The NFL's league leaders in injuries took another kick in the groin today in their never-ending struggle to perform at full strength.
The Seahawks announced today that Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones, who hasn't seen regular season action since Thanksgiving, will probably not return to the lineup until at least November(perhaps not until their Week 8 showdown with the Dallas Cowboys who, oddly enough, was the opponent the last time Jones was in the starting lineup). Jones is recovering from multiple surgeries to his troublesome left knee. He had microfracture surgery in December and then a cleanout procedure was performed in August to correct some loose bodies inside the knee.
“Right now, the right decision as far as all of us are concerned – coaches, doctors, trainers and Walter – is to back off, see where it is in a couple of weeks and then reassess. So that’s what we’re going to do,” said Seahawks head coach Jim Mora at Wednesday's practice.
What about looking for help on the unemployment line, like former Bengal Levi Jones or ex-Bill Langston Walker? “It’s not always as cut and dried as you think,” Mora said. “’There’s this guy out there, why don’t you sign him?’ Well, we looked at that. We don’t ignore anything. We try to look at everything and make the best decision.”
Right tackle Sean Locklear, who was subbing on the left side in Jones' absence, also appears to not be making a triumphant return until after the Week 7 bye as he continues to nurse a sore ankle. That leaves the left tackle job in the hands of Brandon Frye, who has started the last two games. On Saturday, the team signed Kyle Williams off the practice squad to add depth behind Frye.
Then there's the progress of Ol' Number 8, QB Matt Hasselbeck, who practiced for the first time Wednesday since fracturing his rib against San Francisco nearly three weeks ago. Hasselbeck was limited in practice but said he felt “OK, probably better than I expected”. His status for Sunday's game against Jacksonville is still up in the air. A man whose status is far less uncertain is cornerback Josh Wilson, who participated fully in practice on Wednesday, and he looks like he'll be a go against the Jags after missing the last game and a half with an ankle injury.
Time seems to be running out ever so quickly for coach Mora's battered birds. While this Sunday's game is certainly winnable despite being short-handed, the 'Hawks face the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals the week after and then hobble into the bye the week after that. Assuming Seattle splits the next two, that would put the team at 2-4 and potentially a game back of the NFC West-leading 49ers(San Fran, 3-1, has a tough game at home against the Falcons this week before getting the week off next week). On the bright side, the Seahawks could be welcoming the returns of Jones, Locklear, linebacker Leroy Hill and cornerback Marcus Trufant as they come out of the bye week. That could give Seattle the boost it needs to make a run at the division over a second half schedule that has some soft spots(Detroit, @St. Louis, @Houston, Tampa Bay as well as a Week 17 game against a Titans team that will be long out of playoff contention) mixed in with some tough matchups(@Dallas, @Arizona, @Minnesota, @Green Bay). Provided the team stays relatively in tact, those 9 weeks will be when we can finally get a read on this Seahawks team and when we will see if all of Mora's optimism over the last month comes to fruition.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.