Knee surgery to sideline Seahawks’ Willis

Published on August 16, 2010 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

An already thin offensive tackle position for the Seahawks took a hit Monday with news that veteran Ray Willis will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee to deal with a cartilage problem and likely won’t be ready to return by the start of the regular season.

Ray Willis

Willis, 28, started 16 games at right tackle for the Seahawks last year and 10 games in 2008. The former fourth-round draft pick out of Florida State has played 44 games in his five seasons in Seattle.

He was expected to compete with Sean Locklear for a starting spot at right tackle after filling in at left tackle until rookie Russell Okung reported to camp, but now his situation is in jeopardy.

Coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t think the problem would keep Willis out for the season, but his status won’t be known for sure until doctors get in and see what is going on in the knee joint.

But even best case, Carroll said he didn’t expect Willis to be ready for the Sept. 12 season opener.

Willis’ absence leaves converted guard Mansfield Wrotto, former Husky tight end Joe Toledo and undrafted rookie free agent Jacob Phillips out of Bellhaven University as the backup tackles.

Wrotto has started five games for Seattle in the past two seasons, but all at guard. Toledo has been in the league since 2006, but has yet to play in a regular-season game.

Willis was regarded as the primary backup at both left and right tackles after Okung’s arrival.

“That’s a concern right now,” Carroll said. “We didn’t have great experience at that spot going in and Ray was flipping for us. So we’re going to have to work on fixing that up.”

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