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Holmgren, doctors to further limit Rhodes' duties

SEATTLE -- Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren and his good
friend and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes had already agreed to a
reduced work load in September, after the 55-year-old Rhodes had a
stroke.

"But he cheated," Holmgren said Wednesday.

So now, five days after Rhodes' second stroke-like episode in
two months, Holmgren is going to Plan B.

"I'm going to go into his office every day at five o'clock and
escort him to his car," Holmgren said.

He was smiling, but he apparently was not joking.

Holmgren, Rhodes and doctors have decided the former
Philadelphia and Green Bay coach can no longer be on the practice
field. And Rhodes will not be in the press box for Sunday's game
against St. Louis. He had been upstairs for each of Seattle's last
seven games.

The team has not definitively said Rhodes had another stroke
Friday, for which he was hospitalized for a day, causing him to
miss Seattle's win at Arizona. But Holmgren and doctors are
obviously concerned Rhodes is not healthy enough to continue at his
usual pace.

Linebackers coach John Marshall is now Seattle's full-time
coordinator, after taking play-calling duties from Rhodes in
September. Before Holmgren hired Marshall in 2003 from Detroit,
Marshall was San Francisco's linebackers coach in 1994, when Rhodes
was the 49ers' defensive coordinator.

Marshall also has been defensive coordinator for Atlanta
(1983-85), San Francisco (1997-98) and Carolina (1999-2001).

Former defensive line coach Zerick Rollins, in his fifth year
with the team, is now filling Marshall's role leading the Seahawks'
young linebackers.

Those linebackers got a lot younger Wednesday, when Holmgren
said ninth-year veteran Jamie Sharper was out indefinitely with an
infected and swollen right knee. Rookie LeRoy Hill will start for
Sharper.

And Rhodes will be watching Hill on television from his
Seattle-area home.

"His hours will be strictly what they are. I'm not going to
budge," Holmgren said. "Ray's still here. We'll still have his
ideas and his strategies. It's just now his body won't let him do
some of those other things."

Holmgren said Rhodes will continue to study film of opposing
offenses and be in all the team's defensive strategy meetings.

"He'll do what he did before he got sick. But when he gets
tired, he'll go home," Holmgren said.

Rhodes' second health scare followed St. Louis coach Mike Martz
being hospitalized then sent home for the season last month with a
heart virus.

Interim Rams coach Joe Vitt said Wednesday Martz continues to
improve. Vitt said Martz now feels well enough to use an elliptical
trainer for up to 90 minutes a day.

Vitt, in his 27th year as an NFL assistant, said since he took
over for Martz four weeks ago, he has made a point of exercising
each Friday and Saturday. He had already been on a doctor's regimen
to reduce his cholesterol level.

"I have not felt the pressure, or the stress. I have a great
support staff," Vitt said.

Holmgren, in his 14th year as NFL head coach, said the cases of
his good friends Martz and now Rhodes have made him reassess how he
lives during the grind of an NFL season, in which coaches often
sleep on office couches and almost forget the routes back to their
homes.

"It can be stressful," Holmgren said. "At the same time, each
of us has to figure out how to handle it. It makes you think how
you conduct your own life."