Jones' Recovery Will Decide Seattle's Line


Posted Jun 26, 2009


During the final day of minicamp, offensive tackle Walter Jones ran wind sprints and worked out of a three-point stance at the end of practice. It was the first significant work Jones had done on the field since opting for microfracture knee surgery to alleviate pain in his left knee that shortened his 2008 season.

Jones is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for training camp at the end of July. However, at 35 years old, Jones is coming to the end of an impressive career as one of the top tackles in the game. If Jones cannot return to the field healthy, Seattle will have to resort to Plan B, which is move right tackle Sean Locklear to left tackle and play Ray Willis at right tackle.

The Seahawks signed Locklear to a five-year, $32 million deal with an eye toward him replacing the talented left tackle once Jones retires. Locklear makes $1 million in 2009, but his salary balloons to $4.85 million for the 2010 season. The Seahawks also signed Ray Willis to a two-year deal during the offseason to provide depth at tackle, and to also compete for the starting right guard spot with Rob Sims.

However, if Jones cannot make a healthy return, Seattle will be thin at tackle and might have to make a move to bring in another body during training camp.

OFFSEASON STANDOUT: Mora praised defensive ends Lawrence Jackson and Darryl Tapp for their improved play during offseason workouts. Both struggled to generate much of a pass rush last season, as the Seahawks struggled in putting pressure on the quarterback with top pass rusher Patrick Kerney missing nine games due to shoulder surgery. But Mora expects more production from the young defensive ends this season.

LINEUP WATCH: CB Ken Lucas was signed during the offseason and immediately anointed the starter, which did not sit well with the guy he replaced, cornerback Josh Wilson. However, instead of sulking, Wilson has competed hard and had a good offseason. This position battle should be one to watch during training camp.

ROOKIE IMPRESSIONS: WR Deon Butler, a third-round draft choice by the team, has impressed his teammates by consistently getting behind the team's veteran corners for long gains. Butler is a smaller guy at 5-10, 180 pounds, but has the speed to make an impact offensively and in Seattle's return game.

INJURY WATCH: LG Mike Wahle did not practice at all during offseason workouts, still rehabbing from shoulder surgery that ended his 2008 campaign early. Wahle is expected to return for training camp, but if he can't stay healthy expect rookie Max Unger to step in at left guard to fill the void.

CONTRACT TO WATCH: K Olindo Mare is in the final year of a two-year contract, and would like an extension. Mare performed well last season. However, the Seahawks have kept around last year's sixth-round draft choice Brandon Coutu, and the two will once again compete for the starting kicking job in 2009.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Seattle's 12 rookies hung around for two weeks after the team's last minicamp session to get some extra work in with the team's strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark, along with building some team chemistry and getting familiar with their new surroundings in Seattle. The rookies headed off to the league symposium in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. this week.

"This is very beneficial, absolutely," said rookie offensive lineman Max Unger. "It would be nice to be done. But at the same time, we really don't know what we're getting ourselves into as far as camp goes, so this just helps us out a little more in trying to get ready for it."

--Even though quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is done with the team's official offseason workout program, Hasselbeck says his workout regimen actually becomes more challenging as he prepares for the beginning of training camp.

"For me it's the most important time, especially as a thrower," Hasselbeck said. "It's probably similar to a pitcher. You get your arm ready for competitive throws, two days of practice in one day and those kinds of things. That's where you really sharpen your skills.

"You know you're coming back to camp. There's a conditioning test. A body fat percentage test. There's a weigh in. All that stuff is coming, so it's time to go at that point."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They're asking a lot more of him this year than they did last year. Last year he came in and we said, 'Well, maybe he could be the starting tight end. We'll see.' This year, on third down, he's not on the sideline, he's on the field. There are a lot of situations where in the past we've had a wide receiver out there, but now we're treating him as a threat in the passing game, and we're giving him opportunities to make plays, and he's done a great job." -- Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on the expanded role of second-year tight end John Carlson.


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