RENTON, Wash. – The only other time Colin Cole missed a significant amount of a season was 2007 when an arm injury landed him on injured reserve and he knew there was no chance of getting back.
So having to sit out the last five weeks with a serious high-ankle sprain was extremely difficult for Seattle’s starting defensive tackle.
“As far as something to work back (from) and knowing I’m coming back, this is the longest, and the toughest, knowing that I had the opportunity to come back,” Cole said. “It was definitely the toughest thing having to sit back and watch the guys play.”
Cole will play this week when the Seahawks try to stay on top of the NFC West when they face San Francisco on Sunday. Cole is listed as probable, but coach Pete Carroll said on Friday that Cole will see a significant amount of action. How much action will be based on his conditioning.
The Seahawks hope Cole’s return will help their run defense return to being the stout unit that started the season.
Cole was hurt on Oct. 31 against Oakland when Cole says a Raiders offensive lineman “jumped” on the side of his lower leg. Seattle also lost defensive end Red Bryant in that game to a season-ending knee injury.
The shuffling of bodies needed to fill those two major gaps has led to the Seahawks’ run defense taking a beating.
In the five games since Cole and Bryant went down, the Seahawks are allowing an average of 130.2 yards rushing. At its high point early in the season, Seattle ranked second in the NFL at stopping the run. With four weeks left in the regular season, they are 21st.
“It seems like it’s been an extremely long time. I’ve missed getting out there with the guys and it’s been pretty hard watching the games and watching your teammates and especially knowing that I couldn’t help them as I would have liked to have,” Cole said. “Hopefully, I can help come back and contribute.”
His return also allows a bit of flexibility to return to Seattle’s defensive line. While he was out, Junior Siavii filled in and played well, but the lack of depth became an issue. With Cole back, Seattle can rotate Siavii at defensive tackle but also use his bigger body at defensive end to help against the run.
“We’re going to see on Sunday just like everybody else,” Seattle defensive end Kentwan Balmer said. “Colin is a great player, Junior is a great player, we have a lot of good players on this defensive line. We’ll see what happens.”