The Seattle Seahawks prioritized adding to their defensive line this offseason with several moves in free agency and through the draft to bolster their depth.
Now that depth is being severely tested as many of those acquisitions are sidelined with an array of various ailments with just over a week remaining until their season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 8.
The Seahawks signed defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel in free agency. They also selected tackles Jordan Hill in the third round and Jesse Williams in the fifth round to help cement the depth along their defensive front.
None of the five will play in the team’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders Thursday night.
Williams landed on injured reserve with a troublesome knee this week. Hill suffered a strained biceps in practice last week and is considered week-to-week by the team. Avril re-aggravated a hamstring injury last week and hasn’t played this preseason. McDaniel is dealing with a groin strain and Bennett left the team for the weekend to get work done on a bothersome toe.
In addition, starter Brandon Mebane is also sidelined with a groin injury, Chris Clemons remains on PUP as he returns from an ACL tear in January and Bruce Irvin will miss the first four games of the season due to suspension.
It’s left the Seahawks incredibly thin with uncertainty surrounding their players’ availability for the start of the season.
Head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday Bennett’s toe issue isn’t considered serious and he should be fine. He said McDaniel and Mebane should be OK unless they don’t respond well to returning to practice last week. Avril’s status will also be contingent on if he’s able to return to practice next week.
While none of the injuries are long-term problems, the number of guys battling injuries along the defensive line is concerning. Seattle will still have to play somebody at those positions against Carolina in 10 days. If the majority of them can’t make it back for the opener, the Seahawks could find themselves much more short-handed than they could have ever anticipated.