BY Doug Farrar 03:46PM 12/25/2010

Another D-line injury, another patch

With Red Bryant and now Junior Siavii lost for the season, defensive end has become an all-comers event for Seahawks

Losing Junior Siavii for the season is yet another hit to the Seahawks' run defense. (Rod Mar/Seattle Seahawks)

The clichés about running the ball and stopping the run in order to win a championship have gone by the wayside in recent years as the NFL has become more of a passing league.

But when the opponents know that they can grind down a foe on a drive-by-drive basis, winning becomes far more complicated. For the Seahawks, who are trying to end their 2010 season in the playoffs, the recent injury to end Junior Siavii is a setback to a defense that was just finding ways to counter the Week 8 season-ending injury that took defensive end Red Bryant off the roster.

With Bryant at the five-technique defensive end, the Seahawks’ run-stopping efforts were among the finest in the NFL. It has been a struggle since – at least until coach Pete Carroll plugged in Siavii at that spot in place of the relatively ineffective Kentwan Balmer last Sunday, and watched his defense limit the Atlanta Falcons to 98 yards rushing and 2.6 yards per rushing play.

It’s a bad time to lose another key cog. Carroll addressed the situation, and how the five-tech rotation would change, after practice Friday.

“Well, it does change it some,” he said. “He was kind of picking up for Red, you know, we’ve got the big body out there. So we’re disappointed to not have him, but Balmer is going to play and Jay Richardson will play.. We’ll still rotate regularly, but those guys will be the guys called on at that spot.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle’s Sunday opponent, are averaging 4.9 yards per carry at home, as opposed to 4.1 on the road. They have a two-pronged attack, with veteran Cadillac Williams providing the thunder, and rookie LeGarrette Blount giving the team a new inside power. Carroll understands all too well the challenge Seattle’s defense will face – Blount, an Oregon alum, went up against Carroll’s USC teams more than once.

“He’s a really good football player,” Carroll said of Blount on Wednesday. “He’s always shown a special ability to make people miss, even with his big running style he can make you miss. When you add in the fact that he’s so physical, it’s a really good package. I’m sure there’s – us included – a lot of teams that didn’t get a chance to get him that are looking at it now and saying, ‘We must be crazy.’ Because he’s really come on fast and made a big impression on their team. And that’s with a really good football player in Cadillac (Williams) they’re sharing time with. We have tremendous respect for him and he still has a big role in their offense and all, but he’s taken over as the lead back.”

Of specific concern regarding Siavii is the severity of the injury, originally termed a stinger, and what he faces in rehab.

“He has an issue with his spinal cord,” Carroll said. “He took a real good shot and it was just for precautions to make sure that he’s going to be well and make a good recovery. He’s not in any danger at all in that regard, he just needs time. So it’s the right thing to do for us and it’s going to be about a month, at least. So not knowing what we’re going to do, we need to make a move right now … there’s some issue with concern about the bruising of the spinal cord. So it doesn’t really show up on MRI’s, but he has all of the symptoms.”

With two games left in the regular season, the eternally kinetic Carroll doesn’t want to know about playoff scenarios, taking it easy or playing harder depending on the 49ers-Rams outcome earlier Sunday, or how any injuries affect the future There really isn’t much time left to do anything but compress a season’s worth of effort into a very short time.

“We’ll leave on Christmas Day and get there and make this a big opportunity for us to come through,” Carroll concluded. “That’s what we want to do. So our guys are tuned into it and (we) got a really good response this morning with the guys and they’re ready to go at it and have a heck of a week.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

NOTES

– Right after Christmas Eve day practice, cornerback Marcus Trufant was asked which Mike Williams is the better receiver — Seattle’s, or Tampa Bay’s?

– After not practicing Wednesday or Thursday, Trufant (back) and linebacker Will Herring (hamstring) were back on the practice field with full participation. Carroll said after practice that he expects Trufant to be ready to play against the Buccaneers. Herring is listed as questionable, while Trufant, defensive end Chris Clemons (ankle), linebacker Lofa Tatupu (knee), and center Chris Spencer (shoulder) were listed as probable.

– Carroll on the practice and preparation week for Matt Hasselbeck, who retained his starting job despite a rough recent stretch: “He had a very good week, yeah. He came out with his attitude just right, just like a pro. He put stuff behind him and was very focused, upbeat, and very much looking forward to having a good game and doing the things that we want him to do. So he was great all week long.”

– Fullback Michael Robinson was fined $5,000 by the NFL for an unnecessary roughness penalty on a Leon Washington return against the Falcons. In that same game, Atlanta defensive end Kroy Biermann was fined $15,000 for a roughing the passer call on Seahawks quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.


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