Chester Pitts could be surprise Seahawks starter at left tackle
With Seahawks injuries mounting, guard Chester Pitts, who is lucky to be playing football again after a serious injury himself, could start at left tackle Sunday for the first time in five years.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — It's absolutely unbelievable that Chester Pitts could start at left tackle on Sunday, but that improbability has nothing to do with the fact Pitts hasn't started at that position in five years. It's not about the injuries suffered by Russell Okung and Tyler Polumbus, either.
There are more than a few doctors who will shake their heads at the fact Pitts got back on the field at all after the knee injury he suffered last September while playing for Houston, which required microfracture surgery.
"I had 10 doctors tell me I would never play again," Pitts said. "And I had one doctor believe I could come back."
That's the one he listened to, and his return to the field this season at age 31 is as close as Seattle could come to feeling fortunate this week. The Seahawks began to prepare for the New York Giants with Wednesday's practice, which was more notable for those players who weren't on the field as opposed to the ones on it.
Starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck sat out, as he continues to recover from a concussion.
Two of the four defensive linemen who started last week's game won't play this week as defensive end Red Bryant suffered a season-ending injury to a knee ligament and defensive tackle Colin Cole will miss a couple of weeks because of an ankle injury. The Seahawks hope to get Brandon Mebane back for Sunday's game, but Wednesday he missed practice because of a calf injury that has kept him out the past three games.
Okung couldn't practice because of an ankle injury suffered less than two weeks ago, and Polumbus' potential return from a knee injury is even more iffy. Throw in center Chris Spencer, who did not practice because of a sore neck, and the absence of Ben Hamilton because of a season-ending concussion and the Seahawks were missing 60 percent of their starting line from a week ago.
That could constitute a substantial problem given the Giants' pass rush, which has 24 sacks this season and growing list of quarterback casualties. New York's defense has knocked five opposing quarterbacks out of the game, including Dallas' Tony Romo with a broken collarbone and Chicago's Jay Cutler with a concussion.
"Obviously, it's scary for opposing quarterbacks knowing going into the game they got over a 70-percent chance of getting knocked out," said Eli Manning, Giants quarterback.
Easy for him to say. That defense is on his side.
Just how Seattle plans to fend off that pass rush is an open question with the left side of its line so unsettled.
Polumbus suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter of last week's loss in Oakland, and appears to be a longshot to play. The hope was Okung would be back at left tackle after suffering an injury to his left ankle.
"This is an injury that (he) has a chance to come back," Carroll said. "But it's not so serious that it's not possible so we're just going to keep going."
Okung's absence left Pitts on the edge at Wednesday's practice, preparing to protect the blind side of Hasselbeck only 14 months after suffering a serious knee injury in which his medial-collateral ligament (MCL) was torn off the bone, his meniscus was torn in half and the bottom of his femur and top of his tibia had ground together.
He underwent surgery in Houston and spent the next 62 days unable to use the leg.
"My foot didn't touch the ground for that long," Pitts said. "I was on crutches. So it shriveled up and atrophied. I could grab my femur. That's how mushy it was in the there."
He rehabilitated for months, and just days before Seattle's training camp began, he signed with the Seahawks.
While he started his career at left tackle, he has not started at that position since the 2005 season. Pitts entered last week's game as a guard, replacing Hamilton in the second quarter. He played tackle for a handful of plays in the fourth quarter after Polumbus' injury, but did not finish the game there.
Now the injuries to Seattle's top two left tackles may force him to slide out even further with the possibility he might start at left tackle.
"It just depends on how Russell recovers," Pitts said. "If my number's called, I'll be ready to go."
More than one doctor will be amazed by that.
• Seattle signed three players Wednesday to fill its 53-man roster, adding DE Jay Richardson, OL Chris White and WR Ruvell Martin, who was with the Seahawks in training camp.FIRST-AID
Seahawks need a scorecard to track of the injuries that have affected the roster:
QB Matt Hasselbeck/Concussion/Did not practice Wednesday, but is expected to be available Thursday. "He feels pretty good," coach Pete Carroll said. "Just to do all of the right stuff, we have to give him a good day break, which he can use this time of the year anyway."
DE Red Bryant/Right knee/Suffered a torn medial-collateral ligament, was placed on injured reserve thereby ending his season and is scheduled for surgery this week.
LT Russell Okung/Left ankle/Did not practice, but has not been ruled out.
DT Brandon Mebane/Calf/Missed past three games and did not practice Wednesday. "Mebane is going to try to get some work done before the week is out," Carroll said. "We think he's going to play in the game."
CB Kelly Jennings/Hamstring/Practiced without limitation Wednesday.
CB Walter Thurmond/Concussion/Practiced without limitation Wednesday.
WR Mike Williams/Bruised leg/Did not practice Wednesday. "It's really a thigh bruise just above his knee," Carroll said. "We think he'll be OK by the weekend."
WR Golden Tate/Ankle/Did not practice Wednesday and remains in a plastic protective boot. "We have him as doubtful at this time," Carroll said. "There's always a chance he can bounce back, but right now, he's still in the boot and all that."
DT Colin Cole/Ankle/Did not practice Wednesday, won't play Sunday. "He's got a serious ankle sprain," Carroll said. "It's going to take him a while so he'll miss a couple weeks."
OT Tyler Polumbus/Right knee/A sprain, Polumbus missed practice Wednesday and is in a brace. "We don't know if he's going to be able to go or not," Carroll said.
LB Matt McCoy/Hamstring/Practiced without limitation.
FB Michael Robinson/Hamstring/Did not practice Wednesday.
C Chris Spencer/Neck/Did not practice Wednesday.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.