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News & Notes: Defense Puts Focus On Hasselbeck

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Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is back at the helm of the Seattle Seahawks offense. He becomes the focus of the Redskins' defensive game plan this week.

Hasselbeck missed four games midseason due to a back injury, but he returned to action in the Seahawk's 26-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field.

"The quality of play and the tempo changes when he is in there," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "He is capable of doing things that other quarterbacks can't do because of his experience. You see his ability to get them out of bad plays, make checks at the line, make the next read in the progression."

If there were MVPs given for playoff games, Hasselbeck would likely have earned that honor in two matchups against the Redskins the last three years.

In 2005, Hasselbeck completed 16-of-26 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown. He also scrambled for a 6-yard touchdown run, leading the Seahawks to a 20-10 victory.

Last year, Hasselbeck was 20-of-32 for 229 yards and one touchdown. He threw two interceptions, but the Seahawks still won 35-14.

What's more, Hasselbeck might have found his rhythm in last Sunday's game.

Hasselbeck struggled early against the Cardinals, but guided the Seattle offense to two fourth quarter touchdowns. It wasn't enough, as the Seahawks slipped to 2-8 on the season.

"If he weren't injured, I think they would have had at least two more victories," London Fletcher said.

Seattle also gets wide receiver Deion Branch back in the lineup. Branch has been limited by a heel injury this season.

Branch has just seven receptions for 85 yards this season, but four of those catches came in last week's game vs. Arizona.

The Seahawks also employ a three-headed running back in former Cowboy Julius Jones, former Redskin T.J. Duckett and seven-year veteran Maurice Morris.

Jones leads the offense with 616 rushing yards on 139 carries.

Duckett has just 44 carries for 113 yards, but he continues to use his 6-0, 254-pound frame as a presence in goal line situations. He has six rushing touchdowns this season serving in those situations.

As a group, the Seahawks' running backs are averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

"Each one of their running backs brings something different," Fletcher said. "It'll be a good challenge for us."

Added Blache: "Their run game is effective. They like to throw the ball a little more than they run it, just like most other West Coast offenses. But when they run the ball, they do it well. It keeps you honest because you can't just tee off on the quarterback."

The Redskins enter Sunday's game with the NFL's fourth-best defense. They are ranked fifth against the run and 10th against the pass.

-- RANDLE EL, SAMUELS STILL OUT

Antwaan Randle El and Chris Samuels were among Redskins who sat out practice for the second day in a row on Thursday.

Randle El is nursing a low ankle sprain, while Samuels continues to rest a knee injury.

Both are expected to be available for Sunday's game against Seattle.

-- MONTGOMERY IMPROVING

Anthony Montgomery was limited in practice on Thursday as he returns from an Achilles injury.

It was his first increase in workload since suffering the injury in the Pittsburgh Steelers game on Week 9.

"He was a little ginger, but he was out there," Jim Zorn said. "He is coming along. He is pushing himself."

-- SEAHAWKS LOSE KERNEY

The Redskins won't have to face Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney on Sunday. The Seahawks placed Kerney on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury.

Kerney led the Seahawks defense with five sacks this season.

The Seahawks replaced Kerney on the roster with defensive end Brandon Miller, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons.

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