Bruce Irvin's time if Clemons' out as feared

2010-2012 NFL Sack Leaders

The Seattle Seahawks have yet to confirm or dismiss fears that defensive end Chris Clemons suffered a torn ACL during the fourth quarter of their 24-14 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Any substantial injury would prevent Clemons from playing against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC divisional round.

There are no easy fixes for Seattle. The team will need rookie first-round choice Bruce Irvin, a situational pass-rusher thus far, to assume the every-down role Clemons played as the weak-side defensive end in the base defense. That was a role the Seahawks envisioned for Irvin eventually. They're fortunate to have a first-round draft choice available as insurance.

Seattle values Clemons' toughness and production.

Only five NFL players have more sacks than Clemons has collected since Seattle acquired him from Philadelphia before the 2010 season. That trade was an outstanding one for the Seahawks. They gave up Darryl Tapp, who has six sacks in three seasons with the Eagles. Seattle also received a draft choice in return.

Clemons was stronger than Irvin against the run. His absence would hurt the most against a power running team such as the San Francisco 49ers. Seattle's divisional-round opponent, Atlanta, is more of a passing team.