Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette returns to Seattle after neck surgery, and does it in style

Ricardo Lockette flew back to rejoin the Seahawks. And he absolutely was not in coach class, either.

The wide receiver and special-teams ace posted Monday on his Instagram account that he flew west to Seattle in a private jet. It had a posh bed made up with full sets of white sheets, pillow cases and matching comforter. His parents were sitting in high-back leather chairs.

He was wearing gold-rimmed shades over his white neck brace and dark shirt. He looked stylish — and infinitely better than he’d been eight days earlier. On Nov. 1 he was lying motionless on the field then showing traumatized teammates tears in his eyes and fear in his face before emergency personnel stretchered him out of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“On the way,” Lockette said into a camera phone Monday. “Rockette!”

“Rockette” Lockette was scheduled to touch down Monday night in Seattle, four days after doctors released him from Dallas’ Baylor Medical Center. He had surgery there a week ago Monday to repair disk and ligament damage in his neck, the result of an open-field hit from Cowboys safety Jeff Heath during the Seahawks’ 13-12 win in their last game.

Coach Pete Carroll said he expects Lockette to rejoin the team at its Renton headquarters on Tuesday. It’s a day off from practice before Sunday night’s NFC West showdown between the Seahawks (4-4) and Arizona Cardinals (6-2) at CenturyLink Field.

Lockette won’t play in that one, or any other game the rest of this season. The Seahawks still don’t know if the 29-year-old so popular inside their locker room will everplay again.

For now, he will be mostly resting with some light rehabilitation. Best of all, he’ll be walking.

That wasn’t a sure thing a week ago.

“Seems that all the reports have gone well,” Carroll said, careful not to divulge more than Lockette has permitted through federal laws protecting patient information.

“We are hoping for only good signs. … He bounced back. He’s got a great spirit, you know, so he bounced back with an attitude that wouldn’t surprise us. He couldn’t wait to get back to his teammates and get back with us.”

Lockette also sustained a concussion on the hit during a Seahawks punt. His surgery in Dallas to stabilize his neck lasted more than five hours.

“It’s going to be a considerable recovery here, so he’s just going to be laying low,” Carroll said. “There’s some stuff he will be doing (but) not extensive right now. He’s going to rest for a good while.”

Left tackle Russell Okung returned to practice Monday following a sprained ankle that kept him out of that victory at Dallas. He and running back Marshawn Lynch stayed behind in Dallas with Lockette while the rest of the Seahawks flew home that Sunday night immediately after the game. Okung and Lynch were at Lockette’s bedside at Baylor Medical Center last week along with his parents, a team trainer and a staffer.

“He looked good,” Okung said Monday. “And very optimistic.

“I’m very fortunate to have stayed there to support my teammate – and my good friend.”

Okung saw firsthand Lockette dealing with a potentially crippling injury and then him coming out of a tricky surgery. And, yes, it affected one of the more thoughtful Seahawks.

“Obviously, life is more important. Football is not life, it’s just a part of what we do,” Okung said. “It’s something we obviously all love to do, but you just can’t take anything for granted for where you are. You get to play a game. It’s a game, at the end of the day.

“To see him in there, you hate that for him. We just know however it ends, he’s an even better man than he is a player.”

JEREMY LANE BACK TO PRACTICE

Nickel defensive back Jeremy Lane practiced for the first time since he sustained complicated breaks in his arm and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee at the end of an interception return early in Super Bowl 49.

“He looked really quick,” Carroll said.

Lane will do more Wednesday in a test to see how close he may be to returning to Seattle’s secondary.

He has been on the physically unable to perform list all season. He now can practice for three weeks before the Seahawks have to decide whether to put him on the active roster or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Signs point to him being activated sooner than later. Could he play Sunday when the Seahawks sure could use him, against deep-throwing Arizona?

“It’s possible,” Carroll said. “I’m sure he’s going to want to.”

When he returns, Lane will be the nickel back that Marcus Burley, DeShawn Shead and even All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman have been in his absence. Burley has returned to practice with a cast-like structure over his repaired, previously broken thumb. So Lane’s return will indeed be a boon to the defense.

“He’s an attack guy, a good blitzer; playmaker, too,” Carroll said. “He’s long enough that he can match up with the bigger guys. He’s quick enough to match up with the smaller guys, and he’s a really good nickel fit for us. Catching him on highlights in preparation for this game, you can see the things that he can do …

“It’ll be exciting to get him back in the competition of it.”

EXTRA POINTS

DE Cliff Avril and TE Luke Willson, both coming back from ankle injuries they got in Dallas, did not practice. Carroll said he expects both to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, with each having “a chance to play” Sunday. … The team will eventually put Lockette on injured reserve. The seemingly obvious move to replace him on the roster is activating WR Paul Richardson from the PUP list. Carroll reiterated how ready Richardson is to play and how “he’s going to work to find his fit in the rotation” against the Cardinals. Richardson had reconstructive knee surgery the last week of January.

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