It’s no wonder John Schneider and Pete Carroll had developed an aversion toward drafting offensive linemen in the first round: They always get hurt.
After going back-to-back with first-round linemen in 2010-11, it took them five years to try again. Now it might be another five years before they do it again.
We can only hope Germain Ifedi’s high ankle sprain, which is expected to sideline him for at least three weeks, will not send him down the same injury path traveled by Russell Okung and James Carpenter.
Okung, the team’s first pick in 2010, played in just 75 percent (72 of 96) of Seattle’s games while he was on the team, and Carpenter, the top pick in 2011, played in just 70 percent (45 of 64). Those injury issues were primary reasons Schneider and Carroll had no problem letting them go in what amounted to a clean sweep of the starting five over the last couple of years.
Ifedi’s injury really messes with the early chemistry that had developed among him, Justin Britt and Mark Glowinski, and the Hawks now have to patch that spot for a month or so as they face the tough defensive fronts of Miami, St. Louis and the New York Jets.
Carroll surely will address options Friday, but it looks like J’Marcus Webb will take Ifedi’s place for now. If Webb fails there, it is possible that Glowinski moves to right guard and rookie Rees Odhiambo starts at left guard. Or Britt could move to guard and rookie Joey Hunt could start at center. No great options, obviously.
With tackles Bradley Sowell and Garry Gilliam barely serviceable, it’s certainly not a great start to have the team’s top pick out for the first month – especially as they prepare to face a tough defensive front led by Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams, followed by the Rams’ Aaron Donald and company in Week 2.
Before learning that Ifedi would be out, OC Darrell Bevell said he was happy with the line’s progress.
“I feel like we’re ahead of where we have been in the past,” he said Wednesday. “I like how the five guys have been working together. Our communication has been solid. We’ve had a couple issues; but, for the most part, we’ve been on point. We’ve picked up all different styles of pressures in practice, in some of the preseason games as well, at a pretty high level, so I’m confident with where we’re at right now.”
That confidence surely was twisted along with Ifedi’s ankle, although Webb certainly has experience at right guard: He started 13 games at the spot for Oakland last season, committing five penalties and giving up four sacks.
Assuming Webb is Ifedi’s replacement, he will have to quickly jell with Britt and Gilliam if the Hawks are going to have any offensive success over the first month.
Then, Ifedi will have to regain all of the chemistry he had developed with Britt. In the end, this line won’t come together until midseason, at best.
But the Hawks are used to the turnover – they have averaged seven starting combinations per season in six years under Carroll.
They just have to hope that this is a one-time deal for Ifedi and he doesn’t end up scuffling through injuries for the entirety of his rookie contract, like Okung and Carpenter did.