RENTON, Wash. -- Lofa Tatupu might not be out for the season after all.
Seattle Seahawks coach Jim Mora said Monday that further tests on the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker's chest muscle indicated a partial tear rather than the complete one that doctors told him Tatupu had the previous day.
"After further review and further imaging, we're not certain yet Lofa is done," Mora said one day after Tatupu was hurt during the Seahawks' 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, then was declared out for the season. "They did an MRI test, and it doesn't look like the muscle and tendons are completely detached from the bone. So that might have been a little premature. ... We'll keep our fingers crossed there."
Mora said team medical personnel are now examining Tatupu's relatively healthy pectoral muscle on the right side, including with another MRI. The Seahawks will compare it with images taken on the injured left one to further gauge how much damage the pectoral sustained.
If Monday's results from the MRI are proven accurate, the Seahawks' co-captain could be back after a few weeks of rehabilitation -- though it appears he will miss at least Seattle's next game, at Dallas on Nov. 1. The Seahawks might have a timetable on Tatupu's return before they leave for a bye weekend break following Wednesday's practice.
"It was pretty grim (Sunday). So we got good news," Mora said. "Sometimes it goes the other way, so it was nice to have the good news."
Seattle (2-4) has had 12 starters miss a combined 35 games through the season's first six weeks.
Tatupu, whom Mora calls incomparable as the "axis of communication" inside the Seahawks' defense, was injured while trying to tackle Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald following a reception over the middle during the second quarter Sunday. Tatupu appeared to be hit by teammate Deon Grant on the play, awkwardly twisting his upper body.
Two team doctors and three trainers briefly attended to Tatupu on the bench. A doctor pressed on Tatupu's left shoulder, and the linebacker reacted with a painful jerk. He then was taken into the locker room and returned to the sideline wearing sweats during the second half.
Tatupu still had a team-high eight tackles against the Cardinals. David Hawthorne replaced him, the second time this season that the second-year pro has filled in at middle linebacker.
Hawthorne made his first career start last month and played nearly two full games after Tatupu was slowed with a hamstring injury. Veteran D.D. Lewis now will back up Hawthorne.
"Hawthorne has showed he can fill those shoes," Grant said. "I'm going to make sure to have his back, and if he needs me, all he has to do is keep his ears open. I'm going to be right there for him. We'll be all right, (but) we're going to miss Lofa big time because he's more than a leader on this defense. He brings a lot of passion."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press