RENTON — The good news for the Seahawks is that they may be able to field, for the first time, the offensive line — minus guard Max Unger, who is out for the year — that they envisioned before the start of the season.
The bad news? Doing so will require more change. No position group in football relies on continuity more than the offense line, yet the Seahawks have had anything but continuity through the first quarter of the season.
The Seahawks have struggled in other areas as well, but line play, more than anything, explains why they rank 28th out of 32 NFL teams in total offense and 29th in rushing offense.
Through four games, the Seahawks have started three different offensive line combinations, and only center Chris Spencer has started all four games at the same position. So far, eight different players have started games on the offensive line, with only Spencer and tackle Tyler Polumbus starting all four.
On Sunday in Chicago, the Seahawks could change things once again. Chester Pitts, who the Seahawks signed as a free agent in the offseason and is very likely the long-term starter at left guard, practiced fully on Monday and is on track to make his debut this weekend, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
The Seahawks also should get Russell Okung back at left tackle. Okung, the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft, missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain, then had to sit out the second half of Seattle’s last game because of soreness in the ankle. Okung is back practicing and should be ready to play this weekend. But just because the Seahawks finally might have the line they want in place this weekend, that won’t necessarily lead to instant improvements.
“Well, it’s great that they’re back,” Carroll said. “We have to get them working together, out there on the practice field and repping together, and I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Sometimes that takes a really long time for an offensive line to gel in the ways that they can, but we’re going to be hopeful about it and optimistic that we know they’re going to get better.”
But even if the turnaround isn’t instant for the offensive line, getting a healthy Okung back, and perhaps Pitts as well, will be a step in the right direction for an offense still trying to find its identity.
“If we can keep the group together there should be some steady improvement for some time,” Carroll said. “I don’t think it’s all going to just happen, but we’re going to keep a good thought about that.”
Of course, a completely healthy line would be too much to ask for this team, so this week doesn’t come without some injury concerns. Right tackle Sean Locklear is battling a knee injury, and was held out of the starting lineup in Seattle’s last game, only to be forced into action when Okung had to come out and Polumbus had to move from right to left tackle. The plan is for Locklear to return to practice today, but just how much he’ll be able to do this week is not yet known. Still, he is expected to be ready for Sunday’s game.
“We would like to get Sean back in there,” Carroll said. “If we can get him in there and he can get enough work during the week and he’s feeling good about that then we will. I don’t want to go week to week where he can’t practice and then he plays on game day, I don’t think that’s what’s best for him or for us, so we’ll see if we can get him out there and the plan is that we will. He came out of the game fine so we should be in better shape than we were the last time around.”
Cornerback Kennard Cox was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Tuesday. He fills the roster spot opened by the trade of receiver Deion Branch. Cox made the roster to start the season, but was released after the season opener and signed to the practice squad. Receiver Pat Williams was signed to the practice squad.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog