By Chris Cluff
The Seahawks are as healthy as they have been this late in a season in several years, but that is not to say they don’t still have injury concerns on their offensive line. It wouldn’t be the Seahawks, after all, if they didn’t.
When James Carpenter and John Moffitt were drafted in 2011, they were slotted in next to each other at right tackle and right guard. Injuries ended their rookie seasons prematurely, and both have had trouble staying healthy again in 2012. Their spots on the right side of the line have been taken by upstarts Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan, leaving Carpenter and Moffitt to battle for the starting left guard position.
Carpenter, who missed the wins against Minnesota and the New York Jets before the bye, was back at practice in limited action Wednesday, but coach Pete Carroll was noncommittal about which player would start at left guard Sunday in Miami.
The last two games, with Moffitt starting at left guard, the Seahawks have run for 369 yards on 88 carries (4.2 average). In the five games Carpenter was at left guard, they ran for 649 yards on 142 carries (4.6 average).
In four starts (two at each guard spot), Moffitt has one holding penalty and no sacks allowed. In five starts, Carpenter has one false start and one sack allowed.
Carroll and assistant head coach/line chief Tom Cable seem likely to go with the guy they think is the best pass protector. While the Hawks are tied for fifth with 28 sacks, the Dolphins are right behind with 27. And that concerns Carroll.
“They pressure more than anybody we’ve played,” he told reporters, per the TNT. “We need to protect this game. That’s the most important thing.”
The Hawks have been best running off right tackle this season, according to Football Outsiders, who say Breno Giacomini anchors the second-best right-side running game in football at 5.08 yards per carry.
The Hawks average 4.4 yards off left tackle and are at their worst off right end (3.71) and between the guards (3.96). That latter number surely is due to the fact that the Hawks have been a revolving door on either side of center Max Unger, starting three players at right guard and three at left guard.
The Hawks run to their strengths; they go off left tackle more than any team in the league (28 percent of the time) and to right tackle (21 percent) more than any team but the Rams.
TIME TO TURN UP THE TURNOVERS
Carroll is stressing to his defense the importance of getting turnovers on the road. Of their 16 takeaways this season, just six have come away from Seattle.
Miami might be the best place to bump that number.
The Dolphins have turned the ball over 20 times this season, seven in the past two games as rookie Ryan Tannehill has thrown five interceptions.
It would be a surprise if the Hawks did not get at least two turnovers, and this might be the first time they pull three on the road this season. If they can return one for a touchdown, too, that probably would ensure a win.
“I really hope we can be aggressive getting after the football,” Carroll told reporters, “and that will make a lot of things better.”
- All Seahawks practiced Wednesday, including linebacker K.J. Wright, who missed the last game with a concussion. Carroll is glad to have Wright, the team’s No. 2 tackler, back because the second-year player “brings savvy and awareness of our system. Plus, he’s a terrific playmaker.”
- With rookie safety Winston Guy suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, the Hawks brought receiver Charly Martin up from the practice squad to the active roster.
- Football Outsiders put the Seahawks’ odds of making the playoffs at 75 percent. The FO simulation engine, which plays through 50,000 combinations, projects the Seahawks to win 10 games, with a 50 percent chance of making the postseason as a wild card and a 25 percent chance of winning the NFC West. The Outsiders project the 49ers (7-2-1) with 11 wins and a 75 percent chance of winning the division (95 percent chance of making the playoffs). The Outsiders also give the Seahawks a 7 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, which makes them the sixth favorite.
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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.