Zach Miller has been on IR since midseason, and Tony Moeaki and Cooper Helfet have been taking turns sitting out games for the past month — leaving Luke Willson to alternate great weeks with horrendous ones.
Expect more of the same.
Helfet missed four of the last five games with ankle and rib injuries. The one game he played was the game Moeaki missed with a calf injury. Now, as Helfet appears ready to return from the rib injury, Moeaki apparently has reinjured the calf and is a game-time call for Saturday against Carolina.
Pete Carroll said it was a “very slight strain” and “we’re going to find out on game day.”
The most reliable tight end from a health perspective has been Willson, but he followed up his best game as a pro (139 yards, two TDs at Arizona) with his worst of the season in the finale against St. Louis — dropping two passes and failing to reach for a first down on one of his two catches.
It explains why Willson has two L’s in his name — he needs an extra in case he drops one.
The Hawks have better news at other positions.
Center Max Unger is finally ready to play again after missing the last six games with a high ankle sprain.
Carroll said Unger makes the line better based on his experience and rapport with line coach Tom Cable.
“When Max plays, our numbers are a little bit better. It actually statistically shows up: We’re running the ball a little bit better, we protect a little bit better and everything. That’s his guidance and his experience for the other guys up there. He’s an expert at recognizing looks and calls and directing what’s going on there. So it just stands to reason that we maximize more so with him there.
“He and Tom have communicated so well. He really knows what Tom is looking for and what he wants, so we get the benefit of that great connection that those guys have.”
Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs and cornerback Tharold Simon also are healthy and ready to play, which means the Hawks will have some decisions to make on inactives.