Return of Cole boosts Seahawks’ run defense

Four games.

That’s how many contests the Seattle Seahawks’ run-stuffing combo of Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane have lined up as the team’s defensive tackles this season.

And the results are pretty telling: In games the two have played together, the Seahawks allowed 80 rushing yards a contest. In eight games where one of the two has been out, the Seahawks have given up 149 rushing yards a game.

But for the first time in over two months, the Seahawks are on target to have both in the middle of the defense come Sunday.

Cole returned to practice Wednesday for the first time in six weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain late in the Oakland game. Cole was a little tentative during practice, but said he’ll be ready to play against San Francisco on Sunday.

Mebane missed five weeks with a calf injury, but returned to action at Arizona on Nov. 14.

“It just seems like it’s been an extremely long time, and I’ve missed getting out there with the guys,” Cole said. “And it’s been pretty hard, watching the game and watching my teammates and everything, especially knowing that I couldn’t help them like I’d like to. Hopefully I can help, and come back and contribute.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he wants to get a good look at how Cole responds before penciling him in as a starter.

“I’m anxious to get him back,” he said. “It seems like it’s been forever since we’ve had him. We’ll see how he does. If he can get back to how he was playing before – he was doing very well before he left and got banged up – he makes us stout and gives us experience.”

Adding insult to his injury, Cole said he suffered the ankle sprain on a meaningless play at the end of the Raiders game.

“I was going to my right and a guy basically to my left, their right guard, kind of jumped on the side of my leg,” he said. “There’s a proper way of cut blocks, and he just took it upon himself to kind of jump on the side of my leg.

“You know, there’s nothing I can do about that now. The only thing I can do is concentrate on moving forward and trying to help the team with the next few games.”

Mebane said he’s pleased to have his running mate back, and that Cole’s return creates more depth inside.

Junior Siavii started with Cole out, but now the team gains flexibility and could move Siavii outside to split time with Kentwan Balmer, the strong-side defensive end.

Pass rush specialist Craig Terrill rounds out the quartet, so the Seahawks again have four defensive tackles to rotate inside throughout the game.

“It’s pretty good to see him back out there healthy,” Mebane said. “That was kind of tough having just a three-man rotation. And now we’re back to having a four-man rotation. So it’s good to have that, and also it’s good to have him back.”