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Seahawks LT Jones might play just one month after knee surgery

  • By Associated Press
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RENTON, Wash. -- Walter Jones could play for the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, one month to the day that he had knee surgery.

Seattle's nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle had his most extensive practice Friday since his second knee surgery in the last eight months. He did some team drills and is listed as questionable to play against the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers.

Seahawks coach Jim Mora said Jones has progressed more than expected. He's waiting for Jones to say he's ready, but Mora cautioned "we can't be greedy" and play the tackle too soon.

"Walter just needs to let us know," Mora said. "When he's ready to go, we'll get him in there -- whether it's this Sunday, next Sunday, the following Sunday."

As for how the Seahawks' already jumbled offensive line would resettle once Jones returns, Mora said the coaches haven't discussed that.

"I don't think we anticipated early in the week Walt being where he is," Mora said. "We have to make the right decision with Walt."

Jones had microfracture surgery on his left knee last winter and missed the final four games of the 2008 season, his first absences because of injury since his rookie year of 1997.

Top wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh practiced for the first time this week after he experienced back spasms. He is listed as probable and says he will start against the 49ers.

Deion Branch is less likely to play Sunday. He missed another day with a strained hamstring.

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Branch has yet to make the impact the Seahawks believed he would in 2006, when they traded a first-round draft choice to the New England Patriots to land the Super Bowl XXXIX MVP and then gave him a $39 million contract with $13 million guaranteed.

Branch senses that, which is why he is anxious to get back -- strained hamstring or not.

"I would hate for Deion to go out there because he is so anxious to play and prove his worth and make plays to help this team win that he re-strains that thing and he misses three or four more games," Mora said. "We just want to make sure he is healthy."

Seattle has three other starters -- linebacker Lofa Tatupu (hamstring), center Chris Spencer (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (calf) -- listed as questionable for a game that will determine the early leader in the NFC West.

Tatupu hasn't practiced all week. He stood behind Mora and coordinator Gus Bradley at the back of the defense, holding a play sheet and following the game plan. But Mora is counting on having the leader of his defense against the 49ers.

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After practice Friday, Tatupu talked about the importance of stopping San Francisco running back Frank Gore and other keys -- with the presumption he will be in there.

"Knowing Lofa, I expect him to play," Mora said of his three-time Pro Bowler. "Once again, we will wait and see how he feels on Sunday before the game."

Seattle already is without linebacker Leroy Hill for at least six weeks because of a torn groin.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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