At some point in time, every NFL team has to come to grips with a season so dictated by injuries to their starters that the momentum has to come from the players taking advantage of their opportunities.
This is where the Seattle Seahawks are at the moment, coming off a win at San Francisco with Seneca Wallace at quarterback while Matt Hasselbeck continues to get treatment on the bulging disk in his back.
So when the Philadelphia Eagles come to Qwest Field Sunday, it will be up to Wallace and others to keep the momentum going for the Seahawks with the help of the sellout crowd.
"Sure. I mean, it happens sometimes," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "We've been there in that situation before a couple years ago; not last year, but a couple years ago. It does change your team, though. The Eagles without Donovan McNabb, they're still a good football team, but it's different. The Seahawks without Matt Hasselbeck, I think we're still a good football team, but it's different. And I think you would say that about every team in the league."
The difference is the Eagles do have McNabb moving forward, although they did not for the bulk of last season. Two years ago, Wallace was 2-2 in the games that Hasselbeck missed. His 1-1 in the two starts so far this time around and hopes to turn that into a winning record.
Certainly, he has improved from week to week, including the strength in the strained calf that had him sidelined as well.
"Just the confidence level, as far as maybe my leg goes, things like that (help)," Wallace said. "You get another week under your belt of practicing and timing with the receivers and knowing what Mike is looking for on certain things.
"It's a rhythm game, and you got to get a completion and get some good things going. It's tough to try to bail out, but like I said, I just said we're going to keep pushing, and some good things are going to come out of this."
The latest loss of a Pro Bowl player comes in the form of defensive left end Patrick Kerney, who re-injured his surgically repaired shoulder late in last week's game and was flown to Alabama this week to meet with his surgeon Dr. James Andrews for evaluation.
That means Darryl Tapp will slide over to the left side, and rookie Lawrence Jackson, who had given up his spot to Tapp, will return to the starting lineup back on the right side, while Baraka Atkins – in his second year – will move into the rotation with the young duo.
All three will have to step up big against the stout Eagles offensive line and their Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook.
"They've played, so I expect them to go in there and play," Holmgren said. "I was really watching Atkins (all week) more than the other two, because he's going to be part of the rotation and he hasn't played much, and he's going to have to play in the game. They're not the biggest defensive ends in the world, but they're active and they fly around, and they're try-hard guys. They have their hands full, though. This is a big offensive line."
Also questionable for this week are middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu and Leonard Weaver, with Tatupu suffering a strained groin in the first half and sitting out the rest of Sunday's game. Weaver, meanwhile, had the biggest game of his career, with touchdown receptions of 43 and 62 yards despite injuring his foot in the first quarter. Holmgren said once the tape came off Weaver's foot, it began to swell and throb on the plan ride home from the Bay Area and they've had him stay off of it and treat it all week.
Neither has practiced, but both should play. If not D.D. Lewis has played extremely well in Tatupu's place and rookie Owen Schmitt will see time one way or another in place of Weaver. The difference is Tatupu has a lot more experience playing, so missing practice won't affect his timing as much – particularly on defense. And let's not forget the amazing three-interception game Tatupu had at Philadelphia last year despite not practicing due to a stained oblique muscle.
"(Weaver) should be able to (play)," Holmgren said. "Owen Schmitt probably will factor in a little bit more than first anticipated. I will have to see how Leonard feels on Sunday morning. Same thing (with Tatupu) … Lofa hasn't practiced, but Lofa has played a little bit more than Leonard, so he's probably in a little bit better position to play without the practice. But that'll be a Sunday decision too. I think Lofa will play, though."
Regardless of whom plays, the guys on the field have to make the plays. The key is preparation and mindset. For the bulk of his six-year career, Wallace has prepared himself to be the starting quarterback but has only six starts, at least now he's had two games to get eliminate the rust.
Now his years of preparation are paying off as well.
"It's the same thing," Wallace said. "If (Hasselbeck) isn't out here, and I'm practicing, I just got to keep doing the same thing I've been doing.
"I mean, if you're sitting and not playing, sometimes you can lose a little bit of timing and skill. As weeks go on, you're not just going to jump off the bench and all your timing and everything's going to be perfect. You just got to keep grinding, getting through the weeks, and staying positive, and good things will happen."
This and that
Games balls were awarded from last week's big win in San Francisco, with Leonard Weaver (offense), Josh Wilson (defense) and C.J. Wallace (special teams) the recipients. The games balls are awarded based on the voting from the coaching staff. … With the constant downpour Friday, it was just the beginning of utilizing the enormous full indoor field at the new VMAC Seahawks headquarters as opposed to the old bubble that would always go up in October in Kirkland. Either way, it's better than practicing in the rain. "You don't worry so much about slips and slides and pulls and things like that," Holmgren said. "And you can get the play run, and you can kind of see if you have a chance to make it work. Now, we might have to deal with the elements on Sunday, we realize that, but it's good to be able to have a good practice and have them focused on the practice rather than the weather." … Seahawks assistant head coach and defensive backs coach Jim Mora released this official statement regarding next season, which will be the first of his four-year contract as head coach of the Seahawks. He is not a contender for the vacated University of Washington job. "I am not a candidate for the University of Washington coaching vacancy. I wish the university well with their search and the program nothing but sustained success in the future." … Besides Hasselbeck, wide receiver Deion Branch (heel) and tight end Will Heller (knee) are out for Sunday's game. … The Seahawks travel to Miami next week, and then return home for games with the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins the subsequent two Sundays.