RENTON It took just a couple seconds for Cliff Avril to chuckle knowingly at the first question he got Sunday.
“I knew this Romo thing was coming up,” the Seahawks’ personable defensive end said, three days after this hit from behind on Tony Romo in a preseason game broke a bone in the Dallas quarterback’s back.
Avril’s been inundated on social media with angry messages from what appear to be Cowboys fans claiming his hit at the start of Romo’s slide to the turf was a dirty plan with intent to injure one of the biggest stars in Texas.
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“I’m definitely surprised,” Avril said of the reaction to his hit, especially given the news Romo may miss up to 10 weeks. “The Cowboys fans have been sending a lot of hate mail -- well, not ‘hate mail’ -- but a lot of crazy tweets. But I don’t pay too much attention to it.
“It’s kind of interesting to see how you just think you are making a play on the football field, and so many people think a certain way about it. But it is what it is. I don’t really care. I’m reaching out to Romo, so it is what it is.”
Avril felt compelled Thursday night following the game to use his Twitter account for this:
He said he didn’t have any immediate indication -- no Romo yells or indications of pain -- following Thursday night’s play three snaps into Seattle’s 27-17 win.
“I didn’t even see him until after I celebrated (with teammates Bobby Wagner and others) and I saw him still on the ground. That’s when I knew something happened to him,” Avril said. “But after he got up, walked to the sidelines, I tapped him on his leg and whatever, talked to him for a second. But I didn’t know it was that serious.”
I saw from the press box Romo, in fact, trying to re-enter the game a few plays later. He put on his helmet and started jogging onto the field to replace rookie backup Dak Prescott on that same Cowboys’ opening drive of the game, but coaches called Romo back to the sideline. That’s where he stayed the rest of the game.
Asked if he knows Romo at all, Avril said: “No. No. Us quarterbacks and D-ends don’t really hang out together.”
One thing Avril is adament about: Thursday’s preseason finale at Oakland.
“I’m praying, I’m praying -- I’m praying -- I don’t even have to dress for this game,” the 30-year-old end said, representing the feelings of just about every veteran with a job secure in the NFL this week. “But I don’t know if I’ve made it to that status yet.”
2 OF TOP 3 ROOKIE PICKS OUT FOR THURSDAY’S GAME
Coach Pete Carroll said second-round pick Jarran Reed will not play at Oakland because of his toe injury from last week. Third-round pick Nick Vannett will not play at tight end, either, because of his high-ankle sprain from last week.
The coach said it would be “a race against it” for both to play in the season opener Sept. 11 against Miami.
Reed was the starting defensive tackle for much of this month, while fourth-year veteran Jordan Hill was out with a groin strain. With Reed out, Hill is back as the No. 1 tackle next to Ahtyba Rubin in base defenses.
MCEVOY’S ROLL SLOWS
Carroll didn’t sound positive about undrafted rookie Tanner McEvoy and the injury he got later in the Dallas game.
"He has a groin thing. We’re just going day to day on it now,” the coach said. “We’re really hoping he can get back for this week’s ball game. It’s questionable at best right now because he did tweak his groin. That’s different than what he went into the game with that slowed him down a little bit.
“That’s too bad.”
It is indeed for the former running back and quarterback at Wisconsin and wide receiver and safety this spring and summer with the Seahawks. McEvoy seemed on his way to an unlikely roster spot. Now he is starting to sound like he’s on the outside of the roster, if not a candidate for injured reserve.
BENNETT: “MOST INTERESTING GUY ON THE TEAM.”
My TNT colleague Dave Boling talked to Avril a few days ago for a good-friend perspective on Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett.
Boling’s great piece on the multi-dimensional Bennett was in today’s News Tribune.