First off, the bad news: linebacker Leroy Hill’s groin injury is more serious than initially thought. The linebacker will be out until at least week eight, and could require surgery to repair the tear.
The good news: If Seattle has one position on the roster with enough talented depth to absorb injuries, it is at linebacker. Will Herring will replace Leroy Hill in the starting lineup against the San Francisco 49ers.
There is no way to sugar-coat Hill’s injury, however; the defense is undoubtedly better when Hill is on the field. Fortunately, as mentioned before, Herring is a capable player and has looked very good in the preseason and training camp.
To add depth to the depleted position, the Seahawks re-signed linebacker D.D. Lewis, originally cut when the roster was trimmed to 53 players earlier this month. It is somewhat surprising that Lewis was not signed by another team, but his versatility will give the Seahawks additional options in future weeks without Hill.
To make room for Lewis, undrafted defensive end Derek Walker was released. The Seahawks were able to retain Walker, however, by signing him to the practice squad after he cleared waivers. Walker and offensive lineman Brian De La Puente were added to the practice squad, and safety Jamar Adams and offensive lineman Blake Schlueter were released.
A rather busy week for the front office, but shrewd decision making will help to ease the pain of losing Leroy Hill until late October.
There is no doubt I would rather have Hill on the field, but I really like Will Herring as a player. As a former safety, he possesses great athleticism and moves extremely well. In the last couple of years, he has developed nicely and proven he is capable of playing linebacker at the professional level.
Herring showed off his skills and versatility in the preseason, finishing with 14 tackles, one sack, and an interception. Herring also performed admirably in a lone start last season against the New York Jets at Qwest Field.
D.D. Lewis’ return will provide necessary depth on Sundays; Lewis can play any linebacker position and contributes on special teams. The veteran became expendable after Herring and David Hawthorne proved to be capable reserves. But with Hill out and Lofa Tatupu nursing an injured hamstring, Lewis offers the team value again.
It will be interesting to see how the defense performs this Sunday against the 49ers; not only will Seattle be missing Hill, but San Francisco is a much more competent opponent than St. Louis.
Fans should keep an eye on Herring and the defense, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about Hill’s absence.