Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones of the Seattle Seahawks will have his second knee operation in eight months.
He isn't the only Seattle player who is hurting as 2008 Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant has a disk problem in his back that Seahawks coach Jim Mora says is "not unlike" quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's condition that cost him the majority of last season.
Mora is figuring to be without both players when the Seahawks open the regular season Sept. 13 against St. Louis.
"I think you absolutely have to think in those terms," Mora said after practice Wednesday. "I think you make a mistake if you don't. Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.
"There's no panic. Sure, we'd like to have them. But if we don't, we don't. What are we going to do, cancel the season? No. We have to move on."
The 35-year-old Jones will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday morning in Seattle. Jones had microfracture surgery on the same knee in December. He has missed all but three days of practice in training camp.
The anchor of Seattle's offensive line for the last decade tried to practice Monday but left midway through the session.
"Walt just felt weird in his knee. We got an MRI on it, to be safe," Mora said, adding there may be some "loose bodies" in the knee and that the surgery is "just to check it out."
Mora is optimistic Jones will return this season.
"We don't think that it's anything significant, but we just want to make sure," Mora said.
Until then, usual right tackle Sean Locklear will stay on the left side. Ray Willis will start at right tackle.
At the beginning of camp, Jones said his knee felt "pretty good." The man former coach Mike Holmgren called the best offensive player he ever coached played after taking a painkilling injection in the knee last Thanksgiving.
Dallas' DeMarcus Ware repeatedly and alarmingly blew past Jones and pounded Hasselbeck. It was the final game Hasselbeck started in 2008 before he rested his bad back for good, and the last one Jones started before the procedure on Dec. 11 that drilled holes into the bone of his 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 end two days before the season opener.
Now comes this arthroscopic procedure.
Hasselbeck says the bulging disk in his back that cost him nine games last year has been healed by intense strengthening of his core muscles. He is not yet thinking about life without Jones protecting his blind side. The quarterback downplayed the significance of Jones' latest surgery.
"That's probably a big deal to the outside world," Hasselbeck said. "In a locker room, it's 'Hey, what are you doing this weekend? Oh, I'm getting a 'scope.'"
Hasselbeck then dryly noted Jones has missed multiple offseasons and training camps in the past _ mostly over contract issues _ then maintained his elite play.
"Maybe if it was someone else (it would be big to be out all camp). But Walt has done it so many times: No OTAs, no minicamps, no training camp _ Pro Bowl," Hasselbeck said.
Trufant has yet to practice in training camp. Mora said the seventh-year cornerback and key to Seattle's defensive secondary "tweaked" his back during a pass defense drill the last week of July. He's been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since camp started.
"He's making a good recovery," Mora said. "But because of the history that we have with backs here, we're very careful. So we sent him for an MRI.
"There is a disk issue, not unlike Matt's. ... It's good that we found this out now, rather than in the middle of the season and have him try to push through it, because now we can make some decisions on how we move forward."
The Seahawks must decide by the final roster date of Sept. 5 whether to place Trufant on the PUP list to begin the season, which would open an active roster spot. That would force Trufant to miss at least the first six games.