Seahawks Built to Withstand Duane Brown’s Absence
Preparing to face off against a talented Browns defensive line headlined by former first overall pick Myles Garrett, the Seahawks disclosed some unwanted news on veteran left tackle Duane Brown following Friday’s practice.
Battling a bicep injury suffered back in Week 3 against the Saints, Brown hadn’t practiced the past few weeks in an effort to accelerate his healing process. He managed to somehow gut it out and played each of the Seahawks past two games, including starting and playing all four quarters in a 30-29 win over the Rams last Thursday.
“He just toughed it out.” coach Pete Carroll said about Brown’s heroic efforts. “It was hard and really uncomfortable about it. He wouldn’t say anything about it and finished the game. Got it done. He was hurt and he knew it and played with it. Made it through it. We have to take care of him.”
Unfortunately, according to Carroll, Brown’s injury hasn’t responded to additional rest as hoped and he’s doubtful to suit up on Sunday in Cleveland, likely leaving the Seahawks without their best offensive lineman.
The 34-year old Brown has been durable for most of his career and since being acquired by the Seahawks in the middle of the 2017 season in a trade with the Texans, he’s started all 30 of the team’s regular season games. He’s started 163 out of a possible 181 games in his 12-year career, with six of those games missed resulting from a contract holdout.
Simply put, the Seahawks aren’t accustomed to playing without their unsung All Pro leader protecting quarterback Russell Wilson’s blind side.
“If Duane’s not ready to play, you’re losing a lot of experience and a lot of vision that he has, and he shares.” Carroll stated. “The perception he has is extremely unique, and you’re going to miss some of that.”
As noted by Carroll, Seattle won’t be able to replace Brown’s knowledge and leadership skills if he’s unable to play. But unlike a few years ago, the presence of George Fant as well as second-year lineman Jamarco Jones gives the team quality insurance options for such circumstances.
Only two years ago, Fant looked poised to become Seattle’s new starting left tackle after starting 10 games as a rookie.
But he suffered a gruesome knee injury during the team’s second preseason game and missed the entire season, eventually forcing the Seahawks to ship multiple draft picks to Houston for Brown.
Though his opportunity to become a full-time starter dissolved with Brown’s arrival, Fant has become an integral part of Seattle’s offense by playing extensive snaps as a tight end over the past two years. Given his improved understanding of the game and increased strength, he’s been unconventionally priming for this moment all along.
Thrust into action when starting right guard D.J. Fluker injured his hamstring on Thursday, Jones impressed in his first regular season action as a Seahawk. Naturally a tackle, he surprised coaches and teammates with how smoothly he adjusted to a position he hadn’t played in a game at any level and certainly earned his first career start.
While Carroll refused to reveal who would start for Brown, all signs point towards Jones staying at guard as Fluker’s replacement. Regardless of who is at left tackle, the Seahawks will be counting on their other veteran leaders, including center Justin Britt and Wilson, to collectively to help offset the loss of two starters up front in Cleveland.
“It falls on everybody to be on it.” Carroll said. “Britt’s got to have a really good game for us. He’s got to really do a great job in the middle of all of it. He and Russ have to communicate really well.”
Not having Brown available certainly hurts Seattle talent-wise and being out for more than a game or two would be a major loss for Carroll’s squad. But with three experienced starters and two quality backups ready to step up to the plate, the team should remain confident about its chances to weather the storm this weekend.