9/20/07 Notebook

 In the wake of Sunday’s 24-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, it was an early day for the team after they were sent home after films and running in the morning.  

By Mike KahnSeahawks Insider

In the wake of Sunday's 24-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, it was an early day for the team after they were sent home after films and running in the morning.

Two issues dominated the focus of coach Mike Holmgren's press briefing.

The first, that x-rays on Shaun Alexander's sprained left wrist revealed a small crack, will not prevent him from playing, and isn't the concern that some would expect it to be.

The second, that communications between Holmgren and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck are better than ever, is huge and reflective of how well Hasselbeck has played. Just how far have they come?

"Early on here, (Holmgren) had these little phrases that he says that I don't think I really knew what they meant," Hasselbeck said. "He would call a play from time to time in my headset and at the end of it he'll say, 'Tell Shaun (Alexander) to get the first down.' Well that translates into 'Under no circumstances do I want you to audible.' Now I know that, early on I didn't know that."

But it's a lot more than that it's about mutual trust - being on the same page throughout the game, and there is no reticence when it comes to being honest with each other. With his 32nd birthday Tuesday, Hasselbeck has grown to the point where Holmgren knows that Hasselbeck understands what is expected of him every day. This translates into Hasselbeck as the fourth leading passer in the NFC and once again first in quarterback rating in the final two minutes of the half – a position he has held since the 2005 season.

"He's off to a good start," Holmgren said. "I'm reluctant to compliment him too much but he knows.  In our serious one-on-ones neither one of us pull any punches as far as what's happening.  He's reached a point in his career where he should be good and we're lucky to have him.  Now, is he perfect? No.  We're shooting for perfection, both of us.  There are things that he'll do.  'Why'd you do that?'  Sometimes he can tell me, sometimes he goes, 'I don't know,' but he's playing very well and we need him to play well.  The quarterback is very much the key to how well we do offensively."

"I just think that we've reached a point, and this happens I think, when you have a quarterback that's been with you for awhile.  You reach a point of honesty where he can be open and I can be open and it's not that anymore.  I have to know so I can help you.  Tell me.  He'll tell me.  Yesterday in the game I said, 'What happened on this?'  He goes, 'I don't want to tell you right now.  I shouldn't tell you right now.'  I said, 'OK.'"

That may not seem like much, but it is huge because they are so very bright and strong-willed, it could require a buffer. Instead, they have mutual respect and can talk things out as opposed to the problems when Hasselbeck first arrive in Seattle at the outset of the 2001 season. It has everything to do with why he has led the NFL in quarterback rating in the final two minutes of each half since 2005 and is the fourth leading quarterback overall in the NFC this season.

The Alexander situation is different.

Holmgren immediately tried to settle down those attending his Monday gathering after announcing the discovery of a crack in Alexander's wrist. At halftime Sunday, after gaining just 22 yards on nine carries in the first half, he was clearly in pain and the training staff put a larger cast on his wrist. He responded with 78 yards on 12 carries after intermission to record his second 100-yard game of the season, and he is third in the NFC with 275 yards on 66 carries – a pace that would put him at about 1,470 yards.

He'll continue to where the cast all the time except when he's stimulating it at home and in the training room and they believe it will heal in a few weeks. This is not anything like what he went through missing six games with a crack in his foot last season.

"Let me just say, 'Everyone calm down here,' they found a small crack in his wrist, OK?" Holmgren said. "They don't think it's anything anymore serious than it was.  It's small.  He'll wear that cast for awhile.  He's not going to take the cast off.  We do not have to have a cast watch.  He will wear the cast and he will wear it for awhile.  It takes, I don't know, a few weeks for this thing to nip.  So that's where it sits."

The good news is his backup and third-down back Mo Morris is back after a two-week absence with an injured hip, and that will ease the burden on Alexander as well. In addition to Morris, Holmgren said wide receiver Ben Obomanu's hamstring has healed as well. He did not recognize any injuries from the win over the Bengals.

Obviously, he's happy to get the win, moving them to 2-1 and a tie for first in the NFC West with the San Francisco 49ers, who will be playing host to the Seahawks this coming Sunday. He singled out Hasselbeck, cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings, and the special teams in particular. Keep in mind the game began with Josh Wilson returning the opening kickoff 72 yards to set up the first of three Hasselbeck touchdown passes. And it ended with Lance Laury forcing a fumble that Deon Grant recovered on the kickoff that followed Hasselbeck's third touchdown pass with one minute left in the game.

"As I have said, I think our best football in that way is ahead of us," Holmgren said. "Special teams, if there was a time you could re –emphasize the fact that anybody on your roster can contribute and help you win, yesterday was a perfect example of that. The special teams came up big, and of course, the final play for special teams won the game for us, you could make that point."

Quotable

Holmgren on special teams coach Bruce DeHaven apologizing for grabbing him in excitement after the aforementioned game-ending fumble recovery:

"I had no idea what he was talking about.  After we recovered the kickoff he grabbed me and I had no memory of that at all.  He goes, 'I'm sorry.'  I said, 'No, that's okay.  You can do that if we're winning and things are going good.'"

This and that

Holmgren said there was a "leakage on the left side" that caused Josh Brown's 23-yard field goal to be slightly blocked. … On the 49ers, Holmgren said, "It's going to be a very serious week for us around here.  It's an important football game." … And as for former Seahawks wide receiver Darrell Jackson, traded to the Niners for a fourth round draft pick in April: "You guys know he is one of my favorites.  I wish him well throughout the whole season except when he is playing against us."  … Count Hasselbeck among those who prefer the Seahawks continue among the unnoticed by the national media: "I think it's better that we just chill out here, in the witness protection program, we're good. Let them talk about all the East coast teams, and their cool throwback uniforms." … The team is off Tuesday and it's a full practice day on Wednesday, Thursday and the typical Friday practice. Saturday will be a walk-thru in the morning and the flight to San Francisco in the afternoon in preparation for Sunday's game at Monster Park.

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