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Originally published October 21, 2009 at 5:46 PM | Page modified October 21, 2009 at 10:17 PM

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Patchwork offensive line is a prime Seahawks problem

The Seattle Seahawks have started 12 different combinations on the offensive line in the past 22 games. Compare that to Arizona, which has used the same offensive line combination for all of those games.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Nov. 1

Seahawks @ Dallas, 10 a.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON — The improv act along Seattle's offensive line is in its second season now.

The Seahawks signed guard Mike Gibson Wednesday, adding him from Philadelphia's practice squad to fill the roster spot vacated when tackle Kyle Williams was shuttled back to the Seattle practice squad.

Williams, you may recall, was the starting left tackle last week, replacing Brandon Frye who suffered a neck injury while filling in for Sean Locklear who hurt his ankle while subbing for Walter Jones, who has yet to come back from knee surgery.

Got all that? Good, because it might change before the Seahawks play at Dallas on Nov. 1. Actually, it probably will change given the recent trends along Seattle's offensive line.

Seattle has started 12 different combinations on its offensive line in the past 22 games. Compare that to Arizona, which has used the same offensive line combination for all of those games. Or look back just a few years ago in Seattle. From 2003 through 2005, the Seahawks started a grand total of five different offensive-line combinations in 48 regular-season games.

The TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" was an improvisational comedy, but the question of who's on the Seahawks line this week is not a joke. What impact has that lack of continuity had on Seattle's offensive line?

"It's a problem," offensive line coach Mike Solari said. "Your offense doesn't have any consistency. The guys that are stepping up and going in there, they're battling, they're working hard, they do a nice job in the classroom and so forth, but it is a problem because you just don't have that consistency as an offensive line. You don't have that communication. You don't have that sense or that feel of the lineman next to you. You just don't."

You also don't have any choice but to adjust once injuries strike.

"It's one of those things that's part of football," center Chris Spencer said. "You have no control over it. All we can do is when a new guy is put in is try to help him out and give him all the communication and how we do things so we can move on and try and get some wins.

"Of course it's tough, but we're not using excuses. We're all about moving forward. Somebody gets hurt, are we supposed to say, 'Time out, we're going to play this game next week?' No."

The NFL doesn't work that way. Even when injuries pile up at a position like tackle, a team has to use duct tape and anything else on hand to hold things together.

Locklear is out of the plastic protective boot he wore on his injured right ankle, but his status for next week is uncertain. The hope is Jones can begin practicing next week, but that's only if four weeks of rest have lessened the pain in his surgically repaired left knee. There's no word whether that has happened.

That leaves Damion McIntosh currently practicing at left tackle for the first unit. McIntosh is in his 10th season, and he's started 111 games, but he also went five weeks without work after the Kansas City Chiefs cut him in September.

"He's got very good feet," said Solari, who coached McIntosh in Kansas City in 2007. "He's an athletic big man."

McIntosh joked after practice this week that he's checking out how high his motor is revving as he tries to get up to speed.

"I'm trying to see where my needle is at," he said. "I'm a lot better. I was in real good shape coming out of training camp. With time off, you kind of lose a little bit no matter how much you do on your own.

"We have a high-tempo practice, and that helps me get right back."

If McIntosh ends up starting in Dallas on Nov. 1, he'll become the fourth left tackle to start a game for the Seahawks this season, none of whom were projected to be the starter when training camp began.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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