Hasselbeck practices despite pain

Updated: October 7, 2009, 9:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

RENTON, Wash. -- Matt Hasselbeck began this week in what his coach described as excruciating pain.

The Seahawks quarterback was too intense in his rehabilitation, trying to accelerate his return from a broken rib.

"Yeah, Monday was a tough day. In the 17 days that we've had here, that was probably the worst day," Hasselbeck said, referring to the time since 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis hit him high in the back on a dive for the goal line on Sept. 20.

By Wednesday, he had willed himself through Seattle's entire practice.

He wore bulky rib pads and twisted to stretch his torso throughout his first on-field work since the injury.

It shows, in coach Jim Mora's words, how Hasselbeck "is without question doing everything possible to get out on the football field" for Sunday's home game against Jacksonville (2-2).

It also shows how desperate his 1-3 team is to save its season after three consecutive losses. Seattle is already essentially three games behind San Francisco (3-1) for first place in the NFC West.

"The team has not started off the way that we wanted to, the way that we expected to," Hasselbeck said moments after he split first-team plays with backup Seneca Wallace, the starter the last two games.

"Again this week, coach Mora asked each guy to basically answer the question, 'What are you willing to sacrifice for this team to have the kind of season we want to have?' Sometimes it's more time to come back from an injury. Sometimes you just got to find a way, even if you don't know how. You just got to find it."

Meanwhile, Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones will not return until at least November, if at all this season. Mora said the team has decided Jones will back off trying to return from two knee surgeries.

The 35-year-old anchor to Seattle's offensive line for the last decade will now be reassessed after the bye week, before a game at Dallas on Nov. 1.

Dallas was the site of Jones' last game, Thanksgiving Day. He played with painkilling injections in his left knee, then had major, microfracture surgery to regenerate cartilage.

After a few practices in training camp, he had arthroscopic surgery on the knee in August.

Brandon Frye, who was released last month by the Miami Dolphins, will start again for Jones on Sunday against Jacksonville. Last weekend, Indianapolis' pass rushers sped around him throughout the Colts' rout of Seattle.

The team is hoping the next three weeks of rest will be enough for Jones to be ready for the final 10 games of the season. If he isn't, Jones may go on the injured reserve list. That would end his season and perhaps his career, given his age and the severity of his knee injury.

The Seahawks have not already put him on IR, and thus cleared much-needed roster space to deal with injuries at other positions, in deference to his status as one of the premier linemen in the league for the last decade.

Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who molded Brett Favre into a superstar in Green Bay, last year called Jones the best offensive player he has ever coached.

When asked if there was a date at which they would end Jones' season if his knee isn't ready, Mora said: "Yeah, but it's not firm.

"We're talking about a Hall of Famer. And so there's a lot of factors that go into it. What's best for the team? What kind of respect do you show for Walter, if Walter can get back? How long do we wait for him? What if we IR'd him and then two weeks later he was ready to go? Would you look back and just be sick about it?" Mora said.

Hasselbeck found a way to practice. Can he find a way to play against the Jaguars?

"I don't know," he said. "I want to be fair to the team. I think, right now, what my job is is just to give the coaching staff and my teammates everything I've got, and at the same time, be fair to Seneca. And then let the coaching staff make a decision based on what the film looks like, if I'm able to make the throws, obviously talk to the team doctor and the trainers and all that."

Hasselbeck, who missed nine games last season with a bulging disk in his back, gave a tepid "OK" assessment of his practice. He said throwing remains his biggest issue.

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp once coached Steve Young in San Francisco when the Hall of Fame quarterback played with a broken rib. He said Hasselbeck looked somewhat out of football shape but that his energy was "excellent" and his throwing motion was fine.

"The fact he went through the whole practice and all the periods was a good sign," Knapp said.

Amid the uncertainty about whether he will play against the Jaguars, Hasselbeck knows one thing: he's switching rib pads.

"Well, I was wearing rib pads when I got hurt, so those are going in the trash," he said. "I'm going with a new company."

Mora is wowed by Hasselbeck's determination to help save Seattle's season. The coach has set a goal of winning these two remaining games before the bye, including next week's home game against division rival Arizona, with the hope the week off will get the battered Seahawks back to full health.

Four more starters have already been declared out for Sunday's game -- Sean Locklear and Rob Sims, linebacker Leroy Hill and cornerback Marcus Trufant.

Defensive end Patrick Kerney is making progress trying to recover from a groin injury suffered Sunday in Indianapolis.

Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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