The latest ailment in Matt Hasselbeck's season-long litany of injuries appears to have improved enough for the Seahawks quarterback to start tomorrow against Arizona. That wasn't the only...
KIRKLAND — The latest ailment in Matt Hasselbeck’s season-long litany of injuries appears to have improved enough for the Seahawks quarterback to start tomorrow against Arizona.
That wasn’t the only good news coming out of team headquarters on Christmas Eve. Linebacker Chad Brown and receiver Darrell Jackson also practiced and should start against the Cardinals. Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard practiced and will play.
And, for the first time this season, the Seahawks’ four top receivers — Jackson, Jerry Rice, Koren Robinson and Bobby Engram — will be on the field at the same time.
Hasselbeck didn’t throw in practice yesterday so the Seahawks could rest his sore elbow. Trent Dilfer took the snaps with the first team, making him ready if he needs to play.
Asked if Hasselbeck would be a game-time decision, coach Mike Holmgren said, “It’s better than that.”
Holmgren said Rice will start with Jackson at wide receiver but added that Robinson will play. The Seahawks placed Robinson on the active roster yesterday. Holmgren didn’t see any signs of rust for Robinson after a five-week layoff — missing one game for violating team rules and four more for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
“He’s moving well, and he caught the ball,” Holmgren said. “Now, to say that it’s the same, I don’t know. We’ll see. To me, eyeball test, he passed.”
The Seahawks are reversing the order of their two-man platoon at middle linebacker, starting rookie Niko Koutouvides against the Cardinals, then bringing in the usual starter, Orlando Huff. Their statistics this season are nearly identical — 50 tackles for Koutouvides, 46 for Huff, one sack apiece.
Defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes said the move was born more from what the rookie did right than what the veteran did wrong.
“It’s exciting,” Koutouvides said. “I’m not going to prepare any different than I was. I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing. Any given time, I’m one play away from being a starter anyway. This is a big game for us. Guys have to get better. We have to get better as a whole team. That includes me. I just need to do what got me in the NFL — play football.”
Green backs Willingham
It seems like every coach in the NFL belongs to the Tyrone Willingham fan club, and Cardinals coach Dennis Green joined those ranks this week. He talked about playing against Washington when he coached at Stanford and how many Huskies were from California, a pipeline Green said Willingham will reestablish.
He talked about accountability. And he let reporters in on something else, something not often said about Willingham.
“He has a healthy sense of humor,” Green said. “He likes to say stuff and make you laugh, and he won’t crack a smile. Notre Dame’s loss is your gain. I don’t think they appreciated him. There is nothing worse to a coach than feeling underappreciated. Bottom line is, I think it’s better for him now. He will rebuild your program.”
Holmgren knows the drill.
“Sometimes, these guys go from a place that is kind of loaded in the defensive line and maybe he’s not the man,” Holmgren said. “And then you go to a team that they’re counting on you to put up numbers, and then all of a sudden, they just blossom. That appears to be what he’s done.”
Holmgren was talking about Arizona defensive end Bertrand Berry. After leaving Denver last season, Berry has 42 tackles, 12-1/2 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
“Bert Berry is our leader,” Green said. “He plays hard, he is a very good pass-rush guy, but he also can go inside, move inside and do the dirty work of stopping the run.”
Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or firstname.lastname@example.org