While the move has not yet been made official, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Thursday that defensive end Cliff Avril will be placed on injured reserve as he continues to seek out more answers about the neck injury he sustained in Seattle's Week 4 win over Indianapolis.
"We haven't done the business part of this yet, but we've already talked to Cliff about putting him on the IR list," Carroll said following Thursday's practice.
Asked if Avril's injury will require surgery, Carroll said, "We're not there yet. Cliff is still working and taking information in to figure out what's best. We don't know that yet."
As Carroll noted, more information is key right now. Carroll couldn't rule out if Avril will come back this year—teams are allowed to bring two players back from injured reserve provided they sit out eight weeks first—nor could he rule out this injury being career threatening.
"I don't know, so I guess that means yes," Carroll said of Avril returning from IR. "We'll wait and see. We've got plenty of time to figure that out."
On the topic of this injury being career threatening, Carroll said he didn't know anything yet, and reiterated that the team's only concern at this point is Avril doing what's best for him and his family.
"We have to wait and see on that," Carroll said. "That's really up to the docs and Cliff and all that kind of stuff. I'm a thousand percent in support of whatever we need to do here to help him. That's why we're taking our time. The IR thing gives him (eight) weeks at least to figure out whatever else we can figure out. But he's not sure what's best for him right now, he's trying to find that out. And we're hopefully giving him a good sense that we're going to support him all the way throughout and figure out what's best.
Avril, 31, is coming off the best season of his 10-year NFL career, having totaled 11.5 sacks last year on the way to the first Pro Bowl selection of his career. Avril had one sack in three-plus games before sustaining his injury this year.
Since arriving in Seattle as a key free agent signing in 2013, Avril has stood out not just for his play on the field, but for the work he has done off of it, through his Cliff Avril Family Foundation, which fights juvenile diabetes, to the work he has done in Haiti, his parents' home country. Last season and this year, Avril funded the construction of a new house in Haiti for every sack he recorded, and was the Seahawks' nominee for the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
With Avril out, Frank Clark will remain the starter at the defensive end spot opposite Avril, and while Clark, who had 10 sacks last year, has played very well this season, the Seahawks will miss having both of those players when it comes to pass-rush depth. Marcus Smith will continue to take on a bigger role, as could Branden Jackson, who was added off the practice squad prior to Seattle's Week 5 win over the Rams.
"He was a major part and he is a big piece of our puzzle," defensive coordinator Kris Richard said of Avril. "You hear the cliché time and time again, next man up, and it is just very difficult. It is very difficult, but we have to keep moving on and we have to rely on the guys who are active, so yes, next man in line. I think it is going to show who has been preparing… And it's going to be our responsibility as coaches to do make sure we consistently put the guys who are going to replace him in spots that they can be successful."
The Seattle Seahawks meet the New York Giants for the 19th time in franchise history this Sunday, December 6 at 1:05 p.m. Take a look back at past matchups between the two teams.