Soft cast won't keep Alexander off field vs. Cardinals


Shaun Alexander bobbled a short pass from Matt Hasselbeck in practice &

and it was the best thing Mike Holmgren saw all day.

"I'm glad that happened," the Seahawks coach yelled across the field Friday to his star running back.

Holmgren was happy Alexander was getting to test the usefulness of the soft, padded cast he was wearing over his left wrist, halfway up his forearm. One day after Alexander was playfully coy about what the injury was or whether he was even wearing a cast, Holmgren said the 2005 league MVP sprained his wrist while running for 105 yards and a touchdown in last week's win over Tampa Bay.

"We're being real careful with that," Holmgren said after a light practice in which Alexander clowned around with teammates while participating fully with the first-team offense. "He feels really good about playing with that thing. He feels better.

"And so they are going to rig something up during the game to allow him to play" Sunday at Arizona, he said.

Alexander has a good reason to play through the injury this week. In 10 games against the Cardinals, he has 962 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Both are his most against any team.

The Seahawks have been wanting to throw more passes to Alexander this season, to reduce the receiving load on 36-year-old fullback Mack Strong and to make the offense tougher to defend. Alexander had a career-high 59 receptions in 2002, his first full season as Seattle's feature back, but has had 15 and 12 catches in each of the last two seasons. But he had problems with dropped passes in the preseason with two healthy hands, and then dropped another in the opener last week.

"I told him, 'Heck, maybe we'll put a cast on the other hand and things will get better,' I don't know," Holmgren joked.

"He's limited slightly with that thing," Holmgren said of the bulbous, taped cast that stops about midway up Alexander's thumb. "It's different, let me put it that way, so he's got to get used to it. I think it does affect him, certainly."

Seattle's play-caller expects Alexander to be limited Sunday &

and indefinitely beyond that, since the coach said he didn't know how long Alexander will have to wear the cast.

"Anytime a running back or receiver has to wear one of those, it's different," Holmgren said.

Leonard Weaver, an undrafted free agent in 2005 and Alvin Pearman, acquired in a trade from Jacksonville earlier this month, will get more opportunities in passing situations with Alexander limited.

Alexander severely bruised his foot in last season's opener. After playing on it for two more games, the foot became cracked, causing him to miss six games and rush for just 896 yards in the regular season. It was the first season under 1,000 yards since he became Seattle's feature back in 2001.

The Seahawks say his foot may still have a small crack, but Alexander was unlimited in practices throughout minicamps and training camp.

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