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Saturday, November 27, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By José Miguel Romero
KIRKLAND The word of the day, as far as Matt Hasselbeck was concerned, was good.
Asked how his bruised right thigh felt in practice yesterday, the Seahawks quarterback said, "Good. Good enough."
Asked to assess the Seahawks' Thursday practice his first in more than a week Hasselbeck said he was surprised at how good it looked after he watched tape of it.
Asked about the chances of him starting against the Buffalo Bills tomorrow, Hasselbeck was good and confident. "I feel really good about my chances and our team's chances this weekend," he said.
Barring any setback in today's walkthrough, Hasselbeck is good to go in his return to the starting lineup after a week off with the injury. He put in another effective practice yesterday, prompting coach Mike Holmgren to say that Hasselbeck will play.
"I don't want to minimize what happened to him because he was hurting, but he had a good day (yesterday)," Holmgren said. "There can't be much rust. He's got to come in and take up where we left off and go. He must be consistent. He must be a good decision-maker. We have to eliminate the big mistakes, and he should be able to do that."
Hasselbeck wasn't able to run or throw at all last week. But he spent a lot of time at team headquarters.
Ready if needed
Strong safety Michael Boulware is a year removed from playing outside linebacker at Florida State. But with the Seahawks' linebacker corps decimated by injury, he could conceivably return to his old position.
"If we lost another linebacker or two, heaven forbid, we would have to do that," Holmgren said. "That would be the logical move."
For now, the Seahawks have four linebackers who have played on defense. Another is a special-teams player.
"If they ask me to kick, I'll do whatever they ask me to do. I don't mind one bit," Boulware said. "I don't think it will be easy (switching back), but I think I could do it."
Boulware has already shown his playmaking ability. His 63-yard interception return for a touchdown in last week's 24-17 victory over Miami in the final minute of regulation was the NFL's first since 1990. The last time it happened, Indianapolis' Alan Grant returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown with 50 seconds left to beat Washington 35-28.
In both instances, the team that turned the ball over got the ball back and failed to score.
What about Bobby?
When the Seahawks acquired wide receiver Jerry Rice, the plan was to make him a starter if and when Koren Robinson was suspended.
Bobby Engram, the team's No. 3 receiver who has started for Robinson in past seasons, was out with a sprained ankle at the time. Still, Holmgren never considered naming Engram the starter.
"Although, and I've said it enough, Bobby Engram is a good football player, and he is a starter," Holmgren said. "But he is a very valuable part of our passing game when we can keep him inside (as slot receiver). He's still fighting off that injury."
Engram seems fine with the situation. He has shown a knack for making big plays as the team's third-down receiving specialist in three- or four-wide receiver formations.
"If I'm asked to do more I'll accept it gladly," he said. "It's cool as long as I'm helping the team win, but as long as it's known that I can make plays on the outside as well."
Holmgren said CB Bobby Taylor's sore right knee continues to bother him, which is why Taylor was downgraded from probable to questionable for tomorrow's game. Taylor has missed the past six full practices.
The Seahawks will sign CB Jordan Babineaux off the practice squad today and presumably keep him on the active roster while Robinson completes his four-game suspension. Babineaux figures to contribute on special teams if activated for games; he could also be used in Taylor's spot.
DE Chike Okeafor did not practice yesterday but is expected to play tomorrow.
Floyd Womack will start at right tackle again this week, as Chris Terry is in Florida with his ailing mother. "It's a personal family situation that he and I are trying to handle the best way we can," Holmgren said. Terry is not expected to be in Seattle for the game but will be back in action next week.
New P Ken Walter has held for field goals all week and figures to take over the job for Hasselbeck starting tomorrow.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or email@example.com
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