One big loss, perhaps two gains this week on the Seahawks' defense for their huge test Sunday at Kansas City.
Coach Pete Carroll said key run-stopping defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has a "really legit" pulled hamstring and thus won't play Sunday for Seattle (6-3) against the Chiefs (6-3), who have the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing offense at 135.8 yards per game. Sounds like Mebane is going to be out a while, perhaps multiple games including next week's at home against NFC West-leading Arizona (8-1).
Carroll said the team expects to know more on the severity of Mebane's injury later today.
But strong safety Kam Chancellor and outside linebacker Malcolm Smith are returning to practice on Wednesday, Carroll said. Each has missed the last two games with groin injuries. Chancellor in particular is a thudding force against the run, though he is also playing with bone spurs in his ankles. It's becoming apparent that the Seahawks held Chancellor out of the last two wins over Oakland and the New York Giants to get him ready to play these next six, rugged games. After the Chiefs and Cardinals, the Seahawks play Thanksgiving night at San Francisco then at Philadelphia, home to the 49ers and at Arizona.
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Carroll said Bobby Wagner will begin running this week for the first time since he got a turf-toe ligament during the loss to Dallas on Oct. 12. But it seems unlikely the middle linebacker will play at Kansas City. Having the middle linebacker who was playing at a Pro Bowl level and leading the team in tackles with 50 through five games before missing the last four back Sunday would be a huge boost for the Seahawks in the middle against the Chiefs.
Seattle has been using usual outside linebacker K.J. Wright and, for the last two starts, undrafted rookie Brock Coyle at middle linebacker while Wagner has gone in the last month from crutches to a walking boot to now poised to run.
James Carpenter is "a long shot" to play at Kansas City, Carroll said, because of the ankle he sprained in last week's win over Oakland. That means Alvin Bailey is likely to start again at left guard. The second-year man had perhaps his best game as a Seahawks yesterday filling in for Carpenter, blowing Giants off the ball as the Seahawks romped for a team-record 350 yards rushing against New York in the 38-17 win.
Tight end Zach Miller will miss his seventh consecutive game Sunday, Carroll said. He had ankle surgery in late September and his recovery has gone far more slowly than the team expected. It doesn't sound like he's coming back anytime soon.
With Luke Willson spraining his ankle and third tight end Cooper Helfet having a sore knee, Carroll said former Chiefs starting tight end Tony Moeaki is going to be a big part of this week's game plan. It will be his Seahawks debut. Moeaki signed as a free agent five days before the Giants game; Carroll said he just didn't know enough of the playbook to be active yesterday.
For those asking about Byron Maxwell or Tharold Simon as the starting cornerback now that Maxwell is back from his calf injury after a few weeks out, Carroll said once Maxwell is "full speed" he will be the starter again. The coach said he doesn't know if that will be this week or next.
At the start of the video above you can hear how pleased Carroll still is with the bruising, thumping way the Seahawks won yesterday. He says the team is getting back to playing the way it wants to on offense and defense.