RENTON — Chris Clemons proved to be a quick healer. He’s fast approaching a return to action after reconstructive knee surgery in January.
It just won’t happen at Carolina this Sunday.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters Monday that his team’s leading sack man the past three seasons will practice for the first time Wednesday, but he has been ruled out for the team’s season opener against the Panthers.
Clemons has made steady progress in his rehab work with trainers, which led to Carroll placing him on the active roster with the hope he can return to action in a few weeks.
“We’re real excited about that,” Carroll said. “He’s had a great preparation to get back. It will be light on Wednesday. But he’s been really busting it, so we’ll just bring him along, and we’re going to take our time.”
The Seahawks can use the help up front defensively, with several defensive linemen nursing nagging injuries. Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel are expected to return to practice after missing the last exhibition game against Oakland with groin injuries.
Defensive tackle Michael Bennett returned to practice on Monday after having a procedure on his toe over the weekend. Rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill likely will miss Sunday’s game because of a strained biceps, but is expected back on the field soon. Top free-agent signee Cliff Avril’s availability remains uncertain because of lingering hamstring issues.
With all the injuries up front, recently acquired of defensive tackle D’Anthony Thomas, who came in a trade with Jacksonville, will get an opportunity to contribute. Thomas is familiar with Seattle’s defensive scheme from his time playing for former Seahawks defensive coordinator and current Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley.
“We were looking for a little depth here, and a guy who could battle for us,” Carroll said about Thomas. “We liked his movement. And he could understand our system. He got indoctrinated a little bit from his other camp. He looked active enough that he could help us, and he’s active and fit. So we’re a little bit (full) at the defensive line spot, and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got a guy who can play.”
HAWKS LOSE HARPER
The Seahawks were one of two teams to part ways with fourth-round selections during final roster cuts by releasing receiver Chris Harper. The other was Oakland, which cut quarterback Tyler Wilson, but later added the University of Arkansas product to its practice squad.
The Seahawks did the same thing with Harper, adding him to the practice squad after he cleared waivers on Sunday.
However, San Francisco signed the Kansas State product away from Seattle, giving Harper a three-year deal to join the team’s active roster.
The 49ers have depth issues at wide receiver, and Harper becomes the sixth receiver on the team’s roster.
“We were fortunate enough to get him back on the practice squad,” Carroll said. “That’s how you go about it, and it’s a gamble that you take. They picked up a good football player.”
The Seahawks added eight players to the team’s practice squad. They include offensive guards Ryan Seymour and Jared Smith, both seventh-round draft choices this year, along with linebacker/defensive lineman Ty Powell, wide receiver Bryan Walters, tight end Cooper Helfet, defensive tackle Michael Brooks, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga and defensive back DeShawn Shead.
Carroll addressed the tough decisions he had to make in cutting down the roster, including letting veteran fullback Michael Robinson and cornerback Antoine Winfield go.
The moves were part of ushering in 17 new players to the team’s 53-man roster.
“It was very difficult,” he said. “We had a lot of tough decisions, and Mike was one of them. Mike’s been with us for a long time. All these guys that left hurt us in a sense. They bought in and gave us everything they had. And Mike was a very instrumental guy on this football team as we (went) along, so they’re all tough decisions.”
Robinson’s departure coincided with the impressive play of second-year pro Derrick Coleman, who not only proved he could be serviceable at fullback, but also showed flashes of being a good special teams player.
Carroll said that Winfield was edged by Walter Thurmond for the starting nickel cornerback job. That development, along with the fact that Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell can play nickel, made Winfield expendable.
“He’s a terrific player still today,” Carroll said about Winfield. “He ran up against Walter Thurmond, and Walter just had a great camp. He did a fantastic job for us. He’s at (the) very best he’s ever been — versatile and all over the special teams units. He’s returning as well, and we’re really excited for him at the nickel spot.”
Rookie offensive tackle Michael Bowie’s shoulder injury turned out to be less serious than expected. Carroll expects Bowie to return to practice on Wednesday along with wide receivers Sidney Rice (knee) and Stephen Williams (concussion). Former UW star Jermaine Kearse is expected to get his first opportunity to serve as the team’s kick returner on Sunday. The Seahawks will not practice on Tuesday, the team’s regularly scheduled day off during a game week. The team will leave for Charlotte, N.C. after practice on Friday.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams