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Originally published Thursday, December 16, 2004 at 12:00 AM

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Seahawks

Notebook: Ageless Martin like fine wine, Alexander says

Shaun Alexander learned how to minimize hits early in his career, how to get under tackles and avoid anything "that's really nasty." Most backs don't learn those lessons early...

Seattle Times staff reporter

KIRKLAND — Shaun Alexander learned how to minimize hits early in his career, how to get under tackles and avoid anything "that's really nasty."

Most backs don't learn those lessons early, but Curtis Martin and Alexander did. And that's why Alexander thinks the 31-year-old Martin doesn't appear to be slowing down as soon as conventional wisdom said he would.

"Him and (12-year veteran) Mack Strong take the same kind of water pills," Alexander said. "They get better as they go. They're fine wine. Curtis is a great player. Hopefully, he takes it easy on us this week."

When the Seahawks play the Jets on Sunday, the NFL rushing lead could land in the lap of either back. The Indianapolis Colts' Edgerrin James leads all backs with 1,395 yards, but Indianapolis plays the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Right behind James are Alexander (1,385) and Martin (1,377), the youthful heir and the ageless wonder.

They share similar strengths — exceptional vision, deceptive speed, patience. And one day they could share a city. Alexander said yesterday that if the Seahawks don't resign him, New York — either the Jets or the Giants — would be an appealing destination. The only problem is that both teams have solid running backs.

"He's one of those special backs and special people in the league," Holmgren said of Martin. "Those are the guys that should be on the cover of everything."

Jackson recognized

Darrell Jackson was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week yesterday for his 10-catch, 135-yard, one-touchdown performance against Minnesota on the same day he learned of his father's death.

Holmgren said Jackson will start Sunday against the Jets, even though he isn't expected to join the team until Saturday night. Services for his father, Joe, will be held Friday and Saturday near Tampa, Fla.

Cochran sacked

The NFL will not recognize the sack that really was and technically wasn't because officials did not review the final play of the Seahawks' win over the Vikings. But Antonio Cochran knows where his sack/non-sack of Daunte Culpepper does register: his own mind.

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"I'm going to call it what I want to call it," Cochran said. "It's not official or anything. I'm not worried about it. Let's just move on."

Said Holmgren: "It happened right in front of me. The sack, the non-sack, the phantom sack. It is kind of silly, I think. You're not changing history. It was a sack. Call it a sack."

Notes

• Holmgren expects LBs Chad Brown and Tracy White to play this week. Brown worked with the first-team defense yesterday and will start, along with Orlando Huff and Isaiah Kacyvenski. "With Chad, we've got to see how he responds to practice and how much he plays," Holmgren said. "He'll want to play the whole game. I'm not sure he will be able to. I don't want to take away his effectiveness."

• Elsewhere on the injury report: LB Curtis Randall (hamstring), DT Marcus Tubbs (ankle) and DE Grant Wistrom (knee) are out; DT Rocky Bernard (knee) and CB Bobby Taylor (knee) are doubtful; and WR Bobby Engram (ankle) and G Jerry Wunsch (knee) are probable. Of that group, only Engram practiced yesterday.

• The Seahawks signed DE Kevin Emanuel yesterday. The 6-foot-4, 259-pound rookie out of Florida State is the cousin of Bert Emanuel, a former NFL receiver.

• The Seahawks are leaving for New York tomorrow, a day earlier than they have departed for every other trip this season. The Seahawks left for Tampa Bay on a Saturday because the game wasn't until 4:05 p.m. EDT, and they also left on a Saturday for New England, then sleepwalked into an early deficit.

Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or gbishop@seattletimes.com

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