The Seattle Seahawks had it all last year.
Sixteen wins. Pro Bowl and All-Pro players all over the roster. And, ultimately, Seattle’s first Super Bowl title.
The one thing they didn’t have last year — a key reason they won that championship — is what they are full of right now.
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Coach Pete Carroll talked Monday about pains to seven starters across both sides of the ball. The most impacting may prove to be do-it-all middle linebacker Bobby Wagner’s turf-toe ligament injury that could leave him out of Sunday’s game at St. Louis.
“We have to get back and get right and get going again,” Carroll said a day after the Seahawks (3-2) fell out of first place in the NFC West with their second loss in the past 21 home games, 30-23 to the Dallas Cowboys in a game that was more lopsided in a physical nature than the final score.
Starting right cornerback Byron Maxwell has a strained calf and may miss the division test at the Rams this weekend. The Seahawks are considering which guys to move around the secondary to backfill — or whether to acquire help from another team.
Two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger is still “day to day,” in Carroll’s words, after missing Sunday’s game.
Kam Chancellor played the Cowboys game with a strained hip and came out of it OK. The coach expects his strong safety and key to Seattle’s run defense to start in St. Louis.
Left tackle Russell Okung will continue to play on with a sprained shoulder he’s had since the middle of the win over Denver two games ago.
This bushel of injuries to the champs just beyond one-quarter of the way into their title-defense season illustrates why the NFL hasn’t had a repeat Super Bowl champion since the 2003-04 Patriots.
Carroll said Wagner’s turf toe may be like the one that sidelined Okung for eight games in 2013 and led the left tackle to surgery.
“We’ll have to take this the next couple days and see what that means. But he’s banged up,” Carroll said of his every-down middle linebacker.
Wagner had a season-low seven tackles Sunday against Dallas because he missed 24 of the defense’s 75 snaps while he was getting his foot treated during much of the second quarter. He returned to play in the second half. He had been on pace with 43 tackles through four games before Sunday to break Terry Beeson’s 1978 team record for tackles in a season.
Turf toe is an extremely painful injury that can shut guys down for a while. Wagner was wearing a walking boot over his lower right leg in the locker room following the game.
Asked if Wagner’s injury is similar to the one that caused Okung to go on Seattle’s injured-reserve-with- a-designation-to-return list last season, Carroll said: “Could be. We are going to wait and see.”
Carroll said the defense is considering moving outside linebacker K.J. Wright inside and using Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan as outside linebackers if Wagner misses any games. Carroll praised Smith, who has played sparingly at times early this season, for his play during his 25 snaps against Dallas.
The Seahawks don’t have the eight-week, IR-to-return option available this time. Teams get one of those designations per season, and Seattle has used its on nickel back Jeremy Lane after he had a groin injury from the exhibition season.
Lane can, by that IR list’s rules, begin practicing next week, and Carroll said Lane is on track to do just that. He becomes eligible to play again Nov. 9 when the Seahawks face the New York Giants.
The Seahawks got good news on Maxwell — at least as good of news a leg strain can be. Carroll confirmed Maxwell has a calf strain and not the much more extensive and sidelining high-ankle sprain that Carroll feared he might have.
Carroll said the team does not yet know if Maxwell will be able to play Sunday.
“That’s encouraging. Shouldn’t take nearly as long as some of the sprains that it could have been,” Carroll said.
Second-year cornerback Tharold Simon is going to practice this week for the first time since minor knee surgery early last month.
“It’s coming at an excellent time,” Carroll said with a deadpanning chuckle.
Simon instantly becomes a candidate to not only play but get significant time Sunday against the Rams. The Seahawks like his size and speed, and have spent much of this early season using five defensive backs.
Heck, Steven Terrell played at nickel for 22 of the defense’s 75 snaps against Dallas — one day after Seattle signed him off its practice squad. Marcus Burley, the nickel before Maxwell got hurt and Burley replaced him at right corner, played a bulk of the first half of the Cowboys game as the fifth defensive back inside.
If Simon had been healthy for the start of season, the Seahawks might not have traded a sixth-round draft choice to Indianapolis on Aug. 30 for Burley, who has been something of a revelation.
“All along we’ve really been looking forward to Tharold’s ability to contribute,” Carroll said, “so this will be his chance.”
But wait, there’s more.
Because Unger remains a day-to-day proposition because of the sprained foot, Stephen Schilling could make his second consecutive — and second career — start at center.
Carroll had mentioned following the Cowboys game that All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman had a shoulder injury. On Monday Carroll said Sherman is “fine” and will play against the Rams.
Asked if all the aches in the secondary will have the Seahawks shopping for defensive backs this week, Carroll said: “We’re always looking to see what we need to do to support our situation. The fact that Tharold is coming back and Jeremy Lane will be out practicing starting next week (means) we’re going to get a boost coming back from those guys. It will be fantastic if Tharold can contribute this week and Jeremy’s back the next.”
Tight end Zach Miller is at least a week or so from returning from his ankle surgery from late last month, the coach said.
Now on to Monday’s mini-dustup over how injured Okung is or isn’t.
KCPQ television in Seattle reported that Okung has torn labrum cartilage in his shoulder. He injured his left shoulder two games ago against Denver but continued playing through, after missing a few plays.
Carroll said that may or may not be so.
But essentially the coach’s response was: Whatever. He pointed out that Okung is still practicing and playing as he has since the injury.
“Russell sprained his shoulder a couple weeks ago and came back and hasn’t missed a practice since. He’s been fine,” Carroll said. “When you sprain your shoulder your labrum’s involved. There’s some stretching and stuff in there. I don’t know how far that went. But he came right back from it. He’s had full strength and support and all of that. So he’s OK.”
When asked if Okung was OK to play Sunday against the Rams, Carroll looked surprised by the question.
“Yeah,” the coach said, “he’s playing.”