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Originally published September 18, 2009 at 6:19 PM | Page modified September 19, 2009 at 12:34 AM

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Seahawks tackle Walter Jones could be ready by Sunday

Jones has had two knee surgeries in the past nine months and is listed as questionable against San Francisco

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Seahawks @ San Francisco, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13, 710 ESPN

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RENTON — Coach Jim Mora watched Walter Jones return to the practice field this week.

Now, he'll wait to hear if his big left tackle is ready to play Sunday in San Francisco exactly one month after undergoing knee surgery.

"Walter just needs to feel good with himself," Mora said, "where he is physically and conditioning-wise, and then just let us know. When he is ready to go we will get him in there."

That's the kind of credibility earned over the past 12 years, when Jones went 10 seasons without missing a game because of injury. That streak ended when he suffered a knee injury last November that kept him out of the final four games.

Nine months later, Jones is still trying to get his knee right. Jones underwent arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 20 to remove loose particles in his left knee. It was his second procedure in nine months on that knee. He underwent microfracture surgery after injuring his knee in Seattle's Thanksgiving Day loss in Dallas on Nov. 27.

Jones began training camp cleared to practice, but began suffering from back spasms two days later. He returned to practice for two days in mid-August before undergoing the arthroscopic clean-up procedure.

Jones, 35, returned to practice this week. He participated in individual drills on Wednesday, and took part in some 11-on-11 drills the past two days. Jones said he doesn't want to answer questions from reporters until after he plays his first game.

If Jones returns to the field in San Francisco, it will result in a trickle-down effect. Sean Locklear could move to right tackle or perhaps even to right guard. Mora offered no specifics, only that the goal will be to put the five best linemen on the field.

"We haven't necessarily talked about it that much because I don't think we anticipated early in the week Walt being where he is," Mora said. "We are listing him as questionable. We have to make the right decision with Walt. We can't be greedy."

Tatupu listed as questionable

Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu carried his helmet to practice Friday, but did not participate in 11-on-11 drills. He did not practice at all this week after suffering a slight strain of his hamstring in the second half of last week's victory over St. Louis.

Tatupu is listed as questionable, but Mora said he expects Tatupu will be available.

"Knowing Lofa, I expect him to play," Mora said.

Mebane a question mark

Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is questionable for Sunday's game after suffering a calf injury during Wednesday's practice that kept him out of practice the past two days.

Mora said that second-year tackle Red Bryant — who was inactive last Sunday against St. Louis — will play against the 49ers. Mebane's injury was described by Mora as a "slight strain," and if he is unable to play Bryant, Craig Terrill and possibly Michael Bennett could help fill in.

Catching up with receivers' health

Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh returned to practice and is probable for Sunday's game, which means it's a virtual certainty he will play. Deion Branch, however, is questionable as he returns from a leg injury suffered the week before Seattle's season opener.

Branch has a hamstring injury, Mora said, which can be very tricky especially for a player that depends on speed and explosion like Branch does.

"I would hate for Deion to go out there because he is so anxious to play and prove his worth and make plays to help this team win that he restrains that thing," Mora said, "and he misses three or four more games."

Note

• C Chris Spencer (quadriceps) and CB Travis Fisher (hamstring) are probable for Sunday's game.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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