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Originally published December 6, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Page modified December 7, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Seahawks' game of musical chairs continues on offensive line

The latest injury on the Seahawks' offensive line — to Russell Okung — has created another shift.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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RENTON — The Seahawks returned to work Tuesday from their longest break of the season, rested after the players were given four days off, but not entirely recovered. It's going to take more than a long weekend to cure the injuries that ail a Seahawks offense that has lost four starters to season-ending injuries during the previous four weeks.

Left tackle Russell Okung was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, joining a roll call that includes receiver Sidney Rice and rookie linemen James Carpenter and John Moffitt. Seattle has 13 players on injured reserve, tied for third-most in the league. Jacksonville has the most with 20.

The concentration of injuries along Seattle's offensive line has forced lineup changes that resemble a game of musical chairs.

Paul McQuistan started at right guard the past three games. He's now Seattle's first-string left tackle. Lemuel Jeanpierre was Seattle's backup center, and now he'll be Seattle's third starting right guard in five games.

"Hopefully it'll work out fine," coach Pete Carroll said. "Paul is not unfamiliar with playing tackle, so that helps, and Lem has played a little bit for us."

Jeanpierre started Seattle's game at Cleveland in Week 7. The Seahawks signed Mike Gibson on Tuesday to fill Okung's spot on the roster. Gibson played guard with the team last season, and he will serve as the backup center with Jeanpierre now in the lineup.

Band-Aids aren't going to sustain the momentum Seattle has gathered the past few games. It's going to take big men with versatility.

Seattle believes it is a deeper team than it was last season when its run defense eroded after the Week 8 injury to defensive lineman Red Bryant. And the Seahawks did withstand season-ending injuries to cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond in back-to-back weeks.

But Seattle has lost 60 percent of its starting offensive line, a total that includes its last two first-round draft picks Is there a tipping point where the injuries simply become too much?

"We're getting close now where new guys are going to have to play next," Carroll said. "Hopefully we can keep everybody together and make a good finish here."

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has taken another step in his recovery, according to Carroll, who said his quarterback threw better during practice Tuesday than he has since suffering a pectoral injury at New York on Oct. 9.

"He's not thrown the ball at any time like this, in any of the games even," Carroll said. "It's a great sign."

The Seahawks have rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past five games, something that has not happened since 2005.

But with so many starters injured, the Seahawks will be relying on not only their depth, but versatility. With the position changes, the responsibilities are different, Jeanpierre said, but not the challenge.

"I just feel like a guy with two big guys out there I'm trying to block," Jeanpierre said. "Put your hand on the ground in the trenches, it's time to fight."

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

On Twitter @dannyoneil

Hurtin' for certain
The Seahawks have a baker's dozen on injured reserve, tied for third-most in the league, according to Elias Sports:
Team Players on IR
Jacksonville 20
Indianapolis 14
Seattle 13
St Louis 13
New York Giants 13
Buffalo 13

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