Seahawks likely to welcome back rookie LT Okung from injury

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks likely will see rookie left tackle Russell Okung return to their starting lineup Sunday after the first-round draft pick missed the past three games with a high ankle sprain.

Okung has played only sparingly this season because of injuries.

"Russell practiced very well today," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday. "He went with the first group the whole time, and he's prepared to start. That's a real good sign for us."

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will start against the New Orleans Saints despite two cracked bones in his left wrist.

Hasselbeck didn't take snaps from center Wednesday and even needed J.P. Losman to help him tie his cleats to get out to practice. But Hasselbeck was back taking snaps Friday and is ready to play.

"He had a great week. He really did it just right," Carroll said. "He's strong. Even when you go back to the week that he missed, that helped him physically. And you can see it. He was throwing the heck out of the football today. A few more limited throws during the week seems to be just adding to his juice as we get to the end of the week."

Hasselbeck hopes to keep the offensive momentum rolling from an impressive showing last week against the Arizona Cardinals. With Okung back at left tackle, the Seahawks would finally have all five pieces of their offensive line in place to try to build consistency down the stretch.

"It's not defense -- it's not like you're just chasing the ball," Hasselbeck said. "It's all about communication; it's all about all those things. So that is a challenge, and we try not to talk about it or whatever, but what's real is real. I think that's one of the things that makes me feel excited that, 'Hey, we're just going to get better as we go.' Because we have settled in on a group and we should just improve now. That can't be an excuse."

The Seahawks still will miss some pieces Sunday. Nose tackle Colin Cole will sit out his third consecutive game with a high ankle sprain. Fullback Michael Robinson likely will be out as well with a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined the past three weeks.

Wide receivers Golden Tate and Brandon Stokley also are listed as doubtful on the Seahawks' injury report. Tate sprained his left ankle three weeks ago, and Stokley has a strained calf that forced him to miss last week's game in Arizona.

Carroll was more optimistic that Stokley could play Sunday, but the coach called the receiver's status a game-time decision.

Safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks' other first-round pick this year, missed practice Friday to travel to a memorial service, but he will join the team in New Orleans for the game.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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