RENTON – The revolving door at offensive line has spun again for the Seattle Seahawks, spitting out a ninth different starting offensive line combination in 14 games.
Veteran Chester Pitts returns to the lineup after a three-week absence. Pitts moves back to left guard, pushing Mike Gibson over to right guard and Stacy Andrews to the bench.
Pitts injured his ankle at New Orleans on Nov. 21. Pitts had played in four games, returning to play for the first time in over a year after microfracture knee surgery cut short his 2009 season. Pitts said the ankle injury was a separate issue, with the pile falling on him during a field goal attempt against the Saints.
“I’m really excited to be back and to be able to contribute,” Pitts said. “I’ve just got a lot of pride about being able to be part of the O-line and doing my job. So it’s really important for me to kind of get back in the swing of things, and contribute any way I can.”
Seattle received Andrews in a September trade with Philadelphia for a seventh-round draft choice in 2011. At 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds, Andrews projects as a right tackle. However, once Max Unger was placed on the season-ending injured reserve after toe surgery, Andrews moved in and took over as Seattle’s right guard, starting 12 of the team’s 13 games there.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he wanted to get Pitts’ veteran savvy back on the field.
“We get the experience of Chester back in there; he’s played a lot of years,” Carroll said. “That helps us some. Mike (Gibson) is still a young player for us. He’s done a nice job in the last couple weeks kind of assimilating into a starting role. And we’d like to see the movement they bring, too.
“Both those guys have good quickness, so we’ll see how it fits. We’re going to try it out and see how it looks like.”
Andrews’ contract status might have played a role in Seattle’s decision. He’s scheduled to make $5.25 million in base salary next season, which would place him among the highest paid guards in the league.
Pitts’ contract is up at the end of the season, leaving the Seahawks free to negotiate terms to bring him back should they deem the 31-year-old a fit as the team moves forward with its rebuilding effort.
Carroll said starting wide receivers Mike Williams (ankle) and Ben Obomanu (hand) should play Sunday. Both were listed as probable on Seattle’s injury report.
Williams said he’s looking forward to getting back on the field after missing last week’s game against San Francisco.
Williams said missing time the past few weeks set him back in terms of the personal goals he had set for himself, but he’s eager to help his team take advantage of an important opportunity in facing one of the best teams in the league in Atlanta.
“I feel fine,” Williams said. “I’m to the point now where I’m not going to think about it. I think if I would have played last week, I would’ve thought about it a lot, and it probably would have affected how I played, and things like that.
“Even though I wanted to play, in hindsight I was glad that I got another week to heal up. And I’m excited to get back and play, and get back in front of the home crowd and cut it loose. I hope offensive introductions are on Sunday, and I’m going to go out there and try to make some plays.”
WR Brandon Stokley (hamstring) fully participated in practice and should be available Sunday. He’s listed as questionable. Cornerback Roy Lewis (knee) will be a game-time decision, and Walter Thurmond (hamstring) likely will not play Sunday. Both are listed as questionable. Kicker Olindo Mare is listed as probable with a hamstring issue, which could be a concern for Seattle. Punter Jon Ryan would handle the kicking duties if Mare has issues Sunday. Defensive end Chris Clemons (ankle), quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (left wrist) and center Chris Spencer (shoulder) are probable.
Atlanta at Seattle, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13, 710-AM, 97.3-FM