Star left tackle Russell Okung returned to practice Tuesday, a 310-pound indicator of a Seattle Seahawks’ health report generally pointed in a positive direction.
“I love playing,” Okung said. “This is my job. As soon as I can get back, it will be great. I’m really looking forward to the chance to get back out there.”
Okung missed Sunday’s win at Arizona with a bruised lung suffered the previous week against San Francisco.
Coach Pete Carroll said Okung “has a real good chance to get back” into the lineup for the regular-season finale Sunday when the St. Louis Rams visit CenturyLink Field.
Even without Okung and starting center Max Unger, the Seahawks not only rang up 35 points against the Cardinals, but also a franchise record 596 totals yards, including 267 on the ground. In that game Patrick Lewis started in place of Unger, while Alvin Bailey stepped in at Okung’s left tackle spot.
“They’re doing some great stuff without us,” Okung said. “It’s good to see our guys just fighting for the yards. Marshawn (Lynch) can do what he can do, and Russell (Wilson) and (Robert) Turbin and Christine Michael got good touches, too. We pride ourselves on being a team that can run the ball efficiently.”
Unger (high-ankle sprain) didn’t practice Tuesday. And while Carroll held out hope that he might practice Wednesday, the coach said he didn’t want to rush him back.
“It’s going to be touch-and-go to get him by the game,” Carroll said. “It’s just been a long, arduous process getting him back. And unfortunately, I would love to say he’s cranking and ready to go, but I can’t tell you that right now.”
If Unger remains out, Lewis or Lemuel Jeanpierre are the likely replacements. Carroll wouldn’t pick Tuesday.
Receiver Jermaine Kearse, who suffered a hamstring injury in Arizona, also wasn’t ruled out, but Carroll said “it’s going to be hard to get him back in seven days.”
The news was better for tight ends Cooper Helfet (rib) and Tony Moeaki (shoulder) and wide receiver Chris Matthews (hamstring), who all were expected to practice Tuesday. Carroll said defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) “is getting closer,” while cornerback Tharold Simon (shoulder) could be in the mix for Sunday — which Carroll said would mark “an amazing recovery.”
Finally, Carroll said the upset stomach that kept Lynch out of the first quarter at Arizona is simply an issue that seems to arise occasionally.
“There’s been a handful of times when he just can’t quite get right at the start of the games,” Carroll said. “It’s not something that’s perfectly timed. It kind of happens when it happens.”
Carroll began his Tuesday press conference with a holiday greeting.
“All of us want to wish everybody happy holiday and merry Christmas and all that,” he said. “It’s a big week. There’s a lot going on in football, but there’s a lot going on in the rest of the world, too, and we’re going to try to do everything we can to enjoy the holiday as much as possible, which really means finishing the week with a nice win.”
The Seahawks will practice as usual Wednesday, take Thursday off, then return Friday.
“We’ll just take the break on Christmas Day,” Carroll said. “Everybody will work on Christmas Eve. We’ll recognize it like we did last year. It worked pretty well for us last time around.” (A 27-9 win over the Rams on Dec. 29)
Cornerback Richard Sherman also greeted the media with a holiday theme.
“(Receiver Doug Baldwin and I) had some Christmas carols for you guys to brighten up your holiday season, but I’ll just take questions,” he said. “Obviously, I’m doing it with a heavy heart. We were going to go with ‘Silent Night.’ It wasn’t too far out of my range; but everything’s pretty much out of my range. But Doug could handle it, so he was going to carry it.”
Sherman said his Christmas plans include “a big dinner, and handing out presents.” He noted that his celebration began Monday when his Blanket Coverage Foundation was “able to start a couple of people’s Christmas early for some very deserving families.”
Carroll said he had no concerns about kicker Steven Hauschka, who missed three field goals at Arizona. “That was a big a fluke as we could imagine,” he said. … Carroll called the Rams “probably the most athletic team we’ll face all year long.” … The Seahawks released tight end Gator Hoskins and defensive tackle Jimmy Staten from the practice squad and signed tight end RaShaun Allen, safety Dion Bailey and wide receiver Douglas McNeil to the practice squad. Staten had been the team’s fifth-round pick (172nd overall) in the 2014 draft.