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September 29, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Seattle tight end Zach Miller has ankle surgery, return TBD UPDATED

Seattle starting tight end Zach Miller had surgery on his ankle  during the bye week, the team confirmed Monday morning.

However, it’s unclear exactly how long he will be out as the team says “an exact timetable for his return has yet to be determined.”

A report from FoxSports.com, which broke the news, said Miller would be out  “an extended period of time.” Other reports have put his absence at anywhere from 3-6 weeks.

The team is not placing Miller on the Injured Reserve list, which would mean he would be out for the season, so obviously the expectation is that he will be back for enough games to make it worth carrying him on the roster for a while.

Seattle is limited in its roster options with Miller since it has already used its one injured reserve/designated to return option on cornerback Jeremy Lane, who suffered a groin injury in the opener and is due back for the game against the Giants on Nov. 9. So Seattle apparently will have to keep Miller on the active roster — putting him on the regular IR would mean he would be lost for the season.

Miller was on Seattle’s injury list during the week leading up to the Denver game with an ankle injury apparently suffered against San Diego, missing practices on Wednesday and Thursday.

But he played throughout the win over Denver, on the field for 71 of a possible 78 snaps and 157 of 181 for the Seahawks this season.

On the Friday prior to the Denver game, coach Pete Carroll said of Miller that “he did fine” in practice after having missed the previous two days and that he “looked like he was ready to go.”

Seattle has two other tight ends on its active roster in second-year man Luke Willson and Cooper Helfet, the latter of whom saw his first NFL action against Denver, though only on special teams.

Miller, an eight-year vet, got off to a nice start to his season with three catches against Green Bay and has six for the season for 76 yards. His greatest value to the team. though, may be as a blocker, both in  the run and pass.

He has often been used this season on the right side of Seattle’s offensive line to help rookie tackle Justin Britt with pass protection.

With Miller out, Seattle will have to figure out how to make up for that blocking — an immediate challenge comes this week in Washington outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who typically lines up on the left side of the team’s defense and has an NFL-best five sacks this season.

One option is to use tackles such as Garry Gilliam and Alvin Bailey in a role as an eligible tackle or extra tight end. Recall that Bailey has been used in that role in the past, including in the Super Bowl win over Denver, and Gilliam was also used in that role some in the preseason.

The Seahawks could also bring in another tight end. But as noted, they plan to keep Miller on the 53-man roster so they’d need to clear a spot  by removing someone else.

 

 

 

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