By Chris Cluff
It’s only the second week, and player fragility seems poised to stall any offensive progress and possibly derail the Seattle Seahawks’ season.
The receiving corps is decimated already, with only Braylon Edwards and special-teamer Ben Obomanu healthy. Sidney Rice has an undisclosed knee problem, Golden Tate is coming off a sprained knee, Doug Baldwin had his two front teeth busted in Arizona (so guess what he wants for Christmas), and Charly Martin is out with a bruised lung.
All but Martin are expected to play Sunday — but at what effectiveness? When they were mostly healthy, they could not make plays for rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. How will they in this state?
On the line, it’s the same as it ever was, with left tackle Russell Okung injured for the third straight year. He is questionable with a bruised knee, and coach Pete Carroll told reporters he would be a game-time decision.
Right guard John Moffitt is just now coming back from his preseason elbow injury, but now he has a shoulder issue. He is expected to start in place of rookie J.R. Sweezy.
“His shoulder was a little sore from yesterday,” Carroll said, per The News Tribune. “He’s going to play, so we wanted to make sure to get him through today. He’ll be fine for the game.”
James Carpenter is finally practicing after his ACL tear last December, but he still is not ready to step in at left guard so Paul McQuistan can play left tackle. That means Frank Omiyale would play that spot if Okung cannot.
On top of all of that, tight end Zach Miller is questionable with a foot problem that kept him out Thursday and Friday, and Marshawn Lynch is still limited by a bad back. Both are expected to play.
“Zach will be fine,” Carroll said. “He practiced a couple days ago, and got some stuff done yesterday. We just want to make sure that he’s going to be right. So he’ll play also.”
Still, that makes six of 11 offensive starters, plus several reserves, injured or coming back from injuries.
With a rookie quarterback who had a lot of trouble against an aggressive Arizona defense, none of this adds up to a promising day Sunday against Dallas.
Rice and Miller were the team’s two big free-agent acquisitions in 2011, for a total of $35.5 million guaranteed, and neither has earned that money. They carry the two highest cap hits this season: $9 million for Rice and $7 million for Miller, with combined guaranteed salaries of $13 million.
Rice was already a known injury risk when the Hawks signed him to a five-year, $41 million deal with $18.5 million guaranteed. He caught 32 passes for 484 yards and two scores in nine games last season before concussions led him to injured reserve. Then he had surgery on both shoulders in the offseason, which led to a redshirt training camp. And now this knee issue.
His $7 million salary is guaranteed this season, but it would not be surprising at all to see him let go afterward — in which case he would follow in the footsteps of previous big-money WR busts Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Meanwhile, Miller has not been much better. He was a splurge signing last year, for $34 million over five years, with $17 million guaranteed.
After John Carlson was lost for the season before it began, Miller was used as a blocker almost all year. He caught only 23 balls for 233 yards and no touchdowns — nothing close to the four-year averages of 56 catches, 678 yards and three TDs he put up in Oakland.
He caught three passes in the opener Sunday in Arizona, including a 27-yarder. But the Hawks still did not use him enough. Maybe it was because of the foot injury, and maybe it was just because the game plan was not very good.
His $6 million salary this season is guaranteed, as is $4 million of his $6.8 million next year.
He probably isn’t going anywhere, but neither is the Seattle offense if he isn’t healthy and catching some passes.
SEATTLE INJURY REPORT
OUT: WR Charly Martin (chest).
QUESTIONABLE: OT Russell Okung (knee), TE Zach Miller (foot).
PROBABLE: DE Greg Scruggs (hamstring), WR Golden Tate (knee), WR Sidney Rice (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (shoulder), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), OG John Moffitt (shoulder), DT Jason Jones (non-injury).
PUP: CB Walter Thurmond (legs).
IR: DE Dexter Davis (hip), TE Cameron Morrah (toe), RB Vai Tuau (knee).
DALLAS INJURY REPORT
OUT: NT Jay Ratliff (ankle), C Phil Costa (back), S Matt Johnson (hamstring).
PROBABLE: WR Austin, Miles (hamstring), WR Andre Holmes (knee), CB Mike Jenkins (shoulder), RB Felix Jones (ribs), S Danny McCray (neck), RB DeMarco Murray (wrist), S Gerald Sensabaugh (concussion), LB DeMarcus Ware (hamstring), LB Kyle Wilber (thumb), TE Jason Witten (abdomen).
**Martin, who spent several days in Arizona earlier in the week, will be back in a week or two, Carroll told reporters.
**Lynch (back) was limited all week. Okung (knee) practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday after sitting out Wednesday.
**Tate (knee), defensive end Greg Scruggs (hamstring) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (shoulder) did not play last Sunday but practiced all week.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.