By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – There is a bright side to the news that Russell Okung will miss at least the next eight games, but only because it would’ve been worst were he lost for the season.
Okung suffered a torn ligament in the big toe of his left foot, an injury that will take time to rehabilitate but won’t necessarily keep Seattle’s Pro Bowl left tackle out for the year.
An injured toe will sideline Russell Okung until the second half of the season. (AP)
The Seahawks will place him on injured reserve by Saturday, but will designate him for return. He won’t be eligible to practice with the team for the next six weeks and he won’t be eligible to play in a game until Nov. 17 at the earliest.
The fact Okung has a chance to be back at all is positive sign because there was some concern earlier this week that the injury might be season-ending.
“He’s kind of excited about the fact that he has a chance to get back this season,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We are as well. So we’ll just ride it out, see what happens.”
Paul McQuistan will start in Okung’s place with rookies Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie serving as potential backups.
Okung suffered the injury on the final play of the first quarter against San Francisco. He saw a specialist this week for a second opinion, which determined he may be able to return this year. That ability to come back was helped by a new injured-reserve rule, which was implemented last year and allows a team to place one player per season on the injured reserve list with the designation he would return. Previously, any player placed on injured reserve was done for the year.
A player designated for return must sit out six weeks of practice and miss eight games before returning, but in the meantime, the team can fill his spot on the roster. Seattle is expected to announce a roster addition on Saturday in time for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. This is the first time Seattle has placed someone on injured reserve with the designation he would return.
Clemons to return
Defensive end Chris Clemons will play Sunday, according to Carroll, marking his return after suffering a torn knee ligament in Seattle’s wildcard playoff victory at Washington. Clemons practiced all week, and while Carroll did not say Clemons would start, he is expected to play.
“We’re really thrilled for him,” Carroll said. “It means the world to Chris, of course, that he gets back.”
Clemons has been the team’s top pass rusher in each of the three seasons since Seattle acquired him from Philadelphia, posting 10 or more sacks in three successive years.
• CB Brandon Browner is expected to play after a hamstring injury kept him out of the first two games.
• RB Spencer Ware is unlikely to play after suffering a high ankle sprain on the final play of Sunday’s victory over San Francisco. That means rookie Christine Michael, Seattle’s second-round pick, is likely to be active. Michael has yet to play in a game this season, and in fact, was inactive last week.
• Rookie DT Jordan Hill is out for this game with a biceps injury, but may be ready to begin practicing soon.
• S Jeron Johnson is expected to miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury.
• LB Malcolm Smith is listed as questionable because of a hamstring injury, and expect O’Brien Schofield to see time at linebacker after playing mostly defensive end the first two weeks.
• RG J.R. Sweezy is considered virtually certain to play after he returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday’s workout with a sore back.