Renton – A day after Seattle Seahawks cornerstone tackle Walter Jones was placed on the injured reserve for the rest of year with a knee issue, the team announced on Thursday that linebacker Lofa Tatupu had surgery to reattach his torn, left pectoral muscle back to the bone.
The surgery, performed by noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews in Alabama, means the team’s defensive anchor is done for the rest of the year and will be placed on the season-ending, injured reserve list.
Tatupu becomes the third Seattle player on the list, joining Jones and offensive tackle Brandon Frye.
With the open roster spot the team likely will activate cornerback Marcus Trufant, who is eligible to return to action off of the physically unable to perform list this week.
Losing Tatupu for the season will be a blow to the team’s defense.
The fifth-year pro has missed only two games in his NFL career, and played with a cast protecting a broken, right thumb for most of the 2008 season, having surgery to repair the injury soon after the season ended.
Tatupu, a three-time Pro Bowl player, is known for his ability to anticipate plays defensively and get the rest of the defense lined up in the right position.
However, the team should not have much of a drop off in production with backup David Hawthorne starting. The second-year pro started for Tatupu against Chicago this season, finishing with an impressive 17 tackles and an interception.
“It’s a different experience this time around,” Hawthorne said. “The last time I started it was my first start in the NFL, and I didn’t know how it was going to be, I’d never been out there before. But I think this time around I’m a little more confident, and I know I can go out there and actually produce.”
Seattle’s game Sunday against Dallas will be a homecoming of sorts for Hawthorne. The Texas Christian product grew up about an hour’s drive south of Dallas in Corsicana, and his father, also named David Hawthorne, is a big fan of the Cowboys.
“It’s going to be an emotional roller coaster for the big guy,” Hawthorne said about his father. “But he loves football. And he loves the fact that I’ve got an opportunity to play, and he has an opportunity to come watch me. I mean he’s a diehard Cowboys fan, but he’s my fan also.”
Hawthorne said he expects to have about 35 family members on hand for Sunday’s game, along with several friends planning to attend.
And with 10 games remaining in the season, Hawthorne, 24, not only sees this as an opportunity to help his team, but a chance to prove that he can be a full-time starter in the league.
Seattle signed Hawthorne as an undrafted free agent two seasons ago.
Although a bit undersized for a middle linebacker at 6-foot, 240 pounds, Hawthorne quickly earned the nickname “The Heater” from Tatupu because of the explosive hits he produced on the field as a rookie.
“Every time you go out there the main focus is to put out good tape and help my teammates win,” he said. “So my role is to be the commander of the defense. So I’m taking on the role. It’s a big responsibility and I’m up for the challenge.”
Hasselbeck ready to go
After watching from the sidelines for two days to rest his sore ribs, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck practiced on Thursday and declared himself ready to play against the Cowboys.
Hasselbeck said the team’s focus on Sunday will be to create balance offensively, including the need to jump-start a running game that’s ranks 28th overall in the league.
“We’ve got to run the ball,” he said. “We’ve got to be balanced. And if we’re just assignment correct, that’s part of it. But then the other side, they’ve got guys that can play.”
Hasselbeck said he had not watched any film of last year’s 34-9 drilling at the hands of Dallas on Thanksgiving Day during which he was sacked seven times.
“We’re running a new offense this year, so it’s not as critical to study that stuff,” Hasselbeck said. “But I remember that game well, so it’s not like we have to go back and find out what happened. I can recall.”
Along with Hasselbeck (ribs), Patrick Kerney (groin) and Rob Sims (ankle) were full participants in practice. Safety C.J. Wallace (hamstring) and offensive tackle Sean Locklear did not practice. Locklear worked on stance and starts with trainers on the side during practice. He is not expected to play this week.