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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



September 8, 2010 at 2:11 PM

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Seahawks line 'em up

Posted by Danny O'Neil

One year ago, the Seattle Seahawks started four left tackles waiting for Walter Jones to return from microfracture surgery on his knee. Jones never did make it back.

Russell Okung is Seattle's long-term answer at the position, but he's out with a sprained right ankle for at least the season opener, leaving Seattle making a game-week decision at the most important position along the line:

• Start Tyler Polumbus -- or Troy as coach Pete Carroll referred to him four times during Wednesday's press conference -- who previously played in Denver and was acquired in a trade with Detroit eight days ago.

• Start Chester Pitts -- who is coming back from microfracture surgery he underwent in October. Signed two days before the first training-camp practice, Pitts did not appear in an exhibition game.

Want to read Carroll's assessment from how the offensive line shapes up and the departure of Alex Gibbs, offensive line coach on the eve of the season? Please click "Read more" to see a transcript. Q: How would you evaluate the status of the offensive line entering Week 1?

Carroll: Well, we're a little banged up. We're a little banged up obviously. We expected to have Russell going for us in the first game when we drafted him and went through all the work leading up to this time, but that's not the case. So we're going to do everything we can to get him back as soon as possible. He may be a couple of weeks away, he may be a week away. In the interim we had to make a couple of decisions here. Whether we go with Chester or whether we go with Troy Polumbus we'll have to wait and see that as we go through the week. We don't know that yet. But those guys, they've been working at it, and we'll find out through the practice where we're best suited. It's just a situation we have to deal with. Gibson is ready to go at left guard, start for us, and the rest of the guys are what we've been planning on starting with. It's really the left tackle draws all the attention for us. We miss Russell. He's sick about not being able to be there with us, but we'll get him in due time.

Q: Do you expect Stacy Andrews play at all in Game 1?

Carroll: We'll wait and see. We've practiced with him one day so we'll wait and see. He was very impressive on his first day out, and we'll just have to see how far we will bring him.

Q: Did you have any indication during training camp that Alex Gibbs was starting to wear down?

Carroll: Alex and I talked about it. Alex has been a guy I have known for a long time. We talked about how long he wanted to coach way back when. I mean, when we first started talking about the job and then after he came. He had mentioned that there was times in past years when he would get worn down, and he didn't like the feeling, didn't want to be that for the team he was working for. And if it came to that where he felt like he couldn't give his best because he was taking the toll, he would be up-front and let me know what's going on. I wasn't caught off-guard as you might think with that because Alex and I had talked about it, and we talked about it beforehand. We love Alex and he's an extraordinary coach. I look at it like we were lucky to have him while we had him.

Q: Isn't it a bit odd?

Carroll: It's not that at all. He knew he wouldn't be able to stay with it. It was the only time that we could have done it for him. We support him 1,000 percent in his decision. The entire time that he was with us, he worked with Art (Valero) and with (Luke) Butkus and make sure we had everything lined up so everybody would be able to take charge if he had to. It really wasn't that big of a surprise. I'm grateful that he was able to make it this long and contribute as he could and we wish him the very best.

Q: With the offensive line, you know have four of your 10 linemen who didn't have any part in the offseason training. Stacy Andrews is someone who doesn't fit the prototype for what Alex likes in an offensive linemen, was there anything to the possibility he was upset at the direction of the line?

Carroll: No, it had nothing to do it. This is an individual's choice. He had coached a lot of years, and he gives so much to it, he knows what it takes to be on his game, and he felt like he would not be able to do that. It was just about that. That's it. It was very clear, and knowing that going in, that's why I'm telling you, it didn't surprise me, and I totally support him. It wasn't something you tried to talk him out of because he felt like he felt, and he was clear what he felt like and what he needed to do. And he did the best thing he could do for us as soon as he felt that way is, again, let's make the change as soon as he can now that he knows. Instead of dragging it and trying to work your way through the season and get in the middle of it, that's the time it all came up.

Art Valero, Seattle's assistant offensive line coach, will handle the day-to-day responsibilities while new O-line coach Pat Ruel gets up to speed on the terminology. Valero answered some questions after practice:

Q: How much of a challenge has it been at left tackle to have the uncertainty there at that position?

Valero: It always is. We were that way in the spring. We didn't know who was going to be there. We knew Sean was going over, but we were moving him to right. We've got Russell, and we've got other bodies that have had to fill in and play so we just continue to move on. That's just the thing we have to do. It's not what happens to you that matters, it's what you do about it. Whomever that guy is, whether it's Chester Pitts, whether it's Tyler Polumbus. You've got to go.

(Note: This would also include an offensive lineman named Troy if the Seahawks had one. Which they don't despite Carroll's references.)

Q: What was your reaction when you heard about Alex Gibbs?

Valero: Disappointment. Disappointment because he is not only a great person. He's got more knowledge than anybody can ever imagine. He's forgotten more football than people know, and when you lose somebody like that. It's hard. You've just got to continue to go and continue go because that's what he would have done. We feel good about to be able to spend the time we did with Alex.

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