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Hasselbeck returns to his football roots

FOXBOROUGH -- It's not enough that in many circles the Seattle Seahawks are the team to beat in the NFC. Not enough for Matt Hasselbeck, anyway.

"The Patriots are the best team in football," the Seahawks quarterback said yesterday. "They have been for a while. This year, people have been talking about us in a really positive way and talking about us going really far. The difference is, that's just talk, and the Patriots act on it. I really don't think us, as the Seattle Seahawks, can even say we're anywhere near the caliber of team that the Patriots are. They're in a whole other category of a team that's done it, done it for a long time, and looks right now that they're going to do it again."

Hasselbeck, a former Boston College star and Norfolk native whose father, Don, was a Patriot tight end from 1977-1983, and younger brother Tim, another BC alumnus, is the Washington Redskins' third quarterback, will come home Sunday to face the Patriots, the team he used to root for.

"I was down there when Dick McPherson was the head coach, and Hugh Millen and [Scott] Zolak and Tommy Hodson, those guys were the quarterbacks then. I just spent a lot of time down there. I threw to the receivers. I threw to the tight ends. I threw with the quarterbacks. I just learned a lot being around those guys," Hasselbeck said. "Those guys were great to me, really took care of me. I can't say enough for the experience and the help that it was being around those guys. And also for my other two brothers who did the same thing. Tim with [Drew] Bledsoe, and Nathanael [Hasselbeck], too. It was a great experience."

So Sunday will be special. During his career, first with the Packers and now with the Seahawks, Hasselbeck hasn't come home, except for the offseason. He's never seen Gillette Stadium.

"My focus is to try to not let it [distract me] . . . in a way just try to pretend this is a game just like any other game," he said. "It will help a little bit that it's a brand-new stadium that I've never been in. But seriously, I used to do the laundry and fold the towels and all that stuff over there at, it's had so many different names, but Foxboro Stadium. That would be really weird for me, but luckily I don't have to go through that."

The Seahawks (3-1) are coming off a demoralizing defeat to NFC West rival St. Louis, having blown a 27-10 fourth-quarter lead before losing to the Rams in overtime, 33-27. "We had a game [against St. Louis] last week that we felt we should have won. We had it won. We just had a total breakdown in the last five minutes that cost us the game. So, now we have a huge challenge to come in and play the best team in football, and I think that's more where our focus is. In terms of trying to earn respect and that kind of stuff, I think that if we go out and win some more football games that will help."

Lip service
Tom Brady, who suffered a bloody lip and needed stitches on his chin from a hit in last Sunday's win over the Dolphins, reported he's ready to face the Seahawks.

Brady remains on the injury report as probable with a sore shoulder.

"You just get sore from the bumps and bruises," he said. "You get landed on, but you just have to get up and get treatment."

Brady has been getting blitzed often, and he expects a lot of that from the Seahawks.

"They are a team that likes to blitz. Their coach isn't afraid to call it," Brady said. "Last week, at the end of the game the final play was an all-out blitz and Marc Bulger made a great throw to the receiver, who beat the safety and went 55 yards for a touchdown. They have everything in their package. They bring the safeties, they bring the corners, and they bring all the linebackers. They do it all."

Kicking questions
Veteran Seahawks punter Tom Rouen has a strained right hamstring and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Coach Mike Holmgren doesn't plan to make any decision until tomorrow, giving Rouen's leg more time to recover. Rouen, in his 12th NFL season, didn't practice yesterday, and Holmgren told kicker Josh Brown and rookie punter Donnie Jones to be ready . . . Some familiar players auditioned for jobs around the league Tuesday. Former Patriots running back Robert Edwards tried out in New Orleans, as did former Patriots fullback Fred McCrary. Miami, which was without Olindo Mare (leg) last Sunday, brought in a few kickers, including Jeff Chandler and Bill Gramatica. The Panthers brought in running backs Skip Hicks and Stacey Mack, as well as receiver Kevin Dyson. The Patriots did not report any workouts with the league . . . The Patriots still have two receivers, Deion Branch (doubtful) and Troy Brown (questionable) on the injured list, with knee and shoulder injuries, respectively. Corey Dillon also made the list with a right foot injury, which makes him questionable. None of the three practiced yesterday. Cornerback Tyrone Poole, who missed last week's game with a knee injury, is not on the injury report, and practiced yesterday.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. 

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