Just when the Seahawks seemed as healthy as any NFL team has right to expect at midseason, LT Russell Okung rolled an ankle in practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s 1:25 p.m. game in Dallas against the Cowboys and their maniacal pass rusher, DE Greg Hardy.
“He couldn’t do anything today, so we’ll see what happens,” coach Pete Carroll said after practice Friday. Next man up is Alvin Bailey, who in limited minutes has struggled in pass protection — as have all of his teammates on the offensive line.
“Alvin knows our system,” Carroll said. “He’s the most versatile guy we have. We count on him. He’s got good experience with us, he communicates well. We’re expecting him to do a good job.”
Another line spot in flux is center, where Drew Nowak has started six of seven games, but Patrick Lewis started against Cincinnati before getting hurt. He sat out the 49ers game but made it through practice this week. The Seahawks also recently re-signed free agent Lem Jeanpierre, who might also see time at guard.
Asked who will start, Carroll said, “Wait and see. We’ll let you know when we have the decision for you.”
Hardy is making his third start after a four-game suspension for a domestic-violence conviction when he played at Carolina. He has three sacks, including two against New England’s Tom Brady.
Also returning is rookie star DT Randy Gregory, who came back last week from an ankle injury. Along with holdover vets Demarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford, the Cowboys probably have the toughest defensive front Seattle has seen since the season-opening loss in St. Louis.
The Seattle offense had good health news too, with the recovery of backup RB Thomas Rawls, who had a calf bruise from the 49ers game and missed some practice. He’s ready, and so is WR Paul Richardson, who has not played this season after ACL surgery in January. He practiced all week, but the Seahawks have until Saturday afternoon to decide whether to activate him to the 53-man roster.
“He had a very good week,” Carroll said. “He looked good. He looked really fast. He had a tremendous return, in the sense that he must have really, really worked hard at it, because he looked great out here on the practice field.”
Also expected to return are CB Marcus Burley (thumb), DT Jordan Hill (quad), LB Nick Moody (ankle) and Derrick Coleman (concussion).
Given the success the Seahawks have had running the ball the past three games, as well as avoiding adding to QB Russell Wilson’s league-leading (31) sack total, ground-pounding seems likely.
“I didn’t want it to take us halfway through the season, but we have run the ball better in the last few weeks,” Carroll said. “So we’re going to try to build on that, and hopefully turn it this game again, and play another good football game up front.
“There’s a real sense and a confidence that we’re feeling the running game the way we want it. It was really obvious that it took a long time. We’ve gone through some growing pains.”
The Seahawks are six-point favorites to go into the bye week 4-4.