Well, the move the Seattle Seahawks were anticipated to make for weeks finally happened today, as head coach Jim Mora announced that cornerstone offensive tackle Walter Jones has been placed on the season-ending injured reserve list today.
Jones has been out for over a month rehabilitating his surgically repaired left knee, but the pain continued to the point where he could not make it back out to the field.
“After much deliberation and evaluation and soul searching between the team, the medical staff and Walter Jones, it has been determined that the best thing to do for Walter, for this football team and for his future is to put him on injured reserve,” Mora said during the opening of a half-hour long talk with reporters this morning. “So we’re going to do that today.”
Mora said he does not know if Jones will return next season, and did not rule out the possibility that Jones will have another surgery to try and stabilize the knee.
The Seahawks brought up running back Louis Rankin to the active roster, and added a linebacker to fill Rankin’s spot on the practice squad.
Mora also said that linebacker Lofa Tatupu is in Alabama seeing noted specialist Dr. James Andrews to evaluate his options in repairing a torn pectoral muscle. Mora said the team should know by the end of the day what the veteran linebacker’s status is.
“It is too early for a career eulogy,” Mora said. “But the excellence that is Walter is probably unparalleled at that position in the history of the game. This guy has done everything that you can do to be a great player, year in and year out. His level of consistency, his level of excellence is unmatched.
“He’s a great leader. He’s a great man. He’s a great teammate. He commands respect of not only his teammates, but players, executives, coaches, fans of the National Football League. He’s just been a dominant, dominant, dominant football player for many, many years. And hopefully with the right course of action he can continue that.”
With the Seahawks now likely playing their four left tackle on Sunday, and fifth different starting lineup along the offensive line in seven games, Mora was asked if the team prepared enough in hindsight for the injuries along the offensive line, considering both projected starting left tackle Jones and left guard Mike Wahle did not play a single snap during the regular season in 2009.
“I believe that we did a decent job of preparing,” Mora said. “One of our focuses during the offseason was to re-sign Ray Willis, so that we felt like we had three tackles, and a succession plan for Walt. And Ray has played well on the right side.
“What we didn’t foresee is Sean Locklear getting hurt. And then Brandon Frye, who came in and was really doing a nice job, him having a season-ending injury. So those were things that we couldn’t foresee.
“I believe in drafting Max Unger, we addressed the issue of, you know, maybe the fact that Mike Wahle, if he wasn’t at the end of his career, was approaching the end of his career. And so we were going to draft a young guy to play inside.
“We didn’t anticipate that he would be done. And we didn’t anticipate in that happening that Rob Sims would miss a large majority of the games, or Chris Spencer would miss a large majority of the games. So I think, yes we did plan for it, but we didn’t plan for the enormity of the problems that we’ve faced up front with regards to injuries.
“I don’t know that you can. We would have had to have 20 offensive linemen on our roster at training camp.”
However, Mora did say the team believed there was a good chance that by the time the regular season started that Jones would be ready to go.
* Mora also announced today that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is experiencing some soreness in his cracked ribs and will not practice today, but should be OK to play on Sunday.
“He’s fine,” Mora said. “His ribs are a bit sore. He worked hard last week during the bye week and through the weekend, and just has some soreness. So we’re going to give him today to rest and recover. But it is not anything that will keep him from playing on Sunday at full strength.”
* As for the other injured players, Mora said Sean Locklear (ankle) likely will not play this week, leaving Damion McIntosh to man the left tackle position this week against Dallas.
* Linebacker Leroy Hill (groin) should start this week and play on first and second downs.
* Cornerback Marcus Trufant (back) will play this week, but likely will not start and play just on third downs, Mora said. The team still has to make a move to create a roster spot for Trufant, which the team has until Saturday to do.
* Patrick Kerney (groin) will not practice today, but Mora said he’s expected to play on Sunday.