Seahawks Insider Blog

Earl Thomas returns to practice, but what about Duane Brown? Um, Matt Tobin at left tackle?

Duane Brown, the three-time Pro Bowl left tackle the Seahawks traded with Houston to get last month, has an ankle injury and is iffy to play Monday night against Atlanta’s dangerous pass rush.
Duane Brown, the three-time Pro Bowl left tackle the Seahawks traded with Houston to get last month, has an ankle injury and is iffy to play Monday night against Atlanta’s dangerous pass rush.

RENTON Earl Thomas returned to practice--in a limited way.

But the Seahawks will take the All-Pro safety’s first practice since he pulled his hamstring Oct. 29.

A bigger problem for Seattle in its Monday night home game against Atlanta could end up being Duane Brown.

The three-time Pro Bowl left tackle missed practice on Thursday. He will be a game-time decision on playing against the Falcons, coach Pete Carroll said. The prized acquisition in a trade last month got his ankle rolled up on after 33 plays of his second Seahawks game, last week’s win at Arizona.

Offensive line coach Tom Cable said the Seahawks “are planning on” and “preparing” reserve Matt Tobin start against Atlanta pass-rush end Adrian Clayborn.

Ruh-roh. That could be the latest issue for a line that’s been full of them for two seasons.

Tobin’s only been on the team since Seattle traded with Philadelphia for him in August. He has yet to start for the Seahawks.

Clayborn had six sacks last weekend in Atlanta’s 27-7 win over Dallas. That’s right, a half dozen. In one game. That was against the Cowboys’ second- and third-string left tackles, Chaz Green and Byron Bell. Dallas’ own Pro Bowl and All-Pro left tackle, Tyron Smith. was out injured. Clayborn, the NFC defensive player of the week, had six sacks over an entire season just once in his first six years in the league.

His big Sunday reportedly earned him a $750,000 contract bonus for reaching eight sacks on the season. Clayborn can make another half million dollars with two more sacks. So not only is he good, he’s motivated by that universal motivator to keep it going in Seattle.

At the opposite end of Atlanta’s defensive line is Vic Beasley. He led the NFL with 15 1/2 sacks last season. He has four through nine games this season.

“Yeah, they do have a really nice rush. Obviously, Clayborn coming off the game that he had and he is up to eight sacks now, Beasley, they have a really nice front,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “I think they do a great job of containing the quarterback and really just compressing the pocket. I guess the really good thing for them is they don’t always have to add extra rushers. They can do that with four.

“We know that we are going to have to block four rushers. Obviously, there is other times that they will be pressuring but most of the time they bring four, and it’s going to be on us to be able to handle those four with the tenacity that they bring, the crushing of the pocket that they like to do. So whoever we end up having up front that is going to be a challenge for.”

So, yes, the Seahawks and Brown have plenty of incentive to get healthy--specifically to avoid Clayborn getting to tee off on a backup for the second straight game.

“We are going to find out later in the week. We won’t know right now,” Carroll said of Brown. “He’s still got an ankle that he is dealing with, of course, but we will take it all the way up until game time.”

Brown sounded positive about his ankle Thursday.

”I’m feeling pretty good. Taking it one day a a time,” he said before he sat out practice. “It’s progressing every day so far, so that’s the main thing.

”It could have been a lot worse, for sure. I’ve seen a couple guys get done for the year with those kind of (plays), getting rolled up on like that. So I’m very fortunate that wasn’t the case.”

The Seahawks traded a fifth-round draft choice in 2018 to the Eagles in late August to get Tobin. Philadelphia signed Tobin in 2013 as an undrafted rookie free agent to be a potential swing man on their offensive line, a backup guard and tackle. He impressed early that preseason, earning a surprise spot on Philadelphia’s roster. The following season he started seven games, at guard. In 2015, he started 13 games, all at guard.

He said he practiced much of his time in Philadelphia at tackle. That’s where he’s been backing up since he arrived in Seattle, on both the left and right sides.

Cable said he saw enough from Tobin in his 31 plays replacing Brown last week at Arizona to be confident Monday wouldn’t be a total disaster if it’s Tobin starting against Clayborn--no matter what you may fear.

“I think he’d be fine,” Cable said. “We’re planning on him and preparing him like he’s going to play, for sure.

“He did fine (against the Cardinals). He had one bad play; he dropped his outside foot and (Russell Wilson) got sacked. The rest of the game, he did a really good job, both in the running-game and in pass-protection.

“He’s been there before, so it’s not like a young guy is stepping in and you’re not sure. Like I said when we got him, he’s really the perfect swing tackle for an NFL team.”

The Seahawks may have to find out how perfect of a starting tackle he can be, too.

EXTRA POINTS: Wilson was a full practice participant, though the team listed him with a jaw injury. That’s a nod to the NFL’s ongoing review of the quarterback’s return to last week’s game after referee Walt Anderson sent him to the sidelines for a evaluation for a possible concussion. Wilson returned after missing just one play. He got hit in the helmet by Arizona’s Karlos Dansby, who got a roughing penalty on the play. … RB Eddie Lacy was limited in practice, but Carroll said "Eddie is coming back this week" to play. Lacy missed last week’s game with a strained groin. No word on whether Lacy returns to being the lead back or if Thomas Rawls has that role for the second consecutive game. ... DE Marcus Smith fully participated in practice. He missed last week’s game with a concussion.