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Seahawks' QB Hasselbeck out at least 3 weeks

KIRKLAND, Wash. &

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will miss at least three weeks with a strained ligament in his right knee.

Hasselbeck said Monday he believes Minnesota's E.J. Henderson could have avoided rolling into his lower right leg Sunday early in the second half of Seattle's 31-13 loss to the Vikings "but only he would know."

Henderson said the hit was an accident. It was not penalized.

The play occurred when the Vikings' linebacker came off a block by fullback Mack Strong and swung his torso into Hasselbeck's leg, which was planted after he had just thrown an incomplete pass.

"I'm sure he didn't try to put me out for a long period of time &

but they didn't want me to finish the game, either," Hasselbeck said.

An MRI taken Monday showed the Pro Bowl quarterback strained his right medial collateral ligament. Coach Mike Holmgren said Hasselbeck has a Grade 2 sprain on a three-grade scale and will miss "around" three games. He will return no sooner than the Nov. 19 game at San Francisco.

"It could have been worse, certainly," Holmgren said.

Hasselbeck said doctors told him he should feel "very lucky." He added that he slightly injured the same ligament in the same knee in last February's Pro Bowl loss, "but that probably wasn't even a Grade 1."

Seneca Wallace, a fourth-year veteran, will make his first NFL start Sunday at Kansas City (3-3).

The Seahawks (4-2) are already without league MVP Shaun Alexander, who is out with a broken foot. Holmgren said the 2005 league rushing leader is on track to return Nov. 6 against Oakland.

Hasselbeck said he is constantly aware of people at his feet to guard against injury, "within a certain amount of time after I throw." He said he relaxed in this case, thinking the play was over.

"I guess I learned my lesson," he said.

The quarterback leaned on metal crutches as he spoke Monday. A bulky, gray brace encased his right leg from ankle to thigh, although he said he could walk "OK.

"I'm on crutches just to help it heal quicker. I'm going to be all right," he said.

After the game, Henderson was apologetic.

"I was falling to the ground and Mack Strong kind of pushed. I definitely didn't mean to do it," said Henderson, a fourth-year veteran from Maryland. "It was definitely an accident. I hope he gets back soon."

But Hasselbeck said if the same situation had occurred with a Seahawks defender and Minnesota's quarterback, there would have been no incident.

"If Brad Johnson is the quarterback on that play, I guarantee nobody touches his knee," Hasselbeck said.

Replacing Hasselbeck, Wallace was 14-for-25 for 134 yards passing with two interceptions. He also lost a fumble in his own end zone while Ben Leber sacked him. Kevin Williams covered the ball for Minnesota's final score.

On Monday, Wallace, an athletic, 5-foot-11, former Iowa State star, said he has something to prove to the league, beginning Sunday against the Chiefs.

"I welcome all challenges. This is what my job is," he said.

Holmgren said the Seahawks are considering signing a veteran, free-agent quarterback to back up Wallace until Hasselbeck returns.