How crazy was it along the Seattle Seahawks’ makeshift offensive line last weekend?
During the third quarter of Seattle’s 30-24 victory over Oakland, after left guard James Carpenter sprained his ankle, the Seahawks had an undrafted rookie tight end and a former defensive tackle as guards (Garry Gilliam and J.R. Sweezy). They had a first-time starter at left tackle (Alvin Bailey). They had a rookie at right tackle (Justin Britt). Oh, and a fourth-string center whom they had cut weeks earlier (Patrick Lewis).
Between offensive series and then between plays, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and line coach Tom Cable were talking to each other through their headsets on the sideline about which plays the fill-ins could or could not execute.
Cable walked onto the field at one point, turned his back to it to look at what linemen he had remaining available on the sideline, then began telling guys “OK, you go to guard. You go to tackle.”
Just like a kid captain might on the playground.
“Yeah, there was some great communication going on,” Bevell deadpanned after Wednesday’s practice for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants — when the line might get back from injury center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung.
“We hadn’t been able to rep every one of those guys at the positions that they were at. We had to fall back on Tom a lot and say, ‘What do they know? What can they run? And where can we put them to make them successful?’ ”
When Carpenter got hurt Cable made the decision to replace him with Gilliam, whom Seattle signed this spring to be a tackle. Before Gilliam ran onto the field, Cable asked him a question: “So how many plays do you know at guard?”
“That’s an example of what it was like,” Cable said Wednesday.
“As the game went on, we put Alvin at guard (and Gilliam at tackle). We were mixing and matching — depending on the play.”
So in that context, a sputtering offense in the second half is more understandable. If not acceptable.
Cable has been coaching for 27 years. He told head coach Pete Carroll after Sunday’s game it was the probably the most challenging one he’d ever had.
And he used to be the head coach of the Raiders.
“We’ve been lucky to train our guys,” Cable said. “But you don’t expect on Sunday morning to hear, ‘Well, he’ll be up (active) but it’s an emergency (basis only).’ And then James gets hurt. So you’ve just got to piece it together. Let’s go.
“But it’s a grind, with all the junk that goes on in there.”
SCRUGGS TO IR
The Seahawks put defensive end Greg Scruggs on injured reserve three days after he hurt his knee against Oakland. Seattle claimed defensive end DeMarcus Dobbs off waivers from San Francisco to fill that spot on the active roster.
Dobbs, an undrafted free agent from Georgia in 2011, has played six games for the 49ers this season. He has been on their special-teams units as well as defense.
Scruggs missed all of last season after having knee surgery.
There could be another roster move this week, if the Seahawks decide to activate nickel back Jeremy Lane off the IR-with-a-designation-to-return list.
Seattle might like his fill-in, Marcus Burley, so much it doesn’t need Lane as much as first thought.
“It’s great to have him back out there. He’s got a great spirit about him, and we love having him out there. There’s a special energy that he brings, which is fun,” Carroll said of Lane, who injured his groin in the Sept. 4 opener against Green Bay and has been out ever since. “But he’s got to work his way back in. We are really happy with what Marcus has done.”
Does that mean Lane will “blend” in with Burley for nickel-back sets, in which Seattle has been for the majority of snaps in six of eight games this season?
“I think ‘blend’ is a good word,” Carroll said.
So, no, Lane won’t be moving right back in completely for Burley beginning Sunday against the Giants. In fact, it’s not a given Lane will even be playing against New York.
Even though Lane says he is “definitely, 100 percent” healthy.
“We won’t rush him,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how this week goes.”
9 PLAYERS MISS PRACTICE
Safety and key special-teams player Jeron Johnson was back at practice after missing last week because of a concussion.
But nine teammates sat out the outdoor practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
Unger took what Carroll described before practice as a personal day. The coach expects his two-time Pro Bowl center to practice Thursday and potentially play Sunday against the Giants for the first time in more than a month because of a sprained foot. Running back Marshawn Lynch got his normal Wednesday rest.
Carroll had expected safety Kam Chancellor (groin) and Okung (calf) to practice half of Wednesday’s workout, but the team listed each as not participating. Last week was Chancellor’s first missed game since 2011.
Doug Baldwin’s groin injury is apparently at least a tad more than minor, as Carroll had estimated after Sunday’s win over the Raiders. That’s a reason Bryan Walters is back on the team to return punts this week, after Baldwin did it on a fill-in basis last week. Carroll said the team re-signed Walters on Tuesday “to get him right back in.”
Stephen Schilling’s knee injury becomes a bigger concern if Unger doesn’t make it back to play against New York. Schilling’s injury is why Lewis started against Oakland.
Carpenter’s status for Sunday remains iffy, at best. He was in a walking boot to begin the week. Carroll said he walked off the field with his starting left guard during Wednesday morning’s walkthrough workout and Carpenter said he had this same sprain on the same ankle as a senior at Alabama in 2010, so that gives the Seahawks’ training staff a precedent to treat his more recent sprain in hopes of getting him ready to play Sunday.
Carroll said linebacker Malcolm Smith is going to be out at least another week but that cornerback Byron Maxwell has a chance to practice late this week and perhaps play against the Giants. Carroll also said the team was “leaning” toward having undrafted rookie Brock Coyle make his second consecutive and career start at middle linebacker with K.J. Wright on the outside again with Bruce Irvin against New York.
Defensive end O’Brien Schofield’s injury is the only new one on the long injury list. He played 19 snaps on defense and 14 more on special teams against Oakland.