Alexander will return from concussion to play Sunday

By wire services
Published January 19, 2006

KIRKLAND, Wash. - Shaun Alexander joked that his concussion might have made him smarter. The Seahawks are simply satisfied to know their MVP running back will be on the field Sunday against Carolina.

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren removed all doubt about Alexander's status Wednesday, announcing the league rushing leader would play in the NFC Championship Game. So will starting right tackle Sean Locklear, who spent two days in jail this week and was released after being charged with assault.

Alexander sustained a concussion Saturday in the first quarter of Seattle's win over Washington. He later said he was knocked unconscious and was dazed for about 20 minutes.

In the afternoon noncontact practice, Alexander split first-team time with backup Maurice Morris, who rushed 18 times for 49 yards Saturday. Alexander, who rushed for a team-record 1,880 yards in the regular season, joked he learned something about himself over a four-day battery of tests.

"Oh yeah. I took all the tests and realized the guy knocked some sense into me," Alexander said of Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, who appeared to hit the back of Alexander's helmet during a 1-yard loss Saturday. "I am actually smarter than I was before."

STEELERS: Linebacker Joey Porter won't be fined by the NFL for criticizing officials after the Steelers beat Indianapolis on Sunday.

Porter, a Pro Bowl selection and one of the Steelers' co-captains, criticized referee Pete Morelli's crew repeatedly during a series of postgame interviews. Porter was most angered when an apparent interception by Troy Polamalu was reversed on replay, allowing the Colts to score their second touchdown in a frantic but failed rally in the fourth quarter.

The NFL issued a statement Monday that the interception should have stood.

Also, Jerome Bettis said he might have delayed retirement another season if his goal-line fumble near the end of Sunday's game had been his final carry of the season. "Yeah, who knows?" Bettis said. "It would have been hard to walk away from a last carry like that."

PANTHERS: Defensive end Julius Peppers was one of seven players to miss practice. Peppers injured his shoulder in the third quarter of Carolina's win over Chicago and is questionable for Sunday.

Also missing practice were fullback Brad Hoover (ankle), center Jeff Mitchell (knee), defensive tackle Kindal Moorehead (ankle), guard Tutan Reyes (toe), defensive tackle Jordan Carstens (illness) and safety Mike Minter (wrist). All are listed as questionable except for Carstens and Minter, who are probable.

BRONCOS: Jake Plummer hasn't talked to John Elway recently, and he wants to be done talking about the Hall of Fame and former Broncos quarterback. "I think I've done plenty of interviews (on Elway), talked about our relationship," Plummer said. "Let's keep it on the Steelers, man."