RENTON, Wash. -- The wounded Seattle Seahawks' Sunday date with Peyton Manning and the undefeated Indianapolis Colts is one of the most daunting challenges in Jim Mora's four seasons as an NFL head coach.
At the most fundamental level is simply having enough quality players available.
Matt Hasselbeck's broken rib still isn't healthy enough, so Mora said Friday that his three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is "very doubtful" to return this weekend and play against the Colts. Hasselbeck has been out since he was hurt on a dive for the goal line during a Sept. 20 game in San Francisco.
At least Hasselbeck is making the team flight to Indiana on Saturday morning. That's more than Mora could say about Walter Jones.
Jones, a nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle, will not make his season debut Sunday as the team ruled him out on its injury report. Jones has slowed his attempt to return from two knee surgeries since last winter.
This week, Mora said the thought has crossed his mind that the 35-year-old anchor of Seattle's offensive line for the last decade might not play at all this season.
The Seahawks will have recent Miami Dolphins castoff Brandon Frye at left tackle protecting backup quarterback Seneca Wallace's blind side for the second consecutive game. Frye is battling through a sore groin, leaving Mora to say it's possible the team will add a left tackle to the active roster before Saturday afternoon.
On defense, the secondary likely will be without two starting cornerbacks.
Marcus Trufant is out until at least Nov. 1 with a disk issue in his back. Mora said fill-in starter Josh Wilson's status will be a game-time decision. Wilson is one week removed from a high ankle sprain and watched much of Friday's practice.
The other starting cornerback, Ken Lucas, will play through a groin injury.
Safety Jordan Babineaux is probable with a sore shoulder. That has had summer pickup Travis Fisher playing more on passing downs.
The Seahawks do have some good news: Lofa Tatupu will return Sunday. The three-time Pro Bowl pick and leader of the defense missed last Sunday's loss to the Chicago Bears with a hamstring injury sustained the previous week.
"We've still got guys who we're looking forward to getting back, but we're starting to fill up again, which is nice," Mora said, referring to the 13 starters who have been banged up the last two weeks.
Tatupu's return is timely. The middle linebacker and defensive play-caller must match wits with Manning, who wins many of his plays before they begin by outsmarting a defense.
"He understands defenses almost as well as his offense," Tatupu said. "That's dangerous."
Mora has the Seahawks ditching their usual system against a no-huddle offense, which calls for Tatupu to receive hand signals from the sideline and then relay the call by voice to the rest of the defense before the snap.
Mora knows Manning is capable of deciphering Tatupu's calls and adjusting his play call to beat Seattle's alignment.
So it's hand signals and head nods among Seahawks defenders Sunday. Mora said he has never used that system as much as he will in Indianapolis.
"Peyton Manning presents unique problems, in that he is so intelligent. He accumulates so much knowledge throughout the game," Mora said. "The less we communicate verbally throughout a game, the fewer cues we will give him to what we are doing."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press