RENTON — Depending on the health and recovery time of certain injured Seattle Seahawks offensive linemen, rookie tackle Michael Bowie might find himself matched against Houston sack-machine J.J. Watt on Sunday.
“I’m ready to go,” Bowie assured on Thursday. “I live for moments like that.”
The real question, though, is whether quarterback Russell Wilson can live through such moments.
Bowie is the presumptive replacement at right tackle if starter Breno Giacomini (knee) can’t make it back. Giacomini did not practice Thursday, and that further complicates an offensive line situation in which starting left tackle Russell Okung (toe) is on short-term injured reserve and center Max Unger (arm) was limited on Thursday.
Bowie, a seventh-round draft pick who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 332 pounds, would likely be mismatched against Watt, who last season had 20.5 sacks and batted down 16 passes.
It’s all very meaningful to Wilson, who has been sacked eight times already this season, a pace well ahead of his sack total of 33 last season as a rookie.
“Coach (Tom) Cable has the offensive line prepared for their defense and what they’re going to do,” Wilson said. “They are a very, very talented defense, obviously, and it all starts with J.J. (Watt) and his ability to get to the quarterback and make plays.”
Having added Kellen Davis to the tight end corps of Zach Miller and Luke Willson, the Seahawks used the three-tight-end set to
help with the blocking last week against Jacksonville.
But one of the problems inherent in facing Watt and disruptive linebacker Brian Cushing, in particular, is that they rush from different positions, making scheming for them a challenge.
Quick passes to the flanks, Wilson said, are an option, with the keys being effectiveness on third downs and trips into the Red Zone.
“And, obviously, (letting) Marshawn Lynch run the football and get his day going early and often,” Wilson said.
Bowie, who showed surprising advancement during the exhibition season, saw his first regular-season action against Jacksonville after Giacomini went to the sideline.
“I think it went pretty good,” Bowie said. “It wasn’t too much for me to handle.”
Watt, though, provides a greater challenge.
CAN’T RETURN ON RYAN
An impressive statistic stands as an indicator of the effectiveness of punter Jon Ryan and the Seahawks’ coverage unit.
In 13 punts this season, opponents have gained 7 yards in returns.
“I think a big part of it is coverage,” Ryan said. “We have some core guys who have been together for a while they really play well together, and they’re covering hard.”
Now 31, Ryan said he works harder in the offseason but does less punting during the season. “That helps me save my leg,” he said. “It’s more about quality than quantity. When you’re younger, you might hit 200 (punts) a week, now it’s maybe 50 or 60.”
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Wilson has completed 47 passes in three games, and attempted the fewest of any starting quarterback in the league (73), but he’s been democratic about his targeting, connecting at least twice with 10 different receivers.
“The thing that Coach (Darrell) Bevell does a tremendous job of is finding mismatches and getting the ball to different guys,” Wilson said. “I’m not the type of quarterback to just throw to one guy all the time. I believe that you have to spread the ball out diversify.
Wilson’s average gain of 14.1 yards per completion is third-best in the NFL.
As coach Pete Carroll predicted this week, some of his injured players returned to practice on Thursday. Running back Spencer Ware (ankle), safety Jeron Johnson (hamstring) and right tackle Giacomini (knee) were out. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill (biceps) and center Max Unger (arm) were limited.
Returning to full participation were defensive ends Red Bryant (back) and Michael Bennett (groin), running back Marshawn Lynch (non-injury), wide receiver Jermain Kearse (ankle) and guard J.R. Sweezey (back).
For Houston, linebacker Tim Dobbins (hamstring), cornerbacks Kareem Jackson (illness) and Johnathan Joseph (toe) and linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hip/foot) did not participate. Tackle Duane Brown (toe), tight ends Owen Daniels (non-injury) and Garrett Graham (hip), free safety Ed Reed (hip), wide receiver Andre Johnson (shin) and guard Wade Smith (knee) were limited.