By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Russell Okung’s knee will be OK.
That was the word from Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll a day after his left tackle limped off the field in Seattle’s loss in Arizona.
The team’s pass protection, however, might have more healing to do than does Okung’s bruised knee for the Seahawks offense to function better against Dallas this weekend.
As for Okung’s injury, the diagnosis was as good as anyone could hope for after seeing Okung, who has struggled with ankle injuries during his career, leave the game in the fourth quarter.
“He got a bruised knee,” Carroll said. “All the tests and all proved out that he’s cleared. We’ll see how he comes back Wednesday and Thursday, but we expect him to make it through the week and play.”
With or without Okung, however, pass protection will be a concern when the Cowboys come to town Sunday. Russell Wilson had an uneven NFL debut, and Carroll said a lot of that had to do with the lack of protection that the rookie quarterback was afforded against an aggressive Arizona defense.
Wilson was 18-for-34 for 153 yards in Seattle’s 20-16 loss with one touchdown and one interception, and the Seahawks did not score on a drive that began in their own territory. It was hardly a disastrous debut for Wilson, who nearly led the Seahawks to a go-ahead score in the final minutes of the game, but with some better pass protection, it could have been better. Wilson was sacked three times, but that number could have been much higher if not for his ability to elude pressure with his athleticism.
“He was under siege,” Carroll said. “He really was rushed well. They didn’t get him as much as they rushed him, but they were around him a lot. It was a very difficult game for the quarterback because of that.”
The Seahawks struggling to protect a quarterback is hardly a shocking development. Even as the offensive line showed tremendous growth in the running game last season, sacks often came in bunches, and by the end of the year Seattle had given up 50 sacks, the fourth most in the league. Even so, based on what he had seen in the preseason and in training camp, Carroll hoped that his team was past that problem.
“I would like to have thought that we were,” he said. “We felt like we had made a lot of progress and hoped that that wouldn’t be the issue, but it wasn’t as well equipped as we thought based on those guys. I think they had a lot to do with it. I think Darnell (Dockett) was really on it, and he’s as good a player that we’ll play at that position, he was on fire and he gave us the problems.”
The good news for Seattle is that they won’t face Dockett, one of the game’s best interior linemen, again until December. The bad news, however, is that the Cowboys present another dangerous, though different, challenge. The Cowboys finished with 42 sacks last season, tied for seventh most in the league. Dallas features one of the game’s best pass rushers in DeMarcus Ware, who had 19.5 sacks last season, and has had 11 or more in every season of his career since registering eight as a rookie in 2005.
“We just have to get better and smarter and cleaner with our stuff,” Carroll said. “There really wasn’t anything that we weren’t able to handle, we just didn’t handle it as well as we should have, and will. We’ll get better that’s just part of playing together. The things that we saw in preseason we were able to handle. This one just got a little bit more aggressive and we weren’t as effective as we needed to be.”
While the news on Okung was good, another bruise proved to be much more significant. Receiver Charly Martin suffered a bruised lung and stayed behind in Arizona for treatment. He will be out a least a couple of weeks, Carroll said. Asked if the Seahawks will need to add a receiver with Martin out, Carroll said, “That’s a possibility. Yeah, we’re looking into all of that.”
Carroll was also asked if tight end Kellen Winslow, who was released last week, could be an option to help upgrade the passing attack, and said, “Everybody’s a possibility at this point.”
The Seahawks are hoping to get receiver Gold Tate back after he missed Sunday’s game with a sprained knee.
“He ran really well today,” Carroll said. “We think he’s got a good chance. I’m not sure if Wednesday will be a full day for him, it depends on how he handles all the change of direction stuff today and tomorrow, but he feels like he’s going to go and we think he’s going to be in good shape to go.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch, who was limited leading up to the game with back spasms, came out of the game fine, Carroll said.
Receiver Doug Baldwin will need dental work after getting “his teeth knocked in,” according to Carroll, an injury that happened on Baldwin’s diving attempt at a fourth-quarter pass in the end zone, but is expected to be OK for this week’s game.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.