Pass rush takes blow with Jones on IR

eric.williams@thenewstribune.comDecember 21, 2012 

RENTON — The Seahawks announced on Thursday that they’ve put defensive lineman Jason Jones on the injured reserve, ending his 2012 season.

Jones, 26, had knee surgery during the offseason and had been dealing with a nagging knee problem all year.

He did not practice on Wednesday because of the injury. The Eastern Michigan product played in 12 games this season, finishing with 11 tackles and three sacks. Jones missed two games this year because of an ankle injury.

The Seahawks brought in the 6-foot-5, 276-pound pass rusher on a one-year, $4.5 million deal, giving him an opportunity to prove that he could be a long-term fit for Seattle.

But Jones, who struggled with injuries in 2011 with Tennessee, continued to have problems staying healthy.

With the vacant roster spot, the Seahawks elevated defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo from the practice squad to the active roster. The 6-1, 323-pound Fangupo joined Seattle’s practice squad in September after spending time in the spring with Houston.

With Jones going on IR, and fellow defensive tackle Alan Branch nursing an ankle injury, players such as Clinton McDonald, Greg Scruggs, Jaye Howard and Fangupo will be asked to take on more burden.

Scruggs, a seventh-round selection by Seattle in the 2012 draft, has played in 10 games this season with two sacks. The coaching staff has been impressed with his ability to rush the passer from the defensive tackle position.

“I’m prepared to play every game,” Scruggs said. “My biggest thing is I’ve been waiting for my opportunity and my chance. Now that it’s come, I just have to apply everything that I’ve been doing and have been training hard and working hard for, and go out and put our team in the best position to win.”

Fangupo is stout against the run, and could help plug up the middle of the defense against San Francisco’s potent running attack.

“I’m just excited, man,” Fangupo said. “I know what I can do, I’ve just been waiting.

“On game days it’s hard to watch, so I just try and sit back and wait for my opportunity to play. The best way to do that is by practicing, working my butt off to get the offensive line ready. And now that I have my shot, I’ve got to do the best I can.”

BRANCH RETURNS

Seattle finally got some good news this week, with Branch returning to practice as a full participant on Thursday.

Branch missed practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury. And with Jones placed on injured reserve, the Seahawks need all the defensive line depth they can muster heading into Sunday’s matchup against the 49ers.

INJURY REPORT

Wide receiver Sidney Rice (knee) did not practice for a second straight day, nor did cornerbacks Walter Thurmond (hamstring) and Marcus Trufant (hamstring).

Cornerback Richard Sherman also did not practice, and was listed as non-injury related on the team’s injury report. Sherman is reportedly scheduled to have an appeal hearing today for allegedly violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

Safety Jeron Johnson (groin) and running back Robert Turbin (illness) were limited.

Along with Branch, running backs Marshawn Lynch (back) and Leon Washington (illness) were full participants.

For San Francisco, defensive tackle Justin Smith missed his second straight practice with an elbow injury, putting his availability for Sunday into question. Ricky Jean Francois would fill in if Smith can’t play.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams

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