The Seahawks’ offensive line should look more like itself this week, and the secondary could be at full strength (in numbers, if not in health) for the first time this season, according to reports from Pete Carroll’s press conference.
Center Max Unger, who has missed four games with a sprained foot, and Russell Okung, who sat Week 9 with a calf injury, are both expected to play Sunday vs. the New York Giants.
Okung was to be limited in practice today, and Unger is gone for personal reasons. But both are expected to practice fully Thursday.
Unger dressed last Sunday vs. the Oakland Raiders but was available only in an extreme emergency. Backup center Steve Schilling, who was on emergency standby as well because of a bad knee, ended up relieving third-stringer Patrick Lewis when left guard James Carpenter was injured.
Carpenter’s sprained ankle is like one he had at Alabama and his status is unknown for Sunday. But it looks like the Hawks at least will have four of their five regular starters against the Giants.
In the secondary, Jeremy Lane and Kam Chancellor will return and Byron Maxwell will “make a bid” to play if he can practice this week. Also, backup safety Jeron Johnson has cleared concussion protocol and seems likely to play as well.
Without Chancellor and Johnson on Sunday, the Hawks started DeShawn Shead (Carroll said he played well) and signed Terrance Parks off the practice squad.
Lane will “blend” into the secondary, Carroll said, as he noted how well Marcus Burley has played at nickel back. If Maxwell cannot play, Tharold Simon figures to remain the starter opposite Richard Sherman.
Chancellor will play this week, even if he doesn’t practice much. Carroll said he is day-to-day for practice.
At linebacker, Malcolm Smith is unlikely to play and Bobby Wagner remains out. That means Brock Coyle is likely to start in the middle again, with K.J. Wright remaining outside, where he had one of his better games Sunday vs. Oakland.
Wagner and tight end Zach Miller might return to practice next week on a limited basis, Carroll said.
In the interim, the Seahawks signed Tony Moeaki on Tuesday to give the Hawks a third tight end. It remains to be seen whether Moeaki will be healthy enough to contribute, considering he has missed two of the past three seasons and all of this one so far with injury issues.
The Seahawks really miss Miller. Luke Willson caught the winning touchdown pass at Carolina, but he has dropped several balls — two against Oakland — and proven he is best as a No. 2 tight end.
The other move the Hawks made Tuesday was to bring back Bryan Walters, who was released last Saturday when the Hawks added Parks for secondary depth.
With Doug Baldwin (groin) questionable, Walters figures to return to his punt-return role. Baldwin told Carroll he plans to play, but Walters will return punts.
Bottom line: If they can avoid many more injuries, the Hawks appear to be getting healthier just in time for the all-important second half of the season.