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Alexander expected to practice with Seahawks

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Jan. 17, 2006) -- Shaun Alexander was feeling "loopy" on Jan. 14.

By Jan. 16, the NFL rushing leader was back in the loop for the Seattle Seahawks as they prepare for the NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers.

Two days after a concussion knocked Alexander out of Seattle's playoff win over Washington, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said he expects doctors to clear the star running back for practice Jan. 18.

"He said he was feeling good, feeling fine," Holmgren said. "So I'm assuming unless something happens, he'll be ready to practice."

After he passed more tests, a smiling-as-usual Alexander said doctors told him: "We've got to wait and see. But it looks pretty good," for playing Jan. 22.

"It is what it is," Alexander said. "We play a violent sport."

Alexander looked and acted markedly better than on Jan. 14, when he said he was knocked out after already being "loopy" from taking medicine for a severe cold before the game.

But when someone asked if he felt as good as he looked, Alexander stopped there.

"Um, no," he said, jokingly running his hand against the side of his shaved head. "I wish."

He said he hasn't had any lingering symptoms from the blow he took while two Redskins players tackled him 10 1/2 minutes into Saturday's game. But doctors and the Seahawks will continue to monitor the franchise running back, who rushed for a team-record 1,880 yards and set an NFL record with 28 touchdowns this season.

"It feels great," Holmgren said of Alexander's expected return. "I mean, he's the MVP of football and a big part of what we've done this season.

"More importantly, I'm glad. Anytime you see any player go down like that, you're nervous for him -- aside from what he can do for you as a football player. I'm glad he's OK."

The Seahawks, like all teams, don't hit in practices this late in a season. So there is little concern Alexander will be at risk before the game.

"He didn't get tired on Saturday," Holmgren said, smiling while referring to Alexander's six carries. "So he should be pretty fresh."

Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, whose running and passing led Seattle to the win after Alexander left, considers Alexander already back.

"He's playing, as far as I'm concerned," Hasselbeck said. "Why wouldn't you? It's a big game."

Holmgren said game film appeared to show Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington hit Alexander in the side of his helmet with a knee. Alexander said he believed he was hit in the back of his head, near his neck.

Alexander spent about a half hour after the hit seated on Seattle's bench wearing a team coat with the hood pulled up and rarely interacting with anyone. By the second half, he was leading the cheers for his top-seeded team.

He said he remembers getting hit -- and then nothing until he was sitting by himself on the bench.

"I looked up and saw Matt on the scoreboard (video screen)," he said. "And I looked down the bench and saw all the linemen gone. I said, `Did I get knocked out?'

"I was out for about 20 minutes," the former Alabama star said. "For about 20 minutes there, I didn't know if I was me ... or if I was playing against the Auburn Tigers.

Alexander said this was the second time he's had a concussion. His other time came after not properly inflating his air-framed helmet for a practice.

His entire weekend was bad. He had a bad cold all week but refused medication until just before the game. He said he then took "tons" of medicines, and felt somewhat strange when he started the game.

On Seattle's first drive, Alexander lost a fumble without getting hit -- his second lost fumble in two games after none in 350 carries in 15 games this season.

"Medicine's good for some people," he said. "Not for me."

Time, however, is proving to be his -- and the Seahawks' -- best medicine of all.

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