Hasselbeck (knee), Branch (heel) to miss game vs. Eagles

Updated: October 30, 2008, 8:55 AM ET
Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck raised his right arm and completed his throwing motion.

The Seahawks only wish he'd done it on the practice field.

Hasselbeck will miss his fourth consecutive game because his hyperextended right knee is still weak, yet coach Mike Holmgren said he sees "light at the end of the tunnel."

Holmgren announced Wednesday that backup Seneca Wallace will make his third consecutive start on Sunday when Seattle (2-5) hosts the Philadelphia Eagles (4-3).

"We don't know how long he's going to have [to play]," Holmgren said. "He's our quarterback right now."

This week, Dr. Robert Watkins, a noted back surgeon in Los Angeles, said a bulging disk in Hasselbeck's back is still affecting a nerve and weakening his knee. The three-time Pro Bowler will have to make at least a third trip to Watkins for more tests before he can return.

Seahawks vs. 49ers highlights

NFL.com Video

Highlights of the Seahawks dominating 34-13 win over Mike Singletary's 49ers.

Hasselbeck was glad to find out Monday that he doesn't need surgery. Now that he's 33 -- his birthday was last month -- questions loom on whether the injury is chronic and if he'll play again this season.

"As far as I can tell he's making progress. His leg is a little stronger. So to me there was some light at the end of the tunnel there," Holmgren said. "Hopefully, with all the stuff he's doing, we can get him back on the field at some point. But, again, that will be on a week-to-week basis."

The team did not permit Hasselbeck to talk publicly because he did not practice.

On his weekly radio show Tuesday, he said he failed strength tests in Los Angeles because he was unable to walk on his heels. Instead of pain in his back or knee he said there is just a "dead leg" feeling.

"Because of the disk issue in my back, that nerve is shutting off the muscles that are supposed to work in your leg," he told KIRO.

He plans to keep working on strength and conditioning and is confident he'll get better.

"Most of it is just frustration, mental and trying to stay positive and just realizing, hey, it's going to be all right," he said. "There are far worse things."

For now, the mothballed Wallace will lead the Seahawks against a wildly blitzing Eagles defense that can make even proven starters skittish.

No wonder Seattle is a touchdown underdog at home for the first time since Nov. 11, 2001, when the Seahawks hosted the Oakland Raiders at Husky Stadium while Qwest Field was being built.

Wallace drastically improved last week while leading the Seahawks to their first win in five weeks at San Francisco. He completed 12-of-23 passes for just 73 yards in his first start since 2006 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 19.

"I felt like I made some jumps from before," the six-year veteran said. "Just my confidence level as far as maybe my leg goes. You get another week under your belt of practicing and timing with the receivers and knowing what Mike is looking for on certain things."

They won't be looking for wide receiver Deion Branch. Holmgren said the team is "essentially shutting him down" this week because of a bruised heel that got worse following extensive tests last week. The former Super Bowl MVP has played in one game since January following reconstructive knee surgery.

Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney is iffy after re-injuring his left shoulder after having offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum. Holmgren said Kerney likely won't practice this week but is still holding out hope his top pass rusher can chase Donovan McNabb on Sunday.

"There is a little bit of a concern," Holmgren said. "In talking with Patrick today, he's somewhat concerned."

Lofa Tatupu won't practice much, if at all, because of a groin injury, but Holmgren said the Pro Bowl linebacker will play on Sunday.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press