Despite claims by tailback Shaun Alexander that the broken bone in his left foot has improved to the point where he might be able play this weekend, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said Wednesday afternoon that he will not risk the long-term health of the NFL's reigning most valuable player.
"If we still see the crack [on a CT exam], and I'm pretty sure we will, then we're not going to take any chances," Holmgren said. "Even if he says he feels well, I can't run the risk [of doing further damage to the foot]."
On Wednesday evening, Holmgren's words proved prophetic, as team officials said that the second CT scan confirmed the crack in the bone.
Citing the power of prayer as a key to the dramatic improvement in his foot, Alexander first suggested earlier Wednesday that he might be able to play in Sunday night's game against the Chicago Bears, but he is once again out indefinitely. The seventh-year veteran was bothered by a bruised foot in the season opener, then experienced further discomfort during Sunday's victory over the New York Giants, and a Monday examination revealed a small, non-displaced fracture.
Holmgren announced at the time that Alexander would be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, would not require surgery, and that Maurice Morris would replace him in the starting lineup. The team is also expected to expand its use of four-wide receiver formations during his absence.
"I don't think [the rehabilitation] will be real lengthy, but it is what it is," Holmgren said on Monday in announcing the injury. "So now, he just has to stay off it and allow it to heal up ... When you lose the MVP for a while, it's a hit."
Alexander, who walked into Seahawks headquarters Wednesday morning not wearing the plastic boot that was supposed to protect the break in his left foot, would need clearance from the team's medical staff to play Sunday. Even though the star tailback insisted his foot is much improved, Holmgren seemed more than a little dubious during his afternoon news conference -- doubts which were supported later by the second round of CT scans.
The Seahawks have officially listed Alexander as "doubtful" on the NFL injury report.
"Unless it's the Super Bowl, I don't think that Mike would let me play," Alexander said after the second scan of his foot.
Not surprisingly, Alexander did not practice on Wednesday. The team will continue to monitor his progress, but it's unlikley he will undergo another CT scan before next week, and even less likley he will suit up for Sunday's game.
Holmgren said Alexander reported for work on Wednesday "feeling really good" and "kind of frisky as a matter of fact." The coach stressed several times, however, that he does not want to exacerbate the situation by allowing Alexander to return too soon. And he strongly hinted he will rely more on the advice of the team's medical staff than on the desires of his most valuable player.
If Alexander does sit out on Sunday, it will mark the first game he has missed in his NFL career, after a streak of 99 appearances. He has not missed a start since Sept. 21, 2003, when he arrived late to Qwest Field following the birth of his daughter.
Alexander, 29, has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past five seasons and for more than 1,200 yards in four of those campaigns. The Seahawks' first-round choice in the 2000 draft, the former University of Alabama star carried 370 times for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2005, earning league most valuable player honors for that effort.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.