Sharper’s season over

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Friday, December 9, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

KIRKLAND – While last season’s Seattle Seahawks nearly collapsed under the weight of ongoing injuries to their linebacking corps, the 2005 unit has weathered the storm thus far.

But the skies keep getting darker on the horizon.

On Friday, the Seahawks placed starter Jamie Sharper on injured reserve, meaning the nine-year veteran will miss the final four games of the regular season and all of the playoffs. Making matters worse, coach Mike Holmgren said that starter D.D Lewis might rest his sore knee Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

“I think we’re OK,” Holmgren said Friday when asked about the linebacker position. “We have played with this group a good portion of the season already, and we came in with a couple extra linebackers to start with. So I think we’re OK.”

Sharper has missed the past four games following knee surgery and a subsequent staph infection. Antibiotics failed to eradicate the infection, so the team opted to place Sharper on IR.

“It was a bad infection, and it’s taken a long time,” Holmgren said. “They had to switch antibiotics just in the last couple days because he had a little bit of a setback. It didn’t appear that we were going to have him this year.”

Rookie Leroy Hill has played well while filling in for Sharper, with 40 tackles and 6 sacks this season. But the injury to Lewis will test Seattle’s depth even further. Kevin Bentley is expected to start in Sharper’s place, with Isaiah Kacyvenski and rookie Cornelius Wortham in reserve.

“Obviously, there’s going to be an excitement level if I get to play more,” said Bentley, a free agent from the Cleveland Browns who will be making his first start as a Seahawk. “But at the same time, (Lewis) is one of my best friends on the team; we do a lot of things together outside of football. So it (stinks) to see him banged up, and I wish his knee would get healthy all the way. But I just have to make the most of the opportunity.”

Jackson practices, doesn’t expect to play: While Holmgren was encouraged by Darrell Jackson’s participation in practice Friday, the wide receiver said he doesn’t expect to play against the 49ers.

“Probably not,” said Jackson, who has missed nine weeks with a knee injury. “I’m probably going to hold off for another week just because I have a little tightness in my muscles. Until my muscles right, I’ll hold off for a little bit.”

Jackson took part in some drills on Thursday, then ran some pass patterns for the first few minutes of Friday’s practice. He did not partake in the team portion of practice.

Afterward, Holmgren sounded optimistic but still uncertain about whether Jackson would suit up for Sunday’s game.

“It’s hard to say,” the coach said, adding that a final decision would probably be made Sunday. “I have to see how (the injury) responds. In practice (Friday), he did the things he always does. I thought he had good burst; he ran well. I’ve got to see how he feels after this.”

If nothing else, Jackson maintained his sense of humor.

Asked Friday how difficult it has been to watch from the sidelines, Jackson said: “I’m pretty much OK. We’ve won, we’re 10-2, and the best thing about it is that I still get my check.”

Getting a leg up: The Seahawks brought veteran Tom Rouen in four games into the season to provide some stability to the punting game. After a rough first few weeks, Rouen is finally doing just that.

“For a guy that’s been off for an extended period of time, it takes awhile to get back into it,” special teams coach Bob Casullo said. “The first three or four weeks were like his preseason. Now, all of a sudden he’s hitting his stride. And we need him down the stretch.”

Rouen averaged just under 40 yards per punt through his first five games. But he’s really come on over the past three, averaging 43.1 yards on his 23 punts while dropping eight inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

“I was just trying to get back into rhythm,” said Rouen, who has had three punts of 50 yards or more over the past three games. “I was fighting myself a little bit in the beginning. Now I’m at a point where I don’t feel like I have to work as hard to get results.”

Part of Rouen’s recent success could come from the fact that he’s had plenty of opportunities. In each of the past two games, Rouen has punted nine times.

“We were hopeful that he was going to get better,” Casullo said, “and he did.”

Long-overdue breather: After facing ex-Pro Bowlers in each of his past four games, right tackle Sean Locklear will finally go against a mortal on Sunday.

San Francisco’s Bryant Young, who started across from Locklear three weeks ago, tested his injured knee this week but didn’t show enough to be cleared to play against the Seahawks. That means Travis Hall will probably start at left defensive end.

Young injured his knee in the Nov. 20 meeting with Seattle. He joins Leonard Little of St. Louis, Michael Strahan of the New York Giants and Jevon Kearse of Philadelphia as former Pro Bowlers who Locklear has faced over the past four games. None of the four had a single sack.

Quick slants: Defensive tackle Craig Terrill (shoulder) saw limited action Friday and will be a game-time decision. … The Seahawks added cornerback Michael Harden to the active roster. He will take the roster spot vacated when Sharper went on IR. … The Baltimore Ravens signed offensive lineman Thatcher Szalay from the Seahawks’ practice squad.

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