Sun setting on Seahawks’ season

RENTON — Last Wednesday, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren spent part of his weekly press conference praising the concession speech of presidential candidate John McCain.

One week later, he sounded like he was delivering one of his own.

The Seahawks coach didn’t quite raise the flag of surrender during his Wednesday press conference, but it certainly sounded like he was ready to turn his attention away from dreams of postseason play.

“In this business, you have certain goals,” Holmgren said during a noon press conference, “and then all of a sudden the numbers don’t add up, and you change your goals.”

The Seahawks are off to a 2-7 start and will see division-leading Arizona on Sunday. A loss would all but wrap up the NFC West title for the Cardinals (6-3), while a Seattle win would still leave the Seahawks a miracle away from playoff contention.

As Holmgren himself said Wednesday in summing up the season: “The sun is starting to set a little bit.”

Holmgren delivered a similar message to his players earlier in the day, telling them that the original goals were beginning to slip out of reach.

The players, apparently, have not given up.

“As crazy as it sounds, we could probably still make it,” defensive end Darryl Tapp said of the postseason. “If we go ahead and win out, we would definitely put ourselves in there. We’d be 9-7. So we still have a great opportunity. We just have to try to get things turned around.”

Left tackle Walter Jones admits that he’s blissfully ignorant when it comes to the Seahawks’ postseason chances.

“Hopefully, we’ve still got a chance to win it,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t know. I leave it for y’all (in the media) to tell me.

“When we’re out of it, I know you’ll definitely let us know.”

As far as Holmgren is concerned, the playoffs are not a primary goal of the 2008 Seahawks.

So what is their goal?

“The goal is to win the game Sunday,” Holmgren said. “I want them focused on one game, and that’s Sunday.”

Branch is back: Wide receiver Deion Branch practiced last week but was unable to play on Sunday.

Branch was back on the practice field Wednesday, and all indications are that he’ll play against the Cardinals.

“This is probably the best I have felt since I’ve been out,” said Branch, who has missed five games with a bruised heel. “I’m practicing as if I’m playing, and I’m doing what I have to do to get on the field.”

During three seasons with the Seahawks, the 29-year-old Branch has been limited to just 26 games because of a myriad of injuries.

“I think he’ll be fine once he heals up from his injuries,” Holmgren said. “He’s still a young man in this business.”

Healing up? Branch and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck were among the Seahawks players practicing this week, but the team continues to get hit by the injury bug.

Eight players sat out Wednesday’s practice, including four starters.

Defensive end Patrick Kerney continues to be sidelined by a shoulder injury that will keep him out of Sunday’s game. Holmgren said that Kerney is on a “week-to-week” basis.

Fullback Leonard Weaver is also in danger of missing Sunday’s game because of sore ribs. Holmgren said that Weaver has a chance of playing but would have to “get better — quickly.”

Wide receiver Koren Robinson (knee) and running back Julius Jones (illness) watched Wednesday’s practice but should return to action today or Friday. Both are expected to play Sunday.

Also sidelined Wednesday were defensive tackle Red Bryant (ankle), linebacker David Hawthorne (calf), safety C.J. Wallace (hamstring) and quarterback Seneca Wallace (groin).

If Wallace is unavailable Sunday, Charlie Frye would serve as Hasselbeck’s primary backup.

Quick slants: Wide receiver Courtney Taylor was back working with the first team on Wednesday, one day after getting re-signed to the active roster. He had been on the practice squad since Oct. 8, but returned to the active roster when receiver Keary Colbert was cut earlier this week. … The Seahawks re-signed wide receiver Trenton Shelton to the practice squad to fill Taylor’s former spot.

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