CHENEY – When the Seattle Seahawks take the field for the first day of training camp this morning, they could be short defensive linemen.
Two key players projected to be starters are unlikely to be on hand when the team takes the field at 8:45 a.m.
Veteran end Grant Wistrom, who is suffering from a heel injury called plantar fasciitus, has been placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) after failing his physical. The injury is not believed to be serious, and Wistrom is eligible to start practicing as soon as he passes the physical.
First-round pick Marcus Tubbs also could be missing today, as his agent is trying to negotiate a contract with the team.
Tubbs has been in negotiations with the team and is not expected to miss much time. But the fact that he was unsigned on the eve of camp was troubling when considering the Seahawks’ recent past.
First-round picks Shaun Alexander, Steve Hutchinson, Koren Robinson and Marcus Trufant were signed and at camp for the opening practice of their rookie years, and each has gone on to have productive careers. Lamar King, Chris McIntosh and Jerramy Stevens were also selected in the first round, but each missed some portion of training camp as a rookie and never had much success on the field. Only Stevens is still with the team.
Tubbs is expected to challenge Rashad Moore for a starting spot at defensive tackle, alongside Cedric Woodard. Tubbs, a University of Texas product, was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the April draft.
Wistrom’s heel injury is not believed to be serious, but it raises concerns because of how much the Seahawks are depending upon him. He was signed to a six-year contract that included a $14 million signing bonus, and the team is hoping that he can help cure its pass-rushing woes. He is slated to start at right defensive end, provided the foot problems do not prohibit him.
Chike Okeafor is penciled in as the starter at left end, so Antonio Cochran and veteran Brandon Mitchell could fill in for Wistrom at practice.
The 28-year-old Wistrom suffered the injury at a June minicamp. He has not had a history of injuries, missing just two games over five years since the St. Louis Rams made him a starter in 1999.
Wistrom was one of four Seahawks placed on the PUP list. Tackle Wayne Hunter (wrist), tight end Ryan Hannam (knee) and cornerback Jernaro Gilford (back) also were added to the list.
A total of 88 Seahawks were at camp Sunday, including the four PUP players who won’t practice. Tubbs, tackle Walter Jones and defensive end Christian Mohr were the only players missing. Jones is engaged in his annual contract dispute, while Mohr, a native of Germany, is expected to miss another day or two while he gets a traveling visa.
Eight players who competed in NFL Europe do not count toward the 80-man roster limit.
Notes: Cornerback Bobby Taylor changed uniform numbers, from 25 to 24. … The Seahawks have two practices today, and will continue to go through Friday. They play an intrasquad scrimmage in Portland on Saturday.