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Seahawks proceeding under assumption that LT Jones will retire

RENTON, Wash. -- Signs are pointing to Walter Jones' imminent retirement.

Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Thursday that he's preparing for next week's draft under the assumption that the 36-year-old left tackle will not play in 2010.

"We're approaching it like Walter Jones will not be here, frankly," Schneider said, noting that the team should know about Jones' future very soon. "If he is here, that'd be an added bonus."

The Seahawks have the sixth and 14th overall picks in the draft, and they could use one of those selections on an offensive tackle. Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams are among the offensive tackles expected to be taken in the first round.

Jones has been rehabilitating in Florida following two knee surgeries. He hasn't played since Thanksgiving Day 2008. Weeks later, he had major microfracture surgery on his left knee.

On Tuesday, the first day of a voluntary three-day minicamp that Jones didn't attend, new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the veteran lineman has been close to announcing his retirement.

"I haven't talked to Walter in a while now," Carroll said. "The last time I did, he is really considering that he's going to retire -- but hasn't made the decision final enough to come to you guys and make an announcement. We will just have to wait and see on that one.

"But we support him. He has been a great Seahawk over the years, and we support whatever he is going to do here."

Jones tried to return from the microfracture surgery for training camp last summer. He made it through a couple of practices, then had arthroscopic surgery on the knee in August. He later went on injured reserve. His pain was exacerbated by a kidney condition diagnosed when he was a rookie and which keeps him from taking anti-inflammatories to combat swelling and pain.

Age: 36

Height: 6-5  Weight: 325

College: Florida State

Experience: 13 seasons

Jones said in January that his knee "feels pretty good" following months of rehabilitation, but he acknowledged it "still has a long way to go" to get back to playing shape. In the microfracture surgery in December 2008, doctors drilled holes in the knee to regenerate cartilage. The general recovery time for that operation calls for running to begin by six months and a return to competition by nine months, a span that would have ended two days before last season's opener.

But few, if any, have had that surgery while in their mid-30s and needing to support about 350 pounds on a knee with holes drilled into it.

"I understand the whole thing about it. I understand my age and what I'm coming back from," Jones said in January, adding then that he'd like to give it one final try to play in 2010. "All I can do is prepare."

Then this posting appeared on Jones' Twitter page Feb. 7: "I have came to the conclusion it is time for me to retire from football."

Jones hasn't addressed the issue publicly since.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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