Mike Holmgren said after Friday's practice that Rocky Bernard and Niko Koutouvides will not play Sunday against Atlanta, and there is a chance that neither Walter Jones nor Deion Branch will either. "I have not yet decided about Jones and Branch," Holmgren said. "They are going on the trip."
Holmgren said three of the four will be available for the playoffs, Koutouvides is a question mark there.
Holmgren said Branch tweaked his calf a little bit, and that he should be OK but that they are being overly cautious for obvious reasons.
As for Walter and why he would bother playing him, Holmgren said: "I think I want to start off the game and I want to play well. Walter has played a long time and doesn't miss games. His condition has not changed much all season long so I don't think the game will change that. I haven't decided if he is going to play."
If Jones does not play, Locklear will slide to left tackle and Pork Chop will play the right side, or Chop will just play the left tackle. If Branch does not play, Bobby Engram will start at flanker with DJ Hackett at split end.
Holmgren spoke to the team for longer than usual after he handed out game balls, which were given to Leonard Weaver (offense), Leroy Hill (defense) and, as Holmgren said, "the young Kevin Hobbs" (special teams).
"I wanted to make sure they understood a few things about what this game is about and how we want to approach the rest of the season," Holmgren said of his extended soliloquy. "Just took a little more time than normal."
For the first time this year, Holmgren said he didn't think they had a good week of practice. "Thought we started off kind of slow at the beginning of the week, to be honest," Holmgren said. "Cut practice short on Wednesday, sent them in. After that they picked it up and practiced the way I want them to practice."
Holmgren said he thought Brandon Mebane should be considered for rookie of the year. "Now he is a little short squatty guy that no one thinks about. But he is a good football player and has played very well. He really has. He has been great for us. We lost Darby and the sky is falling. But uh uh. We miss Chuck. But Mebane came in and did a great job."
Practice ended with Patrick Kerney taking Darryl Tapp's helmet, sprinting the length of the field, scoring a touchdown and spiking the helmet. The vets told rookie Josh Wilson to go retrieve the helmet from the end zone, but Wilson sprinted through the door before he could be corralled.