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Seahawks lose defensive end Cliff Avril for at least eight games

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 20, 2017, 5:55 p.m.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril pressures Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota during a  Sept. 24 game in Nashville, Tennessee. (Mark Zaleski / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril pressures Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota during a Sept. 24 game in Nashville, Tennessee. (Mark Zaleski / Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The Seahawks on Friday officially played defensive end Cliff Avril on injured reserve as he continues to seek doctor’s opinions on his neck/spine injuries.

That means Avril will miss at least the next eight games but could return in time for the final three games of the season beginning on Dec. 17 against the Rams if he gets cleared to play. Avril could return to practice in six weeks.

Teams can now bring two players each year back off of injured reserve after eight weeks and do not have to specify that ahead of time.

The Seahawks did not make a corresponding roster move, meaning they have just 52 players on their active roster for Sunday’s game against the Giants in New York.

On their final injury report of the week the Seahawks declared Avril and offensive lineman Luke Joeckel as out for Sunday’s game and cornerback Jeremy Lane (groin) as doubtful.

But the rest of the roster may be available for Sunday’s game.

Four players were listed as questionable – defensive ends Michael Bennett (foot) and Marcus Smith (ankle), running back C.J. Prosise (ankle) and defensive tackle Nazair Jones (knee). But coach Pete Carroll on Thursday indicated that all have a chance to play against the Giants. All were listed as full participants in Friday’s practice, as was Lane.

Safety Earl Thomas also missed Friday’s walk-through prior to the team’s afternoon flight to New York for personal reasons. But he is expected to play Sunday against the Giants – he was not given an injury designation for the game meaning the team fully expects him to be in New York and play.

The Seahawks could fill Avril’s roster spot by 24 hours prior to Sunday’s kickoff, but if they did would likely just promote someone from the 10-man practice squad. But the team could also just go with 52, especially with a relatively healthy roster.

Seattle has three potential candidates to return off of IR this season – running back Chris Carson and linebacker Dewey McDonald would also be eligible. But McDonald’s knee injury appears season-ending.

Avril was back with the team on Thursday after being out of town earlier in the week to see more specialists to determine the extent of his injury, and specifically if it is safe for him to potentially play again without suffering a more serious injury. He suffered numbness in his arms and hands when his head snapped back when he was kicked in the chin as he dove at the feet of Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett in a game against the Colts on Oct. 1.

Carroll on Thursday said he wouldn’t rule out that Avril could return this season but said the team and Avril simply don’t have enough information at the moment to make a conclusion either way.

“I don’t know that (if there’s a chance Avril could return),’’ Carroll said. “So I guess that means yes. But we’ll wait and see. Got plenty of time to figure it out.’’

Going on IR at least gives a little bit more of a firm timeline as Carroll noted.

“We have to wait and see on that (if Avril can return to football),’’ Carroll said. “That’s really up to the doctors and Cliff, and all that kind of stuff. I’m 1,000 percent supportive of whatever we need to do here to help him. That’s why we’re taking our time. The IR thing gives him six weeks at least to figure out whatever else we can figure out, but he’s not sure what is best for him right now, and he’s trying to find that out. We’re giving him hopefully a good sense and the comfort that we’re going to support it all the way throughout it and figure out what’s best and do that.”

Avril is 31 and has one year left on a four-year, $28.5 million contract signed in December, 2014.

He has a dead salary cap hit of $500,000 in 2018 with the team saving $7.5 million if he does not return.

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