RENTON _ Given the choice of considering Russell Okung’s season half-empty or half-full, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday that it was a positive development that his injured Pro Bowl tackle has been put on a list that will allow his return in mid-November.
Suffering a torn ligament in his left big toe in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over San Francisco, Okung was placed on the injured reserve (designated to return) list which allows him to return to practice six weeks from Friday and be active in a game two weeks thereafter.
If his rehab goes well, he could be active for Seattle’s Nov. 17 game against Minnesota.
“It’s a 6-to-8 week injury,” Carroll said. “We’ll hope that will all work out right for us. He’s determined; he’s excited about the fact that he has a chance to get back this season … we are as well.”
Versatile veteran Paul McQuistan will start at left tackle for Okung, which he did for four games in 2011 when Okung was out with a torn pectoral muscle.
“We’re very fortunate that Paul has so much experience (that) he can jump right in there,” Carroll said.
McQuistan struggled initially after moving to tackle last Sunday, but a week of practice there, and getting familiar with the demands of the scheme, will put him on firmer footing this Sunday when the Hawks play host to Jacksonville, Carroll said.
“This also sends a really strong message to (rookie linemen) Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie that they’ve got to get right … they’re one step away from playing,” Carroll said.
The coach reported further good news on the injury front as both cornerback Brandon Browner (hamstring) and defensive end Chris Clemons (knee) are expected to play on Sunday.
Browner missed the first two games with a hamstring strain, while Clemons is reaching the end of a long rehabilitation from an ACL surgery in January.
“I’m really excited to tell you that Chris is going to play this week,” Carroll said. “We’re really thrilled for him; it means the world to Chris to get back. He’s in as good a shape as anybody on our football team.”
In Browner’s absence, Walter Thurmond got the start and Byron Maxwell saw increased playing time, and the secondary came up with three interceptions and surrendered just one passing touchdown.
“It means we’re back where we started,” safety Kam Chancellor said of Browner’s return. “But give credit where it’s due, the guys who stepped in did a heckuva job. That’s how it is around here, you never know when it’s going to be your turn so we’re always ready.”
Rookie running back Spencer Ware is doubtful with an ankle sprain, which could open the way for the first appearance this season of second-round draft pick Christine Michael.
“It’s a great opportunity for Christine to get in there,” Carroll said. “He’s practiced very well and he’s ready to participate in a big way.”
On a somber note, Carroll reported that linebacker coach Ken Norton Jr. is expected to be back to Seattle Friday night after the Wednesday death (heart failure) of his father, the former heavyweight boxing champion.
“He’s had an enormous shock wave go through his family with the loss of his father who was so dear to him,” Carroll said. “Ken Norton Sr. was a friend to all of us in this program and an incredible person, an incredible man.”
INJURY REPORT: Seattle — Out: T Russell Okung (toe), DT Jordan Hill (biceps). Doubtful: RB Spencer Ware (ankle), S Jeron Johnson (hamstring). Questionable: LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring). Probable: DE Chris Clemons (knee), T Breno Giacomini (knee), CB Brandon Browner (hamstring), G J.R. Sweezy (back). Jacksonville — Out: CB Dwayne Gratz (ankle), QB Blaine Gabbert (right hand), TE Marcedes Lewis (calf), W Mike Brown (back). Questionable: CB Alan Ball (groin), RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee). Probable: WR Stephen Burton (hip), DT Roy Miller (knee), G Will Rackley (knee), TE Allen Reisner (toe), WR Ace Sanders (ribs), LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring).