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Seahawks’ George Fant needs ACL surgery, likely out for season

Left tackle George Fant suffered an injury in the first half of Friday's preseason game. (AP)

Seahawks left tackle George Fant will likely miss the 2017 season because of a knee injury that will require surgery.

Coach Pete Carroll shared that bit of bad news Friday night, confirming what seemed likely after Fant went down in the second quarter of Seattle’s preseason game against Minnesota and had to be carted off the field with an air cast on his right leg.

“Really broken-hearted about George Fant getting hurt,” Carroll said after Seattle’s 20-13 win. “Just unfortunate. He’s done so much, come so far and everybody’s cheering for him and rooting for him all along. He’s going to be in trouble getting back this season. He’s got a knee injury that’s going to require surgery, unfortunately. Kinda takes a little something out of it for everybody.”

Fant went down at the end of a passing play when center Justin Britt fell into his right leg. Carroll said the injury is to Fant’s ACL. He didn’t specify whether or not it’s torn but called it “significant.”

And just like that, an offensive line that was on its way to finally getting settled is now again in flux.

Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable had all but declared earlier this week that Fant would again be the team’s starter at left tackle, where he made 10 starts as an undrafted rookie last season, and that free-agent addition Luke Joeckel would start next to him at left guard.

Seattle had considered Joeckel an option at left tackle, the position he played over his first three NFL seasons in Jacksonville. While it would have a ripple effect on the rest of Seattle’s offensive line, moving Joeckel back there is a possibility that Carroll mentioned when asked about the plan at left tackle with Fant out.

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Carroll said. “We’re very fortunate that Luke Joeckel is on our team. Luke can start at left tackle or left guard. We’re just fortunate that he’s with us. We have some choices and we’ll figure that out in time.”

Second-year offensive linemen Rees Odhiambo replaced Fant Friday night and was beaten twice on his first series. He was also called for two holding penalties. He’s the likeliest of Seattle’s other in-house options to replace Fant, though Carroll’s comments about what he’s seen from the 2016 third-round pick didn’t suggest that the team is ready to trust him with Russell Wilson’s blind side.

“He’s been a little bit up and down,” Carroll said. “He’s been playing both spots, guard and tackle on the left side. We like his physicality. He’s a good athlete, he’s strong and tough and all that. Just cleaning up his game and being really consistent is what we’re concerned about. How soon will that come? And will he be able to clean it all up in time to try to win one of these spots? So we’ll see what happens.”

The Seahawks were excited about the growth Fant had shown since his rookie season, when he improbably made his way into Seattle’s starting lineup. Fant had next to no offensive line experience, having played basketball for four years at Western Kentucky before joining the football team – as a tight end – for his final season of eligibility.

Part of the excitement was that Fant had changed his physique, adding 25 pounds. Now he’s likely lost his 2017 season.

“We talked about the great year that he had this offseason and that it’s going to take that same kind of application of his fight and his competitiveness and his spirit to work his way back through this,” Carroll said. “And in that he felt very confident that he would do exactly that. He’s going to take the same approach that he took to this offseason and he’s going to get back, and when he gets back he’s going to be a really good football player.”