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.
The Seahawks have taken a number of injury hits over the last month, but some of those guys will be returning in the next week or two — with two notable exceptions.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner and tight end Zach Miller “are going to be awhile,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
Wagner has missed the past two games with turf toe, and Miller had ankle surgery during the Week 4 bye. Both met doctors on the East Coast while the Hawks were in North Carolina over the weekend, the coach said.
“Both those guys got updated on their progress and where they’re going,” Carroll said. “We were not given a timeline for them. Neither one of those guys are ready to come back this week. So we will have to wait and see what happens with those guys.”
The news is much better for kick returner Bryan Walters, center Max Unger and cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane.
Pete Carroll has been complaining about the NFL’s roster rules all season, lamenting the fact that he has had to sit young skill players for most of the year.
Last Sunday, second-round wide receiver Paul Richardson joined fellow rookie receiver Kevin Norwood and second-year running back Christine Michael on the inactive list.
Carroll said he will try to get the league to change the game-day roster rule next offseason, but — as roster choices are being questioned in the wake of the offense’s ongoing struggles — he said he is not going to change his game-day personnel.
Plenty of media and fans expressed misgivings about Earl Thomas returning punts, so they had to be happy when coach Pete Carroll took Thomas off those duties this week in the wake of a disastrous season opener.
Thomas fumbled the ball on one return and did not seem very instinctive about judging whether to call for fair catches. Carroll said he thought the return duties were distracting from Thomas’ duties as the team’s defensive quarterback at free safety, so he is putting Bryan Walters in as the returner.
Thomas responded to the move Thursday and ripped fans who didn’t want him returning punts.
“Fans can kind of sleep easier now,” he said. “They can stop sending their regards in. They were a little bit selfish in my perspective.”
One of the few weaknesses in Seattle’s season opener was the play of Earl Thomas on punt returns. He didn’t show the right instincts for catching the ball in traffic, and he ended up fumbling one of his chances.
Coach Pete Carroll initially said they would work through those issues and keep Thomas at punt returner, but after further reflection the coach decided to remove that distraction so Thomas can concentrate on playing the position he is paid to excel at: free safety.
Bryan Walters will take over as the main punt returner, Carroll said Wednesday.
As the Seahawks continued to shuffle their roster ahead of the season opener, bringing back wide receiver/kick returner Bryan Walters and releasing receiver Phil Bates, the bigger news seems to be the question surrounding backup cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon.
Lane (hamstring) and Simon (knee) missed the last preseason game, and their absence was so notable that the Hawks traded for cornerback Marcus Burley on Sunday rather than keep Phillips Adams or Akeem Auguste.
The Seahawks could face a deficit in the slot against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s prolific passing attack on Thursday. Burley and/or Deshawn Shead will be counted on if Lane and Simon cannot play. Lane practiced on a limited basis Monday and Simon was out.