Coach Jim Mora said Monday upon Seattle's return from a bye week that the nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle is "iffy" to practice this week. The 35-year-old Jones is trying to return from two surgeries on his left knee since December.
"There's always the hope, but we'll see. We just don't know for sure yet," Mora said after Jones missed what the coach called a bonus practice before preparations for Sunday's game at Dallas intensify.
Mora acknowledged frustration on all sides with the slow progress for Jones, the anchor to Seattle's offensive line for the last decade.
Asked if there is a make-or-break point when the team must finally determine Jones will not come back this and season put him on injured reserve, Mora said: "Probably, yeah."
"You hate to, with a guy with Walt's ability, stature, what he's accomplished and how hard he's worked. You want to give him the benefit of every doubt. And you want to give him a legitimate chance to get out here," Mora said. "But there is a point when you just have to say, 'Is it going to happen, or isn't it?'
"We're not there yet, but certainly we're closer to it. It's just a matter of getting a gauge for how Walt is. We're in the process of evaluating that."
The last game Jones played was Thanksgiving Day at Dallas. The man former coach Mike Holmgren called the best offensive player he ever coached played after taking a painkilling injection in the knee.
Then Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware repeatedly and alarmingly blew past Jones and pounded quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. It was the final game Hasselbeck started in 2008 before he rested his bad back for good, and the last one Jones started before the procedure on Dec. 11 that drilled holes into the bone of his left knee to regenerate cartilage.
The general recovery time for that operation calls for running to begin by six months and a return to competition by nine months, a span that would have ended two days before the season opener. But few if any have had that surgery while in their mid-30s and need to support about 350 pounds on a knee so extensively repaired.
Then came arthroscopic surgery in August after Jones failed to make it through practices in training camp.
Fellow starting tackle Sean Locklear also missed Monday's practice. Locklear has been out since Week 2 with a high right ankle sprain, and Mora said he is also iffy to practice this week.
Seattle is down to its fifth starter at left tackle, Damion McIntosh. The former starter for Kansas City signed less than two weeks ago after six weeks of inactivity following his release by the Chiefs.
Left guard Rob Sims is slowly working back from his own high ankle sprain. Mora noted at least Sims was back at practice Monday.
The coach also noticeably assumed McIntosh will need all the help he can get schematically in Dallas -- without mentioning Jones.
"He would be a guy who would probably be able to help Damion a little bit, in terms of calls," Mora said of Sims possibly returning against the Cowboys. "They would not have ever worked together, so that would be a disadvantage."