With Okung, now officially out for at least eight weeks, it’s possible the Seattle Seahawks' Pro Bowl offensive tackle and wide receiver could return together for the home game against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 17.
Okung was placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list Friday because of a torn ligament in a big toe. The Minnesota game is the first week Okung could return.
Harvin, the Seahawks' top off-season acquisition in a trade with the Vikings, had hip surgery Aug. 1 to repair a torn labrum. The usual recovery time for the surgery is three-to-four months.
So it’s not out of the question that both players could return to action at the same time. It would make for a dramatic return for Harvin if his first game for the Seahawks came against his former teammates.
But Harvin has been tweeting he plans to be back sooner than expected. He was jogging on the field last weekend before the game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The biggest concern for the Seahawks right now is getting by without one of the best left tackles in the NFL.
Paul McQuistan, an eight-year veteran, is moving over from his left guard spot to start at left tackle. It will be his first start at the position since the last regular season game of the 2011 season, when he started the last four games while Okung was out with a torn pectoral muscle. And he played almost his entire college career at left tackle, making 42 starts at that spot for Weber State. So McQuistan isn’t coming into this without knowledge of the position.
McQuistan is a capable offensive linemen, but he isn’t Okung. McQuistan is known as an excellent run blocker, but an average pass blocker, which can be a problem when you typically have to face the opponent’s best pass-rusher every week.
It probably won’t matter much on Sunday against Jacksonville, possibly the worst team in the NFL. But next week at Houston will be a much tougher test for McQuistan.
J.J. Watt, the NFL defensive player of the year last season with 20.5 sacks, normally doesn’t line up over the opponent’s left tackle, but the Texans might want to see if McQuistan can stop Watt and keep him away from quarterback Russell Wilson.
McQuistan may need some help. One option for the Seahawks could be to keep tight end Zach Miller on the line of scrimmage more for blocking. Miller did that a lot his first season at Seattle in 2011 because the offensive line was unsettled, but coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week they have no plans to change the way they use Miller.
Seahawks rookie tight end Luke Willson is a strong receiver, but not the blocker Miller is. Seattle also could keep three tight ends active and use recently acquired veteran Kellen Davis as an extra blocker. Davis (6-7, 265) is known as a blocking tight end.
Seattle also has two talented rookie offensive tackles in Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey. Both players were inactive last week, but at least one of them will be on the active roster Sunday, if not both of them.
“This sends a strong message to Bailey and Bowie that they’ve got to get right,” Carroll said Friday. “They are one step away from playing. There’s a sense of urgency there.”
Carroll wouldn’t say which rookie would come in first if needed. When asked if one them was ahead of the other, he said, “I’m sure one of them is to some degree.”
No one can be the player Okung is, but that doesn’t mean the Seahawks will struggle without him. Time will tell how McQuistan handles the job.
And Nov. 17 against the Vikings could be “Return-Sunday” if Okung and Harvin come back on the same day.