Seattle Seahawks: For Starters, It Was a Terrible Week

Chris CluffCorrespondent IISeptember 22, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks throws against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter during the home opener at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

Now we know where the Seahawks stand. Well, at least the ones who are still standing.

Just when you thought the Seahawks couldn’t go through another preposterous season like they did last year, they lost five more guys Sunday in San Francisco.

Already being outplayed, the Seahawks added injury to insult by losing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (broken rib), linebacker Lofa Tatupu (hamstring), left tackle Sean Locklear (ankle), cornerback Josh Wilson (ankle) and fullback Justin Griffith (sprained knee).

With those losses, the Seahawks were without five defensive starters, including cornerback Marcus Trufant, linebacker Leroy Hill and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. The absence of Mebane, Hill and Tatupu surely played a big part in Frank Gore gashing the Hawks for 207 yards, including touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards.

Hasselbeck, Locklear and Griffith joined the already inactive starters Walter Jones and Chris Spencer.

That’s 10-of-22 starters out.

The biggest loss certainly was Hasselbeck. If not for the broken rib that sent him to the hospital just before halftime, the Seahawks probably would have won the game—despite all of the defensive problems caused by injury and poor play.

It’s depressing for Seahawks fans to contemplate all of the injuries that have stacked up over the past two years. Everyone hoped the Hawks were past the plague that afflicted them last year, but they once again are playing with a mostly second-team O-line and might be without their starting quarterback and as many as five defensive starters when they play the Chicago Bears next week.


The Prognoses

Hasselbeck’s broken rib might not be as bad as the one that sidelined Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb on Sunday.

Hasselbeck told reporters Monday that he wants to play.

“Especially with the amount of guys we have banged up, I think that’s just an important part of any football realize the difference between pain and injury, and just give the team everything you got,” he said. “And put it in the coaches’ hands to decide who gives us our best chance to win this week, or what’s the best thing to do. But as a player, that’s not your call. Your job is to just go out there and give them what you got.”

He will probably be questionable and a game-time decision, with Seneca Wallace getting almost all of the first-team practice reps this week. If Hasselbeck can practice Friday, he’ll most likely play.

Griffith’s injury will likely keep him out at least three weeks, and he could miss up to eight. MCL sprains have various recovery times, depending on the severity.

Locklear and Wilson have high ankle sprains, which in the worst cases can linger for months. Typical recovery time is a few weeks, so expect Locklear and Wilson to miss at least a couple of games.

Since Tatupu left after just 12 plays because of a previously strained hamstring, odds are pretty good he’ll miss this week’s game, too.

In fact, the only injured starter who seems probable to play this week is Mebane, who sat Sunday with a calf injury suffered in practice last week.

One bonus, if you want to call it that, is the likely return of Deion Branch, who missed the first two games with a strained vagina. (Vagina, hamstring—same thing for him.)


The Replacements

**If Hasselbeck can’t go, Wallace will play (more on him in a minute).

**If Locklear’s injury is bad enough to keep him out for longer than a week, the Hawks will need to add a tackle, even if Jones is ready to go. Brandon Frye seemed to play well enough against the 49ers, but the Hawks could use a veteran as insurance now that the top two left tackles are dinged. Damion McIntosh anyone?

**With Griffith out, Owen Schmitt will start at fullback—when the Hawks use a fullback. They used one only about a quarter of the time against the Niners.

**After Tatupu left Sunday, the Hawks were left with a very inexperienced linebacking crew of rookie Aaron Curry, second-year middle man David Hawthorne and third-year linebacker Will Herring. Curry and Hawthorne especially struggled, and it would behoove the Hawks to put the veteran D.D. Lewis in for Tatupu.

**The Seahawks could be in trouble at cornerback. Already without Trufant, they lost Wilson, and Ken Lucas apparently was dinged up as well. That would leave Kelly Jennings as the only healthy corner, with Travis Fisher apparently recovered from the hamstring injury that has basically kept him from practicing with the team since he signed in August (Still not sure why he made the team).

If Wilson and Lucas are both out, Jordan Babineaux might move to corner, which would serve the dual purpose of shoring up the pass defense AND the run defense (More on that in a minute).


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