Seahawks tight end Zach Miller will miss at least two games after having surgery last week to clean up some “loose bodies” in his ankle.
After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to exactly when he will be back.
Coach Pete Carroll said after Monday’s walk-through that the team will “give him a couple of weeks and then we’ll go week-to-week and see how he does.”
So, essentially, expect Miller to rest and recover while Seattle plays at Washington Monday and then hosts Dallas on Oct. 12, and then anywhere from that point on possibly make it back.
Carroll reiterated that they do not expect Miller to be out for long and also said they are unlikely to go outside to find another tight end for the roster — since Miller will not be placed on IR there is no open roster spot being created.
Carroll said they had had a number of guys come in for tryouts in recent days but thinks they can replace Miller well enough for a few weeks with what they already have on the roster.
“We’ve looked hard had a lot of guys in here, worked out at lot of people,” he said. “We would like to stay with all of our people, banking on the communication and the system working for us and all of that, so we are going to get it fixed right here.”
That means elevating second-year player Luke Willson to a starting role and Cooper Helfet to a backup role. And if needed, possibly using tackle Gary Gilliam — who played tight end at Penn State until his senior year — as a tight end, as well.
Willson has played 53 snaps so far but has just one catch for one yard.
“This is really a great opportunity for him to step up,” Carroll said. “He’s improved in every area. He’s one of those young guys that really has gotten a ton better. He’s tougher and faster than he was a year ago because of the off-season. So in every way he has improved. But this is a lot to ask of him. This is the first time he’ll have this kind of duty. But it’s his turn to step up.”
Helfet played five snaps on special teams against Denver but has not played in a regular season game as a tight end after missing the first two games with a knee injury, and this being his first year on the 53-man roster after spending last year on the practice squad.
“He’s in good shape to play,” Carroll said. “He’ll be integrally involved. He’ll be all over it.”
As for Miller, Carroll said the ankle had been bothering him for a while and they wanted to clean it up now rather than have him play through it for the rest of the season. That Seattle had a bye week last week helped make the decision, since he was able to have the surgery and use that week to begin the rehab process.
“It’s been bothering him for a number of weeks and he’s been playing with it and we just don’t want him to have to tolerate it any longer,” Carroll said. “See if we can fix him up and hopefully he will have a speedy recovery. Just a clean-up kind of thing. But he had some loose bodies in his ankle that were bothering him and were very, very uncomfortable. … It wasn’t going to get any better. He needed to get fixed up.”
Miller ranks fifth on the team in receptions with six for 76 yards. But his greatest value may be as a blocker, particularly in helping against edge pass rushers — he’s been used a lot on the right side so far to help out rookie tackle Justin Britt.
“We’ll miss a lot in his absence,” Carroll said.
Second-year player Alvin Bailey has also played some for Seattle as an extra tight end/eligible tackle, including in the Super Bowl win over Denver. And if they really need another body, the Seahawks could also maybe turn to defensive lineman Cassius Marsh, who got a few snaps at tight end while at UCLA, catching two touchdown passes.
Carroll joked that Marsh had already knocked on his door to say he was available if needed. And it’s also worth noting that the Seahawks have rookie RaShaun Allen on the practice squad, if needed.
This will be the second straight year Seattle has had to get by without Miller for at least a few games. He also missed two games last season — at Indianapolis and home against Tennessee — with a hamstring injury. Willson started both of those games, as well (including games where he got the start when Seattle began with two tight ends, Willson started seven games last season. He also officially got a start against Green Bay this season).
In other news:
— S Kam Chancellor came back well from the bye week and the ankle that bothered him against San Diego. “He looked great today,” Carroll said. “It was an issue a couple of weeks ago, bothered him up in San Diego. He made it back and did a really good job last week and played great football and looks fine today. So we might have put that one behind us.”
— Carroll also said CB Tharold Simon continues to recover well from knee surgery a few weeks ago and is “only a couple of weeks” from returning.
— And he reiterated that RB Christine Michael is back to full health following a hamstring injury that bothered him a few weeks ago. “He’s ready to go,” Carroll said.. “He has been for a week now and it’s good to get him back … it’s hard to get on the roster right now for guys. We are in pretty good health and fortunate for that. But he’s really ready to go and wants to play badly as you can imagine. so we’ll see what happens.”
Here’s some video of Carroll talking about Miller:
[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”3812381719001″/]