SEATTLE – On a day when the Seahawks learned their starting left tackle, Russell Okung, will be out for at least the next eight games, they also confirmed starting defensive end Chris Clemons and cornerback Brandon Browner will see their first action of the season Sunday against Jacksonville.
Such is life in the NFL, where managing the constant shuffling of bodies due to injuries is part of the deal.
Okung, named to the Pro Bowl last season, suffered a torn tendon in his left big toe in the first quarter Sunday against San Francisco. After the initial diagnosis, he flew this week to Charlotte, N.C., to meet with a toe specialist.
There, a diagnosis was given that Okung will need some time to heal, but should be able to return at some point this season, so the team placed him on the Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list. Teams can use that designation once a year, and a player placed on the list must miss six weeks of practice and eight weeks of games, instead of being out for the year, as would otherwise be the case on injured reserve.
That means the earliest Okung could return to a game is Nov. 17 against Minnesota.
Eight-year veteran Paul McQuistan will move from left guard to left tackle to take over for Okung, with James Carpenter stepping in at guard, the same alignment the team used for the final three quarters of last week’s 29-3 win over the 49ers.
While the offense will be re-shuffled a bit, the defense will take a few steps closer to being back to full strength with the return of Clemons – who hasn’t played since tearing his ACL in the playoff win over Washington last January – and Browner, who missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.
Clemons led the team in sacks last year with 11.5 while Browner’s return means the Legion of Boom secondary will be intact for the first time this season.
Carroll said Clemons may be eased in a bit as he gets used to playing again, but said “he is in as good of shape as anybody we have on the football team right now to carry a big load.”
As for Browner, Carroll said this week he would return to starting duty. Walter Thurmond has played well in place of Browner, as has Byron Maxwell in the nickel packages.