Former No. 2 overall draft pick Luke Joeckel will be back for the Seahawks Sunday against the 49ers.
The Seahawks’ attempt to get their struggling running game going Sunday against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL will receive a hoped-for boost with the return of Luke Joeckel at left guard.
Joeckel missed the last five games after having cleanup surgery on his knee, which had been reconstructed following ACL and PCL injuries last October while he was still with Jacksonville.
“I feel good,’’ Joeckel said following Friday’s practice, after which coach Pete Carroll said he would return to the starting lineup. “I’m 100 percent. I’m all in. Ready to play. Ready to play hard.’’
Joeckel’s return gives the Seahawks a left side of the line Carroll said he is excited to see in action, teaming with recently-acquired Duane Brown at left tackle.
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“First chance to get he and Duane playing side-by-side,’’ Carroll said. “Which will be fun and awesome to see.’’ Brown was limited in practice this week with an ankle injury suffered at Arizona Nov. 9 but Carroll said he will play against the 49ers.
After having surgery, Joeckel was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Ethan Pocic.
Pocic is now likely to move to right guard to replace Oday Aboushi, who is out with a shoulder injury, though Carroll wouldn’t confirm that. The other option is Mark Glowinski, who lost the right guard spot to Aboushi two games into the season.
If Pocic gets the call then Seahawks would field a starting offensive line on Sunday against the 49ers that would feature three former first-round picks — Joeckel, Brown and right tackle Germain Ifedi — and two former second-round picks in Pocic and center Justin Britt.
The Seahawks hope it’ll come together quickly and jumpstart a running game that has been inconsistent at best and stagnant at worst all season against a 49ers defense that ranks 31st in the NFL against the run, allowing 133.5 yards per game.
Joeckel said he thinks he’ll be a better player now after having his knee cleaned up.
“Playing the first five weeks it just got worse each week and it was something that going into it didn’t think it would take 5-6 weeks to get back,’’ he said. “But surgery they had to clean up a little bit more than they expected. Now it’s just good to be back.’’
The final six games could prove a pivotal time for Joeckel’s future. He signed a one-year contract in the spring that included $7 million guaranteed after spending his first four years in Jacksonville, which made him the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, and knows he needs to show he is healthy and can be productive to earn another similar deal – or preferably, a longer-term contract — from the Seahawks or someone else.
“I’m excited just to get back out here on the field,’’ he said. “I feel healthier than I did for sure at the beginning of the year and just show what kind of football I can play. That’s all I can do, just focus on myself. I know it’s a one-year deal and there are a lot of things going on but I’m just trying to focus on my play and just getting better.’’