Renton – Walter Jones’ possible return to the starting lineup will have to wait another week.
The offensive tackle, a cornerstone of success for the Seattle Seahawks, has not practiced for a month while rehabilitating his surgically repaired left knee. He has experienced pain after two surgeries in eight months. Asked if Jones would practice this week, Seahawks coach Jim Mora could not provide a definitive answer.
“We’ll see where he is Wednesday,” Mora said about Jones. “There’s always the hope, but we’ll see. I don’t know for sure yet.”
Asked if there’s a make-or-break date for the team and Jones to decide whether he’ll play this season, Mora acknowledged there is a date, and that it is approaching, but he would not be specific.
“There is a point where you just have to say, ‘Is it going to happen, or isn’t it?’ ” Mora said. “We’re not there yet, but certainly we’re closer to it. It’s just a mater of getting a gauge for where Walt feels he is. And we’re in the process of evaluating that.”
The nine-time Pro Bowl player had microfracture knee surgery in December, ending his season.
The Seahawks said the surgery was on a nonweight-bearing bone, and expected Jones to be back in time for training camp this season.
However, things have not gone as planned. After two days of practice early in training camp, Jones developed back spasms and had to take time off. Upon his return two weeks later, Jones experienced pain in his knee. Soon after, near the end of camp in August, he had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose cartilage and scar tissue.
Jones, 35, sat out a month to rehabilitate and rest his knee, returning to practice Sept. 16, and working toward a midseason debut.
But after two weeks of work, pain returned to Jones’ knee, and Mora decided to give him the next three weeks off, letting Jones have until the end of Seattle’s bye to rest his knee.
Mora acknowledging that he does not know if Jones will return this season; he’s been cautious about rushing Jones back into action, and he wants to make sure the team’s most decorated offensive lineman is fully healthy when he returns.
Asked how long it would take for Jones to get ready for a game, Mora said he was not certain.
“He just needs to get some work and then feel comfortable,” Mora said. “It would be nice if he could practice for three or four days ago and then play, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not.
“I can tell you this about Walt – he’s diligent in his rehab. He’s doing everything you can possibly do to try and get back on the football field – there’s no question about that. It’s a very frustrating process for him, as well as (for) all of us. But it’s certainly not for lack of toughness, certainly not for lack of effort and due diligence in terms of doing the work that he needs to do.”
Jones likely is out this week against Dallas, as is fellow offensive lineman Sean Locklear, who has not fully recovered from a high ankle sprain suffered against San Francisco on Sept. 20
That leaves Seattle starting recent addition Damion McIntosh at left tackle heading into Sunday’s contest against the Cowboys.
McIntosh, 32, has been with the team for only two weeks, but the 10-year veteran has started 115 games in the league.
McIntosh would be Seattle’s fourth different starting left tackle this season if he starts on Sunday.
Seattle may also get left guard Rob Sims back this week. The Ohio State product suffered an ankle injury against Indianapolis and missed the past two games, but participated in individual drills at practice on Monday.
The Seahawks can use all the help they can get up front, facing a talented Dallas defensive front, by end DeMarcus Ware, who just agreed to a six-year contract extension with $40 million guaranteed.
Seattle center Chris Spencer said no matter what five offensive lineman start for Seattle, they have to do their jobs.
“We can’t make any excuses,” Spencer said. “It’s not like when you’re playing backyard football and somebody wants to say, ‘Timeout. The game’s over. I don’t want to play anymore.’ It’s not that kind of game. So we’ve just got to buckle up, and go to work with who we got.”
Linebacker Leroy Hill and cornerback Marcus Trufant both practiced and appear to be on pace to play Sunday. The team has until Saturday to make a roster move to add Trufant to the 53-man roster. Mora said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck did not do much in practice Monday, but should be able to play this week. As for linebacker Lofa Tatupu and whether he will have surgery to fix a partially torn pectoral muscle, Mora said the team and Tatupu are still evaluating the options. Cornerback Travis Fisher did not practice while he dealt with family obligations, but is expected back this week. Mora said defensive lineman Patrick Kerney did not practice, but the team hopes he can return from a groin injury this week. Defensife back Kelly Jennings (hip, ribs) practiced and Mora said he should be able to play this week.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437