On a day when the Seahawks learned their starting left tackle, Russell Okung, will be out for at least the next eight games, they also confirmed starting defensive end Chris Clemons and cornerback Brandon Browner will see their first action of the season Sunday against Jacksonville.
Such is life in the NFL, where managing the constant shuffling of bodies due to injuries is part of the deal.
Okung, named to the Pro Bowl last season, suffered a torn tendon in his left big toe in the first quarter Sunday against San Francisco. After the initial diagnosis, he flew this week to Charlotte, N.C., to meet with noted toe specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.
There, a diagnosis was given that Okung will need some time to heal, but should be able to return at some point this season, so the team placed him on the Injured Reserve/Designated to Return list. Teams can use that designation once a year, and a player placed on the list must miss six weeks of practice and eight weeks of games, instead of being out for the year, as would be the case on Injured Reserve.
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The earliest Okung could return to a game is Nov. 17 against Minnesota.
While being without his star left tackle for at least two months is undoubtedly cause for a little angst, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll typically preferred to focus on the fact that at least Okung could be back for the latter part of the season.
“It’s a 6-to-8-week injury and we will hope that that will all work out right for us,’’ Carroll said. “He’s kind of excited about the fact that he has a chance to get back this season as we are as well, so we will just ride it out, see what happens, take good care of him and hopefully be is able to make it.’’
Eight-year veteran Paul McQuistan will move from left guard to left tackle to take over for Okung, with James Carpenter stepping in at guard, the same alignment the team used for the final three quarters of last week’s 29-3 win over the 49ers.
“We were very fortunate that Paul has so much experience and that he can jump in there,’’ Carroll said Friday. “The first thing that you worry about is communication and the continuity that goes on. He will do a great job with that, and he’s played all of the spots in the past. We didn’t have any time to prepare him last week. But now he has a week under his belt and he knows the game plan.’’
Okung’s absence also elevates rookies Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey to competing for backup status behind McQuistan at left tackle. Neither has played, but Carroll said Friday that Okung’s loss “sends a strong message’’ to each that they have “got to get right’’ in case they are called upon.
Bowie, a seventh-round pick, said not to worry.
“I think I’m very prepared,’’ he said Friday. “This week was a big preparation week for me, so my main focus was to get better and focus on my assignments and my technique, and I just feel like I got a lot better this week.’’
While the offense will be re-shuffled a bit, the defense will take a few steps closer to being back to full strength with the return of Clemons — who hasn’t played since tearing his ACL in the playoff win over Washington last January — and Browner, who missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.
Clemons led the team in sacks last year with 11.5, while Browner’s return means the Legion of Boom will be intact for the first time this season.
Carroll said Clemons may be eased in a bit as he gets used to playing again, but said “he is in as good of shape as anybody we have on the football team right now to carry a big load.’’
As for Browner, Carroll said this week he would return to starting duty.
• Strongside linebacker Malcolm Smith is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury suffered against the 49ers. His replacement would likely be O’Brien Schofield.
• Carroll said rookie fullback Spencer Ware likely is out with a high ankle sprain. That could give rookie tailback Christine Michael his first action.
• Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. was expected to be back with the team Friday night after being gone for a few days following the death of his father, former heavyweight boxing champion Ken Norton, earlier this week.
• Jacksonville won’t have tight end Marcedes Lewis for a third straight game. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hand), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle) and receiver Mike Brown (back) also are out. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle), cornerback Alan Ball (groin) and guard Uche Nwaneri (knee) are questionable.
AP contributed to this report.