Spencer's injury could alter Seahawks career

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Spencer Seahawks center Chris Spencer is entering the final year of his rookie contract, a pivotal season for a player who has not yet lived up to his first-round draft selection pedigree.

The injury Spencer suffered Saturday night -- a muscle tear in his left thigh that could sideline him for the first couple regular-season games, coach Jim Mora told KJR radio in Seattle -- comes at a critical time for Spencer. Every game he misses sets up Max Unger or Steve Vallos to step into the lineup and take firm grasp of the job for this season and years to come.

Injuries are the fastest way out of a job in the NFL. Spencer has missed only five games over the last three seasons, but he has battled injuries regularly. A sprained ankle sidelined him through part of this camp. Back and shoulder injuries have sidelined him for long stretches in previous offseasons.

Spencer has generally played well enough to start, but Unger's selection in the second round and his quick development put pressure on Spencer this season. Unger has a good chance to start at center or right guard early in his career, if not right away.

Update: Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times calls the injury a second-degree tear of the left quadriceps, noting that Spencer could miss 4-6 weeks.