Pete Carroll’s goal for his team’s first exhibition game was escaping with no significant injuries.
But even after holding out several starters, the Seattle coach’s worst fear materialized in the Seahawks’ 24-17 come-from-behind win over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday in the preseason opener for both teams.
Seattle starting left tackle Russell Okung suffered a left ankle injury on the opening series. He had to leave the field on the cart after trainers checked out his leg on the sideline.
Initial X-rays came back negative for a potential fracture. Okung will be re-evaluated once he gets back to Seattle today.
Okung’s injury is the latest setback for the second-year offensive tackle out of Oklahoma State. He suffered high ankle sprains to both legs last season, causing him to miss six regular-season games in his rookie season.
Carroll said Okung’s injury is in the same area where he suffered a high ankle sprain last year.
“I feel very sorry for him that he has to even deal with this tonight,” Carroll said. “He’s been through so much with all that stuff. The fact that it just happened really out of nowhere – he’d been practicing beautifully and doing everything full speed and doing great. So it’s hard to imagine how that could happen.”
Carroll said that Okung’s injury was not the result of contact. Tyler Polumbus replaced Okung at left tackle. Carroll said he did not consider swinging rookie James Carpenter to left tackle. Seattle drafted Carpenter No. 25 overall in this year’s draft because of his versatility, and the fact he played left tackle at Alabama last year.
“We know Tyler can play,” Carroll said. “He’s played for us before. And Will Robinson can play left tackle as well, but we’re not ruling out the fact that we’re going to get him back very quickly.”
Thursday also marked the debut of new starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. His performance wasn’t exactly something to file away in the memory bank.
With starting receivers Sidney Rice and Mike Williams watching from the side, along with third receiver Ben Obomanu. Jackson struggled, passing for 13 yards on 3-for-5 accuracy, with a 64.6 passer rating in a quarter of play. Jackson was sacked twice. His saving grace was he didn’t turn the ball over.
“Until I watch the film I can’t really say how I did,” Jackson said. “We could have done better, obviously. But that’s what the preseason is for.”
Playing against his former team for the first time since arriving in Seattle in a trade with San Diego (0-1) last year, reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst took the majority of the snaps, playing the second and third quarters. Whitehurst was efficient, completing 14 of 20 passes for 115 yards with no interceptions.
As expected after the league’s 41/2 month lockout, this contest was a ragged, disjointed affair played mostly by guys on the back end of both teams’ rosters. The uneven play included the Seahawks giving up a 103-yard kickoff return for a score by San Diego’s Bryan Walters, an unrestricted free agent from Cornell who attended Juanita High School in Kirkland.
Along with Rice and Williams, running back Justin Forsett was held out, and starting running back Marshawn Lynch played only a few snaps. On defense, starting ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant did not play.
Seattle trailed 17-10 late in the game, but third-string quarterback Josh Portis led the Seahawks on a 10-play, 84-yard scoring drive, capped by a 6-yard pass over the middle to tight end Anthony McCoy with a little over four minutes remaining.
The Seahawks got the ball right back when defensive end Pierre Allen sacked Scott Tolzien, forcing a fumble. Fellow defensive end Pep Levingston recovered 22 yards from the San Diego end zone.
After a 3-yard loss, Seattle running back Thomas Clayton burst through the middle of San Diego’s defense for a 25-yard touchdown run, giving the Seahawks the lead for good, 24-17.
San Diego drove into scoring position for the potential tying score late, but a young group of Seattle reserves held tough, with safety Jeron Johnson deflecting a pass intended for Travon Patterson in the end zone on fourth down to preserve the win.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org