No Walter Jones, no Chris Spencer, and apparently, no problem for the Seattle Seahawks offensive line.
The group that will go out and lead the team in the trenches offensively on Sunday is ready to quiet critics who doubt their ability to get the job done without two of Seattle’s best players up front.
“We’ve just go to play our game,” said Sean Locklear, who will replace Jones at left tackle. “We’ve been playing together in the preseason, so that’s four games under our belt. But we all know what we’re doing and we’re all on the same page so we’re going to be fine. I have no doubt about that. We’re just anxious to get to the game, so we can kind let people see what we can do and shut some folks up.”
The Seahawks will play the same starting five that started the last, two preseason games, with Locklear at left tackle, Rob Sims at left guard, Chris Vallos at center, Max Unger at right guard an Ray Willis at left tackle.
Mansfield Wrotto will backup the interior line positions, and newcomer Brandon Frye will be the backup at offensive tackle.
Unger is the greenest of the group, with the second-round draft pick out of Oregon starting his first game as a pro. Vallos and Willis both saw a lot of action last season with all of the injuries up front, and Locklear and Sims are mainstays on the offensive line that need to play up to their capabilities in order for the line to be successful.
“The thing that is good about us is because people got hurt we all played in different positions and we’ve all play together, so when we’re out there we just go,” said left guard Rob Sims. “There’s no thinking about, ‘Oh, we’ve got to gel.’ We’ve got nine or 10 guys that are interchangeable, so it kind of works like that.”
Offensive line coach Mike Solari said the group still has work to do, but must go out and perform on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a work in progress,” said offensive line coach Mike Solari. “Because there’s some young men that are playing next to each other that have not together under the lights. So they’ve got to be able to perform as one. So that will be a great test for us against the Rams because of what they do defensively.”
Wide receiver Deion Branch might not make his goal of playing in all 24 games this season, including the playoffs, as he is a game-time decision with a hamstring injury.
Greg Johns of Seattlepi.com predicts a 10-6 finish for Seattle.
Art Thiel of Seattlepi.com predicts a 9-7 finish for Seattle.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald wonders if Seahawks head coach Jim Mora can turn his optimism into victories for Seattle.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says Sean Locklear is no longer one of the young guys.
KJR’s Dave Mahler talks with S Jordan Babineaux about his new starting role with the Seahawks in this audio link.
More Mahler: He catches up with Mike Wahle, now living in San Diego, and what he’s up to after retiring from football in this audio link. Wahle said running back play is the key to success in zone blocking.
KJR’s Ian Furness talks with DT Colin Cole about this Sunday’s game in this audio link.
St. Louis Rams
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that since the start of the 2005 season, Mike Martz’s last go-around as Rams coach, the team is 4-20 against the NFC West, for a winning percentage of .167.
More Thomas: He offers a preview of the game here.
Bernie Miklasz, columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, says the Rams should be a little better this year.
Bill Coats of the Post-Dispatch says Mr. Irrelevant from 2008, David Vobora, will start at strongside, outside linebacker for St. Louis. San Francisco 49ers
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says that Vernon Davis was named on of six captains for the team by head coach Mike Singletary.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider explains why San Francisco teammates like quarterback Shaun Hill.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat talks with Singletary about improving his game-management skills.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders why Singletary has not called out Michael Crabtree because of his intolerance of selfish players.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who has a hamstring injury, is holding out hope that he can play on Sunday.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com say second-year cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is still learning the tricks of the trade after an impressive rookie season.