Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Chris Gray's career-ending back injury won't affect the Seahawks immediately if the current starters remain healthy. But with right guard Rob Sims struggling some in camp, and with center Chris Spencer recovering from injuries, the Seahawks have lost valuable depth along their offensive line.
Gray wasn't a dominant player. The Seahawks have been trying to replace him almost since he arrived as a free agent in 1998. But Gray kept finding ways to stay relevant. He studied opponents tirelessly, filling notebooks with information. He knew his assignments almost without fail. Year after year, the Seahawks wound up needing Gray more than they anticipated.
Perhaps this year was going to be different, but Gray was certainly a security blanket, and not just at guard. He was the second-team center, an important position for Seattle given Spencer's injury concerns.
Gray was the last player in the league drafted under legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula. A fifth-round choice in 1993, Gray came to the Seahawks as a free agent when Dennis Erickson was still coach. He eventually broke Cortez Kennedy's franchise record for consecutive regular-season starts.
The Seahawks knew they couldn't depend on Gray forever. They signed Mike Wahle in free agency to start at left guard. They know Sims has the talent to start at right guard. They are developing Mansfield Wrotto. Sims and Wrotto are prospects. Floyd Womack is injury prone. Gray was a sure thing, until now. The Seahawks will miss him.