KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) -Unexpectedly, nothing came on the side for Matt Hasselbeck on Friday.
The Seahawks were hoping their quarterback might be able to throw on the side sometime before the NFC West leaders (6-4) flew to St. Louis to play the Rams (2-8) on Sunday. Instead, Hasselbeck asked into Friday's practice and was in the middle of the field running the offense for the first time all week.
That pain in his side, which he's had since taking a hit in the ribs during last weekend's win over Chicago? That didn't happen, either.
``I was Tylenol-free today, so that's good,'' said a smiling Hasselbeck, who had his third 300-yard game of the season against the Bears and the second-most completions (30) of his career.
Coach Mike Holmgren, who had watched backup Seneca Wallace take all the snaps Wednesday and Thursday, was pleased.
``Yeah, he took a big jump,'' Holmgren said of Hasselbeck's health. ``I was encouraged by that.''
Not only will Hasselbeck start against the Rams as planned, he said he will do so feeling the best he has all season - and with more preparation than expected. That can only help Seattle's most consistent offensive player this season, who is ranked in the NFC's top five in attempts (364), completions (230), touchdowns (17) and passer rating (91.3) and is taking advantage of Holmgren emphasizing passing over a stalled running game.
``I feel really good compared to some of the games I've gone in before and said, 'Oh, I wonder how I am going to get through this game.' This is not one of those games,'' said Hasselbeck, who strained his right oblique muscle near where his current injury is when the Seahawks beat the Rams 33-6 on Oct. 21.
``I feel as close to 100 percent as I've felt.''
As a bonus, Hasselbeck came back to practice on a day the Seahawks were ironing out new plays Holmgren has added to the offense.
Hasselbeck said the flak jacket he was wearing throughout practice Friday will not be a big deal Sunday. That's because he said he's worn one for ``every game, my whole life.''
He may need it against St. Louis. Hasselbeck said despite their woeful record and Seattle routing them last time, the Rams' defense poses problems because coordinator Jim Haslett devises blitzes and coverages no one else uses.
Hasselbeck still recalls St. Louis pass rusher Claude Wroten drilling him in the side in the team's last meeting.
``There's no doubt they are going to get some hits on the quarterback. They are going to make some plays,'' Hasselbeck said of a Rams defense ranked 28th in the league in points allowed per game (25.7). ``We've just got to weather the storm.''
So his days without pain relievers aren't over.
``I will probably have two (tablets) on Sunday,'' he said.
Left tackle Walter Jones (sore shoulders), wide receiver D.J. Hackett (sore left knee) and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (groin) also returned to practice. Holmgren said all will start Sunday.
The only ailing starter who won't is Shaun Alexander. The increasingly forgotten league MVP from two seasons ago remained out with a sprained left knee, though he did some work with a trainer on the indoor field while his teammates practiced outside.
Holmgren reiterated Alexander will not play and said the struggling runner may not even make Saturday's trip.
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