Hackett’s ankle injury is serious

KIRKLAND – For most of his three-year NFL career, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.J. Hackett made a living by filling the shoes of injured teammates.

Now it’s Hackett who’s hurting, and a couple of teammates are hoping to slip into his cleats.

Tests showed that Hackett suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay, meaning he’ll likely miss multiple weeks. Coach Mike Holmgren said Monday that there was no definitive timetable for Hackett’s return, but it doesn’t seem likely that Hackett will be back anytime sooner than one month.

“Those things are very unpredictable,” Holmgren said.

Hackett’s sprained right ankle is more serious than a so-called “basketball sprain” because it affects tissue above the ankle. While a basketball sprain involves the ankle rolling so that a player’s foot is on the inside, a high ankle sprain happens when the foot rolls to the outside.

“The basketball ankle sprain can be like a week or two,” Holmgren said of the projected healing time. This, typically, because it’s higher up on the shin, is longer. In some instances, it can be very, very long.

“I can’t tell you (how long Hackett will miss). The doctors really can’t tell me how long.”

Nate Burleson is likely to step into Hackett’s spot as the starting split end, while Ben Obomanu could see playing time as the No. 4 receiver after missing Sunday’s opener with a strained hamstring. Bobby Engram will probably continue to serve as the No. 3 receiver because the coaches like how he works in the slot position.

Holmgren also mentioned rookie Courtney Taylor and backup quarterback Seneca Wallace as possible options.

Wallace has caught two passes as an NFL receiver, one in each of the past two postseasons. But as one of only two quarterbacks on the roster, he appears unlikely to see action there because of injury concerns.

When asked whether Wallace was a realistic possibility as a receiver this week, Holmgren said: “Might be. With two quarterbacks? No.”

Holmgren added that the Seahawks are continuing to look for a No. 3 quarterback to play behind Matt Hasseleck and Wallace.

Wallace said he doesn’t mind playing receiver if that’s what he’s asked to do.

“Whenever they need me,” he said, “if I’m called upon, I’ll be ready.”

Among those who are more likely to play, Burleson said he’s looking forward to the possibility of making his first start at split end since the 2006 regular-season opener.

“Going into this game, I knew that I’d have some opportunities to touch the ball, even if Hack was starting,” said Burleson, who started six other games as a flanker or slot receiver in 2006. “Now, if I am going to be the starter, I guess that opportunity is going to come earlier.”

Holmgren said that Burleson will probably continue to return punts and kickoffs, even if he starts at split end.

Obomanu is likely to see his first regular-season action after spending most of the 2006 season on Seattle’s practice squad. He had a team-high eight pass receptions in preseason games before suffering a hamstring injury two days before the preseason finale. Obomanu was inactive for Sunday’s regular-season opener but is likely to practice this week and serve as the No. 4 receiver against the Arizona Cardinals in five days.

“I was working my way in (before the injury), but we still have three good receivers ahead of me who did a great job Sunday,” the second-year receiver from Auburn said. “I just have to see where I fit in and how (the coaches) want to use me.”

Holmgren said that Obomanu opened some eyes during the preseason, so he’s not overly concerned about the loss of Hackett.

“Fortunately, our depth is pretty good at wide receiver,” the coach said.

Hackett injured his ankle during the first half of Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay. Only four receivers were active for the game, so his injury prevented the Seahawks from using any of their four-receiver sets in the second half.

Hackett was on crutches Monday while wearing a boot to protect his injured right ankle.

“I’ll just try to get better as fast as possible,” he said with his typically even demeanor.

While Hackett does not know when he’ll be back on the field, he’s not overly concerned with how his shoes will be filled in the meantime.

“We’ve got a lot of depth,” he said, “so everything should keep going right on track.”

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