Initial reports suggested Russell Okung’s ankle injury wasn’t the more serious “high” variety, but we’re talking about the hard-luck Seattle Seahawks, so of course it ended up being just that.
Injuries seem to wind up being worse than anticipated for Seattle. That was the case with Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck in past seasons, and it was the case on a lesser scale Tuesday with Okung and second-year pass-rusher Nick Reed. Reed, seen limping toward the locker room after the Seahawks’ game Saturday, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. Linebacker David Hawthorne, scheduled to start the opener while Leroy Hill serves a suspension, is also hurting and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam for an injury the team did not disclose.
Okung’s high sprain wasn’t a particularly severe one, coach Pete Carroll noted, but it still wasn’t clear whether the Seahawks would have their first-round draft choice and starting left tackle for the regular-season opener. High sprains are more serious than typical ones.
“When you asked the other night, I was hoping it wasn’t (a high sprain), but it is, so we’ll see how it works out,” Carroll said Tuesday.
The Seahawks drafted Okung because they badly needed a front-line left tackle to protect Hasselbeck and the team’s other quarterbacks. While two-plus weeks remain until the regular season, the team faces one of the NFL’s best defensive fronts when visiting the Minnesota Vikings in its next exhibition game. Pro Bowl pass-rusher Jared Allen will be working against Okung’s replacement, Mansfield Wrotto, when Hasselbeck is in the game.
Okung was extremely durable in college, making his injury after less than five quarters of NFL action all the more confounding. Seattle’s run of bad luck with injuries has become a tiresome topic in recent seasons — it’s not the only reason the team has struggled, obviously — but with Okung and backup right tackle Ray Willis out, and with veteran Chester Pitts trying to bounce back from a procedure similar to the one that ended Jones’ career, tackle depth is a concern.
“With Ray (Willis) down, too, it’s about as bad as it could have hit at that spot,” Carroll said.
It can get much worse, actually, as the Seahawks found out last season when they replaced Walter Jones with Sean Locklear, Brandon Frye, Damion McIntosh and Kyle Williams.
Carroll said he was “going to hold out hope” that Okung would be ready for the regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, Mike Gibson will replace Ben Hamilton at left guard against the Vikings. He could stay there, I think, based on what we’ve seen from both players to this point.