Sore back to sideline Hasselbeck for San Diego game
RENTON – In a training camp riddled with more injuries than Seattle’s Mike Holmgren can remember enduring through all of his years as head coach, perhaps the most nagging of all has been the ailing back of his starting quarterback.
Matt Hasselbeck missed his third day of practice with a tight back Friday, and Holmgren said he will not play in the Seahawks’ game in San Diego on Monday against the Chargers, and likely will not travel with the team.
With Hasselbeck missing his second straight preseason game, third-string quarterback Charlie Frye will start again and likely play most of the game. However, Holmgren said backup Seneca Wallace, who was slowed by a groin injury earlier this week, will be available and could play on Monday.
A rash of injuries to several potential starters offensively has forced Holmgren to alter his traditional strategy for the third preseason game. Usually the starters play the first half and the first series of the second half, using the third game to prepare for the regular-season opener.
But with injuries to Hasselbeck, center Chris Spencer, right tackle Sean Locklear and receivers Bobby Engram and Deion Branch, Holmgren will play it cautious on offense, choosing to use his starters sparingly with the hopes of keeping them injury-free.
“Our injury list is pretty big,” Holmgren said. “Our wide receiver position is kind of odd when you consider getting down to 53. So it made me look at the third game differently than I have in the past.
“In the past, I always wanted the starters to come out in the third quarter. That’s not the case this time. It could happen with a few guys, but that’s not the purpose of the third game this time.”
After returning to practice on a limited basis on Monday, Spencer worked with the first unit during drills Friday and held up well.
Holmgren said he will continue to work Spencer in slowly, which means he likely will not see action against the Chargers. However, because Spencer has not played in any preseason games, Holmgren may play him against Oakland in the last preseason game to check Spencer’s progress.
“There’s two ways to look at,” Holmgren said of Spencer. “One is he’s feeling better and I want him to feel good for the opener. But then the other side of the coin is he hasn’t really played a competitive down. He probably has to do that. So just how much he does, I’ll have to wait and see.”
Spencer said his back feels good and he’s close to being ready.
“It took way longer,” Spencer said about getting his back strong enough to return to the field. “But that’s the thing they say with backs – it just takes time. They said with a normal person just take six to eight weeks and hang out, but this business you can’t do that.”
Rookie defensive lineman Red Bryant also went through team drills for the first time since injuring his knee and having surgery three weeks ago to repair damaged cartilage. Holmgren said Bryant probably will not play against San Diego, but may see time in the final preseason game.
“I like Red,” Holmgren said. “He is a great young guy and a big, strong player that we looked at as contributing this year. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt, but now he’s feeling good and he’s back. So I have my fingers crossed that he can get some playing time and feel good before the opener.”
With Holmgren giving the team the day off Thursday, the Seahawks rented a charter bus and attended a movie, seeing “Pineapple Express” at a theatre in Bellevue. “Their legs were pretty tired,” Holmgren said. “They’ve worked very hard in training camp so that was an easy call.” ... Rookie Brandon Coutu
missed practice with an undisclosed injury Friday. … Seneca Wallace
says his legs feel fine and he’s ready to go after sitting out practice earlier this week with a groin injury. “I’ve been here six years,” he said. “And if I don’t know what to do when I step up to the line of scrimmage, there’s a problem. But I’m just going to continue to work, and whenever Mike (Holmgren) calls on me to play I’ll be ready.” ... Holmgren also said he’s anxious to see how the young receivers perform in preseason games over the next two weeks to see which ones start to separate themselves.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437