From the urgency in his voice in the huddle to the up-tempo way he ran the offense, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was a commanding presence in his return to the football field.
“I’m very excited to be back,” Hasselbeck said Thursday. “Last week was tough for me, but the obstacles to get back on the football field from a concussion are much bigger now. So I wasn’t able to make it back last week.”
The veteran quarterback worked out for a second straight day.
He was cleared to practice a week after missing his first game of the season because of lingering concussions symptoms.
Hasselbeck said he had to pass a battery of tests, including things like reciting the alphabet backward, naming the months of the year in reverse order and counting backward in increments of seven from 100.
“Not only do you have to be cleared by your own team doctor, you’ve got to see an independent doctor, so that was one big thing,” Hasselbeck said. “There were some fitness-test type things. There were some neuropsych exams, stuff like that, that probably would be hard on a regular day. So it was harder on Monday.”
Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said he expects the offense to run much smoother with his starting quarterback at the controls.
“He’s played a lot of football games, he understands the system, and he’s definitely getting better every week,” Bates said. “So his health is good and he’s back. He’s had a good week of practice, yeah, we’re excited.”
But Seattle still has issues with the offensive line. Rookie offensive tackle Russell Okung was a limited participant in practice as he attempts to return from a high-ankle sprain that forced him to miss the past two games.
If Okung can’t play, the Seahawks likely will start Tyler Polumbus at left tackle, who missed last week’s game against the New York Giants with a sprained knee. And offensive guard Mike Gibson also was a limited participant with an ankle issue.
The Seahawks more than likely will start their sixth different offensive-line combination Sunday in Arizona. Hasselbeck has been sacked 22 times, tied for second-most in the league. Gone in Seattle are the days of offensive line stability, with Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson holding things down.
“I think that’s just become normal for us,” Hasselbeck said. “So it’s like we don’t really talk about it. It’s just almost expected. We’ve just had the injury bug there a little bit, and that’s just normal. It seems like it’s been different every week. We practice that way. Everybody plays every position. It’s very different from the years where we knew who the five were (going to be), every single play, every single practice – it’s not that. We’re mixing and matching and just doing what we can.”
But, ultimately, Bates wants to get back to the good old days, when the Seahawks could count on the same starting five each week.
“We need to find five and stay with it because of communication and just the relationship that you form with the guy next to you and in the wars that you battle,” Bates said. “We need to find five guys and guys have to get healthy. We just have to keep growing and getting better.”