By Chris Cluff
The Seahawks lost one defender for the balance of the season this week, but they could get two more back. Seattle is unlikely to be without any of their front-line players beyond suspended cornerback Brandon Browner when they host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.
Defensive lineman Jason Jones suffered torn cartilage against Buffalo last weekend and was placed on injured reserve Thursday, finishing him for the season.
“We were surprised by it,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters, per the News Tribune. “It happened in the game. He really didn’t feel it until the next day. And after we did all of the tests on it, we found out that he had torn cartilage and we’ve got to fix it. So that kind of popped up quickly on us. We’re real disappointed that we’re going to miss him, but we’ve got to get him right and get him fixed up.”
While Jones is done, defensive tackle Alan Branch (ankle) practiced for a second straight day and should play, and cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond returned to practice. Hamstring injuries have cost Trufant the past three games and Thurmond last week’s game.
“We’ll go all the way to game time with those guys,” Carroll said. “There will be a few of those guys that have to show us they can play.”
Wide receiver Sidney Rice’s status also will be determined Sunday. He is nursing a sore knee.
“He feels pretty good right now,” Carroll said. “But we’ve got to get to game day and run him and see how he can tolerate it. He thinks he’s playing. He feels like he’s going to.”
Rice is the only Seattle wide receiver not to miss a game this season. He leads the team with 77 catches for 734 yards and seven touchdowns (tied with Golden Tate).
The Hawks signed Deon Butler right before last week’s game, and he offers insurance if Rice can’t go.
Jones’ future is now murky. He was playing on a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, hoping he could parlay that into a more lucrative long-term contract somewhere next year. But he was hampered by knee and ankle injuries all season, missing two games. He finished with three sacks and 10 tackles.
Unless the Hawks find an upgrade, odds seem good they will be able to re-sign him for cheaper than $4.5 million next year.
**CB Richard Sherman is expected to play despite missing the last two days of preparation so he could appear at the league office in New York to appeal his four-game suspension. He is expected to hear the final verdict next week and is likely to miss the season finale and any playoff games (unless the Hawks somehow make it to the Super Bowl).
**The Hawks’ running backs took turns sitting out this week. As usual, Marshawn Lynch rested his back early in the week. Then Leon Washington sat out with an illness. And then rookie Robert Turbin had issues with headaches. They are all listed as probable.
**S Jeron Johnson will be a game-time decision because of a strained groin that sidelined him the last two days. Carroll told reporters he probably will play, even though he is listed as questionable.
QUESTIONABLE: S Jeron Johnson (groin), Sidney Rice (knee), CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring), CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring).
PROBABLE: DT Alan Branch (knee), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), RB Robert Turbin (illness), RB Leon Washington (illness).
IR: DE Dexter Davis (hip), TE Cameron Morrah (toe), WR Ben Obomanu (wrist), WR Charly Martin (calf).
QUESTIONABLE: DT Will Tukuafu (concussion), DT Justin Smith (elbow), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), LB Clark Haggans (shoulder), LB Tavares Gooden (ribs).
PROBABLE: LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), OG Alex Boone (knee), OG Mike Iupati (shoulder), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder), S Dashon Goldson (foot), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), CB Carlos Rogers (knee), K David Akers (pelvis), RB Frank Gore (wrist), CB Tarell Brown (shoulder).
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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.