Hasselbeck, Branch, other starters out of practice

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Seven days off still wasn't enough for Matt Hasselbeck and some other Seahawks starters.

Seattle's quarterback wore a knit cap instead of a helmet as he rested his strained oblique during practice Monday, the team's first day back from a bye-week vacation given by coach Mike Holmgren.

Receiver Deion Branch, right tackle Sean Locklear and left guard Rob Sims also sat out as trainers tried to capitalize on another players' off day Tuesday to get extended rest for some sore starters.

Holmgren wasn't exactly thrilled that a seven-day break will end up being nine for Hasselbeck and friends.

"It wasn't my call. It was our training staff," said Holmgren, who spent his week off riding his motorcycle at his desert home outside Phoenix. "I wanted them to practice, and I think we are being a little careful, you know. But I will go with what they tell me."

The coach then issued a promise: "They are all practicing Wednesday."

Hasselbeck said after practice that "I haven't tested it too much but I think I'll be fine."

His hiatus allowed for the return to relevance of Charlie Frye, but just for one day.

Though it was only practice, Frye ran a starting offense for the first time since Sept. 9 when he began the season as Cleveland's starting quarterback against Pittsburgh. He was benched early in that ugly loss. Two days later, Cleveland traded him to Seattle for a sixth-round draft pick.

The NFC West-leading Seahawks (4-3) play at surging Cleveland (4-3) on Sunday.

Frye has been the Seahawks' third-string quarterback, not appearing in a game and only in practice with the scout team until he also ran the first team Monday. Usual backup quarterback Seneca Wallace also took snaps with the starting offense.

Hasselbeck, who had the best September of his career, was injured when St. Louis pass rusher Claude Wroten drilled him in the rib cage as he threw an incomplete pass in the second quarter of a 33-6 win Oct. 21. Hasselbeck finished the game, but was in such need of treatment in the ensuing days that he had to cancel a family vacation to Disneyland during the bye week.

"Now I get to listen to everybody else talk about the fun, exciting trips," Hasselbeck said, adding he was one of about six Seahawks training room regulars last week.

Branch has missed the last two games after spraining his foot in the first half of a 21-0 loss at Pittsburgh Oct. 7. Holmgren said he expects Branch to start Sunday.

"He's still a little sore, so I think we're being real careful with him," Holmgren said, reiterating the word for the day.

Two starters had surgeries during the bye week. Defensive end Darryl Tapp, who tied the team record with four sacks in the Rams game, got six screws inserted into a broken bone below the ring finger of his right hand. Holmgren said Tapp may play against the Browns while wearing a cast over the hand.

Asked how long the screws will stay in, Tapp smiled and said, "Forever. A memento from the Seahawks."

Starting tight end Marcus Pollard had arthroscopic surgery that found partially torn meniscus cartilage in his right knee. Holmgren said doctors estimate a two-week recovery time for the 35-year-old Pollard, making him unlikely to play Sunday.

Pollard, who has played most of his six games this season with the help of pain medication, laughed and said the coach "gave me one week, and told me to be ready for San Francisco," Seattle's opponent Nov. 12.

"I do feel lucky," Pollard said of doctors not finding more damage. "I kind of wish I would have had it done three weeks ago."

Will Heller, who caught a career-high two touchdown passes in Pollard's place against St. Louis, will likely start again at Cleveland.

"This is the latest bye I can remember us having," Holmgren said, "and it came at the right time."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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