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Mike Iupati could be the most important player missing right now

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks signed guard Mike Iupati to a modest one-year deal in the offseason similar to the one that they gave to D.J. Fluker in 2018, and that contract worked out pretty well for Pete Carroll. While Fluker and Iupati have recent injury concerns and inconsistent play as they work through those issues, the pair clearly give Carroll more confidence than what he’s recently been working with at guard and the head coach seems uneasy about starting the season without his starting five.

When asked after Seattle’s 25-19 loss about injuries, Carroll said “We gotta get Mike Iupati back. That’s the big guy to return for the starters.” (At 7:47)

While Carroll praised Ethan Pocic for his versatility, he specifically pointed to that and his play at center but he seems nonplussed about the third-year second rounder as the guy to start in place of Iupati on the line. The team has less than three weeks to get Iupati and any other injured starter back before hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in early September. Iupati missed 15 games in 2017 and six games in 2018, accumulating injuries to his tricep, back, MCL, and most recently, calf.

The Seahawks could have one of the most experienced offensive lines in the NFL with Duane Brown at left tackle, Iupati, Justin Britt at center, Fluker at right guard, and Germain Ifedi at right tackle. Carroll acknowledged that tackle Jamarco Jones is beginning to work his way back in at practice, which would be helpful given the poor play of Elijah Nkansah on Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings.

The team has invested much more in the offensive line as of late, while pulling back on the resources poured into the opposite side of the trenches. Iupati came with injury and age risks but Carroll seems excited about the possibilities should the 32-year-old be able to keep it together for 16 games this season. There’s still a few weeks before that starts but also this is pretty early in the game for it to have started.

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