BY Art Thiel 06:03PM 01/10/2020

Thiel: Seahawks O-line a mystery until Sunday

If neither Duane Brown or George Fant is healthy, stepping in at left tackle from the practice squad is Chad Wheeler, former all-Pac-12 tackle at USC who hasn’t played this season.

LT Duane Brown got some work in Friday, and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in Green Bay. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Two Seahawks offensive line positions will be game-time decisions for Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game at Green Bay, according to coach Pete Carroll after practice Friday. Left tackle, the key protector of QB Russell Wilson’s backside , is the most vulnerable.

Both Duane Brown (knee surgery) and George Fant (groin), the two who have taken most of the snaps at the position this season, were listed on the injury report as questionable. At left guard, Mike Iupati is doubtful with a neck stinger that has lingered.

As is typical for Friday, Carroll was circumspect about plans for Sunday. Brown has been out since Dec. 23, so how long he can play if he does start is a big question. If neither he nor Fant can play, moving up from the practice squad for his first action of the season would be Chad Wheeler, a 6-7, 318-pound former first-team All-Pac-12 left tackle at USC.

He started 17 of 29 games for the New York Giants before being waived on an injury settlement Sept. 9, then signed onto Seattle’s practice squad Oct. 15. He was the Trojans’ offensive lineman of the year in 2016 but went undrafted before signing as a free agent with the Giants.

His line coach with the Giants was Mike Solari, who’s now with the Seahawks.

“He’s played for Mike, and Mike knows him really well,” Carroll said.  “I’m real confident that if he we need him, he’ll be able to jump up. He’s worked on the left side for us almost the whole time.

“He’s been in the system and he knows what we’re asking of him. He’s been really solid throughout. The main thing is to ask him to just do what he’s capable and not overreach.”

If Iupati doesn’t play, second-year OL Jamarco Jones will fill in. He subbed at left guard when Iupati went down last week, and earlier in the season started two games at right guard for injured D.J. Fluker.

“I thought he did a really good job,” Carroll said. “He’s a really good pass protector. Has a good feel for stuff in general. He’s very flexible, too. He’s been able to move around and play different spots. We feel very confident about him playing.”

The health of the O-line is critical because the Packers have two formidable pass rushers in Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, who have combined for 25 sacks this season.

“They’re really well equipped,” Carroll said. “Obviously, the production is ridiculous. Za’Darius is a guy that moves a lot more than Preston does, but they’re both really effective. They’re going to make it hard on us for sure. We have to do a really nice job of keeping them where we want them.”

With the healthy returns of Jaron Brown and Malik Turner, the Seahawks will have their full complement of wide receivers. On defense, three are listed as questionable: DEs Ziggy Ansah (neck) and Quinton Jefferson (ankle) and FS Marquise Blair (ankle). The good health news was that DE Jadeveon Clowney is OK after a productive game in the 17-9 win over the Eagles.

“As the week progressed, he felt much better than he did last week,” Carroll said. “So, he’s in good shape and ready to go. We’re excited about that. We’re really certain about his return. He’s in good shape to go.”

The Sunday weather in Green Bay is predicted to be cold (about 22 degrees at the 5:40 p.m. CT kickoff) but dry with light winds. However, a storm Saturday could dump several inches of snow on Lambeau Field. Crews there have some experience at clearing the field.


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YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    The Packers should start out slow having a week off so the Seahawks should start off aggressive while they can. The strength of the Packers is their defense, especially their line. The Seahawks patched up O-Line had its work cut out. For the Hawks IMO they have more options on offense than Green Bay. If Green Bay tries to stick with the run that should work in the Hawks favor. I’m assuming the Packers will focus on DK after his big game last week so it’s important for Lockett to make his presence felt.

    • art thiel

      I’d disagree on Packers options, given Jones’ RB contributions. The X factor is whether Clowney can put together two good games in a row to disrupt Rodgers.

  • coug73

    Seahawk football, run the ball. Beast and Hunter. 100+ yards on 30 carries. Quick throws mixed with long balls. May need to roll Russell to the right or move the pocket some. Cory Hunter needs to play the game of his Seahawk life. Still think more FB leads would help the running game. I’m sure Russell will pick his spots to run.

    This is a game the Hawk D needs to step it up and make Roger’s uncomfortable. Stuff the run. Enough rambling, time to play ball Sunday. Go Hawks.

    • Mark Stratton

      Who is Cory Hunter?

      • coug73

        Joey Hunter. Thanks, for reading my post/edit.

        • art thiel

          Let’s settle on Joey Hunt.

    • DB

      You nailed it.

  • Kevin Lynch

    The up-to-date prediction on the weather is bad. 21 degrees pretty much throughout the game but wind chill may dip into single digits. Wind prediction is 20 to 30mph with gusts to 40. So the passing game needs to be straight against the wind or straight with the wind but not across the wind unless you’re really going to gun it and throw short. The game may well come down to dropped balls and turnovers. I’d say the weather helps even out the game unless the Packers trash the Seahawks OL with outside rush, forcing Russell up the middle. His pass/run option is not as good being contained.

    • Kevin Lynch

      Oops! I was looking at today’s weather prediction. My error. Little to no wind tomorrow gives edge to Aaron and the Pack, I believe.

      • art thiel

        It’s supposed to be cold and dry today, but again, a secondary consideration to O-line health.

  • eYeROQ

    If Chad Wheeler is the starting LT I give the Seahawks no chance. They typically move Smith all over the line to exploit mismatches and they’ll just line him up across from Wheeler to tee off on Wilson. It’ll get ugly quick and at that point I’d fear more for Wilson’s long term health.

    Hopefully at least one of Fant or Brown can play.

    • art thiel

      Seahawks had good health early, but the fates quit on them late.