Already, Seahawks need new left offensive tackle
ERIC D. WILLIAMS; Staff writer
RENTON – Time will tell if rookie Russell Okung is a fast healer.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is holding out hope his starting left tackle will be ready for the team’s regular-season opener Sept. 12 at home against San Francisco.
Carroll confirmed that Okung’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test on Sunday revealed the Oklahoma State product suffered a high-ankle sprain in the first series of Saturday’s exhibition game against Green Bay.
Okung, who injured the same right ankle during his senior season in college, is expected to miss at least the final two games of exhibition play.
“It’s not the worst one we’ve ever seen,” Carroll said. “It’s kind of a moderate one. That’s why we hold out hope that maybe he can get back quickly from it. But those can be difficult. We’ll have to see how it goes for him.”
High-ankle sprains generally take four to eight weeks to rehabilitate, depending on the severity of the injury. Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson missed two games after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the second game last season against San Francisco. In the same game, left tackle Sean Locklear suffered a high-ankle sprain and needed eight weeks to return, missing six games.
With tackle Ray Willis out indefinitely after having surgery for a chronic knee condition, Seattle plans to play Mansfield Wrotto in place of Okung. A fourth-round choice by the Seahawks in 2007 out of Georgia Tech, Wrotto has played mostly guard for Seattle, but was moved to tackle this season by offensive line coach Alex Gibbs. Wrotto’s performance against the Packers was solid. He played the entire game after taking over for Okung.
“He has good feet,” Carroll said about Wrotto. “He has some versatility to play some other spots. He stood up to the pass rush very well in this game. He did a nice job. It’s the first time he ever (played that much). And he did an admirable job.”
Carroll said that veteran offensive lineman Chester Pitts will be taken off the physically unable to perform list and will be available to practice beginning today.
The 31-year-old was signed in June because of his versatility – he plays both guard and tackle – and he will be another option at left tackle if Okung cannot make it back for the season opener.
Carroll said Pitts will not play on Saturday against Minnesota.
“I think that’s too ambitious right now,” Carroll said. “I’d like to get him some practice snaps this week if we can … Now that he’s off the PUP (list) he can start working with the football team officially, and that’s important, just (so) he can start hearing the snap count and getting out of the huddle.”
That means Wrotto will start against the Vikings, who are led by talented defensive end Jared Allen and his 141/2 sacks from last season. Carroll said Seattle will have to focus on calling plays that do not put veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in harm’s way.
“It does change our concerns about making sure he gets the ball out of his hands,” Carroll said. “We got to make sure he can get that done.”
Carroll said Locklear, who played 10 games at left tackle last season, is not an option and will stay on the right side.
Carroll did not rule out the possibility of making a move to improve the depth at tackle.
“We’re always competing to find ways to help our roster,” Carroll said. “John (Schneider) is looking every day at what’s going on, who’s available and all that, and we’ll continue to look.”
Defensive end Nick Reed had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and will miss a few weeks. … Carroll said Leon Washington will start at running back against Minnesota. … Mike Gibson has surpassed veteran Ben Hamilton at left guard and will get repetitions with the first unit this week. Hamilton has been working at center with the second team. … Receiver Brandon Jones, a new addition for the Seahawks, worked through individual and team drills Tuesday and is expected to play Saturday. … Defensive end Kentwan Balmer is out indefinitely with a leg bruise.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/