Short week tough on depleted Seahawks

As they begin their final week of the preseason, the Seattle Seahawks are short on both days and bodies.

The Seahawks will take the field today for what will mark their only full practice of the week, thanks to a schedule that included a Monday game at San Diego and a home date with Oakland this Friday.

Just as frustrating is the dwindling number of players that the Seahawks have at their disposal. The team had to make five roster moves on Tuesday — the most notable of which was placing rookie long snapper Tyler Schmitt on injured reserve and thereby ending his 2008 season — while several other players continue to battle nagging injuries.

Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu and third-string quarterback Charlie Frye are among the players who might take the day off following Monday’s loss to the Chargers. Both players suffered minor knee injuries in the game, and it’s likely they could also sit out Friday’s preseason finale.

According to reports from San Diego, Tatupu’s injury was described as a bruised knee. Coach Mike Holmgren told reporters that covered Monday’s game that Tatupu and Frye suffered minor injuries with no signs of ligament damage. He added that both Tatupu and Frye were scheduled to undergo MRIs on Tuesday, but the results of those tests were not made known to the media.

The Seahawks are already down four offensive starters, three of whom might not be ready for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who has a sore back, is expected to return for the opener, but right tackle Sean Locklear (knee), wide receiver Deion Branch (knee) and wide receiver Bobby Engram (shoulder) could miss it. Starting center Chris Spencer is also hobbled, as he’s easing back into action after missing almost all of training camp with a sore back. Spencer did not play Monday night but has been practicing for a week and could be available for Friday’s game against the Raiders.

Among those who definitely won’t be in uniform Friday are the five players who were involved in Tuesday’s roster cuts.

The decision to place Schmitt on IR was the most alarming move because of Seattle’s recent history of long-snapping problems. Seattle went through three long snappers in 2007, eventually bringing 37-year-old Jeff Robinson out of retirement to shore up the position. Robinson, who lives in Seattle, retired again after last season and left such a void at the position that the Seahawks used a sixth-round draft pick on a snapper.

Schmitt, a San Diego State product who is the first snapper-only ever drafted by the Seahawks, has been sidelined by an unspecified back injury for two weeks. Desperate to find a snapper, the Seahawks brought back Tim Lindsey, who was with the team for two months last spring but was released shortly after the April draft.

Schmitt is the second Seahawks player to have his season ended by a back injury. Veteran offensive lineman Chris Gray hurt his back on the first weekend of training camp and subsequently retired.

On Tuesday, when teams had to trim their rosters to 75 players, the Seahawks released two players, added another on IR and placed second-year linebacker Will Herring on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list.

University of Washington product Omare Lowe, a 30-year-old defensive back, was released, along with wide receiver Joel Filani. Schmitt and rookie offensive lineman William Robinson were placed on IR, effectively ending their seasons, while Herring is not eligible to play until after the first six games of the regular season because of league rules regarding the PUP list.

Herring was eligible for PUP because he did not take part in training camp as a result of a pre-existing injury. Holmgren said early in camp that Herring has a condition that causes his muscles and joints to tighten.

Branch, who has not practiced while recovering from offseason knee surgery, is also eligible for PUP. But the Seahawks are holding out hope that he’ll be back on the field in the first week or two of the regular season.

Engram and Locklear are not eligible for PUP because they were injured after training camp began.

The Seahawks actually have 76 players on their active roster because offensive lineman Samuel Gutekunst is exempt as part of the NFL’s overseas program. Gutekunst will remain with the Seahawks all season but will not count against the final 53-man roster.

Teams have to trim another 22 players by this weekend.

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