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Alexander looking forward to removal of cast

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- For weeks, Shaun Alexander's cast has been getting more attention than his running.

What color is it? How big is it? What kind is it?

"The cast is a great fashion statement -- but I am already ready for it to end," the Seahawks' star running back said Thursday, three days before he plays for the fourth game with a cast protecting his cracked left wrist, Sunday at Pittsburgh (3-1).

For the record: Alexander practiced Thursday in a smaller, black cast.

The Seahawks (3-1) first announced that Alexander sprained his wrist in a win over Tampa Bay Sept. 9. But last week Alexander said he cracked the wrist in that opening game. He initially played with a bulbous, white cast encased in athletic tape but is now using the smaller, black cast.

How much longer will he be wearing it? Coach Mike Holmgren said he doesn't know. Neither does Alexander.

"I know I'm healing at an incredible rate," he said with a chuckle. "All the doctors are amazed with how well I healed.

"I asked them, 'What's that mean?' And they said, 'We don't know.' That's great."

Alexander said he will probably get a third X-ray on the wrist following the game against the Steelers. Next he'll be wearing green, "and maybe purple the week after that."

"I'll still wear the cast until fashion season is over," he said.

Alexander said it's taken him time to get used to running with the cast. And he has dropped passes trying to catch them with his good arm.

He had just 78 yards on 25 carries in last weekend's win at San Francisco. The average of 3.1 yards per carry was his lowest since his first game back last season from missing six weeks with a broken foot. He is averaging 3.9 yards per carry for the season, a half-yard below his average for his career.

His 353 yards rushing -- most of which have come late in wins -- is his lowest total at this point in a season in which he has played the first four games since 2003.

The Seahawks' offense would be sunk if not for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has had his highest completion percentage (67.2) for an opening month of his career.

"I think that, for us, as the running team, we would like to establish the run better, earlier," Alexander said. "I'm actually running pretty well. I think it took me a little bit, a while, after the first game to kind of get my balance running with a cast. Overall, I think it's going pretty good."

Notes: Alexander's backup, Maurice Morris, missed practice due to a hip injury. Morris missed two games with the same injury before playing about a dozen plays last weekend against the 49ers, often while paired with FB Leonard Weaver. ... Starting DT Rocky Bernard (ankle) returned to practice after missing Wednesday. Rookie LB Will Herring (knee), who has been good on special teams, also returned. ... Backup TE Ben Joppru missed his second consecutive day of practice with an ankle injury. And top rookie draft pick Josh Wilson, a DB who had been returning some kicks, remained out with a sprained ankle. Holmgren has said he expects Wilson to miss perhaps two weeks. ... Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was back to full participation in practice after being limited Wednesday with a bruised foot.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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