SEATTLE – Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman showed up for his weekly press conference Wednesday celebrating Halloween a little early, dressed as Harry Potter, cheerfully waving a magic wand at questioners.
Seahawks fans might wish that what he could really do with that wand is cook up an answer at left tackle.
It’s a question that may have only grown in importance after it was revealed Wednesday afternoon that quarterback Russell Wilson was a limited participant in practice with right pectoral and knee issues.
By Thursday, the news was better.
Wilson said he expects to play on Sunday, although he’s being cautious with the injury and is thankful he has a few more days of treatment and recovery before playing against the Saints.
“The great thing is my ankle is no longer listed,” Wilson quipped.
Regardless, that Wilson has now suffered a third injury in seven games would seem to only heighten the urgency for the Seahawks to solidify the all-important left tackle spot.
But while fans may be hoping for the team to make a trade for the likes of perennial All-Pros Joe Staley or Joe Thomas by the time the trade deadline hits on Tuesday, for now the Seahawks are going to have to choose from what they have on the roster.
Those choices, as of Wednesday afternoon, were:
— Bradley Sowell, the starter for the first seven games before suffering a sprained MCL in the fourth quarter Sunday that was serious enough he was carted off, an injury that initially appeared potentially season-threatening.
Instead, in one of the many surprises of a typically zany day at the VMAC, Carroll said Sowell may be well enough to play on Sunday.
“Sowell looks like he’s not hurt” Carroll said with an air of amazement. “I don’t know what to tell you, I don’t know how this happened. … we’re going to see where he is in another day from now, but he looks great. Whatever recovery he’s making, he’s a thousand miles ahead of what could have been.”
Offensive line coach Tom Cable also said after practice that Sowell remains an option to play Sunday.
“Well we’ll see where Brad is at,” Cable said. “He’s made a really quick recovery and felt like he may have been able to do a little work today. So we’ll see tomorrow where he’s at.”
— George Fant, an undrafted rookie free agent who saw his first significant action when he took over for Sowell and played the rest of the game, including the two overtime series when Seattle drove 57 and then 70 yards – the only drives of the game that went longer than 15 yards. Fant played primarily basketball at Western Kentucky before switching to football as a fifth-year senior and playing sparingly. Intrigued by his athleticism, the Seahawks signed him thinking he’d need a few years to develop. Instead, he has been one of the surprises of the season since early in camp and could be in line to make his first NFL start Sunday.
“It’s exciting to see where he can take this,” Cable said of Fant. “You look at each week how much he’s grown, and then there’s an opportunity maybe this week he gets to play quite a bit. If he does then I don’t worry about it, that’s how good I feel about it.”
Carroll likewise gushed about Fant during his press conference before practice saying “there was no way we could have anticipated he would jump to it as quickly as he did. We’re really excited about him. He’s been way ahead of the curve in that regard, very unusual transition he has made.”
— Rees Odhiambo, a third-round pick from Boise State who has been playing primarily guard, but played left tackle at BSU. Odhiambo has not had a snap on offense this season, active only for the week two loss at Los Angeles. But Cable said that Odhiambo and Fant took most of the snaps at left tackle in practice Wednesday. “He’s played at left tackle throughout most of his career so there’s familiarity there,’’ Carroll said. “We know he has the background.’’
— Or, maybe, veteran free agent J’Marcus Webb, who with a two-year, $5,75 million contract is the highest-paid linemen on the team. Webb, though, has worked mostly at right tackle and Cable said the team thought it better to put in Fant on the left side Sunday instead of using Webb on the right and moving Garry Gilliam to left tackle to keep as much stability as possible.
“Had we not (had Fant active) then it would’ve been J’Marcus,’’ Cable said, noting the Seahawks had eight offensive linemen active for the game instead of the usual seven, which allowed for Fant to be active (the Arizona game was the first time he had been active since the week three win against the 49ers). “But having the chance to get an extra guy up, that’s where he’s trained and all his work’s at so it was an easier transition for the group.”
About the only certainty is that the Seahawks appear to want to keep everyone as in the dark as possible about who may man the position Sunday.
“I’m not trying to be coy with you but we have to get through the week and see how it goes,’’ Carroll said.
If the unsettled nature of maybe the most important offensive line position might make Seahawks fans a little queasy, Carroll seems just fine with it all.
Despite what was the second game this season in which the Seahawks had not scored a touchdown, and punts on the first nine possessions, Carroll sounded pleased with how the line played against the Cardinals.
“I think we’re much more confident in our pass protection than we have been,’’ Carroll said. “I think we’ve done a really nice job collectively and there’s only been a couple sacks in the last couple games. We can keep that rolling. The combination, the fact that we’re not getting enough yards rushing, to me is really attempts, and that all goes back to third-down stuff, which has nothing to do with those guys. I think those guys are working hard, they’re doing a good job. I think we’re cleaner than we have been and you can see we’re making progress. George did fine once he settled in. He’s a really good athlete but he’s new, so there’s going to be new things that happen sometimes, and we just have to hope that we help him properly and he can come through and make it through it, and we can get the ball away if he does make an error. Pretty excited about him, though.”
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