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Injury-riddled Seahawks not ready to count out Hasselbeck vs. Bears

Just before listing injuries to 12 starters -- a damning dozen that includes quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and already is putting the Seattle Seahawks' 2009 season in jeopardy -- Jim Mora laughed.  

RENTON, Wash. -- Just before listing injuries to 12 starters -- a damning dozen that includes quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and already is putting the Seattle Seahawks' 2009 season in jeopardy -- Jim Mora laughed.

"OK, what I thought we could do is get the injury stuff out of the way, and then if we have any time left for questions, we can get to that," Seattle's first-year coach jokingly said Wednesday.

Mora then launched into a four-minute monologue detailing the pile of pain, which he calls the worst situation he has seen in 26 years of football.

Hasselbeck didn't practice and might not at all this week because of his broken rib. Yet Mora said the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is feeling better, "so we're not ruling him out at all" for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.

"But I'm not saying he's going to play, either, OK?" Mora added.

Hasselbeck watched backup Seneca Wallace run practice Wednesday. Wallace, who gives the Bears a running threat to worry about, started eight games last season while Hasselbeck was out with a bad back and is preparing as if Sunday will be his 13th career start for the Seahawks.

"If I'm not ready to by now, going into my seventh year, I shouldn't be playing," Wallace said.

During practice, Hasselbeck took off the team cap he was wearing and put it in his right hand while simulating his twisting throwing motion. Afterward, Hasselbeck grabbed swim goggles and headed to more therapy.

"I'm absolutely hoping to play," Hasselbeck said Monday.

Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said the only quarterback he has had to play after breaking a rib was Steve Young, when both were with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990s.

Mora is fine with Hasselbeck playing with a fractured rib, even if the quarterback doesn't practice all week.

"I'll defer to the doctors and Matt. If the doctors look at me and say, 'Jim, Matt's good to go,' and Matt looks me in the eye and says, 'I'm going,' then you know what? Matt Hasselbeck is going," Mora said. "Because we're trying to win."

That's a tough task right now.

» Lofa Tatupu, the leader of a defense that was shredded for 207 rushing yards by San Francisco's Frank Gore last weekend, might not practice or play this week because of a hamstring injury. David Hawthorne, an undrafted free agent in 2008, would make his first career start at middle linebacker if Tatupu can't play. Outside linebacker Leroy Hill already is out until at least November with a torn groin.

» Sean Locklear is likely out for one month because of a high ankle sprain. He had been playing left tackle in place of Walter Jones, a nine-time Pro Bowler who's back to practicing after Aug. 20 arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Mora said he isn't sure if Jones will play against the Bears. If Jones doesn't, Brandon Frye will make his first start for Seattle.

» Center Chris Spencer has been out for one month with a quadriceps injury. The Seahawks aren't sure if Spencer or Steve Vallos will start Sunday.

» Marcus Trufant, a Pro Bowl cornerback in 2007, will miss at least six games with a disk issue in his back. Cornerback Josh Wilson also is out with a high ankle sprain. Veteran Travis Fisher, signed in August, is coming off a hamstring injury, and veteran Ken Lucas was limited in practice Wednesday because of a groin injury. Kelly Jennings, a 2006 first-round draft pick who recently lost his job, gets it back by default this week.

» Deion Branch returned to practice and is expected to make his season debut against the Bears. The Super Bowl XXXIX MVP has been out since Labor Day with a hamstring injury and has had two knee surgeries in two offseasons. Top wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is missing another week of practice with a sore back, though Mora expects him to play again Sunday.

» Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane could miss his second consecutive game because of a calf injury.

Only Trufant is off the active roster; he's on the phyiscally-unable-to-perform list. So all these injured bodies are clogging up any roster room the Seahawks would have to sign veteran reinforcements.

That's why Mora talked frankly with his all players during a team meeting Wednesday.

"Hey, I'll take 45 of you -- doesn't matter which 45 it is -- and we'll go play Sunday. And we'll be fine," Mora said he told his players.

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