Who will rush the passer?

September 5, 2013 

Because of nagging injuries, five key players in the defensive line rotation missed the last exhibition game against Oakland.

The team’s top free-agent addition, defensive end Cliff Avril, has yet to suit up in a game because of lingering foot and hamstring issues. Seattle’s other free-agent pickup, Michael Bennett, underwent a toe procedure last week, and he’s playing with a torn rotator cuff.

Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel missed the Oakland game because of injured groins. And rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill watched from the sideline with a strained biceps.

The team’s leading pass rusher, Chris Clemons, is returning from anterior cruciate ligament surgery in January, which will affect his availability to begin the season. Bruce Irvin must serve a four-game suspension to start the season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Coach Pete Carroll’s No. 1 priority in the offseason was improving the pass rush. The Seahawks had 36 sacks last year, tied for No. 18 in the NFL. And Seattle struggled to get off the field on third down, allowing opponents to convert 38.4 percent of the time, No. 17 in the league.

Seattle has young edge rushers such as O’Brien Schofield, Mike Morgan and Benson Mayowa to fill in for the injured veterans, but eventually the team’s high-dollar performers such as Avril and Clemons need to get back on the field for the defensive unit to perform at a high level in passing situations.

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