KIRKLAND — On a day when the Seahawks released 15 players and signed another, the biggest news came from their injury report.
They learned Monday that reserve safety Mike Green is out for the season, a big blow to the team's defensive depth. But the Seahawks got better news with tight end Itula Mili, whose knee sprain will just need rest.
Green, a seventh-year pro, is bound for injured reserve. He'll require surgery for a broken bone in his left foot he suffered in last Saturday's exhibition game at San Diego.
The news wasn't good, considering the safety position is one of some concern for the Seahawks. Starters Michael Boulware and Ken Hamlin are coming back from injuries — Boulware from offseason knee surgery and Hamlin from head wounds suffered last season in an off-field incident. Boulware has been limited in exhibition games and practices.
Green, 29, came to Seattle via a trade to be insurance at safety and had been one of the team's top players in training camp and the exhibition season.
"It's too bad, but now we're going to fix this and then he'll be back next year," coach Mike Holmgren said.
Mili, the starter in the absence of Jerramy Stevens, could be ready to play by the regular-season opener in Detroit on Sept. 10. Both Green's and Mili's injuries occurred in the first half in San Diego, and Mili left the stadium on crutches.
Both players underwent MRIs on Sunday.
Holmgren said he is satisfied with the current state of the team's safety position, where Hamlin and Boulware are backed up by Oliver Celestin and Etric Pruitt.
Also, cornerback Jordan Babineaux can move to safety if needed, which the Seahawks had him doing in practice Monday.
"Safety for this defense is almost like the co-captain," Babineaux said. "For me to get guys lined up and for me to know responsibilities is going to be the biggest key.
"I feel a whole lot more comfortable at safety because it's a natural position for me."
As for tight end, the healthy players, Will Heller and Matt Murphy, were joined by Leonard Stephens, whom the Seahawks signed Monday. Stephens took part in practice.
The Seahawks will be without Stevens until perhaps early October because of a knee injury sustained in training camp.
"Fortunately, we had some depth to start with," Holmgren said.
The Seahawks released the 15 players to get to the required 75 on the roster by today's deadline.
The two biggest names among the first wave of cuts were quarterback Gibran Hamdan and safety Shaunard Harts, both veterans.
Harts had his contract terminated officially. Another NFL veteran, wide receiver Keenan Howry, was waived because of a recurring hamstring injury.
Hamdan and David Greene were battling for the No. 3 quarterback job during training camp. The Seahawks decided to stick with Greene because of his upside and youth, even though Holmgren admitted he probably would have felt better if the Seahawks could have signed a more-experienced quarterback.
The team released one more than the minimum so they could sign Stephens.
Other players released: punter Gabe Lindstrom, wide receivers Taco Wallace and Tony Brown, cornerbacks Lance Frazier and Reggie Austin, free safety Brandon Haw, fullback Ran Carthon, tight end Keith Willis, linebacker Evan Benjamin (a former Washington Husky), center Taylor Schmidt, guard Jeff Bolton and defensive tackle Alex Guerrero.
Wide receiver Skyler Fulton, from Olympia, was placed on injured reserve for NFL Europe and did not count on the roster.
Awaiting China decision
The NFL hopes to be in China for an exhibition game next season, but the league won't say when the game will be or if the Seahawks will be involved.
"This is still all a little bit out in front of where we are," said Pete Abitante, NFL senior director of international public affairs. "There's still T's to cross and I's to dot."
Abitante did say the league hopes to play an exhibition game in Beijing next season, something outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he hoped to have.
The News Tribune of Tacoma reported Sunday the Seahawks will play the New England Patriots in China. The Boston Globe reported Sunday the Patriots were one of six teams that have shown a willingness to go to China.
Sources indicated the game, if between the Patriots and Seahawks, would include a week's stay in Seattle for New England and two exhibition games against the Seahawks, including one in Beijing.
"I think it's terrible," Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel told New England reporters when asked how he felt about the potential two-week trip for his team. "I just think that the kind of preparation we have in training camp, to pick up and go over there ... I don't like the idea."
Seahawks officials have declined comment on the prospect of playing in China, deferring all inquiries to the league. Abitante only said the league continues to take steps in setting up an exhibition there.
Abitante said that NBC's return as a broadcaster of NFL games also makes sense for a game in China since NBC is broadcasting the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
• Holmgren said Matt Hasselbeck will start Thursday's exhibition finale against Oakland, then the coach might go to Greene. Holmgren felt the Seahawks didn't give Greene a good chance to run the offense, having to start drives deep in opponents' territories in the two games he has played.
• WR Darrell Jackson, recovering from knee surgery, left team headquarters with the flu. He and DT Marcus Tubbs (Achilles) are expected to practice next week.
• LT Walter Jones did not practice because of a bruised shoulder, and will not play against the Raiders but should be ready for the regular season. Tom Ashworth will start at left tackle Thursday.
• RB Maurice Morris missed practice to rest a sore ankle and might miss the Oakland game.
• C Robbie Tobeck returned to practice after missing two weeks to recover from minor elbow surgery.
Josť Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Seattle Times reporter Danny O'Neil contributed to this article.