RENTON – It’s hard for someone 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds to hide out in the shadows, but that’s what Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Russell Okung has accomplished so far during training camp.
With coach Pete Carroll’s three-man quarterback competition, the arrival of Terrell Owens and the fretting over Sidney Rice’s tender shoulders, few questions have been raised about the Oklahoma State University product’s health.
Okung returned to action for the first time on Saturday against the Tennessee Titans, and looked like his dominant self, getting in about a quarter’s worth of work. His 2011 season was cut short by Philadelphia’s Trent Cole, who took Okung down with a blatant cheap shot by grabbing him by the right arm and flipping him over the shoulder after the whistle was blown.
Okung suffered a torn pectoral muscle and was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list after 12 starts.
It forced Okung to miss time because of injuries for a second straight year.
In his rookie season, Okung suffered high-ankle sprains on both legs that forced him to miss a total of six games.
“I’ve really rebounded from the injury last year, and I’m really glad to be back out there,” Okung said about his play against Tennessee. “But as an offensive line we just had one thing in mind, and that was to come out here and start the season off right. We went out there, we wanted to run the ball and we did a fair job. But we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on.”
Seattle’s offensive line coach, Tom Cable, did a nice job of patching things together during the backstretch of last season, with Paul McQuistan playing the final four games for Okung.
The Seahawks finished the season running the ball effectively, but there’s no question that their offensive line is better with its cornerstone guy at left tackle.
“That’s our identity,” Okung said. “We want to be a tough, physical football team that runs the ball and explosively throws it down field. So that’s kind of what we did last year, and I hope that we keep going off of that.”
Selected No. 6 overall by the Seahawks in the 2010 draft, to replace future Hall of Famer Walter Jones, Okung has a chance to develop into a Pro Bowl tackle if he can stay healthy.
Heading into his third season, Okung says he’s not concerned with the injury issues he’s had in the past.
“I’m just glad to be out here playing,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen from here on out. But as long as I got me and my guys, it’s all good.”
The Seahawks took Sunday and today off, and will resume practice on Tuesday in preparation for the team’s second preseason game in Denver on Saturday. Carroll was pleased with the way his team limited penalties against Tennessee on Saturday. The Seahawks finished with just five penalties for 41 yards. They finished with 138 penalties in 2011, an average of 8.6 a game – the second-highest average in the league. Something Carroll was not pleased with was his team’s tackling against Tennessee. The Seahawks gave up several big plays, including an 85-yard punt return and 21-yard touchdown run by Darius Reynaud. “I thought the tackling was terrible. We didn’t tackle anybody,” Carroll said. “Particularly in the second half, we were just falling off the guys, and that’s a first-game situation. We just have to get a lot better.”email@example.com 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/