For the first time this season the Seattle Seahawks will roll out the same starters along the offensive line, head coach Pete Carroll confirmed after practice today.
So Tyler Polumbus will get his third start of the season at left tackle, while Ben Hamilton gets the call at right guard, Chris Spencer at center, Stacey Andrews at right guard and Sean Locklear at right tackle.
After being limited in practice on Thursday, Locklear (knee) again was a limited participant in practice on Friday, but it appears he will be ready to go on Sunday.
“This is the first time that we repeat the same group, so that’s a good thing,” Carroll said. “We’re going to keep telling you that we’re going to continue to improve. We have an opportunity to really get better really in the next weeks – and even for maybe a good month if we can get our group together here. So that would be great.
“But everybody’s getting better right now, and we have to keep calling on them to improve.”
Offensive lineman Chester Pitts (knee) fully participated in practice today, but likely is a week away from playing in a game.
“He’s just becoming more confident,” Carroll said about Pitts. “He feels better about his recovery. He’s done everything you can do from a reahab sense. And he’s practicing, which is a really good sign. So I think we can push him right in there next week and see how far he can take it, to really see if he can get some play time.”
Another good sign for Seattle was rookie Russell Okung out working on stance and starts and pass drops with the rest of the offensive line at the beginning of practice. But mostly Okung was out getting mental reps as he looks to be on target for a potential return to the field against St. Louis in a week.
“He had a very, very good week,” Carroll said about Okung. “We’ve pushed him hard in his running and he’s running well. … He broke every huddle with us this week to get not only his call and his assignments and stuff, but also the cadence to catch up, because you stand back there and miss out if you’re not focused. So we really have him tuned in to really practicing as much as he can from behind right now so that he’ll be ready for next week.”
‘D’ looking for turnovers: Somewhat lost in Seattle’s four turnover effort against Denver is the fact that the Seahawks’ defense did not create a turnover against the Broncos after forcing two turnovers, including a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown by Marcus Trufant, in the season opener against San Francisco.
But Carroll has not forgotten.
“It’s not just one side,” he said. “It’s just giving the ball up, it’s getting the ball, too. Our defense could balance out a mistake or two by the offense by taking the football away. So it’s the No. 1 emphasis in the program, and that’s why it hurt so much to see it be a big factor in the game last week.”
Seahawks defensive captain linebacker Lofa Tatupu agreed.
“A lot was said about us turning over the ball four times, but if we get two it’s only two times,” Tatupu said. “I mean that’s a big difference. So we didn’t help our offense in that regard. And we got to better job there.”
Tatupu said the goal for the defense is to force three turnovers a contest, and so far in two games they have not met that goal.
“Three’s kind of that magic number,” Tatupu said. “Anytime you get three as defense, it’s tough really to come back from that for the offense.”
Containing Gates: Tatupu also talked about matching up with San Diego tight end Antonio Gates, who has 10 receptions for 133 yards and three touchdowns so far this season, the most scores by a tight end in the league.
Tatupu said the fact that Seattle sees an athletic tight end like San Francisco's Vernon Davis twice a year helps prepare for someone like Gates, although the perennial Pro Bowler is probably a more polished route runner at this point in his career.
“They’re both kind of unique and special in their own way,” Tatupu said. “Vernon will stretch the field and get you out of there. Gates, he can, but he prefers to do his work over the middle and on his corner routes. There’s not a route he can’t run. And so they’ve both got their different strengths, but they’re both fine tight ends.”
Injury report: LB Will Herring had a family issue that kept him away from the team on Wednesday and Thursday, but returned to participate fully in practice today.
Fullback Quinton Ganther (knee) practiced today and will be available on Sunday. Other players who practiced and are probable for Sunday include OG Ben Hamilton (knee), OT Chester Pitts (knee), LB Matt McCoy (quad) and OT Sean Locklear.
LB Leroy Hill (calf, Achilles) and OT Russell Okung (ankle) are out. DE E.J. Wilson (knee) did not practice and is questionable for Sunday.
For San Diego, RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not practice and is doubtful.
Linebacker Stephen Cooper (knee) was a limited participant in practice, while linebackers Jyles Tucker (non-injury) and Larry English (foot) did not practice and are questionable.
Wide receiver Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and CB Quentin Jammer (foot) fully participated in practice and are probable for Sunday