading Cardinals.
“I probably should see how he practices (this week),” Holmgren added. “But I don’t think there’ll be any change in that. He threw the ball around a little bit last Friday, and if he can do those things and if he moves fine (at practice), yeah, he’ll probably start.”
Seattle’s offense was spotty even in the three-plus games in which Hasselbeck played, but has really struggled since his injury. Injuries to other players have also contributed, of course, but it’s hard to compensate for the absence of a Pro Bowl quarterback.
“He’s played more football (than backups Seneca Wallace and Charlie Frye, who have filled in for Hasselbeck in recent weeks),” Holmgren said. “So he’s seen more things. And he can get us out of a bad play maybe a little bit easier.”
On Monday, the Seahawks watched film of their loss in Miami and tended to injuries from that game. Most then left the team’s practice facility without talking to the media.
One of the few who met with reporters was wide receiver Keary Colbert. No doubt speaking for all his teammates, he said he was looking forward to Hasselbeck’s return.
“He’s obviously been here for a while, and he means a lot to this organization,” Colbert said. “Obviously he’s another weapon. He’s a great quarterback and he’s done great things here, and I think everybody is kind of looking forward to him getting back.”
There is some irony to Sunday’s visit by the Cardinals. In recent years the Seahawks pretty much had their way with Arizona while running off four straight division titles. This year the Cardinals lead the division, and they can pad their standings margin by beating Seattle.
That said, Holmgren is unwilling to suggest his team will try to be a spoiler on Sunday.
“It’s still a little early for that,” he said. “I’m not going to talk that way yet. Look, it’d have to be a heck of a deal (for the Seahawks to turn their season around). But, no, not quite yet.”