RENTON - The Seattle Seahawks' weekly effort to infuse the team with young talent is starting to affect their ability to field a team.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters the team released veteran offensive lineman Chester Pitts on Thursday.
Pitts, attempting to return after having season-ending microfracture knee surgery a year ago, practiced Wednesday in anticipation of playing for the first time this season Sunday at St. Louis.
The 31-year-old signed with Seattle just before training camp. The former Houston Texan was placed on the active physically-unable-to-perform list.
But the team activated him Aug. 24 after Russell Okung suffered a high ankle sprain. Carroll hoped Pitts would be ready for the opener against San Francisco on Sept. 12.
But similar to former Seahawks star Walter Jones’ struggles after his microfracture surgery last season, Pitts never fully recovered in time to get on the field, and Seattle needed his roster spot to field enough linemen for Sunday’s game.
Carroll said Pitts was slow to recover after practice Wednesday.
“He was a little sore today after yesterday’s workout, and he wasn’t going to be able to practice today,” Carroll said. “So that’s the message – that we weren’t going to get him back in time. We’ve been trying and he’s been working hard at it.
“He’s been a diligent worker to get it right, and it just hasn’t been enough time for him yet. So as soon as it does, we’ll try to get him back out here.”
Part of the reason Seattle is hamstrung in terms of roster flexibility is it signed Breno Giacomini and Allen Barbre to the active roster this week. General manager John Schneider is familiar with both from his time in Green Bay.
But neither player is familiar with Seattle’s blocking scheme, and they do not have enough time to get up to speed before Sunday.
“What they called an apple we called an orange, and you’ve got to sort through that,” Seahawks offensive line coach Art Valero said. “We’re speaking English and he’s speaking French, so we’ve just got to get the translation part right and they’ll be able to go play faster.”
Carroll said the Seahawks likely will use Pitts’ vacant spot to sign offensive lineman Mike Gibson to the active roster. The Seahawks added Gibson to the practice squad this week and let go of running back Chris Henry.
Gibson started the first game of the season against San Francisco but was released earlier this week to clear a roster spot so Seattle could add one of the two new offensive linemen.
In a position group that relies on cohesion and chemistry to execute, the Seahawks have had a lot of turnover, cycling through 24 offensive linemen since Schneider and Carroll took over in January.
Five of the players currently on the active roster have joined the team since Aug. 31. That unit also has a new coach, with Pat Ruel joining the team as an offensive line coach when Alex Gibbs abruptly retired during roster cuts on Sept. 5.
The Seahawks appear to be going through a makeover up front as Schneider and Carroll bring in bigger bodies to improve the running game. That might include a shift in scheme from a strictly zone blocking scheme under Gibbs to more of a power zone under Valero, similar to the scheme Green Bay runs.
Valero said he’s going to focus on coaching the guys he has.
“That’s one thing about coaching here with John Schneider,” Valero said. “Hey, they’re going to turn the roster over. They want to make sure they get their kind of guys. And the guys who aren’t here weren’t necessarily the type of guys they see as guys that fit into the future. So hey, load up on big guys and see if they can play. And if they can, they can. And if they can’t, they can’t. You never know unless you try.”
Okung made it through his second straight practice as a full participant and appears on track to play Sunday. Defensive tackle Chris Clemons (ankle) showed up on Thursday’s injury report and did not practice. Others who did not practice include defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf), defensive end E.J. Wilson (knee) and offensive tackle Sean Locklear (knee). Cornerback Marcus Trufant (ankle) also did not practice, but did some light running and backpedaling drills with a trainer after practice and appeared to move OK. Linebacker Aaron Curry (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice. Along with Okung, wide receiver Mike Williams (shoulder) and offensive guard Ben Hamilton (knee) were full participants. Linebacker Leroy Hill (calf/Achilles’) remains out indefinitely.