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Seahawks suffer blow on defensive line as Quinton Jefferson breaks hand

Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson, left, closes in on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes  during  an August preseason game  in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson, left, closes in on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during an August preseason game in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – So much for the Seahawks’ best-laid plans for adding to their defensive line depth this week with veteran end Cliff Avril out indefinitely.

On Monday, the Seahawks thought they had addressed the issue by re-signing 2016 fifth-round pick Quinton Jefferson off the practice squad of this week’s opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, who claimed him when Seattle waived him before the season.

But within 20 minutes of Jefferson’s first practice back with Seattle on Wednesday he broke his hand in a pass rush drill.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Jefferson will have to have surgery on the hand and will be out about “four weeks or something like that before he would be able to play with it.’’ Carroll called it “just an unusual thing that happened and unfortunate in his return.’’

Jefferson played three games for Seattle last year, suffering a broken thumb early in the season and then an ACL injury in practice in October that knocked him out for the rest of the season. The Seahawks signed him hoping he could add depth at the three- and five-technique spots, primarily, with Frank Clark having to take on additional snaps as a rush end to step in as the starter for Avril.

Jefferson and Avril were the only two players the Seahawks declared as out for Sunday’s game and their absence leaves Seattle with seven defensive linemen going up against the highest-scoring offense in the NFL on Sunday. Teams typically have eight or nine defensive linemen active on gameday – Seattle has had eight for every game this season.

Asked if the Seahawks would have to make a roster move by Saturday to add another defensive linemen, Carroll said “we’ll see. Good question.’’

But this late in the week there would seem to be only one real option – signing recently acquired Branden Jackson off the practice squad. A second-year vet out of Texas Tech, Jackson played in three games for the Raiders last season. A 6-foot-4, 273-pound end, he was signed to Seattle’s practice squad on Sept. 27 after being waived by the Raiders in the cutdown to 53.

Carroll said that for now Avril is out indefinitely after suffering neck/spine injuries last Sunday that left him briefly with numbness in his hands.

“There’s nothing updated at this time,’’ Carroll said of Avril. “ But we are kind of in a holding pattern right now and he’ll travel with us this week and all that and he’s with us and all but we are just holding him out for a while.’’

With Jefferson sidelined for up to a month or so and Avril’s future unclear, the Seahawks could be looking for some long-term help for the line.

It would obviously be a boon if Malik McDowell would be able to return this season, as Carroll said on Friday is a possibility. The second-round pick out of Michigan State has been out with a “really bad concussion.” But Carroll said Friday he will be reassessed in two weeks or so to determine when he might be able to return and that there’s a chance he could play this season.

Another possibility for long-term help on the line is Dion Jordan, who was the third pick of the 2013 draft by the Dolphins and signed by Seattle last spring as a free agent. Jordan has also been on the NFI list after having another surgery on a knee that held him out last season – Jordan has not played in an NFL game since 2014.

He could also return to practice in week six and Carroll said he had a good workout on Friday.

“Really just this week he has really turned the corner,’’ Carroll said. “He had a fantastic workout today – was watching over the top of practice he was out here busting it. He’s with the strength and conditioning guys now and really pushing to not just get in shape but get ready to so. So is it one week, two weeks, three weeks? I don’t know that yet. But he’s going to get close to the opportunity to come back and we’ll see where it fits. That would be a tremendous boost if that could happen.’’

Jordan would theoretically be able to help at both end spots.

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