The Dallas Cowboys have blitzed less than almost every team in the NFL this season.
They haven’t played the Seattle Seahawks yet.
“Until we stop getting our quarterback hit, that’s the world we live in. So it’s up to us to do something about it,” Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable said when asked if he expects Dallas to blitz like each of the Seahawks’ first seven foes have.
With thudding success. Seattle has allowed NFL-high 31 sacks of Russell Wilson.
So, yes, Cable and the Seahawks (3-4) expect Dallas (2-4) to blitz — a lot — Sunday in Arlington, Texas.
That became more likely Friday, when Seattle listed starting left tackle Russell Okung as questionable to play. Okung sprained his ankle in practice on Thursday.
“They are really game-specific in terms of what they are doing. They seem to have a wrinkle for every opponent,” Cable said, further hinting Dallas will blitz more than usual. “So it will be imperative that we figure that out as the game goes.”
Carroll said Patrick Lewis has recovered enough from his ankle injury that had him in a walking boot last week and missing the win at San Francisco that he is available to play at Dallas.
Drew Nowak started the first five games of his NFL career at center to begin this season before Lewis replaced him for the loss to Carolina two weeks ago. Lewis started four games late last season when since-traded Max Unger was hurt.
It’s unclear whether Lewis or Nowak will start at center against the Cowboys.
“We wouldn’t take someone out for injury. That’s the first thought,” Cable said. “It will be, I’m guessing, probably towards the game before we know.”
Okung’s injury and the uncertainty at center leaves an already struggling Seahawks offensive line more vulnerable against Cowboys’ standout pass rusher Greg Hardy and friends.
“Greg Hardy over there concerns you anyway,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said with a wry smile. “We’ll see what happens with Russell. ... He got rolled up a little bit. We will take it to game time. So he will go in questionable right now, so we’ll see. He didn’t do anything today. So we’ll see what happens.”
Carroll said Alvin Bailey would likely play if Okung can’t. Bailey hasn’t exactly stood out — at least not positively — in his limited fill-in roles so far this season.
The first words Carroll said when asked about Bailey’s play lately were: “Alvin knows our system.”
Far from a ringing endorsement.
Hardy, listed as Dallas’ right defensive end though he has played on the other side, has three sacks in two games. He made his season debut this month following a four-game suspension from the NFL for a domestic-violence case in North Carolina.
Sunday might be a prime time for Seattle to continue its increased reliance on the running game from the previous week at San Francisco, when Marshawn Lynch rushed for 122 yards — the 29-year-old’s best game since the NFC Championship Game in January.
Plus, the Seahawks will have No. 2 runner Thomas Rawls back. The Seahawks were concerned enough about his calf injury that they signed free-agent running back Bryce Brown on Tuesday, but Carroll said Rawls has only a bruise and will play at Dallas. The undrafted rookie ran for 104 yards and 168 yards in two games after Lynch injured his hamstring Sept. 27 during the win over Chicago.
Carroll said the team is still debating whether to activate speedy, second-year wide receiver Paul Richardson off the physically unable to perform list on which he’s been all season. Richardson returned to practice this week, nine months after his second reconstructive surgery on his left knee in three years.
Carroll has been wowed by how fast and fluid Richardson looks, and quarterback Russell Wilson said this week it should take little time to merge Richardson into Seattle’s passing game.
If the Seahawks choose to activate him for Sunday’s game they need to do it by 1:25 p.m. PDT on Saturday, 24 hours before kickoff, and someone will have be jettisoned from the 53-man roster.
DB Marcus Burley might play Sunday for the first time since surgery early this month to repair a broken thumb. He has missed the last three games but could play in Dallas with a cast on the thumb — likely as the fifth, “nickel” back on passing downs against Cowboys fill-in quarterback Matt Cassel. … Dallas listed WR Dez Bryant as questionable, but the Seahawks expect Dallas’ All-Pro to play Sunday for the first time since he broke a bone in his foot in Dallas’ opener six games ago. Bryant did 11-on-11 drills in the Cowboys’ practice on Thursday. He told reporters in Texas on Friday that if it was up to him he’d play.