The Seahawks hope to have their best offensive player on the field when they make their second cross-country trip in two weeks, to face the Buccaneers.
Alexander practiced Friday and coach Mike Holmgren said it will be a game-time decision, based on how Alexander feels Saturday.
“I think Shaun moved around well enough to play,” Holmgren said after Alexander’s first practice of the week. “We’ll have to see now how he responds to this tomorrow. We’ll see. It will be a Sunday decision.”
Seattle has been frequently mentioned as a possible Super Bowl team, and Alexander is one of the biggest reasons for those high expectations. He rushed for 135 yards, two touchdowns and caught another as the Seahawks opened the season with a 21-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Alexander suffered a bone bruise on his right knee - and may have been lucky the injury wasn’t worse.
“The knee bone and the leg bone, they smacked into each other and that’s not normal,” Alexander said. “Everyone said that I’m really blessed. Normally, you tear an ACL or an MCL when that happens. Mine didn’t.”
“We hope he can play, but if he can’t then we’ll have to go to the next guy,” Holmgren said. “I’d expect that man to play well, and that goes for any position on the team.”
Tampa Bay would have a hard time finding any offensive players who played well in its season-opening 16-10 loss to the Washington Redskins.
The Bucs rushed for 30 yards on 15 carries and gained only 169 total—both worst in the league. Their only touchdown came when defensive back Ronde Barber scored on a fumble return.
Tampa Bay didn’t get its initial first down until midway through the second quarter.
“We had trouble getting much going,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. “The myriad of blitzes we got makes it difficult at times to run the football. You’ve got to hit a big play somewhere in the passing game. You have to deliver a play, somewhere, somehow, to try to get the defense out of the system.”
As if things weren’t already bad enough, top receiver Joey Galloway suffered a groin injury and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
That doesn’t leave many options in the passing game. The Bucs counted heavily on Galloway, acquired in a trade with Dallas for Keyshawn Johnson, since Keenan McCardell is holding out and Joe Jurevicius is still out while recovering from back surgery.
That means the Bucs may be forced to continue running the ball, which could play right into Seattle’s hands. The Seahawks held the Saints to just 74 rushing yards, including only 57 by star back Deuce McAllister.
“Our point of emphasis has been to stop the run,” defensive end Chike Okeafor said. “When an offense can run, that eats up the clock. It wears down the defense, wears down your morale.”
The opening back-to-back long trips to New Orleans and Tampa Bay is part of a schedule that has Seattle playing six of its first nine games on the road. The Seahawks haven’t opened a season with consecutive road wins since 1994.
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