RENTON Cliff Avril’s future is a little clearer. It still does not involve playing anytime soon.
The Seahawks did what coach Pete Carroll had said this week they would. They put their Pro Bowl defensive end on injured reserve because of a neck injury he sustained Oct. 1 in the win over Indianapolis.
The 31-year-old edge rusher and one of the most popular players in the locker room and community continues to seek opinions of specialists to determine if he needs surgery.
The team did not announce a corresponding signing on Friday when they took Avril off the active roster. That means Seattle, for now, has 52 men on the 53-man roster. The Seahawks have until a Saturday afternoon league deadline to potentially add a player who would then be eligible to play Sunday afternoon’s game at the New York Giants. Rosters have to be set 24 hours before each game.
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There remains the possibility Avril could play again this season. The NFL recently changed the rules for injured reserve to allow each team to bring back to the active roster up to two IR players per regular season, providing such player(s) spend at least eight weeks out on the list. Avril could return in mid-December--though there are no current signs that will happen.
Avril told Greg Bishop from Sports Illustrated on Thursday he is not considering retirement.
Coach Pete Carroll on Thursday had this answer when I asked him if the team had concern Avril would never play again: “We have to wait and see on that.”
“That’s really up to the doctors and Cliff, and all that kind of stuff,” Carroll said. “I’m 1,000-percent supportive of whatever we need to do here to help him. That’s why we’re taking our time; the IR thing gives him six weeks at least to figure out whatever else we can figure out. But he’s not sure what is best for him right now, and he’s trying to find that out.
“We’re giving him hopefully a good sense and the comfort that we’re going to support it all the way throughout it and figure out what’s best and do that.”
Asked about the possibility of Avril returning for one of the final games of this regular season--Seattle has 11 left--Carroll said: “I don’t know. I don’t know that. I guess that means yes. We’ll wait and see.
“We have plenty of time to figure it out.”
A few minutes later, inside the locker room and a couple stalls to the right of Avril’s empty locker, the man who is replacing him as an every-down end said Avril’s injury scared him into the reality of how suddenly a career can change. Or end.
More than Frank Clark reveling in his own chance to be an every-down defensive end for the first time in his pro career, Seattle’s third-year pro feels reverence for Avril. Avril has what Clark has been dreaming about for most of his 24 years: a wife, two young sons, a great, philanthropic life, $25 million the last four years, Pro Bowl status—and a Super Bowl ring.
Clark was a situational pass rusher when Avril was playing every down in 2015, ’16 and the first month of this season, until Avril got kicked under the chin by Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett while pursuing him on Oct. 1. Avril’s head violently jerked back and his temporarily lost feelings in his arms and hands.
"It’s real scary," Clark said. "You watch that, and watch what happened to Gordon Hayward (who minutes into his Boston Celtics debut dislocated his ankle and broke his tibia on the NBA’s opening night Tuesday), you realize how dangerous this sport really is.
"You see why you got a lot of guys who pressure these teams and pressure different people about their money. It’s because things like this happen,” Clark said. “And it happens in sudden moments.”
Clark snapped his fingers.
"It can happen," Clark said. "It’s the sport we play. It’s the nature of the sport.
“It’s crazy, I was just talking to my boys last week, I was like, ‘Man, somebody gets hurt EVERY week. Literally, EVERY week, in our sport. I was like, ‘It’s important that we really take advantage of each opportunity that we’ve got currently, because we never know. You never know if it’s going to be your last. It’s that simple.
"I think it’s important that we understand that. And like you said, man, you’ve got a guy who’s on top of his game. Pro Bowl, 11 1/2, 12 sacks (last season)—then out of nowhere, there’s a clip, off a clip off a foot, to the wrong place.”