SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Is the fifth time Seattle’s charm?
Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers will feature the version number five of the Seahawks’ iffy, scrutinized offensive line this season.
It’s the arrangement they’ve been looking forward to most.
All the attention has rightly been on the Seahawks missing six starters from their defense. Star defensive backs Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor remain out, Sherman for the season and Chancellor seemingly for at least that long. Coach Pete Carroll says to expect “some clarity” soon on what’s next for Chancellor and Pro Bowl end Cliff Avril, who is on injured reserve.
Jeremy Lane will start with newly reacquired Byron Maxwell at cornerback Sunday against San Francisco. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan picked on Lane all Monday night in Seattle’s latest loss.
Yet it’s the other side of the ball where the Seahawks are hoping a return proves huge.
For the last six games the Seahawks have been without Luke Joeckel at left guard. The veteran who signed to a one-year contract guaranteeing him $7 million had arthroscopic knee surgery last month. He hasn’t played since Oct. 8.
Sunday against the 49ers, Joeckel and left Duane Brown will start side by side for the first time.
“I didn’t think it would take five, six weeks to get back. But with the surgery they had to clean up more than they expected,” Joeckel said before the Seahawks left for the Bay Area Saturday. “Now it’s just good to be back. Those first five weeks just flew by. These last five weeks that I’ve been out have been a long five weeks.
“It’s just good to back out there with the guys.”
Best for the Seahawks he’s with Brown. Seattle traded for Brown four weeks ago, while Joeckel was recovering from surgery to fix what was still wrong with his knee. He had it reconstructed 13 months ago when he was with Jacksonville.
Brown, a three-time Pro Bowl tackle with Houston, is officially questionable to play at the 49ers. He didn’t practice again this week because of an ankle injury he got two games ago at Arizona. But Carroll said he and Joeckel, also officially questionable, will start.
That has the always-sunny coach particularly beaming. His line that has had consistent problems protecting Russell Wilson’s attempts to throw and creating running lanes for any backs may be solidifying. On the left side, anyway.
The Seahawks rank just 26th in the NFL running behind left guard (3.1 yards per rush) this season. They are 22nd running around left end (3.7 yards per run). Again, most of those yards have come from Wilson’s scrambling.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Joeckel said of Brown, the former Houston Texans’ mainstay who’s played opposite Brown for years inside the AFC South. “I’ve watched a lot of his film, playing in the same division as him. He’s big, strong. He’s going to make a left guard’s job easier, for sure.
“A 10-year vet, playing at a really high level each year. When we’ve got those double-team blocks, he’s a strong dude. A great run blocker. We’ve got to get jell together right, but we’ve both got the experience and I think it’s going to be an easy transition.”
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