Tatupu's season-ending injury just the latest hit to ailing Seahawks

Associated Press
SEATTLE -- Already dealing with key injuries, the Seahawks took another hit Sunday when they lost three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu for the season with a torn left pectoral muscle.

Seahawks coach Jim Mora announced that Tatupu would miss the rest of the season and need surgery following a 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Tatupu appeared to be hurt while tackling Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald late in the second quarter. Tatupu walked off holding his left chest area and with his left arm appearing limp.

"The Lofa thing is tough," Mora said. "It's a blow to our team. It's a blow to him as a man. He's such a competitor, he loves to play. This is such an important part of his life, and I don't know if he's ever experienced anything like this, at least this early in the season. It's going to be tough on him."

While most of the Seahawks' injury problems have been on the offensive side, and specifically the offensive line, Tatupu's injury is a big loss for a defense that has posted two shutouts this season but also was picked apart by the Cardinals on Sunday.

Two team doctors and three trainers briefly attended to Tatupu on the bench. A doctor pressed on Tatupu's shoulder, and the linebacker reacted with a painful jerk. A physician then escorted Tatupu into the locker room. He returned to the field in the second half wearing sweats.

Despite not playing in the second half, Tatupu still had a team-high eight tackles against the Cardinals. Second-year linebacker David Hawthrone took Tatupu's spot, marking the second time this season that he has filled in for the Seahawks' defensive captain. Hawthorne played nearly two full games after Tatupu was slowed with a hamstring injury.

"Hawthorne has showed he can fill those shoes," Seahawks safety Deon Grant said. "I'm going to make sure to have his back, and if he needs me, all he has to is keep his ears open. I'm going to be right there for him.

"We'll be all right. We're going to miss Lofa big time because he's more than a leader on this defense. He brings a lot of passion."

The Seahawks also played the second half without defensive end Patrick Kerney, who aggravated a groin injury. Mora said Kerney was injured on the final play of the first half and couldn't go in the second half. The two-time Pro Bowler had two sacks and one forced fumble before being sidelined.

Kerney was first injured during an Oct. 4 game at Indianapolis, then missed last week's victory over Jacksonville.

The Seahawks were without four other starters again Sunday. Entering the weekend, 12 Seattle starters had missed at least one game because of injury this season. However, the Seahawks have their bye next week and are hopeful of having some starters -- offensive linemen Sean Locklear and Rob Sims, and linebacker Leroy Hill -- back when they play Nov. 1 at Dallas.

"Fortunately we've got guys who can step in and play, and we've got good leadership on this football team," Mora said. "There are some veterans that will accept this challenge and will work hard to get us out of this spot that we're in."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press