October 13, 2010 in Sports

Seahawks’ healthy line needs more time to gel

John Boyle Everett Herald
 
Associated Press photo

Seattle lineman Sean Locklear, right, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck have struggled on offense this season.
(Full-size photo)

RENTON, Wash. – The good news for the Seahawks is that they may field, for the first time, the offensive line – minus guard Max Unger, who is out for the year – that they envisioned before the start of the season.

The bad news? Doing so will require more change. No position group in football relies on continuity more than the offensive line, yet the Seahawks have had anything but through the first quarter of the season.

Seattle ranks 28th out of 32 NFL teams in total offense and 29th in rushing offense.

Through four games, the Seahawks have started three different offensive line combinations, and only center Chris Spencer has started all four games at the same position. So far eight different players have started games on the offensive line, with only Spencer and tackle Tyler Polumbus starting all four.

On Sunday in Chicago, the Seahawks could change things again. Chester Pitts, whom the Seahawks signed as a free agent in the offseason and is likely the long-term starter at left guard, practiced fully on Monday and is on track to make his debut this weekend, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.

The Seahawks should also get Russell Okung back at left tackle. Okung, the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft, missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain, then had to sit out the second half of Seattle’s last game because of soreness in the ankle. Okung is back practicing and should be ready to play this weekend. But just because the Seahawks may finally have the line they want in place this weekend, that won’t necessarily lead to instant improvements.

“Well, it’s great that they’re back,” Carroll said. “We have to get them working together, out there on the practice field and repping together, and I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Sometimes that takes a really long time for an offensive line to gel in the ways that they can, but we’re going to be hopeful about it and optimistic that we know they’re going to get better.”

But even if the turnaround isn’t instant for the offensive line, getting a healthy Okung back, and perhaps Pitts as well, will be a step in the right direction for an offense still trying to find its identity.

“If we can keep the group together there should be some steady improvement for some time,” Carroll said.

Of course, a completely healthy line would be too much to ask for this team, so this week doesn’t come without some injury concerns. Right tackle Sean Locklear is battling a knee injury, and was held out of the starting lineup in Seattle’s last game, only to be forced into action when Okung had to come out and Polumbus had to move from right to left tackle. Locklear is expected to be ready for Sunday’s game.

Cornerback Kennard Cox was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. He fills the roster spot opened by the trade of receiver Deion Branch. Cox made the roster to start the season, but was released after the season opener and signed to the practice squad. Receiver Pat Williams was signed to the practice squad.

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