Coach Jim Mora said Wednesday that two of the three injured starters on Seattle’s jumbled offensive line have “a chance” to play on Sept. 20 at San Francisco.
The 35-year-old Jones will miss his first opener since 2003, when he stayed out all summer in a contract dispute. The anchor of Seattle’s line for the last decade had his second knee surgery in eight months a few weeks ago.
Sean Locklear will start for him against the Rams, with Ray Willis playing at Locklear’s old spot, right tackle.
Spencer tore a quadriceps muscle in the second preseason game last month. Steve Vallos will start at center Sunday.
“I don’t want to look ahead because I’m talking about focusing on this game, but just for your knowledge: there is a chance that both of those guys could be ready to come back next week,” Mora said Wednesday morning of Jones and Spencer. “So we’ll just see where we are next week.”
The third injured starter on the line is long gone. Seattle released left guard Mike Wahle at the start of training camp, after the former two-time Pro Bowl selection failed a physical following shoulder surgery. That moved former right guard Rob Sims to the left side.
Max Unger, a second-round draft choice who was an All-Pac-10 center at Oregon last season, is now starting at right guard and is the backup to Vallos.
“I’m comfortable with the starting five. I think that they will perform very, very well,” Mora said, adding he is also confident in backup guard Mansfield Wrotto. “So I think our three interior positions, both guards and the center, we’re well covered.”
Jones had microfracture surgery on his left knee last December and then an arthroscopic procedure on Aug. 20 to remove scar tissue and fragments. Until the return of the man former coach Mike Holmgren, the molder of Brett Favre in Green Bay, called the best offensive player he ever coached, Seattle has just one other tackle on the roster: Brandon Frye. He was claimed off waivers from Miami last weekend.
Mora called Frye’s unfamiliarity with the offense his biggest, immediate concern on the line, “aside from the fact we don’t have two of our starters playing in ‘Spence’ and Walter.”
Mora also made clear that 35-year-old safety Lawyer Milloy signed this week to be a backup, and that the four-time Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl winner with New England understands that. Jordan Babineaux is the starter next to Deon Grant.