The Seahawks could be short-handed on the defensive line Sunday with Quinton Jefferson and Cliff Avril. But they might still get help this season from rookie Malik McDowell.
So much for the Seahawks’ best-laid plans for adding to their defensive line depth this week with veteran end Cliff Avril out indefinitely.
On Monday, the Seahawks thought they had addressed the issue by re-signing 2016 fifth-round pick Quinton Jefferson off the practice squad of this week’s opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, who claimed him when Seattle waived him before the season.
But within 20 minutes of Jefferson’s first practice back with Seattle on Wednesday he broke his hand in a pass rush drill.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Jefferson will have to have surgery on the hand and will be out about “four weeks or something like that before he would be able to play with it.’’ Carroll called it “just an unusual thing that happened and unfortunate in his return.’’
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Jefferson played three games for Seattle last year, suffering a broken thumb early in the season and then an ACL injury in practice in October that knocked him out for the rest of the season. The Seahawks signed him hoping he could add depth at the three- and five-technique spots, primarily, with Frank Clark having to take on additional snaps as a rush end to step in as the starter for Avril.
Jefferson and Avril were the only two players the Seahawks declared as out for Sunday’s game and their absence leaves Seattle with just seven defensive linemen going up against the highest-scoring offense in the NFL on Sunday. Teams typically have eight or nine defensive linemen active on gameday — Seattle has had eight for every game this season.
Asked if the Seahawks would have to make a roster move by Saturday to add another defensive linemen, Carroll said “we’ll see. Good question.’’
But this late in the week there would seem to be only one real option — signing recently-acquired Branden Jackson off the practice squad. A second-year vet out of Texas Tech, Jackson played in three games for the Raiders last season. A 6-4, 273-pound end, he was signed to Seattle’s practice squad on Sept. 27 after being waived by the Raiders in the cutdown to 53.
Carroll said again on Friday that for now Avril is out indefinitely after suffering neck/spine injuries last Sunday that left him briefly with numbness in his hands.
“There’s nothing updated at this time,’’ Carroll said of Avril. “ But we are kind of in a holding pattern right now and he’ll travel with us this week and all that and he’s with us and all but we are just holding him out for a while.’’
With Jefferson sidelined for up to a month or so and Avril’s future unclear the Seahawks could be looking for some long-term help for the line.
It would obviously be a boon if Malik McDowell would be able to return this season, as Carroll said on Friday is a possibility. The second-round pick out of Michigan State has been out with a “really bad concussion.” But Carroll said Friday he will be re-assessed in two weeks or so to determine when he might be able to return and that there’s a chance he could play this season.
Another possibility for long-term help on the line is Dion Jordan, who was the third pick of the 2013 draft by the Dolphins and signed by Seattle last spring as a free agent. Jordan has also been on the NFI list after having another surgery on a knee that held him out last season — Jordan has not played in an NFL game since 2014.
He could also return to practice in week six and Carroll said he had a good workout on Friday.
“Really just this week he has really turned the corner,’’ Carroll said. “He had a fantastic workout today — was watching over the top of practice he was out here busting it. He’s with the strength and conditioning guys now and really pushing to not just get in shape but get ready to so. So is it one week, two weeks, three weeks? I don’t know that yet. But he’s going to get close to the opportunity to come back and we’ll see where it fits. That would be a tremendous boost if that could happen.’’
Jordan would theoretically be able to help at both end spots.
Here are some additional personnel notes…
— LT Rees Odhiambo was a full participant in Friday’s practice and should be able to start Sunday against the Rams after suffering a chest injury against the Colts that required an overnight hospital stay for observation after he had breathing trouble in the locker room following the game. Carroll said Odhiambo’s quick recovery “surprised’’ the team since “we weren’t sure of the impact of it. He went through quite a bit gamenight and then he bounced back really well.’’ Carroll on Friday said the team intentionally gave Odhiambo Thursday off so “we didn’t overdo it.’’ But after the practice Friday Carroll said of Odhiambo that “it looks like he’s ready go .’’
— Cornerback Jeremy Lane is listed as doubtful after not practicing all week with a groin injury which means to expect Shaquill Griffin to start at right cornerback with Justin Coleman as the nickel. Neiko Thorpe is not listed on the injury report so he’ll return after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury which will give Seattle four cornerbacks.
— Running back C.J. Prosise is also doubtful with an ankle injury that held him out last week. But Carroll said he ran well on Friday and the team may wait to see how he works out prior to the game before making a final determination. There’s less urgency on the Prosise front, though, with the emergence of J.D. McKissic, who can fill the third-down/two-minute running back role.
— Linebacker Michael Wilhoite is listed as questionable with a hamstring issue. The team will likely assess him pregame warmups and then make a final determination. Terence Garvin will likely start at strongside linebacker if Wilhoite can’t go.
— Carroll said cornerback DeShawn Shead is ahead of schedule on his rehab from ACL injury last January against Atlanta. “He’s ahead of schedule,” Carroll said. “There’s never anybody that would work harder to prepare themselves and get themselves this opportunity and position themselves for this opportunity, and he’s done that. We’ll see how that turns out. He absolutely has his mind set on getting back in a couple of weeks. Whether he can do that or not, or whether they let him, I don’t know that, but if you watched him run the hill today, he was killing it. We’ll see.” Shead can also come back to practice heading into week six.