Seahawks to be without Max Unger, Russell Okung against Cardinals
RENTON – The already difficult task of facing Arizona’s stout defense will be even harder for the Seahawks without two of their starting offensive linemen.
Reiterating what he told KIRO Radio 97.3 FM earlier Friday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger won’t be available for Sunday night’s showdown with the division-leading Cardinals.
It looked like it could have been even worse for Seattle’s offensive line, but right guard J.R. Sweezy is expected to play after missing two days of practice this week with an ankle injury.
Paul Richardson is also expected to be available, Carroll said, after missing Thursday’s practice. Fellow wide receiver Chris Matthews tweaked his hamstring in practice Thursday and is listed as questionable.
Seattle will likely gain one tight end but could be without another. Cooper Helfet practiced without limitation this week and is in line to return after missing the past three games with a sprained ankle. Tony Moeaki, though, is listed as questionable due to a shoulder injury. Carroll said Moeaki has improved but indicated that he’ll be a game-time decision.
Okung didn’t practice this week after sustaining a bruised lung in the first half against San Francisco, an injury that required a trip to the hospital. Carroll initially indicated that Okung would likely be out for one or two weeks but the team didn’t officially rule him out until Friday.
“He’s going to probably take another week to make sure he’s safe and sound and ready to finish out the year,” Carroll said earlier Friday.
Unger didn’t practice this week either and will miss his fifth straight game. He sustained a high-ankle sprain and also twisted his knee last month against Kansas City. Carroll clarified that it’s only Unger’s ankle that remains an issue and said he experienced a setback after practicing last week for the first time since sustaining the injuries.
“He just didn’t recover from that,” Carroll said. “We always talk about how do they handle the workload and it set him back a little bit, and he was pushing to get there for last week’s game and couldn’t make it.”
Alvin Bailey will start at left tackle. He’s also a backup guard, and while Carroll didn’t have the most glowing assessment of how Bailey fared in relief duty last Sunday, Carroll said he should be better off having had a week to prepare at left tackle.
“It makes a big difference,” Carroll said. “Every snap that he takes and practices is focused on playing left tackle. Every moment in the meetings is all focused on playing as opposed to looking at guard/tackle, right side/left side and all that kind of stuff that he’s had to do in the past. It certainly helps. It certainly helps and he had a good solid week.”
Lemuel Jeanpierre has started the last three games at center for Unger, but Carroll didn’t say whether it will be Jeanpierre or Patrick Lewis that will start Sunday.
Either way, Seattle’s offensive line will once again be at less than full strength. This will mark the 11th straight game that at least one starter from that group will be missing.
“We’ve played really with a different group almost every week, and so it’s not unusual for us,” Carroll said earlier Friday. “We would like to be at full strength but that’s just not what we’re afforded here. So we’re going to go out there and battle and our guys are going to step up, they’ll do a great job for us again and see if we can fight our way through to a win.”
• LT Russell Okung (chest)
• C Max Unger (ankle/knee)
• DL Demarcus Dobbs (ankle)
• TE Tony Moeaki (shoulder)
• WR Chris Matthews (hamstring)
• TE Cooper Helfet (ankle)
• RB Marshawn Lynch (back)
• RG J.R. Sweezy (ankle)
• WR Paul Richardson (hamstring)