Shaun Alexander is running for the first time since he broke his left foot last month, putting him on track to return for the Seahawks next week after a four-game absence.

Alexander ran on a treadmill Tuesday and coach Mike Holmgren said that last season’s NFL rushing leader and MVP had no problems with continuing his workouts on Wednesday. That means Seattle (4-2) is expecting Alexander to play on Nov. 6 against Oakland.

He listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game at Kansas City.

“His foot responded well,” Holmgren said. “He will continue to increase his workload this week, with the target being next week’s game.”

Holmgren acknowledges that without Alexander and Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, backup QB Seneca Wallace becomes even more of a target. Wallace, a four-year veteran, will be making his first career start.

“If we still had Shaun, this would be a little bit different,” Holmgren said of life without Hasselbeck, out for at least three weeks with a strained knee ligament. “We wouldn’t have to rely on the quarterback so much.”

Still, Holmgren said there is no temptation to resist rushing Alexander back because he has no say in the decision.

“I could go in and pound the table, (saying) ‘He’s playing this week,’ and doctors say, ‘No he’s not.’ That’s OK. That’s a medical call,” Holmgren said.

Giants

Carlos Emmons, who missed the last three games with a chest injury, is likely to start at strongside linebacker against Tampa Bay on Sunday for LaVar Arrington, lost for the season with an Achilles’ tendon injury. There is a chance coach Tom Coughlin may go with Reggie Torbor, but that would take a key player away from special teams.

First-round draft pick Matthias Kiwanuka almost definitely will start for All-Pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who is likely to miss the game with a hip injury sustained Monday in the 36-22 win over Dallas.

“I don’t see any reason to panic,” middle linebacker Antonio Pierce said. “We have quality guys.”

Until he was hurt against Seattle on Sept. 24, Emmons was starting at weakside linebacker.

Brandon Short has played exceptionally well at that spot since replacing him, and that created a minor problem for Coughlin last week. Emmons was ready to return, but Coughlin elected to stay with Short, making Emmons inactive for the game against the Cowboys.

Now Coughlin needs him.

“I embrace the challenge of replacing myself,” Emmons said. “I haven’t been out there. I am not replacing anyone else.”

Panthers

Rookie running back DeAngelo Williams practiced Wednesday and is questionable for Sunday’s game against Dallas. Williams hadn’t played or practiced since spraining his right ankle against Cleveland on Oct. 8.

“He looked good,” coach John Fox said. “We’ll see how feels toward the end of the week.”

Williams’ return could give a boost to the Panthers ground game. Carolina ran the ball only 16 times for 60 yards in its 17-14 loss to Cincinnati last Sunday. No. 1 running back DeShaun Foster had 59 yards on 14 carries.

Williams’ return to practice meant no players sat out with injuries Wednesday.

Redskins

Coach Joe Gibbs is using his bye week to figure out what’s gone wrong and what’s worked during a 2-5 start.

“Our whole focus for us, the way I look it, has always been the next game. The next game for us is Dallas. What can we do to put ourselves in the best position?” Gibbs said after practice. “Our guys right now are just hungry to get a win. I don’t think we’re thinking about a lot of strategy and the future and the division.”

He figures he’ll have a better idea come Monday of who will be available for that game.

Eight key players missed Wednesday’s practice: quarterback Mark Brunell (side muscle); running back Clinton Portis (left ankle and calf); wideouts Santana Moss (left hamstring), Antwaan Randle El (heel), and Brandon Lloyd (thigh); offensive lineman Chris Samuels (general soreness); and linebackers Marcus Washington (hip) and Lemar Marshall (ankle).

When Portis walked from the team’s training facility to his car, he was carrying in his hand the protective black boot he’s been wearing on his left leg.

Eagles

Donte’ Stallworth spent the past two Sundays screaming and hollering at his television like most Eagles fans. While Philadelphia wasted late leads in consecutive losses at New Orleans and Tampa Bay, a disappointed Stallworth watched from home because of a lingering hamstring injury.

Now the dynamic receiver could be ready to return to the lineup after missing three straight games and four of the last five.

Stallworth participated in a full practice Wednesday and is probable for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. He’s eager to get back on the field, especially after two crushing, final-second losses dropped the Eagles (4-3) out of first place in the NFC East.

“I was like a fan watching. I got all excited, but I took it a lot harder,” Stallworth said.

