RENTON, Washington — With an important matchup against the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals approaching on Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks are set to get a boost defensively with the return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to the lineup.
Wagner missed the last five games after tearing the tendon that attaches his big toe to the bottom of his foot. He was initially told to expect to miss eight weeks with the injury. However, Wagner's recovery has been substantially ahead of schedule and he will play Sunday against the Cardinals.
"Bobby is going to play. We're really excited to have him back," coach Pete Carroll said.
Wagner had to have his foot in a cast for two weeks with his toe curled to allow the tendon to heal naturally. Then an additional three weeks were required for rehab before he was able to return to the practice field this week.
"I feel good. I'm very excited to play. I've had a great week of practice and I'm just looking forward to getting back out there and competing with the guys," he said.
Wagner compiled 50 tackles in just five games before suffering the injury in the first half against the Dallas Cowboys.
Newly signed center Lemuel Jeanpierre is up to speed and also ready to play this week. Jeanpierre was re-signed Tuesday after starter Max Unger suffered a high-ankle sprain last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"He came back really sharp," Carroll said. "(It was) surprising that he was able to retain so much but he was on it. He's very confident and demonstrated that, so he's ready to go."
Carroll wouldn't comment on whether Jeanpierre or Patrick Lewis would get the start Sunday against the Cardinals, but said both are ready to go if needed.
Running back Marshawn Lynch returned to practice Friday after getting two days off to rest his ailing back. Carroll said Lynch should be ready to go and is listed as probable on the injury report.
"He's made it through," Carroll said. "We're adjusting the days (of practice) as we need to to accommodate and he got through it fine and he looks like he's ready."
Carroll also took the opportunity to speak regarding questions that Lynch may not be back with the Seahawks next season.
"We want him around here for as long as he can play and there's never been any hesitation," Carroll said. "There's never been any thought of that. That came totally from somewhere else. He's under contract next year. We'll be thrilled to have him playing for us next year. So we'll do everything we can to get that done."
The Seahawks officially ruled out Unger, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) and cornerback Marcus Burley (hamstring). Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs is doubtful with a knee injury and guard James Carpenter will be a game-time decision after being held out of practice on Friday.
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