Renton – Two cornerstones for the Seattle Seahawks might not be ready for the team’s regular-season opener Sept. 13 against the St. Louis Rams.
Seahawks coach Jim Mora told reporters Wednesday that offensive tackle Walter Jones will have arthroscopic surgery on his surgically repaired left knee today to clean up what is believed to be loose bodies or scar tissue from his previous surgery.
Jones had microfracture surgery in December, effectively ending his 2008 campaign. The 35-year-old perennial Pro Bowl player had been rehabbing the injury ever since, with the hope of returning to the field this season.
Mora said the issue was discovered after Jones received an magnetic-resonance image (MRI) this week. The Seahawks coach said there’s no timetable for Jones’ return. However, the team doesn’t expect Jones to be out for an extended period of time. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Ed Khalfayan at Seattle Surgery Center.
Mora also informed reporters that defensive back Marcus Trufant has a “disk issue” that was discovered after the Tacoma native had an MRI performed on his back. Mora said Trufant’s injury is improving, and he will not need surgery.
Trufant injured his back during a backpedal drill July 29, two days before the start of the team’s training camp.
“It’s good that we found this out now rather than in the middle of the season and try to push him through it, because now we can make some decision on how we move forward,” Mora said about Trufant’s back.
Trufant, 28, has been rehabilitating in the pool at the team’s Renton facility but hasn’t appeared on the practice field during workouts. Mora described Trufant’s injury as similar to Matt Hasselbeck’s back injury last season and said that team trainers’ experience in dealing with the quarterback’s bulging disk should help in the treatment of Trufant.
Hasselbeck, who missed nine games with the hard-to-diagnose injury last season, said Trufant might want to seek counsel other than himself in dealing with his back injury.
“I’m probably the last guy he should take advice from on that, really,” joked Hasselbeck. “Do it some other way. Don’t do it the way I did it.”
Mora said Trufant also does not have a timetable for returning, and that the team will approach the regular season as though neither Jones nor Trufant will be ready for Seattle’s opener against the Rams.
Jones returned to practice Monday after missing nearly two weeks because of back spasms. The nine-time Pro Bowl player experienced back pain during the first day of training camp July 31.
After returning to practice Monday, Jones made it only halfway through practice before asking out of a team drill because of pain in his knee. Jones later left the field with a trainer. The veteran tackle has worked out in only three of the team’s 23 practices so far during training camp.
“He just didn’t feel right,” Mora said. “You guys all saw it. The big man didn’t feel right. So we want to make sure that he’s OK.”
Mora said the back spasms that Jones experienced earlier were not related to the knee issue, and that Jones’ back feels fine.
Hasselbeck said he’s not concerned about Jones’ injury.
“Maybe if it was somebody else,” he said. “But he’s just done it so many times – no OTAs, no minicamp, no training camp, Pro Bowl. It’s what he does. It’s almost better (because) you know he’s not going to get hurt out there. That’s just how it’s been out there.”
Asked if the team has to move forward with the expectation that Jones and Trufant might not be ready for the opener, Mora said: “I think you absolutely have to think in those terms. I think you make a mistake if you don’t. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. There’s no panic. Sure, we’d like to have them, but if we don’t, we don’t.”
Trufant was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the beginning of camp and is eligible to join the team on the active roster up until the Seahawks make final cuts to the 53-man roster on Sept. 5. If Trufant cannot pass a physical at that time, the team can keep him on the PUP list, and Trufant would have to miss at least the first six weeks of the season.
Cornerback Ken Lucas said the Seahawks would like to have Trufant back soon, but he understands the team still has to play the games if Seattle’s top corner is not available.
“He’s a big piece of this puzzle, and hopefully we get him back very soon,” Lucas said. “And if he’s not able to come back, some of the other guys will have to step up. But ... Marcus is an integral part of this team, and we need him to come back, but we’re not going to rush him, because we know he needs to get his back well.”
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SEaHAWKS TRAINING CAMP
Same starting O-line for Saturday’s game
With Walter Jones unable to go, Mora said the team will start the same offensive line for Saturday that started the San Diego game, with Sean Locklear at left tackle, Rob Sims at left guard, Chris Spencer at center, Max Unger at right guard and Ray Willis at right tackle.
Mora said that Mansfield Wrotto, who missed the Chargers game with a bruised leg, could see some time with the first unit against the Denver Broncos on Saturday.
With Jones out, the team is getting a long look at left-tackle-in-waiting Locklear, along with Unger at right guard and Willis at right tackle. The team had planned on using Locklear at right guard and Willis at right tackle if Jones was healthy.
“In the long run, it’s going to help us,” Mora said. “It really is. At least that’s how I want to look at it.”
Mora said linebacker Aaron Curry suffered a slight groin pull during Tuesday night’s practice but should be ready to play Saturday. Curry did not practice Wednesday afternoon.
Others who did not practice include Grey Ruegamer (elbow), Lawrence Jackson (groin), Nate Burleson (hamstring), Julius Jones (bruised thigh) and Courtney Taylor (rest).
Jones is expected to play Saturday, but Burleson might not.
“It’s like pulling teeth to get him to even walk out on the field. I’m like, ‘Dad, you can come out here. You can watch a drill. You can get close.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, no, I don’t want to do that.’ ... It’s fun for me to have him out here.” – Seahawks coach Jim Mora, commenting on having his father, also Jim Mora, on the practice field Wednesday.
Eric Williams, The News Tribune