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Originally published Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Seahawks' Chris Spencer will miss rest of season

Center Chris Spencer was placed on injured reserve with a herniated disk in his lower back, ending his season.

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — Chris Spencer became the sixth Seahawk to go on injured reserve during the regular season when Seattle designated its starting center Wednesday, ending his season because of a back injury.

Spencer, a fourth-year pro and the team's first-round pick in 2005, started 11 games this season before sitting out last Thursday's loss at Dallas. He had a streak of 35 straight starts end, dating to 2006.

Spencer has started 40 of 52 games played in the NFL. He has had offseason shoulder and thumb surgeries and missed much of training camp this past summer.

The problem Spencer is having is a herniated disk between two lower back vertebrae, he said.

"I wish it was just a flare-up," Spencer said. "I'd be playing."

Spencer said he hopes he won't need surgery, that rest will allow the pain and leg numbness to subside. The disk was bulging when Spencer was having back problems during training camp and the exhibition season, he said, and it got worse to the point that he was being administered anti-inflammatory medicine. He was hoping to make it to the end of the season.

"I tried to go as long I can until stuff got really bad," Spencer said. He said he knew it was time to stop playing when he lost feeling in his toes.

If Spencer needs surgery, he said the recovery period won't be long.

"There was a feeling there, given his symptoms, that it just wasn't going to heal up fast enough, certainly not enough so he could play in a game," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said.

Spencer joins Patrick Kerney, Nate Burleson, Logan Payne, Rob Sims and Ben Obomanu on injured reserve. And left guard Mike Wahle, another starter, could be next.

Wahle has been dealing with a shoulder injury for the past couple of weeks and has missed two straight games.

"Mike might go the same way [as Spencer]," Holmgren said. "I'm hopeful that his [injury] comes back a little bit faster and that he can play, but I'm not getting super encouraged by our training staff along those lines. But we have not made a decision on Mike yet."

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Steve Vallos, a second-year pro, takes over as the starting center for Spencer. The Seahawks signed offensive tackle Na'Shan Goddard from the New York Giants' practice squad to their active roster, filling the 53-man roster void left by Spencer's designation.

Goddard, 6 feet 5 and 315 pounds, is in his second NFL season. He played in college at South Carolina and has also spent time with the New York Jets.

Notes

— LB Leroy Hill has a nerve problem in his shoulder and neck area and is doubtful for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. Hill was injured in the Dallas game and missed practice Wednesday, as did LT Walter Jones and WR Koren Robinson for typical rest.

— Holmgren said Maurice Morris will start Sunday's game at running back, then he'll "sprinkle in" Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett.

— S C.J. Wallace and DT Red Bryant returned to practice, their first action in several weeks because of injury.

— Kerney has been named the Seahawks' Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work in the community and his on-field achievements. Every NFL team selects an honoree, who is up for the NFL's award that will be named during Super Bowl week.

— The Seahawks signed G Erik Robertson to the practice squad, releasing QB Travis Lulay to make room for Robertson. Robertson originally signed with the San Diego Chargers in May 2007 and again this past summer, but was released before the regular season began.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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