With Cliff Avril likely out, Seahawks will rely on Frank Clark, Marcus Smith

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll didn't have much in the way of definitive information Monday on the scary-looking injury that knocked Cliff Avril out of Sunday night's game, other than to say he suffered "serious stingers" when his chin landed on Jacoby Brissett's heel while diving to tackle the Indianapolis Colts quarterback.

But Carroll's comments -- both on his morning radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle and his afternoon news conference -- left the clear impression that the Seahawks aren't expecting to have their Pro Bowl defensive end on the field for the time being.

"It's going to be a while for us to figure out what he's got," Carroll said, adding: "There will be some tests and stuff like that. I don't have any timeline on that at all, but we're going to take care of him and make sure that we take our time and do this really well to look after him."

Avril led Seattle with a career-high 11.5 sacks last season to earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Frank Clark will likely take over as the starter at Seattle's Leo position, the weakside end who lines up opposite Michael Bennett in base defense. Newcomer Marcus Smith will take on a larger role as well.

The Seahawks also brought back Quinton Jefferson on Monday, signing their 2016 fifth-round pick off the Los Angeles Rams' practice squad. Jefferson has the versatility to play both end and tackle and will reinforce Seattle's depth. But Clark and Smith will get the majority of the playing time in Avril's absence.

Both stood out in Seattle's win against Indianapolis.

Smith beat the Colts' right tackle off the edge and hit Brissett as he was throwing, forcing a fumble that linebacker Bobby Wagner returned for a touchdown in the third quarter. He had another half sack earlier in the game and played 27 defensive snaps, considerably more than what he averaged over his first two games of the season.

The Seahawks signed Smith in July after he was waived by the Philadephia Eagles, who made him a late first-round pick in 2014 but never saw the expected return on that investment. At 6-foot-3 and 258 pounds, Smith has the size and athleticism that Seattle looks for in a Leo end. Carroll said Smith reminded him a lot of Chris Clemons, who filled that role during Carroll's first four seasons with the Seahawks.

"He got a legitimate shot yesterday with a lot of play time and was a factor and made a huge play in the game," Carroll said. "We feel very fortunate to have him."

Clark had four tackles and a quarterback hit in 40 snaps while playing with his typically relentless effort. On one of his tackles, he hurdled a would-be cut block to bring down running back Frank Gore. That play and others from Clark stood out to Carroll.

"Boy, he played hard last night. Holy cow," Carroll said on 710 ESPN Seattle. "It's a spectacular film to watch, just to watch him. His effort was just off the charts."

Clark, a 2015 second-round pick, is coming off a 10-sack season. He and Smith were part of a pass-rush that came alive Sunday night, particularly in the second half.

The Seahawks entered the game having generated pressure on only 17.9 percent of their opponents' dropbacks over the first three weeks, which ranked 30th in the league and was partly a product of a lot of short, quick passes designed to get the ball out quickly. Seattle pressured Brissett on 26 percent of his dropbacks in the first half and then 55 percent in the second half, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Seahawks finished with three sacks after recording six over the first three games.

Carroll believes you can never have enough edge rushers. Clark and Smith will have to be enough to withstand Avril's absence.

"We feel pretty good about that. Very fortunate," Carroll said of the two filling in for Avril. "[Smith] is a talented player and he's really coming into the system now and comfortable with what we're doing. I’m really excited to see how he emerges."