Acquired from the Saints just 13 days before the season opener, Stallworth made quite an impression in his debut with the Eagles. He had six catches for 141 yards and one touchdown in a 24-10 win at Houston. Stallworth added five catches for 81 yards and one TD the following week in a loss to the New York Giants.

But his impressive start was put on hold when he injured his hamstring two days before the Eagles played San Francisco on Sept. 24. Stallworth was a late scratch for that game, but tried to play against Green Bay the following Monday night. He had one catch for 26 yards and aggravated the injury.

“I feel better this week. I feel good, not great,” he said. “I still have to be cautious. I don’t want to go out there and tweak it again. I don’t want this to linger the rest of the season and miss six, seven weeks.”

Falcons

Atlanta began to adjust to the absence of defensive end John Abraham, out three to four weeks after abdominal surgery.Then again, what’s new? Only six weeks into the season, Abraham already has been out four weeks.

Abraham wasn’t the only starter missing from the defensive line Wednesday. Tackle Rod Coleman was held out of practice with a turf toe that kept him out of last Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh. Coleman is questionable for this week’s game at Cincinnati.

“They’re beat up,” said linebacker Keith Brooking of the defensive line. “I think what took place in the game Sunday was a positive.

“We’re better with Rod and Abraham in there, there’s no doubt about it, but for now this is an opportunity for the young guys, and they’re taking advantage of it.”

Patrick Kerney will move from left end to right end to make room for Chauncey Davis, who is more comfortable on the left side.

“I hate that those guys are out,” Kerney said of Abraham and Coleman, “but it caused (Jonathan) Babineaux and Chauncey to raise their games a lot more.”

Added coach Jim Mora: “Rod and John Abraham are special pass-rushers. Not anyone can duplicate what they bring.”

Cardinals

Coach Dennis Green has decided to shake up his struggling offensive line. He’s also decided not to talk about any moves, at least for now.

“We’re not going to announce any, but we’ve made a few changes,” Green said after practice Wednesday.

Green has not told the players what lineup changes are coming when the Cardinals, who have dropped six straight games, visit Green Bay on Sunday. But changes were expected after the offense mustered just three field goals in a 22-9 loss to the previously winless Oakland Raiders.

With the Cardinals (1-6) off to their worst start since 1997, Green has already changed his starting quarterback and his offensive coordinator. Even with all the changes, criticism of the line has been a constant.

“You hear things, and it doesn’t really make you feel good, but it doesn’t necessarily make you lose sleep at night,” tackle Reggie Wells said. “You’ve got to understand the business. You know how it is when you’re not successful.”

Last week, the Cardinals started Leonard Davis at left tackle, Wells at left guard, Nick Leckey at center, Chris Liwienski at right guard and Oliver Ross at right tackle.

It’s possible that Deuce Lutui, the team’s second draft pick last spring, will make his first pro start in the lineup shuffle.

Bears

Cedric Benson didn’t say give me the ball. But he told reporters he would like to know where he stands as far as getting more playing time. He had just one carry in the previous game and has just 47 on the season.

“If they are planning on doing it, I wish they would tell me, so I can prepare instead of hoping I just catch the end or something,” said Benson, last year’s first-round pick who’s still behind Thomas Jones. “I wish they could be a little more upfront and business-like about the situation.”

Asked how many carries he needed to be in a rhythm, Benson said: “I don’t know. It’s hard to get into one when you’re in for a series, out for a couple, in for a couple, out for a quarter or something. You never do. You never do.”

Both offensive coordinator Ron Turner and coach Lovie Smith said Benson would get an opportunity earlier in the game Sunday against the 49ers. Smith said he no problem with Benson speaking his mind on the subject.

Jaguars

Jacksonville will face the NFL’s highest-scoring offense without nickel back Terry Cousin and possibly without defensive tackle Marcus Stroud.

Cousin (groin) was ruled out for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia. Stroud was listed as doubtful Wednesday, but coach Jack Del Rio said he expected Stroud to return to practice Thursday.

Cousin, who has 14 tackles and one interception, also missed last week’s game at Houston, ending a streak of 37 consecutive games played.

Stroud has a bone bruise in his right ankle that caused him to miss the last two games.

Receiver Matt Jones (hamstring) and defensive end Marcellus Wiley (groin) returned to practice Wednesday. Jones missed the last two games and was slowed in two more. Wiley has missed the last four games.



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