The Seahawks' future without Walter Jones is now

Published on May 10, 2009 by     Seahawk Fanatic

walter-jonesThe Seahawks’ future without Walter Jones is now.

Good thing it’s only May.

Sean Locklear again was the starting left tackle and Ray Willis was the right tackle during Seattle’s latest offseason practice Thursday. It’s a preview of life without Jones, the bedrock blocker who is likely to be out at least until training camp following major knee surgery.

“That’s the reason we signed (Locklear) to a long-term deal. And it’s the reason we signed Ray Willis,” Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said of contracts given to each understudy in the last 15 months.

“I feel we’ve done a nice job creating a succession plan.”

For the last dozen years, it would have been heresy to even whisper such a plan around Seattle. But Jones finally crumbled last season, after years of shoulder surgeries and taking practices off to preserve his battered body.

The nine-time Pro Bowler at the line’s most valued position, who has started all 180 games he’s played since Seattle drafted him sixth overall from Florida State in 1997, missed his first game because of injury since his rookie season then had microfracture surgery on his left knee on Dec. 11. In January, Jones turned 35. That’s older than every Seahawk except Olindo Mare, the kicker.

For the last 12 years, Jones has banged into the sport’s best pass rushers as Seattle’s invaluable protector of the quarterback’s blind side, the man against whom all other left tackles are judged.

“It’s kind of hard to imagine the Seahawks without Walter Jones,” Willis said Thursday, about an hour after Jones walked off during practice to continue his rehabilitation in the training room. “He’s a freak of nature, the way he keeps performing at an elite level.”

The man former coach Mike Holmgren called the best offensive player he ever coached is now facing something at least as formidable as DeMarcus Ware. The Dallas pass rusher repeatedly and alarmingly blew past Jones, who was playing with a painkilling injection, and pounded quarterback Matt Hasselbeck all last Thanksgiving Day. It was the final game Hasselbeck started in 2008 before he rested his bad back for good, and the last one Jones started before the procedure that drilled holes into the bone of his knee to regenerate cartilage five months ago.

The general recovery time for the surgery calls for running to begin by six months and a return to competition by nine months, a span that would end two days before the opener against St. Louis on Sept. 13.

Seattle is expecting Jones will be on the shorter ends of those rehabilitation estimates because the tiny holes were drilled into a non-weight-bearing bone in his leg.

Last month, while standing on the sideline during a voluntary minicamp, Jones said he hasn’t even thought of retirement.

“I still love it. That’s the main key,” Jones said. “I’m not ready to put my cleats up.”

For now, Jones wears sneakers while doing physical therapy. Locklear and Willis are the ones wearing spikes on the field, on a starting offensive line that is learning the new terminology and zone run-blocking schemes of first-year offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

Locklear was a third-round draft choice in 2004 out of North Carolina State who has been inconsistent at right tackle. He said the new schemes are in some ways easier than the man-on-man blocking of Holmgren’s old offense. Locklear estimated Knapp’s schemes provide the tackles help from teammates on 95 percent of the blocking assignments.

Knapp thinks Locklear is ready to play left tackle.

“He has shown me that he can play consistently there,” Knapp said. “Is it as good as Walter Jones? No. That’s hard to match. But he has shown the versatility and the athleticism that he can play a strong left tackle.”

Ruskell thought enough of Locklear to sign him to a new deal just before free agency began last year. That deal through 2012, and the two-year contract Seattle gave Willis, hint the Seahawks expect just one more season from Jones.

Locklear’s base salary is scheduled to spike from $1 million to a left tackle-like $4.85 million in 2010, closer to the $6.2 million Jones is to earn his year. Willis is also getting $1 million this year, which is scheduled to double to starter money in 2010.

Not that Locklear is itching to replace Jones.

“I’m hoping he’s going to play a couple more years,” Locklear said.

So does Hasselbeck and the rest of Seattle.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (0)




WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

REMEMBERING A LEGEND!

LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS

tempcst_K2V8670--nfl_mezz_1280_1024

Seahawks Receivers room is packed full

It’s getting crowded on the sidewalk. After fighting off the label of being a “pedestrian” group last season, the ...
HPv9A.AuSt.5

Youth not a burden for Pete Carroll

When the NFL draft lights go out, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll picks up the phone. Just thinking about ...
1cdoa9.AuSt.5

Seahawks draft for the 2 P’s: passion, perseverance

Last week, coach Pete Carroll came up with the term “gritty” to describe the kind of player the ...
AP167044948598-480x319

Seahawks take fullback Kiero Small with their final draft pick

The Seahawks used pick No. 229 to draft Arkansas fullback Kiero Small in the seventh round. Get this: Small ...
c3502f36-4f0b-4f27-9327-c4b03b0fdd9a_800

Richardson: ‘I figured it out when the general manager called me’

Here’s what Paul Richardson had to say: (On where is he at right now….) “I’m California right now with ...
7efb6d24-c022-4fd8-ae10-2f3bcaf8d8b7_800

Britt: ‘If nasty is the word you want to use, then I’m nasty’

Here’s what new Seahawks lineman Justin Britt, whom Tom Cable said will compete right away at right tackle ...
140508schneider600

Seahawks trade first-round draft choice to Vikings

The Seahawks traded out of the final pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday ...
140506udfa600

The Seahawks have been very good to rookie free agents

Despite having one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL, the Seahawks have become a good ...

Shop for Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Champs Merchandise at NFLShop.com

Shop for Conference Champs and Super Bowl XLVIII Match Up Merchandise at NFLShop.com

WELCOME TO THE SEAHAWKS 12TH MAN ARMY.

WE TAKE PRIDE IN GIVING SEAHAWKS FANS AROUND THE CLOCK UPDATES,  ALL SEAHAWKS ALL THE TIME. SO IF YOU WANT THE LATEST SEAHAWKS NEWS DELIVERED FOR FREE RIGHT TO YOUR EMAIL BOX ONCE A WEEK, SIGN UP AND ENJOY!

WE HAVE BEEN PROUDLY SERVING DIEHARD SEAHAWKS FANS SINCE 2004.

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz