The fallout from Sunday’s loss to the Raiders includes injuries to several starters, and the worst is the sprained knee that will sideline defensive tackle Red Bryant indefinitely.
Red Bryant has been a big part of the Seahawks’ defense this season.
But the defense is about to find out what life without the 332-pound defensive end will be like. Bryant sprained a knee in Sunday’s loss to the Raiders in Oakland and definitely is out for this week’s game against the New York Giants, and likely longer.
“Red is going to be out awhile, at best,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “We’ll see how that goes. We’re dong tests to figure out what the situation is completely.”
With Bryant out, Kentwan Balmer will slide out to play the end spot opposite Chris Clemons. Balmer has started at defensive tackle the past three games for Brandon Mebane, who has been sidelined with a calf injury.
It won’t be easy to replace Bryant’s size and disruptive presence. He has 18 tackles to rank 10th on the team, as well as a sack, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. But numbers don’t tell the entire story of what Bryant has meant to the team during its 4-3 start.
“We’ve really leaned on Red as we’ve made the switch schematically,” Carroll said of having Bryant’s bulk to feature opposite Clemons’ quickness at the Leo end spot. “I’ve said it numerous times, that he’s done a great job for us.
“Now we need to see how we holdup without him. He’s shown us the style of play that we like there and given us a good illustration of what we can do with him. He’s been a significant factor and he’s been such a good-spirited guy. So we’re really going to miss him – miss him badly.”
It will lessen the impact if Mebane can return.
“He’s one of the guys we are thinking has a chance to come back,” Carroll said. “He still has to make it back, but we’re kind of counting on him showing up again.”
Carroll obviously had a lengthy injury list to discuss, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who came out of the game with a slight concussion after being sacked a career-high eight times against the Raiders. He also was sacked five times the week before against the Cardinals.
“Matt got banged up just kind of in general,” Carroll said. “He got hit in the head and had some headaches. So we’re just taking care of him, looking after him, making sure he’s alright.”
But Carroll expects Hasselbeck to play. “Yeah, I think so because it sounds like it was pretty slight concussion that should be OK,” he said. “But he still has to go through the process to make sure he’s alright. But we think he’ll play.”
And Carroll preferred to deal first with those players who might return to practice on Wednesday:
Cornerbacks Kelly Jennings and Walter Thurmond. Jennings has missed the past two games with a strained hamstring. Thurmond started for him on the right side against the Arizona Cardinals, but got a concussion that forced him to sit out against the Raiders. That left Nate Ness to start on Sunday.
“There is a good chance Kelly will make it back and we’re counting n Walter to come back, too,” Carroll said.
Left tackle Russell Okung. He also sat out the Raiders game after getting a high sprain of his left ankle against the Cardinals. Tyler Polumbus started Sunday, but had to come out at one point because of what Carroll called a slight knee sprain. Left guard Ben Hamilton also left the Raiders game early with what Carroll labeled a pretty significant concussion.
Those injuries, coupled with Okung’s absence, got Chester Pitts his first snaps of the season – first at left guard for Hamilton and then at left tackle after Polumbus went out. But that didn’t last long, as Polumbus returned and Mike Gibson went in at left guard. Pitts was playing for the first time since having microfracture surgery on his right knee last September while with the Houston Texans.
“I thought Chester did a good job in his first time playing in more than a year,” Carroll said. “He held up alright. He held up in pass protection, did OK in the running game.”
Pitts is the likely starter at left guard against the Giants.
With all those injuries on the left side of the line, the coaches will lean on Allen Barbre. He was signed Sept. 28, but has yet to be active for a game.
“He needs to be moved up to get his opportunity now,” Carroll said. “He’s a good, physical kid. He’s healthy and ready to go.”
Also due to return is Matt McCoy, who leads the club with eight coverage tackles on special teams.
But Carroll wasn’t as sure about fullback and special teams standout Michael Robinson, who missed the Raiders game because of a sore hamstring.
Also on the in-question list: nose tackle Colin Cole, who sprained an ankle against the Raiders; and wide receivers Mike Williams (bruised knee) and Golden Tate (sprained ankle), although each returned after being injured on Sunday.
“We’ll have to see how he responds. He’s in a boot today, so we don’t know,” Carroll said of Tate. On Williams, he added, “He got hit making a block. He was able to finish the game, but wasn’t at his best.”
As for Cole, Carroll said, “We’ll have to wait and see how that one goes. We don’t know about that one.”