Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace returned to the practice field Wednesday after missing almost all of last week with a calf injury. Wallace will split time this week with third-stringer Charlie Frye, and if Wallace's calf can hold up through three days of practice he will start for the Seahawks (1-4) Sunday night at Tampa Bay (4-2).
If Wallace has any type of setback, Frye will get his second straight start for the reeling Seahawks.
"It's different playing in the game, but I feel good out here," Wallace said. "We'll take it day by day and see how it goes."
Hasselbeck didn't play last week against Green Bay and was hoping to return against Tampa Bay. However, doctors in Los Angeles on Monday discovered that a months-old bulging disk in his back was pinching a nerve and causing weakness in his right knee. The three-time Pro Bowler injured the knee early in the Seahawks' loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 5, but played most of the game.
The examination in Los Angeles seemed to finally give a definitive answer to Hasselbeck's problem, even though it was one the Seahawks didn't want to hear and meant Hasselbeck would miss more time.
"It's a challenge. The young men who have to play the game are doing everything they can," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "But you know, Matt is a coach on the field. He's been here a long time. You have a franchise quarterback and you lose him, it changes."
The loss of Hasselbeck was surely felt last Sunday against Green Bay when Frye made his first start since Week 1 of the 2007 season while with Cleveland. Frye was overwhelmed with the Packers' speed, struggling to make quick reads in the Seahawks' precision schemes and move the offense with any effectiveness.
Frye threw two touchdowns but completed just 12 of 23 passes for 83 yards and had two costly interceptions. Seattle managed just 13 first downs, with only five of those coming through the air.
"Seeing it on film was really helpful for me as far as maturing in this offense," Frye said of his performance against Green Bay. "[I] can listen to what coaches says, taking the coaching points and move forward."
Wallace would be the preferred option for Holmgren, but has been hampered since injuring his calf in warmups when the Seahawks played San Francisco on Sept. 14. Wallace was expected to see significant time at wide receiver that day.
Wallace recovered enough to play part of the second half against the Giants two weeks ago, but then aggravated the calf again in practice last week.
Two seasons ago, when Hasselbeck went down with a knee injury, Wallace started four games and played most of a fifth. Seattle went 2-2 in the games Wallace started, a major reason why Seattle won the division title that season.
"I think that when he had the opportunity to play in games when Matt was hurt before, with less experience than he has now, I thought he played quite well. He made some mistakes, but he had some very good games, too," Holmgren said of Wallace. "I think you saw glimpses of how he could be and how he prepared when the team was his for a week. ... I really like him a lot. He's proven to me that he can play, and play well."