By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Cliff Avril was back at practice Wednesday. Just how close to ready he is for game action, however, remains to be seen.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that a decision on the defensive end, who had been out since injuring his hamstring three days into training camp, won’t be made until today at the earliest, but acknowledged that Avril’s preseason debut will probably have to wait until next week.
“That’s not very likely,” Carroll said when asked if Avril will play in Saturday’s game against Denver.
Even so, getting Avril back on the practice field, even in a limited capacity, is a good start for the Seahawks, who signed Avril in free agency to help bolster a pass rush that was at times one of the few weaknesses of the stingiest defense in the NFL. With Chris Clemons’ early-season status still up in the air and Bruce Irvin suspended for the first four games of the season, a healthy Avril could be one of the most important players on Seattle’s defense until the Seahawks return to full strength.
“It’s great to get him back on the field, he needs to be a part of this,” Carroll said.
For Avril, who had 29 sacks in the last three seasons with Detroit, this was hardly the start he was hoping for in Seattle. Not only was he out with the hamstring injury for much of camp, he also missed the majority of work in minicamps and organized team activities with a foot injury.
“Definitely not how I wanted to start,” he said. “Definitely not how I wanted to start. You know, it’s part of football. Things happen.”
Like his coach, Avril isn’t necessarily in a hurry to rush back for Saturday’s game, but he does think it’s important to get some game experience under his belt in the preseason even if it doesn’t come this weekend.
“I definitely would like to get out there for one of these three games,” he said. “It’s a little bit different from practicing. When it’s out there, the games are a lot quicker and a lot more physical. So you definitely would like to get a feel for it before the season starts for sure.
“And you’re allowed to hit the quarterback. That’s my number one thing and I definitely can’t wait for that.”