Answers to some questions piling up this week.
BobbyK asks: How important is Kenny Lucas and his good health now days?!?!
Williams: Lucas is a little ding up and is dealing with a groin issue, which has been documented on the team’s injury report this week. I think he’ll likely play on Sunday.
Lucas is important because the team only has three healthy corners with Josh Wilson suffering a high ankle sprain, and Marcus Trufant still on the physically unable to perform list and not expected back until Nov. 1.
Chicago doesn’t have a dominant playmaker at the receiver position like Larry Fitzgerald that scares you, but they do have some burners in Devin Hester and Johnny Knox who can take the top off the defense and beat Seattle deep.
It will be important for Lucas to be able to run with those quick receivers all over the field. Seattle might protect Lucas by running a lot of Cover 2 shell, keeping him more at the line of scrimmage and letting the safeties deal with the deep go routes on the perimeter of the defense.
We also might see Jordan Babineaux playing corner during nickel and dime situations because the team is thin at corner. Or they could decide to take cornerback Roy Lewis off the practice squad and add him to the active roster. At 5-10, 190 pounds, Lewis is a smaller corner who can be physical in coverage and spent a year with a quality organization at Pittsburgh. So he understands what it takes to win.
Tompage asks: Not sure if this question falls into the reporter gag order zone or not. How did Walter Jones look at practice? All I have heard is he looks big which makes me think he has been on the couch eating Bon Bons since he went down. Is he moving normally or more like a sloth?
Williams: Well, how a player looks during practice does fall into that nebulous grey area of what we can and cannot talk about in terms of what we observe in practice. What I can say is I believe Walter Jones is close to being back to his old self in terms of his ability to move and make blocks in space on the football field.
The key decision for the team will be how good is Jones’ conditioning, and trying to decide if he is ready and can make it through an entire football game healthy. If that question is yes, then Jones could start on Sunday, with occasional blows from Brandon Frye.
If that question is no, then we’ll probably see Frye start and Jones used as a situational guy and a backup at tackle. From what head coach Jim Mora and offensive line coach Mike Solari have told us, it’s Jones call as to whether or not he’ll play on Sunday.
Further, the coaching staff doesn’t want to rush Jones back into service just because Locklear is injured and there’s an open spot there. I think they like what they’ve seen from Frye and believe he could be a stop-gap guy if Jones is not ready to go on Sunday. But again, I think conditioning for Jones will be the main issue.
Nmseafan asks: Eric, Is the coaching staff doing anything different this year as far as their travel planning, lodging, walk-throughs, etc for away games? Or is everything pretty much the same as the Holmy days?
Williams: Things are different. Seahawks head coach Jim Mora is generally leaving a day latter, believing it’s better for players to spend an extra day in the comforts of home instead of acclimating to the changes of where they are traveling. Part of that is the Seahawks only have one game in the Eastern Time Zone, the Nov. 1 game at Indy.
Further, traveling a day earlier during Holmgren’s tenure didn’t necessarily work. Seattle was 0-4 in Eastern Time Zone games last season.
I think changing the schedule is good. But ultimately, whether they travel on Friday or Saturday, the team just has to find a way to get it done on the road. Playoff teams find a way to win on the road, and don’t look for excuses like travel or time zone changes.
HawksKD asks: Eric – has there been any attempts this season to have Deion Branch restructure his contract?
Williams: Not that I heard of, and I wouldn’t expect Branch or his agent to entertain such an offer. By being on the week 1 active roster, Branch will make $4.94 million this season.
The Seahawks did have the option of terminating his contract before final roster cuts, similar to what they did with safety Brian Russell. In that instance, the team would have saved about $1 million in salary cap relief by making that move. But Branch has not been a problem in the locker room, and appears okay with being in Seattle.
I think the Seahawks are still suffering from some of the affects from the rash of injuries last season, and want to make sure they have enough quality depth at that position should they suffer a similar fate this year.
Even though Nate Burleson has looked good coming off ACL knee surgery last year, you still never know how he’s going to be for the entire season. And Branch, when healthy – and I understand it hasn’t been for a lot of time in his career in Seattle – is a good receiver who has proven he can make plays in clutch situations.
As far as guys giving money back, just flip the script. NFL teams are not exactly chomping at the bit to give these guys more money when they outplay their contracts. Just look at Anquan Boldin for Arizona and Brandon Marshall in Denver. Both believe they deserve more money and have been vocal about wanting new deals, but neither team has been willing to renegotiate their contract at this point.