By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
RENTON — Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has yet to get a glimpse of his top free agent acquisition in an actual game.
And that opportunity might not come in the team’s season opener at Carolina on Sept. 8.
Carroll confirmed to reporters after practice that defensive end Cliff Avril re-aggravated a lingering hamstring injury — the reason he did not play last week against Green Bay.
Avril, who signed a two-year, $13 million deal during the offseason, has been injured during most his tenure so far with Seattle.
He missed most of the team’s offseason activities because of a planter fascia foot issue. And Avril watched from the sidelines during most of the team’s training camp because of a nagging hamstring injury that’s been slow to heal; he has not played in any of Seattle’s three exhibition games.
Carroll said Avril’s availability for the team’s season opener remains up in the air.
“He didn’t practice much last week,” Carroll said. “We don’t know if he is going to be ready for the season opener.”
Players like O’Brien Schofield, Mike Morgan and Benson Mayowa have stepped up in Avril’s absence. And Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said those three and others will continue to get an opportunity to prove they can earn consistent playing time as edge pass rushers with Avril out.
“For us, the guys that are up are the ones that are going,” Quinn said. “So I’ve always said for the guys who maybe, may have not gotten enough (reps), it’s nice for their evaluations. So we say ‘All right, let’s see what you can do.’ And so they’ve risen up to the challenge.”
The Seahawks also had another setback up front defensively during practice on Monday, with defensive tackle Brandon Mebane suffering a groin injury midway through the team’s two-hour workout. Mebane watched the rest of practice from the sideline.
“He had a little groin thing today,” Carroll said. “We’ll see what that means.”
Carroll said the team decided to place rookie defensive tackle Jesse Williams on the season-ending injured list as part of the team’s effort to cut down to 75 players because he could not work through a chronic knee issue.
“It’s going to take him a long time, so (we wanted) to give him the consideration to get it right,” Carroll said. “This is the right thing we can do for Jesse. And he did everything we asked of him, and looked good when he had his chances. But his knee wasn’t holding up, so we had to give him a big break.”
Carroll went on to say that Williams looked really hobbled in the Denver game two weeks ago.
With Williams on the injured reserve, and fellow rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill out with a strained bicep, eight-year veteran Tony McDaniel is on his way to earning the starting defensive tackle job after a good performance against Green Bay. But Carroll won’t call it yet.
“Tony had a nice game,” Carroll said. “He did well. He was active, and was aggressive. He knocked a ball down, got some movement in his pass rush. We were happy with the way he played, so we’re going to need to put another week together.
“I’ve been telling you for a long time that it’s going to be the whole preseason to figure it out. I would love to see him come back and have another big game.”
Carroll said the team decided to rest cornerback Antoine Winfield against Green Bay because he had a sore knee. Winfield returned to practice on Monday, and Carroll said he’s feeling good.
Tight end Zach Miller practiced fully, as the team tries to get him ready for the Carolina game. Carroll said that Miller likely will not play on Thursday against Oakland.
Offensive lineman James Carpenter also returned to practice after sitting out for a few weeks with a foot issue. Carpenter got a handful of snaps with the starters at left guard.
Fullback Michael Robinson returned to practice as a spectator, after missing most of last week with an undisclosed illness. Carroll described Robinson as violently ill last week.
Others who did not practice on Monday include Sidney Rice (knee) and Jeron Johnson, who had a family matter to attend to.
Defensive end Chris Clemons (knee), cornerback Tharold Simon (foot), defensive lineman Greg Scruggs (knee) and receiver Percy Harvin (hip) remain on the PUP list. Linebacker Korey Toomer (hip) remains on the non-football injury list.
The Seahawks reduced the team’s roster by 10 players in an effort to get down to 75 by the league’s 1 p.m deadline today. Players released by Seattle included linebacker Craig Wilkins, tight end Andrei Lintz, receiver Perez Ashford, tight end Jameson Konz, defensive tackle Martin Parker, linebacker Kyle Knox, receiver Donavan Kemp and long snapper Kyle Nelson. Receiver Brett Swain’s contract was terminated. … Starting long snapper Clint Gresham signed a two-year extension worth $1.66 million, according to Brian McIntyre of Yahoo Sports. Gresham was set to make $1.3 million in base salary for the upcoming season, so by re-working his contract and signing him through 2014, the Seahawks saved about $500,000 in cap space.