Second-degree ankle sprain for George Fant; Geno Smith on the mend

Poona Ford 8-11

RENTON -- Backup tackle George Fant has a second-degree ankle sprain that brings his availability for the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals into question.

Head coach Pete Carroll said on Sunday that Fant will need a few weeks to recover from the sprain sustained in Thursday night's preseason game against the Denver Broncos. However, Carroll didn't rule out the start of the season being a possibility for Fant to be ready.

"It's a second-degree type of sprain and so it's going to take him a few weeks," Carroll said. "We feel really comfortable with what George can do. He reported in great shape and really strong and all that. We know the role that we like to play him in so he'll just come back to us. It'll take weeks to get that done but he'll be shooting to get back for the opener."

Fant has become a trusted reserve for Seattle that also sees time as an extra tight end in jumbo sets. The Seahawks have felt comfortable with Fant playing either tackle position and using him as an extra blocker and, sparingly, as a pass target as well.

While Fant is sidelined, second-year tackle Jamarco Jones will have a little bit more thrust onto his plate. Jones had impressed the coaching staff last season and had moved up the depth chart quickly only to have his rookie season ended in the preseason due to a bad ankle sprain that landed him on injured reserve.

"We found Jamarco to be really a good learner, really instinctive, has a good sense for playing tackle and it very comfortable," Carroll said.

Jones has been working with the second-team offensive line at left tackle throughout training camp.

"It's been a long year," Jones said after the game on Thursday night. "It felt good to finally be able to go out there and play and finish the game healthy. It's been a long journey. I was happy to be able to get back out there.

"I felt like I was starting to get into a rhythm and I was practicing really well at the time so it was just really unfortunate. I was making a lot of progress. I was getting good reviews. The film was looking really good so I was excited about last year and to have that happen in the first game was tough."

Jones said it took until pads came on early in training camp to know conclusively that he was back to 100 percent. Jones played all 69 offensive snaps of the game against the Broncos on Thursday, which was the first full game Jones has played since his senior year at Ohio State.

"First half was a little rusty but that's part of it. But it felt really good to be out there," Jones said.

Jones will take over the swing tackle role in the interim while Fant is sidelined, which may also include Fant's role as an extra tight end eventually.

"(He) can play on both sides now. You'll see him move around and do some other things as well as we get going here. We trust him. He's just got a good awareness about him. He's not playing like a young guy. He's playing like a guy that has background and all that so he's ahead of schedule in that regard."

Notes:

-- Geno Smith was back watching practice on Sunday after having surgery to get a cyst removed from his knee on Friday. Smith has a chance of returning in time for next Sunday's game at Minnesota.

"He's out here moving around already so the next day he was OK," Carroll said. "It wasn't a ligament or a cartilage repair. This was something else. He had a little cyst in there that they had to work out. They got it and so his recovery should be, could be before the next game, which is great. We'll see. That's probably pushing it but he's determined to come back and play against Minnesota."

Smith's numbers weren't as impressive as Paxton Lynch's were in the first preseason game. However, Carroll made sure to note there was a pretty significant reason for that.

"Geno went against their best guys," he said. He had a couple edge rushers (Von Miller and Bradley Chubb) that are pretty noted and so he dealt with a little more pressure.

"Paxton on the other side of it just really flowed well in the game. He made good decisions. He pulled the ball down and ran a couple times really well, showed you his movement for a 6-7 guy. It's unique. It's what made him a first-rounder, you know, and he made some great throws also. He had a really good first game. I was really fired up for him. That's the best he's looked."

The Seahawks added quarterback J.T. Barrett on Saturday to serve as depth this week in practice and insurance in case Smith can't play against the Vikings.

"J.T. is a guy who've we've always been aware of and we've watched him and known that he's out there and looked for opportunities maybe to get a shot," Carroll said. "Right now not knowing what's going to happen with Geno for this week we needed insurance going through the week and into the game as well. We'll see what happens. He's played in the big time. He's a leader. He's real smart. He's got a strong enough arm. I just like kind of the guy that he is. He's a QB and so he'll jump in here and see what he can do. We'll check him out."

-- Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah continues to make progress in the background and he works back from shoulder surgery. Carroll said Ansah's strength is almost back to where it needs to be and they hope to see him get on the practice field for a couple weeks of work before the start of the regular season.

"He's doing a really good job," Carroll said. "He's in good shape now. His strength is almost back to where it needs to be. He's getting a ton of work and he gets all the walkthrough periods that we get, he takes all the reps in those periods, so he's up scheme-wise on what's going on. We just got to get him to playing football again and that won't happen for a bit. We're going to take our time and make sure he's secure when he comes back.

"Everybody needs to practice to get ready. Ziggy is a really good ball player. He's played a lot of football. He's done all of the things that we've asked him to do in our scheme. He's an excellent fit for us. As long as he's up mentally and communication-wise and we can see that in the walkthroughs, we know he's making progress toward being ready. It's that last little bit of shucking the blocks and getting your leverage right and getting your pads down and all that kind of stuff. And the timing on his pass rush. That will come when he gets back on the practice field going. Hopefully we'll get a couple weeks before the game and he'll be back with us working and that should be enough."

-- Guard Mike Iupati (foot) is about a week away from returning to field. He's been sidelined with a foot sprain.

-- Linebacker Shaquem Griffin did not practice on Sunday due to a bruised knee sustained in the game.

-- Running back C.J. Prosise (groin) and J.D. McKissic (foot) each have a chance to get back for Sunday's game against Minnesota.

"J.D. is day-to-day. He's just about ready to get back out there," Carroll said. "We've got to make sure and clear this little strain that C.J. has in his hip. Both those guys have a chance to play in the game. We'll see what happens the next couple days."

-- Tight end Jacob Hollister has a chance to play against Minnesota as well but won't have a chance to return to the practice fields until after the team's day off on Wednesday.

-- Safety Lano Hill is still not yet taking part in team drills as he works back from a hip fracture at the end of last season.

Photo Credit: Seahawks defensive tackle Poona Ford tackles a blocking pad during the early stages of practice on August 11, 2019. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)

Curtis Crabtree

Curtis Crabtree

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