Luke Joeckel will miss the next four to five weeks recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, meaning backups Mark Glowinski and rookie Ethan Pocic will compete to see who starts at left guard Sunday for the Seahawks (3-2) in New Jersey against the 1-5 Giants.
So said coach Pete Carroll after the bye week Tuesday, describing the latest blow to the unit that largely holds the Seahawks’ playoff fate in its meaty hands. Before the surgery Thursday, Carroll suggested Joeckel might miss only a game.
“We’re going to see how it heals and how he comes back around,” Carroll said. “He definitely needed to get some things cleaned up, taken care of. Everything went beautifully. We are going to be optimistic that he can make it back in four-five weeks.
“Maybe that is optimistic, maybe that isn’t. Got to see how he heals . . . we really won’t be able to know for probably three weeks, anyway.’’
Carroll said the injury was a “general concern” that didn’t limit his play, indicating it didn’t hinder his directional movement.
The Seahawks signed Joeckel to a one-year contract for $8 million ($7 million guaranteed) in free agency despite surgery last October to repair tears in his ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus while playing for Jacksonville. Joeckel started all five games but Carroll said lingering problems kept Joeckel from practicing for a couple of days after games.
Glowinski, a three-year veteran, figures to have the inside track, since he started every game last year at the position before being tried at right guard this fall. He started the first two games on the right side before being supplanted by veteran free agent signee Oday Aboushi for the most recent three games.
Pocic was taken in the second round from Louisiana State and has yet to play an offensive down.
“I have high hopes,” Carroll said of the competition. “We’re very fortunate to have Glow in that competition, because of his background. He’s started. He’s played a lot of football for us and he knows our system. So that’s a positive. But also we’re so encouraged by Ethan’s play. We want to give him a chance to see how far he can take it.
“This week may not be the indication of what happens over the next few weeks. We’re going to start the competition and let these guys go at it. Both guys are athletic. Both guys move equally well and can do everything we need. It’s just going to be how they fit in.”
The Seahawks are already starting a second-stringer, Rees Odhiambo, at left tackle, where scheduled starter George Fant was lost to knee surgery in preseason.
The Seahawks spent the bye week shopping for O-line help, but the market is thin. They took a visit with free agent LT Branden Albert, 33 next month, but the nine-year veteran, who hasn’t played since his 2016 season ended with Miami, left without signing a deal.
“We talked to him, spent a good while with him,” Carroll said, “but came to no agreement on anything.’’
The Seahawks are constrained by having only $1.9 million left under the salary cap. It’s possible they could trade before the Oct. 31 deadline, but few teams would be willing to part with a healthy O-lineman that the Seahawks could afford and would consider an upgrade.
Carroll admitted that the change this week will be particularly hard.
“It happens to be a very difficult preparation against the Giants, who do a ton of stuff,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how the guys handle it. I have very high expectations that they’ll do fine and fit in well.”
Bennett aims to play Sunday
DE Michael Bennett, who injured the plantar fascia in his right foot against the Rams, is improving enough to have a shot. “He feels like he’s going to be able to play,’’ Carroll said. “But he’s going to need all of these days to keep healing. So good signs today, though.” . . . No news yet on his longtime tandem pal, Cliff Avril, who had a career-threatening stinger Oct. 1. “I can’t say anything to you today — maybe next couple of days we’ll know more,” Carroll said. “He’s continuing to see specialists.”