Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll informed reporters after practice that offensive tackle Ray Willis will need to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
“He’s got a cartilage issue that’s got to get taken care of,” Carroll said. “And we’re going to get after it pretty quick. I’m not sure on what the timeline is that we are going to do that, but he needs some work done.”
Carroll said the team got Willis clearly diagnosed over the weekend. The 28-year-old Florida State University product had been periodically sitting out of practice to rest the ailing knee.
Carroll said the injury won’t end his season, but he will not be ready the beginning of the regular season either.
Willis was one of the few offensive linemen to avoid the injury bug last year, starting all 16 games for the first time in his career.
Depth is an issue at offensive tackle right now. Sean Locklear, Russell Okung, Joe Toledo, Jacob Phillips and Mansfield Wrotto are the only healthy tackles on the roster.
Carroll also said that wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a family situation he was dealing with at home in California and left on Sunday, and was excused from practice.
Balmer in the fold
Defensive tackle Kantwan Balmer has not arrived in Seattle yet, but is expected in tonight and has to go through a physical first before getting out on the practice field on Tuesday. At that point, we’ll find out what move the Seahawks will make to free up a roster spot for him.
Carroll said Balmer will play mostly 3-tech and some 5-tech, defensive end.
“He’s got a great lower body,” Carroll said. “He’s real physically capable of standing up against the big O-linemen that we’re going to play in our division. He was active. He’s a good technician. We did a lot of homework on him to understand about his background and in college, and we had good information. And what has happened is in the past as far as we are concerned.”
Carroll’s said Balmer’s arrival does not mean Lawrence Jackson will be receiving less time when he returns from a hamstring injury. Jackson is slated to play mainly Leo and some 5-tech in passing situations.
Jackson had been playing some Leo last week before his injury
“Lawrence is an outside pass rush guy more so than Balmer is,” Carroll said. “And Lawrence will be playing at the Leo spot. He could play on the other side when we want him to.”
Linebacker Lofa Tatupu got some work for the first time in over a week today.
“We’ve been waiting,” Carrroll said. “We’re going to bring him back slowly, and make sure he feels real strong and healthy and take it one day at a time. But it’s great to have Lofa back on the field.”
Tatupu worked through some individual and team drills this afternoon, but was still limited after returning from a lingering hamstring issue.
Along with Tatupu, fellow linebacker Joe Pawelek returned to action, along with offensive guard Mike Gibson. Players out include DE Lawrence Jackson, DT Jonathan Lewis, LB Leroy Hill, DT Kevin Vickerson and DE Ricky Foley.
As far as the game, Carroll said he would have liked to see his team run the ball a little better.
Here’s what Carroll thought about Russell Okung:
“Russell did a nice job. He had a very solid game. He run blocked really well. He got caught one time on a pass set where a guy got into him pretty good. But all in all, he did very well for his first time out. He got a lot of plays. He got a little banged up and had to go back in, that kind of stuff. So it was a good first game for him, and he’ll continue to play a lot in the rest of the preseason.”
Okung fully participated in practice and Carroll said he’s okay.
Others Carroll mentioned include safety Kam Chancellor. Carroll said the rookie out of Virginia Tech played extremely well.
“He was real obvious out there with his tackling,” Carroll said. “The big play at the end was kind of the icing on the cake for him. And he played very well on special teams, too.”
Carroll also singled out rookie defensive end Dexter Davis as a player who showed up on film.
One of the things helping Davis is he’s playing both outside backer and defensive end, which allows him to get more reps on the field.
Kudos for Whitehurst
Carroll again talked about how well reserve quarterback Charlie Whitehurst played on Saturday. While Carroll did not say it directly, Whitehurst’s play certainly validates the move by the Seahawks head coach and general manager John Schneider made during the offseason in securing him, which received some criticism around the league.
“We’re all real pleased that it looks good,” Carroll said. “And I’m really pleased for Charlie, too. He sat for four years in a spot where he couldn’t get anywhere close to playing time, and it’s great to see him having this opportunity. And he’s seizing the opportunity by working hard. And hopefully he’ll just continue to play real steady football the next, couple games.”
So will Whitehurst get time with the first unit on Saturday against Green Bay?
“We’ll see,” Carroll said. “It depends on how we are up front when we get to game time, but Charlie’s going to play in a lot of games. We’re going to continue to get him his play time to really get him ready.”
And how will Carroll manage the time between Whitehurst and starter Matt Hasselbeck?
“Really well,” quipped Carroll.
* Not much happened today at practice, as the coaches took it easy two days after a game. Players were in helmets and shells, so you didn’t have much contact.
* Cornerback Walter Thurmond made another spectacular catch today, breaking on a ball out in the flat to running back Louis Rankin from Matt Hasselbeck and diving to snatch it just before it hit the ground. Just think how much better he will move when he can take the brace off in September.
* Safety Kam Chancellor had an interception off a deflection from wide receiver Mike Hass.