RENTON — Cliff Avril’s future is a little clearer.
It still does not involve playing anytime soon.
The Seattle Seahawks on Friday did what coach Pete Carroll had said this week they would. They put their Pro Bowl defensive end on injured reserve because of a neck injury he sustained Oct. 1 in the win over Indianapolis.
The 31-year-old edge rusher, one of the most popular players in the locker room and community, continues to seek opinions of specialists whether he needs surgery.
The team did not announce a corresponding signing when they took Avril off the active roster. That means Seattle, for now, has 52 men on the 53-man roster. The Seahawks have until a Saturday afternoon league deadline to potentially add a player who would then be eligible to play Sunday afternoon’s game at the New York Giants, to which Avril will travel to stay around his teammates. Rosters have to be set 24 hours before each game.
There remains the possibility Avril could play again this season. The NFL recently changed the rules for injured reserve to allow each team to bring back to the active roster up to two IR players per regular season, after such a player spends at least eight weeks out on the list. So Avril could return in mid-December, but there are no current signs that will happen.
The Seahawks officially listed Michael Bennett, Avril’s Pro Bowl partner at the other defensive end, as questionable to play Sunday.
But no one with the Seahawks — including Bennett — is questioning whether he will play.
“He looks like he’s ready to go,” Carroll said, well before the team left Friday for New Jersey.
Bennett returned to practice Thursday after missing a light workout Monday and fuller ones Tuesday and Wednesday. He has a potentially tricky injury to the plantar fascia, the ligament that runs through the sole of his right foot to his heel.
When asked this week if he would play Sunday, Bennett said “Yeah, yeah.”
That was before he practiced fully on the injury he got late in the first half of the win at the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 8. He finished the game that day.
“The foot hurts,” he said Wednesday. “I mean, obviously, as many years as I’ve played in the NFL (nine), you deal with pain as you go through. And I think for me it’s just being able to focus on the game and not worry too much about it, because once you make that decision to play, then you have to play through it.
“For me, that’s just dealing with the pain during the game. … Obviously, it hurts every time you walk and it’s something you have to deal with. Just fighting through it is just like any other day.”
Asked if the bye week helped him last week, Bennett sounded spiritual.
“The bye week always helps,” he said. “I think it always helps spiritually, mentally and physically to get away from the game a little bit and enjoy your family, watch other games on TV, and spend some time working on what you messed up on during the season, and just reflecting. It’s just a period of reflection, and I think that’s the greatest thing about the bye week. You kind of reflect on the game, you reflect on your life and you reflect on your family. It was good to get a bye week this early.”
The only games Bennett has missed since signing with Seattle as a free agent from Tampa Bay before the 2013 season are five games last season, because of a knee injury. He has played through a painful toe injury that for years has required injections and therapy, sometimes in California.
As for Avril, he told Sports Illustrated on Thursday he is not considering retirement.
Carroll on Thursday had this answer when asked if the team had concern Avril would never play again: “We have to wait and see on that.”
“That’s really up to the doctors and Cliff, and all that kind of stuff,” Seattle’s coach said. “I’m 1,000-percent supportive of whatever we need to do here to help him. That’s why we’re taking our time; the IR thing gives him six weeks at least to figure out whatever else we can figure out. But he’s not sure what is best for him right now, and he’s trying to find that out.
“We’re giving him hopefully a good sense and the comfort that we’re going to support it all the way throughout it and figure out what’s best and do that.”
Asked about the possibility of Avril returning for one of the final games of this regular season — Seattle has 11 remaining — Carroll said: “I don’t know. I don’t know that. I guess that means yes. We’ll wait and see.
“We have plenty of time to figure it out.”
C.J. Prosise’s “questionable” listing Friday is more questionable than Bennett’s. The second year running back has missed the past two games with what Carroll has only described as a “significant” ankle issue.
He returned to full practicing on Thursday, but he has missed many games due to injuries since Seattle drafted him in the third round in 2016.
“He made it through the week. He had a little setback on the first day — he was just uncomfortable — but he made it through practice, made it through the next day, and made it through (Thursday),” Carroll said. “That’s a really good sign because it gives us a chance to possibly have him available.”
If he can’t play, J.D. McKissic will have Prosise’s role on third downs again. McKissic had two touchdowns on just 10 snaps in a wowing season debut last month against the Colts, the first game Prosise missed with his sixth injury in 17 months. But McKissic struggled in his second game, at the Rams. After McKissic whiffed on a blitz pickup of linebacker Alec Ogletree on a sack of Russell Wilson, Carroll gave a tepid assessment of McKissic’s second game.
Jeremy Lane is doubtful to play because of a groin injury. That kept him out of the Rams game before Seattle’s bye. He practiced for the first time in weeks on Thursday.
Lane’s strain means rookie Shaquill Griffin is expected to start again at right cornerback and Justin Coleman is likely to again be the nickel back inside on passing situations against Eli Manning and the Giants. New York threw only 19 times last weekend and relied on Orleans Darkwa’s 117-yard rushing night to upset the Broncos in Denver.
Carroll said Thursday it appeared defensive linemen Marcus Smith and Nazair Jones would play. Both are listed as questionable.
Carroll had already said starting left guard Luke Joeckel would miss the next four or five games at least following knee surgery last week. So Seattle will have its third new starting line in six games on Sunday. Mark Glowinski, last year’s starting left guard, and rookie second-round pick Ethan Pocic are both going to play against the Giants, offensive line coach Tom Cable said this week.