RENTON – Set against a complex backdrop of misinformation, the Seattle Seahawks on Monday announced that starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will miss Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of myriad injuries.
Hasselbeck injured his back in the preseason. Then he injured his knee against the New York Giants on Oct. 5. Now the back is flaring up. Which is affecting the knee. Or the leg. Or something like that.
“Honestly, as far as all the technical stuff, I wouldn’t be able to help you much there,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. “The fact is, right now, they’re dealing with his back more than his knee.”
Which means the Seahawks will take their 1-4 record into Tampa Bay for a nationally televised game with, well, they don’t yet know who will play quarterback.
Hasselbeck’s regular backup, Seneca Wallace, aggravated a calf injury that limited his mobility last week, leaving it to Charlie Frye to start against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Frye did not play particularly well, so Holmgren hopes that Wallace’s health improves enough to start against the Buccaneers (4-2).
But Holmgren said he will have to see how Wallace performs in practice this week before he decides who will start.
The Hasselbeck injury is mysterious because there had been no indication from the team last week that Hasselbeck had been suffering back problems.
In fact, the Seahawks all season have downplayed Hasselbeck’s back issues, as has the 10-year veteran.
In the team’s first exhibition game in Minnesota, Hasselbeck suffered an unspecified back injury.
He later said he had tweaked something in practice during the week, which caused discomfort on the flight to Minneapolis, though Holmgren said Monday that he had never been informed of Hasselbeck having a problem prior to the Vikings game.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” Holmgren said. “I thought it was the play in the Minnesota game, that one pass he threw.”
Hasselbeck missed the rest of the exhibition schedule because of the back injury, with Holmgren saying it was mostly precautionary; Hasselbeck was the one player they could not afford to lose, he said.
On the morning of the season opener against Buffalo, ESPN reported that Hasselbeck had a bulging disk in his back and had to receive an injection to help it heal.
When Holmgren was asked about it after the 34-10 loss, he was dismissive of the severity of the injury.
“He tweaked his back,” Holmgren said. “He did get an injection in there of medicine to kind of make it better. But that’s all it is. It is not a big deal. A bulging disk? I have a bulging disk. You have a bulging disk. Everybody does. I think if you play football for a while, and they look at your back, you are going to have a disk in there that looks funky. That’s all it is. It doesn’t bother him at all. It is fine now.”
Hasselbeck expressed similar sentiments.
“That is not really what was hurting, my back,” Hasselbeck said. “From what I was told is that 85 percent of the world would look the same if they MRI’d it, and it was probably five or six years old. That is not really why my back was hurt. It was really minor in terms of the injuries I have had.”
Hasselbeck then hyperextended the knee in the first quarter of the Giants game, though he continued to play until the game got so out of hand that Holmgren yanked him at the end of the third quarter.
Hasselbeck did not speak with Seattle reporters last week, but he told Green Bay reporters on a conference call that he would play against the Buccaneers.
“The knee’s not too bad,” Hasselbeck said Wednesday. “We’re being cautious with it today, so I think I’m just going to watch today. But that wasn’t my choice. I wanted to get out there today. It should be fine tomorrow.”
Hasselbeck did not appear to be walking with much of a limp as the week progressed, though Holmgren said Friday that Hasselbeck had not been given the green light by team doctors to play.
When Holmgren was asked what exactly was restricting Hasselbeck, he did not supply specifics.
“He’s restricted. That’s it,” Holmgren said. “We’re just not going to put him at risk out there, that’s the main thing.”
When it became clear that Hasselbeck was not responding to treatment, he went to a specialist in Los Angeles after Sunday’s loss, who determined, Holmgren said, that Hasselbeck’s bulging disk is affecting the strength in his injured leg.
“As it turns out, his back situation that he had aggravated in our preseason was actually creating the problem with his leg,” Holmgren said Monday. “So now we know where we’re headed as far as treatment, and it’s tied in with the disk situation. As soon as he can pass (strength tests) in his leg, then we can get him back on the field. My hope is that we will have him available for the (San Francisco) game” on Oct. 26.
Holmgren said he did not know how a knee injury could trigger the back injury, though he speculated that Hasselbeck compensating for the knee caused irritation that pinched a nerve that affected the leg.
Wide receiver Deion Branch could return this week from a heel bruise. Tight end Will Heller will miss this week’s game with a ligament strain.