When Germain Ifedi returns from his sprained ankle — whenever that may be — he might come back atop a white horse.
That’s how heroic the Seahawks expect their top rookie’s return will be.
Coach Pete Carroll said Monday his team is not going to make personnel changes on its struggling offensive line. That leaves the Seahawks pinning their hopes of improving that line — and thus, the entire, slogging offense — on the return of Ifedi from the high-ankle sprain.
The injury has caused him to miss the season’s first two games, in which Seattle (1-1) has scored 15 total points with one touchdown.
“No, we are not considering any changes,” on the line, Carroll said the day after Seattle scored its fewest points in five years in a 9-3 loss at Los Angeles.
“We are looking to see if we get Germain back … he’s really close to getting back.”
The Seahawks have other injury issues, new ones coming out of the Rams game.
No. 1 wide receiver Doug Baldwin and emerging threat Tyler Lockett both suffered sprained knees in Los Angeles, though both played on. Lead running back Thomas Rawls got kicked in the leg after rushing seven times for minus-7 yards against the Rams and missed the final 2 1/2 quarters.
Rookie tight end Nick Vannett is still trying to make his regular-season debut. The third-round pick has had a high-ankle sprain for nearly a month.
On Monday, Carroll didn’t have updates on Baldwin, Lockett, Rawls or Vannett. He said it might be until Thursday before the team has a read on their status for the week, but Baldwin and Lockett finishing this past weekend’s game at Los Angeles suggests they will play Sunday against San Francisco (1-1) at CenturyLink Field.
Carroll did emphasize how important the eventual return of Ifedi will be. He was the 31st-overall pick in April’s draft from Texas A&M.
Ifedi will test this week by running on the ankle he injured days before the Sept. 11 opener.
He was a star in training camp and in the preseason. Ifedi was the most aggressive and dominant of the offensive linemen, four of which are starting in new positions for Seattle this season. But on the Wednesday before the opening game, he got tangled with other linemen during a practice and severely turned his leg high above the ankle. He hasn’t been on the field since.
The continuity the new line had built all summer? Gone.
J’Marcus Webb had to go from backup right tackle to starting right guard on the Thursday before the Sunday opener against Miami. Webb’s been mostly handled by the Dolphins’ Ndamukong Suh and Los Angeles’ Aaron Donald in his two starts for Ifedi.
Meanwhile, Seattle has an average of just 3.2 yards per rush and quarterback Russell Wilson playing on a sprained ankle he got against Miami.
“Those are all legit,” Carroll said of the issues Ifedi’s absence has caused.
“We had good continuity throughout the preseason. We felt like we were intact for the running game. Things were getting stronger in the first four (preseason) looks at it — and then there was some adjusting we had to do right there. It was a big shift. We shifted on Thursday of that week, so then you take a step back to go forward and we had to do that there.
“But two weeks into it now we need to go.”
Yes, they sure do.
Ifedi is the only option currently on the roster viable to make the league’s lowest-paid line better.
Seattle’s backup blockers Sunday at Los Angeles were rookie draft choices Joey Hunt at center and Rees Odhiambo at guard and tackle, plus undrafted rookie tackle George Fant. Fant was a college basketball player at Western Kentucky.
So the cupboard isn’t exactly stocked at a position where the Seahawks have skimped while keeping their star-studded defense plus Wilson and top receiver Doug Baldwin rich and in Seattle.
Ifedi will try those run tests this week to play against the 49ers. But it appears more likely he will return for the Seahawks’ fourth game, Oct. 2 at New York against the Jets’ nasty defensive front.
Seattle’s bye week comes after that. But having to first face a Jets front led by disruptive defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, the Seahawks likely can’t afford to keep Ifedi on the shelf if he’s at all ready to go by next week.
That is, if not before.
“We should be in pretty good shape and we should be able to get back to how we want to, and Germain is really close to getting back,” Carroll said. “He looks to be like a tremendous factor for us. We were really excited about him.
“So when he comes back out, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a little bit of difference, because he was that impacting all throughout camp and the preseason all the way up to that Wednesday in practice.”