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Matt Hasselbeck’s left wrist is just fine, but thanks for asking.
That was the word from the Seahawks’ quarterback on Thursday, when he talked to reporters for the first time since cracking a bone in the wrist on his non-throwing arm during last week’s victory over the Cardinals in Arizona that left the team in sole possession of first place in the NFC West.
“I can do everything. There are no limitations,” Hasselbeck said.
There were on Wednesday, when he did not take direct snaps while under center or handoff to the backs in running drills. But those were precautionary measures, Hasselbeck stressed. Thursday, still no direct snaps, but he did handle the handoffs – as well as everything else as the Seahawks continued preparing for Sunday’s game against the Saints in New Orleans.
“I’m really not in that much pain at all,” he said. “I actually feel like I dodged a bullet. I’m not concerned at all.”
While the status report on the wrist was fine, that’s not exactly the word he would use about stepping into the line of fire against a Saints defense that ranks third in the league in overall and No. 1 against the pass, allowing averages of 277 and 166.3 yards.
“It’s a huge challenge facing this defense,” Hasselbeck said. “They’ve got a great defensive coordinator in Gregg Williams, they’re very aggressive on third down, they empty the middle of the field, their corners go for interceptions.
“It’ll be a challenge and we’ve got to do it on the road at their place with the crowd noise. So I can’t imagine a tougher scenario. But it’s OK. I think we’re excited to try.”
Hasselbeck will get no argument from offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates on either of those assessments.
Bates on Hasselbeck’s wrist: “He’s good. Nothing’s wrong with him. He’s out there playing like he’s 13-years old, as usual, and competing.”
Bates on the Saints’ Williams-coordinator defense: “I have a lot of respect for Gregg. I’ve known him for a long time and really respect what he does defensively. Every year he does something different, so he’s ahead of the curve. They’re playing really aggressive football right now and flying around the field. … We’ve got a big challenge.”
But the Seahawks plan to attack that aggression with aggression.
After a two-week slump, where they scored 10 points and generated 326 yards in back-to-back losses to the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants, the Seahawks were the aggressors while putting up a season-high 36 points against the Cardinals – when Hasselbeck passed for 333 yards, despite missing half the third quarter while having his wrist tended to.
The Seahawks threw deep – as evidenced by Hasselbeck’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Deon Butler, as well as his completions of 44 yards to tight end Chris Baker, 40 yards to Ben Obomanu and 32 yards to Mike Williams.
The line provided Hasselbeck the time needed to make “more seven-step drops in that game than we have over the whole season,” as Bates put it.
“I thought the offensive line did a great job,” Bates added. “I’ve said it before, we’ll go as far as they take us, and they took us on Sunday.”
But that was against the Cardinals, who ranked 30th in total defense entering the game, and then allowed 490 yards to the Seahawks. That’s three Sunday’s worth of yardage to the Saints.
“Every week is a challenge, and this is another challenge,” Bates said. “Again, I have a lot of respect for Gregg Williams. You don’t know what you’re going to get. I faced him two years ago, when he was at Jacksonville. It’s going to be fun.”
That’s when Bates was with the Denver Broncos. The Jaguars won the game 24-17, in large part because the Denver defense gave up 416 yards.
The Seahawks’ offense enters Sunday’s game feeling much better about itself than it did heading to Arizona last week – even if they are facing the defending Super Bowl champions and a defensive coordinator who is as aggressive and innovative as any in the league.
“I think there’s a confidence factor that’s starting to build for us,” Hasselbeck said. “It’s kind of been up and down for us this year – some days we’ve shown up, other days we haven’t shown up on Sunday. It’s just one of those things where we just keep improving, keep being focused on what we’re asked to do, and hopefully at the end of the year we’ll start really clicking.
“I’ve been on teams here where offensively we started to click at the right time and that’s going to be important again this season. I think we’ve got the ingredients for it.”