The injury to Jones means opportunities for younger linemen, including Clinton McDonald, Jaye Howard and Greg Scruggs.
RENTON — The Seahawks’ defensive line, which has gone relatively unchanged through the first 14 games of the season, was dealt a surprising and substantial blow Thursday when Jason Jones was placed on injured reserve.
Jones, a backup defensive lineman, was often used as an interior pass rusher in Seattle’s nickel defense, and his three sacks were tied for third-best on the team. The 26-year-old had been dealing with knee soreness following last week’s game against Buffalo and did not practice Wednesday, but coach Pete Carroll gave no indication early in the week that it could be a season-ending injury.
The news was particularly noteworthy because starting defensive tackle Alan Branch has been recovering from an ankle injury, though the six-year veteran was able to return to practice Thursday.
“We’ll get a chance to take a look at some of the younger guys now,” said defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, ahead of Sunday night’s game against NFC West rival San Francisco.
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Jones, who signed a one-year deal in March after four seasons with Tennessee, underwent knee surgery in the offseason, which led to some lingering issues in training camp. He missed two games in the middle of the season due to an ankle injury.
Defensive tackles that could see an expanded role for the Seahawks are Clinton McDonald, rookie Jaye Howard (who has been inactive most of the year) and Hebron Fangupo, a 6-foot-1, 323-pound player signed to the active roster Thursday.
Rookie Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round pick out of Louisville, is also expected to see more time on the defensive line against a physical 49ers offense.
“My biggest thing has been waiting for my opportunity and my chance, and so it’s come,” said Scruggs, who has two sacks. “Now I just have to apply everything that I’ve been doing.”
“You thrive on the opportunity to perform under pressure. One of the biggest knocks on me was I always had potential in college to be a first-round pick, but when big games came around, it was almost as if it was a slump. I’ve been fighting that my whole life and I think that this is an opportunity for me to go out and really show that I can play on the big stage and I can play under pressure.”
• Cornerback Richard Sherman did not practice Thursday, but it was not an injury-related absence. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this week that Sherman will have his appeal heard Friday regarding a possible four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
• The Seahawks released tight end Evan Moore and promoted tight end Sean McGrath from the practice squad. Moore had one catch for six yards in 14 games this season, including one start; he was signed to Philadelphia’s active roster Thursday. McGrath, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Henderson State, spent the first 15 weeks on the practice squad.
• Receiver Bryan Walters, who attended Juanita High School in Kirkland, was signed to Seattle’s practice squad Thursday.
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