KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) _ Maybe Cortez Kennedy isn't finished for the season.

The Seattle Seahawks' six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle underwent surgery on Monday _ after sustaining a fractured left leg at San Diego _ but coach Dennis Erickson held out hope that Kennedy would be able to play again this year.

``There is a good chance he could be back,'' Erickson said. ``There's a chance that that could happen.''

A plate and seven screws were inserted in Kennedy's left leg just above the ankle a day after he broke his fibula in the first quarter of Seattle's 37-31 victory over the Chargers. After the game, Seahawks coaches thought he was lost for the season.

But Erickson said team doctors told him after the surgery that Kennedy would be out for six weeks.

That means there is a remote chance that the 6-foot-3, 306-pound player _ depending on how fast his leg heals _ could be back in time for the team's regular-season finale against San Francisco in the Kingdome on Dec. 21.

The Seahawks (6-4) will be at New Orleans on Sunday. They're trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 1988.

The 29-year-old Kennedy played in a club-record 100th straight game against San Diego on Sept. 21, but sprained a knee and missed Games 5 and 6. He has played in 120 games, including 106 starts, in his eight seasons with the Seahawks.

The Seahawks will not sign a defensive tackle to replace Kennedy on their roster.

Dan Saleaumua, who has been part of a three-man defensive tackle rotation in Seattle with Kennedy and Sam Adams, will replace Kennedy as a starter. Saleaumua was signed as a free agent with the Seahawks on Aug. 6 after playing eight seasons with Kansas City. The Chiefs released him after he refused to take a pay cut.

``He played extremely well in that football game,'' Erickson said of Saleaumua's performance in San Diego. ``He came in and without a doubt played his best of the year.''

Riddick Parker will be the Seahawks' backup defensive tackle.

In addition to Kennedy, the Seahawks could be without punter Rick Tuten this week. Tuten has a pulled groin muscle. He punted in pain in the San Diego game, averaging 40.5 yards on six kicks.

The Seahawks will see how Tuten responds to treatment, then bring in ``two or three'' free agent punters Tuesday if they determine he won't be ready for the New Orleans game.

Erickson also said that wide receiver Brian Blades suffered a fractured nose in the fourth quarter of the San Diego game, but still continued to play. He is expected to play against New Orleans.