Matt Hasselbeck pronounced yesterday his healthiest Monday of the season and said he "definitely thinks" he will start at quarterback when the Seahawks host the Atlanta Falcons...

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KIRKLAND — Matt Hasselbeck pronounced yesterday his healthiest Monday of the season and said he “definitely thinks” he will start at quarterback when the Seahawks host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Hasselbeck did not play in the Seahawks’ playoff-clinching win over the Arizona Cardinals because of an injury to his throwing elbow.

“My hope is he’ll be healthy enough to play in this week’s game,” coach Mike Holmgren said.

The Cardinals game was the second Hasselbeck missed because of injury this season. He returned the week after the Seahawks beat the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 21 and completed 19 of 38 passes for 185 yards, a touchdown and an interception as the Seahawks were thumped 38-9 by the Buffalo Bills.

Holmgren said he would like Hasselbeck to practice when the team resumes workouts tomorrow and that he won’t rest a healthy Hasselbeck even if the Seahawks are already locked into their playoff position.

“If he can play, he’s going to play,” Holmgren said. “I’m not going to rest him for another week if he can play. I’m saying that right now, and then we’ll see. We don’t have to make that decision until (later).”

Let ’em play!

Holmgren was emphatic in his protest over an unnecessary roughness call against Seahawks cornerback Ken Lucas in the fourth quarter Sunday, after it appeared the Seahawks had tackled Arizona’s Emmitt Smith for a big loss on third-and-one.

Holmgren came several yards onto the field after officials flagged Lucas for apparently continuing to try to tackle Smith after a whistle had blown.

“That type of call in that type of situation, they usually let go,” Holmgren said. “There was a whistle, there was lots of whistles. … I mean that was a game-changing penalty. Now if we came in and speared somebody on the ground or hit the quarterback late or something like that, I understand that one. I didn’t think it needed to be called. Really, quite honestly, Lucas didn’t slam him down to the ground. I didn’t like the call.”

Lucas appeared to be trying to strip the ball from Smith rather than wrestle him to the ground with malicious intent.

“He was still trying to pump and break the tackle, so I was still playing,” Lucas said.

Bobby’s back

Bobby Engram will stay on in his latest role because, as Holmgren put it, “He’s our best punt returner.”

Engram’s 48-yard return Sunday set up a touchdown. Holmgren said it might have been the biggest play of the game, because the Seahawks trailed 7-0 at the time and needed a big play to break out of a funk.

It seemed so out of character, the Seahawks racing down the field on a punt return, breaking one wide open.

But there was Engram, playing on the same bum ankle he has played on for weeks, taking the ball up the right sideline after a cutback. Engram replaced Maurice Morris, whose indecisiveness in calling for a fair catch and then running with the ball on the first punt of the game brought about the switch.

Engram sprained an ankle earlier in the season, and his absence gave Morris the job.

Injury update

Holmgren received good news yesterday on fullback Mack Strong (bruised quadriceps), safety Michael Boulware (sprained left foot) and left tackle Walter Jones (left ankle), who left the game Sunday with injuries.

“I think they’ll all be able to play in the game Sunday,” Holmgren said. “Initial reports were that a couple of those things were more serious than they turned out to be after we did our scans.”


* Falcons coach Jim Mora said he expects QB Michael Vick (shoulder) to play against the Seahawks. With the NFC’s No. 2 seed already secured, Mora sat Vick last Sunday. Tight end Alge Crumpler, RB T.J. Duckett, NT Ed Jasper and CB Jason Webster also didn’t play in Atlanta’s 26-13 loss at New Orleans.

* There are close to 1,000 tickets left for the Atlanta game. They’re available by calling 1-888-NFL-HAWK.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.