By Chris Cluff
The Seahawks are 6-4 this season and have not lost a game by more than a touchdown. They can attribute that to a very good defensive group that has remained largely healthy. The defense was the strength of the team, and it remained such until recently due to the fact that all 11 starters had played in the first nine games. The offense was the weak spot, and it remained that way as it struggled through injuries to linemen and receivers. Now that the group is mostly healthy, it is playing better.
The Seahawks are among the final teams to sit out their bye weeks, and they certainly can use the time off to get healthy. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters that all players should be available when the team travels to Miami next week. That means linebacker K.J. Wright and guard James Carpenter both are expected to return from concussions.
The game against the Jets last Sunday was the first time all season that the defense had been without a starter as Wright sat out. Carpenter has missed the past two games. The Hawks also should get back defensive linemen Clinton McDonald (groin) and Greg Scruggs (oblique strain), who both missed the Jets game.
The team has been fortunate not to lose any key players for long stretches, and the defense had largely remained healthy enough to carry the team over the first seven games. But the players had started to wear down a bit, with guys like Kam Chancellor, Jason Jones and Marcus Trufant playing with injuries and Wright, McDonald and Scruggs sitting out.
On offense, the Hawks have had a much more robust injury report all season, especially on the line and at receiver. The line still has not started the five guys projected as starters. Carpenter missed the first three weeks while he recovered from an ACL injury. Then came the concussion that put him out for two games. John Moffitt has missed six of the 10 games. Left tackle Russell Okung missed a week as well.
The unit actually put together a streak of five straight weeks with the same starters, but it still has had five combinations — and might be headed for No. 6 in Week 12.
The receiver position has been just as volatile. Golden Tate missed the opener in Arizona, where Doug Baldwin had his two front teeth busted and Charly Martin suffered a bruised lung. Then Baldwin missed the Detroit game with a high ankle sprain, Ben Obomanu was placed on injured reserve with a broken wrist, and Braylon Edwards sat out with a swollen knee. Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch has become the No. 2 rusher in the league despite dealing with a back problem.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has been a stalwart and has improved steadily over the first 10 games, but you have to wonder what might have happened if Matt Flynn had not been sidelined by an elbow injury late in the preseason. That opened the door for Wilson.
With all of those issues, the Hawks have to be happy the bye is finally here.
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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.