Forget Forsett, Mora says Jones is still Seahawks' top RB

Justin Forsett returns a kickoff 46 yards against the Detroit LionsEveryone thinks the Seahawks have found a new lead running back in Justin Forsett.

That is, everyone except Jim Mora.

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“No, Julius (Jones) is our starter. He’s our starting running back,” Seattle’s coach said Monday, adding he hasn’t even thought about demoting Jones while he remains pained by a bruised lung.

Forsett has emerged as a diminutive dynamo while Jones, the formerly deposed Dallas Cowboy signed to replace Shaun Alexander as Seattle’s No. 1 rusher before last season, has been out.

The 5-foot-8 Forsett, drafted in the seventh round out of California in 2008, ran for 123 yards three weeks ago at Arizona. Sunday at St. Louis, the 24-year-old filled in again for Jones and romped for 130 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns — all career highs — as the Seahawks won their first road game in six tries.

Forsett had 123 yards total through seven games before Jones got hurt and was coughing up blood Nov. 15 at Arizona.

Yet Mora said Jones will not lose his job because of injury.

That’s even though the 28-year-old Jones has one 100-yard game this season, way back in the opener against the Rams. Jones is also averaging just 3.7 yards per carry to Forsett’s 5.7 and has half as many rushing touchdowns as Forsett’s four.

The Seahawks were 30th in the league in rushing before Forsett’s performance on Sunday. Mora says he’s sticking with Jones even though Seattle (4-7) probably ought to use the season’s final five games to determine whether the club needs to draft a running back early in April’s draft.

“If he’s fully healthy, and he’s had a full week of practice, and everybody feels comfortable that he would be able to bear the workload that he would have to handle to be effective, then he would start,” Mora said of Jones’ status for Sunday’s home game against San Francisco (5-6).

“But, that being said, Justin’s earned the right to carry the ball. … So we’re going to make sure he gets touches.”

Mora said he expects Jones to be able to practice this week — though he noted Jones also practiced last week before telling trainers before Sunday’s game he was “still feeling tenderness to the touch, pain.”

“I believe he will be ready (to play against the 49ers), but I can’t say with 100-percent certainty,” Mora said.

Seattle’s Sunday was a revelation for a team that set a franchise low with just 4 yards on 13 rushes the previous week against Minnesota. The Seahawks romped for a season-high 170 in 31 runs in St. Louis.

Then again, it was against the 1-10 Rams. Seattle’s previous season high in rushing came against them. The Seahawks have just eight wins in the last two seasons. Four of them have come against St. Louis.

Even banged up quarterback Matt Hasselbeck felt the urge to rush on the Rams. The 34-year-old with broken ribs, a tender back and sore shoulder improvised in the third quarter, keeping the ball on a naked bootleg for 19 yards before not so smoothly running out of bounds to avoid the only defender who came near him.

“There’s some gray area in this offense,” Hasselbeck joked. “That was my Mike Vick moment, (except) I got 15 yards downfield and I didn’t know what else to do.”

Mora, Vick’s coach with the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-06, used to name similar plays “18 Force QB,” to give Vick the option to take off if he saw fit.

Vick’s old coach laughed over the far less elusive Hasselbeck calling Sunday’s surprise his “Vick moment.”

“He did? He used those words?” Mora said. “I was not going to use those words.”

Seattle’s only injury news was that Cory Redding is the latest Seahawk to have a concussion. The big defensive lineman will have to pass a series of tests throughout the week to have any chance of playing Sunday.

Starting cornerback Marcus Trufant and Josh Wilson recently returned from concussions. Left tackle Brandon Frye had his season end on Oct. 13 because of a head and neck injury.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press