First loss a gut check for Seahawks

Patchwork offensive line’s struggles at root of many problems facing 4-1 Seattle

Staff writerOctober 8, 2013 

SEATTLE — A first loss of the season is always a mortality check.

The Seahawks, considered one of the best teams in the NFL, start the sixth week of the season with a new set of circumstances. After being 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, Seattle has to regroup following Sunday’s 34-28 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

“This is just like coming off a big, hyped opener or another big win or whatever. All of those have an effect — how much we listen to the hype and how much we let conversations get away from what’s really at hand,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That can happen.

“So we handled last week well; that didn’t bite us. And we’ll deal with this too. I don’t want to get real good at this — at playing well after losses — but we need to handle it well.”

Help is coming in increments.

Carroll said he expects Pro Bowl center Max Unger (triceps) to participate in practice with the aim to play Sunday against the

visiting Tennessee Titans (3-2). Unger was inactive the past two weeks.

In two weeks, the Seahawks could have a new toy on offense. Wide receiver Percy Harvin is in Seattle for the first time since having hip surgery at the start of August. Harvin, who has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in each of his four seasons in the league, is running and progressing in his rehabilitation.

Harvin can’t come off the injured reserve list until Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I know he’s very enthusiastic about getting going and getting back,” Carroll said. “So we’ll just have to see what happens. But it’s a very positive response at this point. He’s in really good shape to take the next step. His attitude is perfect about getting back and doing everything he can to get out there.”

While Harvin will likely be a dynamic addition, the more basic pully-and-lever operation of the offensive line is an ongoing concern.

The Seahawks were just 2-for-12 on third down against the Colts a week after going 3-for-14 against the Houston Texans during Week 4’s overtime win.

The offensive line, with rookie Michael Bowie at right tackle and Paul McQuistan at left tackle in place of Pro Bowler Russell Okung, has been porous the past two weeks, and the personnel is not going to change soon.

Okung (toe) can’t come off injured reserve until Nov. 17, when the Seahawks face the Vikings. Right tackle Breno Giacomini was back in Seattle after having knee surgery last week in New York. Carroll said Giacomini is still “hobbling around.”

While Okung and Giacomini have been gone, quarterback Russell Wilson has jetted out of the pocket on runs born of desperation.

He has 179 rushing yards the last two games. He has also been ineffective passing on third down. Both are heavily influenced by the line’s troubles.

“The last couple of weeks, it really shows that protection issues have really been at the root of it,” Carroll said of the team’s third-down struggles. “There’s a number of things that we can do better. But, just the protection issues have made the quarterback move quite a bit, and it hasn’t allowed us to be on time the way that we’d like to. So we’re going to work real hard at it again.”

EXTRA POINTS

Linebacker Bobby Wagner left Sunday’s game because of an ankle sprain. … Defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Jordan Hill each have thigh bruises. … Tight end Zach Miller, who was inactive Sunday because of a hamstring problem, is day-to-day.

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