Russell Okung’s ankle is Seahawks’ big unknown

Published on August 23, 2010 by     T.C.

The preseason juggernaut that was the Seahawks’ six-game exhibition winning streak ended Saturday night in a 27-24 loss to Green Bay.

That was hardly the team’s most significant setback, though.

Rookie offensive tackle Russell Okung was injured, and while tests Sunday detected nothing more serious than a sprained ankle, an ankle sprain can be serious enough. Coach Pete Carroll has offered no timeline for Okung’s recovery but conceded he will miss some time.

While they wait to learn how long Okung is out, here’s a list of what the Seahawks learned Saturday and what they’re still trying to figure out.

Things we learned

1) The first-string offense looks a lot better with receiver Mike Williams. In the exhibition opener against Tennessee, Seattle used T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch and tight end John Carlson in the slot in a three-receiver formation. That lineup that didn’t threaten the defense outside. Williams changed the dynamic of that group. He caught four passes against Green Bay in the first half, as did Houshmandzadeh, and Seattle scored touchdowns on two of its first three possessions.

2) Leon Washington still has the quickness that made him a Pro Bowl running back with the Jets. On his 11-yard touchdown run, he burst through a hole and was in the end zone without even making a cut. Expect Washington to start this week at Minnesota.

3) Cornerback Marcus Trufant is back. Not back like last year, when he returned after missing the first six games because of a disk injury and was noticeably slower in coverage. He’s back like it was 2007, appearing in Pro Bowl form. Trufant broke up two passes, made three tackles and demonstrated that last year was probably just an injury-induced aberration.

Things we don’t know

1) How will the Seahawks get by without Okung? Mansfield Wrotto finished Saturday’s game. But he was a guard through his first three seasons, and not even a starting guard. Chester Pitts isn’t even practicing yet as he recovers from knee surgery. Sean Locklear has not played well so far this season.

2) When will the running game come around? Julius Jones didn’t play until the third quarter Saturday. Justin Forsett started, and the Seahawks’ run game stumbled even though Green Bay was missing three starters and had only six linebackers in uniform.

3) Is punter Jon Ryan just going to keep getting better? Saturday, he averaged 50 yards on five punts and placed three inside the 20-yard line and two inside the 5. He also shaved off that anachronistic mustache you may have seen on television after the game.

Things we’re still

trying to figure out

1) Is Charlie Whitehurst as good as his three touchdown passes or as bad as his three interceptions? The truth is somewhere in the middle. Whitehurst followed his 214-yard, two-TD performance in the exhibition opener by completing six of his first seven on a touchdown drive against the Packers. But his ill-advised, under-pressure attempt to get the ball outside to tight end Cameron Morrah resulted in an interception in the red zone.

2) How does Carlson fit into the new passing game? Chris Baker was added to be the blocking tight end, freeing Carlson to be more of a receiving threat, but in two exhibition games he has one catch for 6 yards.

3) Was Green Bay’s first play a lesson learned for rookie safety Earl Thomas, or a sign of things to come? Thomas thought he had Greg Jennings covered when quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a terrific deep throw, and Jennings made a great catch for a 56-yard gain. Does Thomas learn from it or will be he be vulnerable over the top?

Note

• Seattle has agreed to terms with receiver Brandon Jones, who was recently released by San Francisco. He caught just one pass in eight games last season. In 2008, he caught a career-best 41 for Tennessee.

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