NFL teams constantly preach the importance of stability on the offensive line. And just three games into the season, the Seahawks are already going on lineup No. 2 for their front five as right tackle Brandon Shell has been ruled out of Sunday’s contest at Minnesota because of an ankle injury.
The good news, in the eyes of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, is that they have a trusted replacement ready to go in four-year veteran Jamarco Jones.
Shell was one of three players ruled out for Sunday’s game Friday. The others are receiver Dee Eskridge (concussion) and running back Rashaad Penny (calf). The Seahawks also listed defensive end Benson Mayowa (neck) as questionable. Everybody else on the 53-man roster is good to go.
Shell was injured late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 33-30 overtime loss to the Titans, and Carroll said Friday: “I hope it’s only a one-week situation with his ankle. We won’t know, again, until late next week.”
Shell also battled an ankle injury late last season, missing five games. It was one of several injuries to the line that was an overlooked factor in the offensive slide in the second half of the season.
Shell, whose $5.3 million cap hit is fifth-highest on the team behind only Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Tyler Lockett and Duane Brown, was off to a nice start, allowing no sacks and only one pressure in 63 passing snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
He figured to spend much of Sunday going against Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter, who typically lines up on the left side. Hunter has four sacks in two games, which is third in the NFL.
That task will fall to Jones, who played the final five snaps of the Titans game. Jones has seven starts in his career, including the postseason, one at right tackle, which came in a home loss to the Giants late last season.
He also played nine snaps at guard in the opening win against the Colts and has allowed one pressure in 14 snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
“Jamarco has always done well when he’s stepped in and played a number of spots for us,’’ Carroll said. “The versatility has really made him valuable to us. He’s really smart, he knows the system well and he’s really accountable. He’ll do a nice job for us.”
Carroll had essentially ruled out Penny, who also sat out last week. The team’s 2018 first-round draft pick had two carries for 8 yards in the opener against the Colts before being sidelined.
Carroll said “we’re hoping’’ Penny will be back next week.
With Penny out, Alex Collins figures to again be the backup to Chris Carson at tailback with DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer also playing situationally.
As for Eskridge, Carroll said the hope is he will be back next week.
His absence means the Seahawks have four healthy receivers on the 53-man roster: Lockett, DK Metcalf, Freddie Swain (who sat out Wednesday’s practice with a back injury but is full go) and Penny Hart. They have five receivers on the practice squad and could elevate one for Sunday’s game. Most likely it would be Aaron Fuller, Cody Thompson or Cade Johnson.
As for Mayowa, Carroll said he is a game-time decision.
“We’re going to wait and see,’’ Carroll said.
In good injury news, defensive tackle Bryan Mone did not have an injury designation, meaning he is healthy after missing the game against the Titans with a triceps injury.
“There’s no doubt that we missed him last week,’’ Carroll said of a game in which the Seahawks gave up 182 rushing yards to Derrick Henry. “He’s such a load in the middle. He played so well early. He’s been really so consistent for us. We did miss him last week. He’ll help Al (Woods) and Poona (Ford) inside. Keep the rotation alive like the start of the season. Hopefully we’ll get to see a good deal of him and a good rotation with that.”
Carroll returns to where career truly kicked off
Trips to Minnesota are especially meaningful to Carroll, who considers a five-year stint there from 1985-89 as critical in his career.
Carroll had worked at seven different colleges or NFL teams from 1974-84, never staying anywhere longer than three years, as he worked his way up the coaching ladder.
He thought he’d gotten a big break when he landed on the staff of Buffalo Bills coach Kay Stephenson in 1984 as defensive backs coach (Stephenson ascended to the job when Chuck Knox left Buffalo for Seattle in 1983).
But after a 2-14 season Carroll was fired. Being fired after one year in the NFL, Carroll said, “has always been kind of the curse, you’ll never get back.’’
But Carroll got hired by legendary Minnesota coach Bud Grant the following spring as defensive backs coach after Grant returned after taking the 1984 season off.
Carroll stayed when Jerry Burns took over for Grant, and his reputation grew as the Vikings developed one of the best defenses in the league, advancing to the NFC title game in 1989. Carroll left Minnesota in 1990 to become defensive coordinator of the Jets and has been a coordinator or head coach since.
“Those years were really important because I had only had one year prior to that in the NFL,’’ Carroll said. “I was so fortunate to wind up with that staff and guys who had been in the league forever. I was one of the young pups on the staff and those guys looked after me on really both sides of the ball.’’
The Seahawks announced that defensive passing-game coordinator Andre Curtis will not attend Sunday’s game for personal reasons. DeShawn Shead, a former player in his first season on the coaching staff, will assume his responsibilities. Shead’s regular title is defensive assistant/defensive backs. Said Carroll: “He’s dealing with a non-COVID related situation here. He just had to get looked at and needed a couple days to make sure he was in good shape and OK. He sounds great and sounds fine. He’ll be back with us on Monday.’’
CORRECTION: The Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in 2018, not 2021 as reported in an earlier version of this story.