Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks without Pro Bowl LT, top offseason signing plus two safeties against Baltimore

It was, as the kids say, sub-optimal.

The Seahawks got set to play AFC North-leading Baltimore without their top offseason acquisition, their Pro Bowl left tackle and their first- and second-string safeties.

Seattle made top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah inactive for Sunday’s game against Baltimore because of an ankle injury he got forcing a fumble in thre previous game at Cleveland. Ansah, 30, missed for the third time in seven games this season.

Left tackle Duane Brown missed his second consecutive game because of a biceps injury he’s had for a month but played through until reinjuring it Oct. 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.

George Fant made his second consecutive start at left tackle.

Fans in the tunnel from the field leading to the Ravens’ locker room held out Thomas Seahawks jerseys at him as the All-Pro safety ran off at the end of pregame warmups.

Safety Bradley McDougald’s streak of 31 consecutive starts dating to November 2017 ended. He was inactive because of back spasms he woke up with Tuesday. That was after he played all 68 snaps in last weekend’s win over the Browns.

The 28-year-old sure tackler and play-maker on the ball has played in all 38 regular-season games since Seattle signed him from Tampa Bay before the 2017 season, though he played through a knee injury last season then had surgery on it this past offseason.

He’s been adept at interchanging effectively between strong and free safety, becoming one of the defense’s more dependable and indispensable starters.

Lano Hill would normally have replaced McDougald. But he was inactive with an elbow injury. Coach Pete Carroll said Friday Hill may miss a couple of weeks. That would include next week’s game at Atlanta.

McDougald and Hill being out led to Marquise Blair’s first NFL start. The rookie second-round draft choice from Utah started at strong safety next to free safety Tedric Thompson.

D.J. Fluker had also been questionable to play because of a hamstring injury that had kept him inactive the previous two games. Seattle’s right guard was active on Sunday but only on an emergency basis. Usual backup tackle Jamarco Jones started for the second consecutive week at right guard for Fluker.

Seattle’s other inactives Sunday: rookie draft picks Gary Jennings and John Ursua at wide receiver again, plus guard Jordan Roos.

Blair, called a “silent assassin” by Seattle general manager John Schneider for his hard hitting at strong safety at the University of Utah, had played one series at safety the previous weekend in Cleveland. That part of Thompson’s two series on the sidelines while McDougald stayed in. The Browns game was Blair’s second NFL game on defense; he’s played two others on special teams.

“It was fine. It was cool. It wasn’t too big for me,” Blair said.

Blair had an impressive first preseason game in early August. Seahawks coaches liked his aggressiveness on the ball and on ball carriers and his tackling. Then he hurt his back and had a hip pointer. That kept him out for most of the rest of August and set him farther behind Hill as a candidate to play strong safety.

“Marquise showed so well in preseason. Again, he just missed so much and he’s behind guys that have all played here and given us a lot of confidence in their background,” Carroll said this month. “It’s hard to get him in there. When do you work him in these games? There’s not much time to do that.

“He has shown the brightest spots of any of the players in the hits that he’s made, the plays that he’s made on special teams running and hitting, to give us really high hopes that he’s going to be a really big factor. He’s got a knack for hitting football and being around the ball.

“We think he’s going to be good.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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