“No, I’m not surprised. Matt is a very tough man, physically and mentally.”
Matt Hasselbeck has gone from excruciating pain to probable in four days.
Seahawks coach Jim Mora said after Hasselbeck completed his third consecutive practice Friday that he expects his three-time Pro Bowl passer to start Sunday against Jacksonville.
It will be his first game since he broke a rib on a dive for the goal line Sept. 20 at San Francisco.
On Monday, Mora saw Hasselbeck in the locker room while the quarterback was in what the coach described as “excruciating” pain. Hasselbeck said he overdid rehabilitation work that day in his haste to return to save his 1-3 team, which has lost three straight games.
For weeks he had struggled to run and breathe deeply without pain. Yet Tuesday, with the aid of what Mora coyly called “a couple of high-potency aspirin,” Hasselbeck was back working out.
On Wednesday, he looked uncomfortable in practice and was constantly twisting and stretching while splitting first-team plays with backup Seneca Wallace. Hasselbeck looked much sharper and moved more easily Thursday and Friday, when he took almost all the first-team plays.
Then again, as Seahawks wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said, “Everybody looks good when you have nobody hitting you.
“We just hope it stays that way on Sunday.”
Seattle will be without three-fifths of its starting offensive line against the Jaguars. Brandon Frye, waived last month by Miami, will fill in again for Walter Jones at left tackle as Jones rests through the end of the month following knee surgeries. Mansfield Wrotto will start at left guard for Rob Sims, who is out with a high ankle sprain. And Sean Locklear remains out with another high ankle sprain, leaving Ray Willis at right tackle.
“If he gets hit in the game, it’s back to square one,” Houshmandzadeh said of Hasselbeck. Then he added with a wide smile, “Just three-step drops and throw it to me.”
Hasselbeck said he will now seek better protection for his ribs, because he’s throwing away his old rib pads. They didn’t prevent a fracture high in his back, near his shoulders, when San Francisco’s Patrick Willis hit him three weeks ago.
The 34-year-old quarterback, who missed nine games with a bad back last season while Seattle flopped to 4-12, says it’s time for all players to sacrifice in an effort to save Seattle’s season. In his case that means cutting short recovery time and playing at less than full health.
“Sometimes you just got to find a way, even if you don’t know how,” he said this week. “You just got to find it.”
Also still out are cornerback Marcus Trufant, linebacker Leroy Hill and perhaps top pass rusher Patrick Kerney. The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end is questionable with a strained groin.
At least Seattle expects starting fullback Justin Griffith to return from a knee injury and cornerback Josh Wilson to return and start again for Trufant. Wilson missed the last two games with a sprained ankle.
The Seahawks’ injury situation has been so dire that Griffith was briefly released last weekend, because the team needed to activate offensive tackle Kyle Williams from the practice squad to become a backup lineman for the loss at Indianapolis. Mora did not rule out another roster move before Saturday afternoon to again add an offensive tackle.