Not only was Michael Bennett, who left Reliant Stadium in an ambulance, strapped to a backboard, able to rejoin the Seahawks on the sideline late in the game, he is also expected to practice this week. That's surprisingly good news for anyone who watched Bennett being immobilized after falling awkwardly head-first into Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, or who saw the emotional images on the TV broadcast of Bennett's father trying to get onto the field to check on his son.
"Michael is going to be OK," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. "He's going to practice this week. He went from where he was to feeling pretty good today, so we're really excited about that for him. He was really scared. They had him in all the alerts, he didn't know what was going on, but I just checked on him, he's going to go this week, and we'll see how much he can work with the thought that he can play this week."
But while Bennett getting back means the defensive line should be close to full strength, Seattle's offensive line, which struggled mightily against Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and the rest of Houston's front seven, will again be short-handed this week. Right tackle Breno Giacomini, who missed the game with a knee injury, will be out again this week after having surgery Monday morning to clean up loose bodies in his knee. Carroll said the reports back on that procedure were encouraging, however.
"The surgery went really well and the doctors were really pleased that there weren't a lot of problems with his knee structurally, and that he can get back quickly from this," Carroll said. "So what that means, I don't know, because he has to do the recovery, but they think he'll get back in pretty short time here. ... They were able to clean all that up, so we're very hopeful he'll have a good return."
Giacomini's absence means another start for rookie Michael Bowie, who had the unenviable task of lining up across from Watt for much of the game in his first NFL start.
"He survived the game, and I don't know that we could ask for anything more than that," Carroll said. "He got through it, and he did improve during the game, that's what's most encouraging. ... Mike's going to be a good football player, we don't have any question about that. He's growing quickly, he was comfortable with it, it wasn't too big for him, so I'm hoping that we'll see real steady improvement here in the next couple of weeks until Breno has a chance to come back."
Meanwhile the all-important left tackle spot continues to be manned by Paul McQuistan, who slid over from guard after Russell Okung went down with a toe injury. McQuistan has struggled at times at his new spot, particularly with speed rushers, but it's what the Seahawks have to work with right now.
"He's surviving," Carroll said. "I think he's surviving it. It's not his natural spot. With smarts and utilizing the scheme, he's getting through it, and that's all we can hope he can continue to do for us. It's a big challenge out there."
Seattle's depleted line could get one key player back, however, if center Max Unger makes it back this week from the triceps injury that kept him out of the Houston game.
"Max is going to get some work this week," Carroll said. "We're going to take good care of him and we'll see how it goes. I'm sure we'll be very protective of him early in the week and hope by the end of the week that he'll be ready to go."
A hamstring injury to Jeremy Lane, the severity of which is not yet known, was the only other injury that came out of the game, Carroll said. Linebacker K.J. Wright briefly came out of the game with a shoulder injury but was able to return.
Irvin back from suspension
Bruce Irvin, who had to sit out the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs, was back with the team for Monday's meetings, and will be on the practice field when the Seahawks are back in action Wednesday.
"We're excited to see Bruce come back," Carroll said. "He's in the building and was really excited to get back with us. ... He's in good shape, he's healthy and he's worked really hard. He went back to West Virginia and worked out the whole time, so we'll see how he fits in as we start practice up on Wednesday."
The Seahawks get a roster exemption for Irvin this week, meaning he can resume practice without another player being cut, but if Irvin is going to be active for Sunday's game, a roster move will have to be made by the end of the week.
Carroll speaks about USC
Following a loss at Arizona State on Saturday night, USC fired Lane Kiffin, the coach who replaced Carroll in 2010 after Carroll left the Trojans to become the coach of the Seahawks. Carroll, who hired Kiffin as an assistant at USC in 2001, and who early in his career was mentored by Lane's father, Monte Kiffin, was asked about the move Monday.
"It's been a really tough time," Carroll said. "It's been hard time for the Trojan family, it's been a hard couple of years. This is difficult, transitions like this are huge. It's getting a lot of interest for obvious reasons and all -- it's a huge program and all of that. I've know Lane since he was a little kid, so I feel for him in this situation. But they've made a decisive move and they're going to move forward, make a good choice and get the thing going the way they want to go, but it's very difficult."
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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