RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks will be without tight end Zach Miller for at least a few weeks after he underwent ankle surgery during the team's bye week.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday that Miller had been bothered by "loose bodies" in the ankle for weeks and instead of trying to play through pain that was likely to get worse, Miller took advantage of the early bye week and had the surgery now.
There is no set timetable for when Miller will return. Carroll said they would give him a "couple of weeks" and then take it on a week-by-week basis. That means Miller would miss the next two games at Washington and versus Dallas before his status is reassessed.
"It's been bothering him for a number of weeks. He's been playing with it and we just don't want him to have to tolerate it any longer. We wanted to see if we can fix him up and hopefully he'll have a speedy recovery. It was just a cleanup kind of thing but he had some loose bodies in his ankle and it was very, very uncomfortable."
Miller's surgery was first reported by Fox Sports. He was listed on the injury report with an ankle injury before the Seahawks' 26-20 overtime win over Denver in Week 3. Miller was in on 71 of 79 snaps against the Broncos.
Seattle has leaned on having three or more wide receivers on the field this season with the return of Percy Harvin. Through three weeks, the Seahawks have attempted just 17 passes (19 percent) with two tight ends on the field versus nearly 81 percent of their pass attempts coming with three or four wide receivers, according to STATS Inc.
Miller has six receptions in three games, while backup Luke Willson has just one catch.
Where Seattle will take a blow is in losing Miller's skill as a blocker. He's regularly been asked to block a defensive end or help tackles to control the defensive pass rush. That responsibility now falls to Willson to start.
"Luke has done a really good job. He's obviously going to play a ton now," Carroll said. "It's really a great opportunity for him to step up. He's improved in every area. He's one of those young guys that's gotten a ton better since he's been with us. He's stronger, he's faster than a year ago because of the offseason. In every way he's improved. This is a lot to ask of him, the first time he'll have this kind of duty, but it's his turn to step up."
But Carroll believes Seattle has in-house options to handle Miller's various roles. Willson and Cooper Helfet will get the first cracks, but the Seahawks could turn to using an extra offensive lineman - like backup tackle Alvin Bailey - in running situations. Seattle also has former college tight end and now rookie offensive tackle Garry Gilliam on its roster. Gilliam had seven catches for 65 yards during the 2012 season at Penn State before moving to tackle for 2013.
"We've had a lot of guys in here. We worked out a lot of people. We would like to stay with our people and banking on the communication and the system working for us. We're going to get it fixed right here," Carroll said.