The Seattle Seahawks' hopes for improving a suspect run defense that statistically ranked 22nd in the league in 2006 have suffered a major setback with the loss of starting tackle Marcus Tubbs for the entire season.
The three-year veteran, whose career has been slowed by a series of injuries, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders. The star-crossed Tubbs had spent the past nine months rehabilitating from microfracture surgery to his left knee, and injury that had sidelined him for the final 11 games in 2006.
He had only been practicing for the last two weeks, after beginning training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Seattle will place Tubbs, a 318-pound run-stuffer, on injured reserve.
Having the former University of Texas star back in the lineup, even on a rotational basis, was expected to upgrade the Seahawks' run defense. In the five games Tubbs played last season, Seattle permitted an average of 82.0 rushing yards per outing and 3.9 yards per rush. During his 11-game absence, the Seahawks surrendered 147.2 yards per game and 4.8 yards per rushing attempt.
"It's hard. It's very, very hard," coach Mike Holmgren said after the Thursday game. "He worked so hard to come back, and was looking forward to playing. He's just one of those players, it happens, where you have a very talented player that can't get on the field [because of injuries]."
In three seasons, an unlucky Tubbs, the team's first-round choice in the 2004 draft and the 23rd player selected overall that year, has missed 19 games because of hamstring, ankle, calf and knee injuries. He underwent the sometimes unpredictable microfracture surgery last November after chronic problems with his left knee.
The latest knee injury occurred with 3:58 remaining in the first quarter Thursday night. Tubbs' knee buckled, he went to the turf, and had to be carted from the field. A subsequent MRI examination revealed the torn ligament.
For his career, Tubbs has 60 tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes defensed.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.