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Sore Hasselbeck won't practice much, but will start against Rams

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Matt Hasselbeck said Sunday his ribs were so sore from getting hit while shredding the Bears, he needed sympathy at home from his wife.

Monday, the Seahawks' quarterback got some from his coach.

Mike Holmgren said Hasselbeck is unlikely to practice this week before Seattle (6-4) takes its NFC West lead to St. Louis (2-8) on Sunday, but he will start against the Rams.

"Matt's not going to practice much this week, if at all," Holmgren said, one day after Hasselbeck continued perhaps his best season by completing 30 of 44 throws for 337 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-23 win over Chicago.

"I talked about it with him today. What he has to do is prepare himself to play without getting the practice time. And I think he can do this. It's not unprecedented at the quarterback position. He can pull it off."

Hasselbeck, who may throw on the side before week's end, broke into the NFL a decade ago watching a master at such no-practice preparation. He was the backup in Green Bay to Brett Favre, the league's all-time leader in consecutive games played at the position.

On Sunday, Hasselbeck had the second-most completions of his career and his third 300-yard passing day of the season. He did it despite an early hit that left him getting electrical stimulation on his right side between offensive series and "some things (that) made it feel better" at halftime, he said.

"It was a physical game. They get a lot of hits on you," Hasselbeck said immediately after beating the blitzing Bears.

"When you win a game, you feel no pain for a while. I don't know if it is adrenaline or what, but it's like tomorrow morning is when you find out how you really feel."

Monday, he found out -- not good.

"He took a shot in the ribs and he's real sore. Had ice all over his body when I went down (to the training room) to see him," Holmgren said.

"But he's going to play. He'll play. He's liking it, so nothing's going to keep him out of a game."

"It" is Holmgren beginning the third week of using a wide-open passing offense in lieu of a stalled running game. The philosophical shift also gives Hasselbeck the freedom to drop back into shotgun formation almost whenever he wants. Sunday, he used it 16 times. He said it made throwing so easy it felt like cheating.

The Seahawks had been meandering around .500, underachieving for months. Now, they are 2-0 and Hasselbeck has completed 68 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and just one interception since the pass-happy times began.

But Hasselbeck is feeling the one downside: getting hit too much while throwing an average of 36.4 passes per game this season. His previous career high for average attempts was 33.8 in 2004.

His sore ribs come three weeks after he strained an oblique muscle near the same area while getting hit during an incomplete pass in a win over St. Louis.

"Yeah, that's a concern," Holmgren said. "He gets banged around, but he likes (the current offense). The receivers I know like it."

Those receivers also like how tough Hasselbeck has been.

Bobby Engram, who had eight more catches Sunday to leave him with a team-high 60, thinks that toughness is what is different in Hasselbeck after an injury- and struggle-filled 2006.

"He's playing tough. Standing in the pocket, scrambling around, that kind of tough," Engram said.

Running back Shaun Alexander, who has missed the last two wins and is getting forgotten around Seattle, may also miss the Rams game because of his sprained left knee. Holmgren wants the struggling 2005 league MVP to practice a full week before returning.

"Until he can practice on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, he is not going to play. He's on board with that. I've talked with him," Holmgren said, adding that Alexander may be getting a smaller cast for his broken left wrist that doctors are insisting he wear for the rest of the season.

Unless Alexander gets back on the field unexpectedly Wednesday, Maurice Morris will make his third consecutive start Sunday. Morris has rushed for 89 and 87 yards in place of Alexander and has two touchdowns - as many as Alexander had in eight games before that.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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