Seahawks are hoping struggling receiver Mike Williams can provide help in injured Sidney Rice's absence.
RENTON — Sidney Rice isn’t going to make it back for Thursday’s game.
Coach Pete Carroll is pretty much resigned to that reality after his top receiver suffered a concussion Sunday, his second head injury in three games.
The question of whether Mike Williams gets back is more metaphorical at this point. He finished without a catch Sunday for the third time this season and played sparingly in the second half because of a sore shoulder.
What has happened to the player who was the Seahawks’ most unexpected success in 2010? He had 10 or more catches in three different games last season, but hasn’t caught more than four balls in any game this year.
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“I feel like I prepare the same way,” Williams said. “I work just as hard. People who think, ‘Oh, well he was hungry in 2010. He was more hungry last year.’ I don’t think that’s it.”
Williams led Seattle with 65 catches last season, an incredible comeback considering he was not in the NFL the two previous seasons. He was going to be hard pressed to replicate that volume of catches after the Seahawks deepened their receiving pool this season with the addition of Rice, undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin and tight end Zach Miller. Miller has caught only 16 passes, but that can be attributed in part to a heavier diet of blocking assignments. What has been the difference with Williams this season?
“We spread it more,” coach Pete Carroll said of the offense. “Mike has had some opportunities here in the last couple weeks that we didn’t capitalize on. We’re still going to him. We’ve given him a lot of balls and all. Just unfortunately, the numbers aren’t working out.”
Williams has 14 catches this season. There were two passes that were flat-out dropped during Sunday’s loss to Washington. And while one of those was minimized by a pass-interference penalty, the opportunity was there. Another pass intended for Williams was defended toward the end zone by cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
Williams has been slowed this season by injuries, first to his toe in training camp and later to his hamstring.
“The biggest thing is being able to practice,” said Darrell Bevell, Seattle’s offensive coordinator. “Practice full speed, practice hard, get on the same page with the quarterback. He’s had opportunities in the game. In the last game, he had some pretty good opportunities to make plays, and unfortunately we didn’t make those plays. That’s really what you’re judged on. All of us are.”
Williams wasn’t the only one missing opportunities Sunday. Baldwin and Miller had dropped passes, too. And there were plenty of plays you could point to that could have made a difference in Seattle’s six-point loss.
“In a game like that, there’s a lot of yards we left on the field,” Williams said. “When Sid goes out, we’ve got to pick up the slack.”
That will be true Thursday, too, as Rice has been all but ruled out.
“Because of that, we’re going to be very careful at this point,” Carroll said. “That’s why I’m saying, I’m everything but ruling him out. We have to take care of him. There’s not a helmet that he could put on his head that he could play with this weekend.”
Ben Obomanu will start in Rice’s spot, and Golden Tate will get a big dose of playing time, too. And Williams will try to make the most of those opportunities that come his way, and he fully practiced Tuesday in preparation for the game.
“I’ve grown enough to know the offense is what you make of it,” Williams said.
• Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson practiced without limitation on Tuesday, a day after he made a limited number of throws in Seattle’s Monday workout. Carroll said that’s a sign of progress as Jackson continues to play through an injured right pectoral muscle and is expected to start Thursday.
• Eagles quarterback Michael Vick did not practice Tuesday because of broken ribs. He has missed the past two games with the injury, and Vince Young started in his place. Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said the Seahawks are preparing for both quarterbacks.
• Defensive tackle Alan Branch returned to practice after an ankle injury caused him to miss last week’s game.
• Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin did not practice of shoulder and hamstring injuries that have kept him out the past two games.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil.