The thudding, relentless way Kam Chancellor plays doesn’t just take a toll on ball carriers.
The Seattle Seahawks’ strong-in-more- ways-than-one safety had surgery in the spring to repair cartilage in his hip. Last month he contemplated surgery on his ankles, to relieve searing pain caused by bone spurs.
Now he has a newly strained hip. It has him questionable to play Sunday when the Seahawks (3-1) host the Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at CenturyLink Field.
This is the wrong week for Chancellor to have a new pain.
Of course, no week is a good one for the Seahawks to be without their key to what is currently the league’s No. 1 defense against the run. But Chancellor being out or even limited this week is extra worrisome because the Cowboys have the NFL’s leading rusher, Demarco Murray.
“Everything they do concerns us, particularly their effectiveness in running right at you. They are good at it,” coach Pete Carroll said of the Cowboys following Friday’s blustery practice in the fog at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “Kam’s a big factor, obviously. He’s been a huge element to our defense.
“We are hoping he’ll be with us. … We’ll run him on game day (pregame Sunday) to see if he can go.”
Jeron Johnson likely would be the next man up at safety alongside Earl Thomas if Chancellor can’t play. The fourth-year veteran from Boise State has played in 34 NFL games but has yet to start one.
Two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger is doubtful to play Sunday. He sprained his foot Monday night in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s win at Washington.
“We’re looking for a miraculous recovery at this point,” Carroll said.
So Stephen Schilling is ready to make his first career start at center on Sunday.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin was back at practice Friday after missing Thursday with a thigh injury. The Seahawks list him as probable. That’s the same status for running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch took Wednesday’s practice off to rest; the Seahawks listed “NIR” for “not football-related” for his injury. That is going to be Lynch’s customary, midweek designation for when he gets rest throughout the remainder of the season.
Chancellor has missed just one game because of injury in his five NFL seasons, remarkable given how banged up he often is and how hard he hits ball carriers. He missed a game against Atlanta on Oct. 2, 2011, because of a quadriceps injury
That was the day Atari Bigby — remember him? — became the only Seahawk in the last five seasons other than Chancellor to start at strong safety.
Carroll said he believes Chancellor’s latest injury is in the opposite hip from the one on which Chancellor had surgery during the offseason.
“No, it’s different,” Carroll said. “He’s got a little strain in his hip.”
It appears Schilling is going to make his first start at center of his four-year career. The Seahawks moved him to that position from guard in mid-August. He replaced Unger for three plays on the next-to-last offensive drive Monday at Washington, before Unger returned for the final drive.
Schilling began playing center in practices for San Diego last season while giving scout-team looks for the Chargers’ starting defense.
He knows this — coordinating with quarterback Russell Wilson on making all the protection calls at the line against the Cowboys’ resurgent defense on Sunday — is a tad different than being a scout-team center in San Diego.
“I feel comfortable with the entire offense,” said Schilling, the former star at Bellevue High School and the University of Michigan.
Schilling is living in the basement of his brother’s home in Kirkland while his wife continues her law career in Chicago. Katie, a Michigan soccer player who went on to law school there, is in her second year working at a Chicago firm. They got married this spring. But she took the bar exam in Illinois, so she is tied to there for now.
His wife tries to time visits to Seattle with Seahawks home games, so she will be there Sunday at CenturyLink Field for what might become her husband’s first start at center. Schilling’s parents, Joanne and Ralph, will be there, too. They still live in the home in which Stephen grew up through his final year at Bellevue High in 2006 — the house from which Schilling used to root on his hometown Seahawks as a kid.
“I’ll be as ready as I need to,” Schilling said. “I mean, it would be really cool — obviously, who knows what is going on the injuries — but it would be awesome to get a chance to start here and play.
“It’s already so cool just to get to suit up and play here. The more I can play, the more I can do to help, I’m happy to do it.”
Carroll said Harvin — the key to the offense’s versatility — is fine and looks good to go for Sunday’s game.
Backup tackle Alvin Bailey returned to practice after missing time with an oblique injury.
JAY’S BIG DAY
James “Jay” Tardif had a wish to meet wide receiver Jermaine Kearse from Lakewood, Wilson and other of his favorite Seahawks.
Not only did he get to do that Friday after practice, but the Seahawks also gave the 11-year-old from Marysville who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia the run of the locker room.
Young Jay got his own, corner, wood-sided locker with his name stenciled across the top, between the lockers of Doug Baldwin and Chancellor, during his day arranged by the Seattle chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He got a Seahawks blue game jersey with his favorite No. 10 and chatted with Seattle’s current No. 10, rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson.
“Oh yeah!” Jay kept saying as cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas, Wilson and other Seahawks signed his Super Bowl poster. His huge grin never left his face.
“He couldn’t even look at Russell — ‘I can’t open my eyes’ — because Russell Wilson was walking up. It was just as cute as can be,” Carroll said.
“A little guy that’s really battling some stuff. Our guys recognize that he’s in the competition of his life right now. Whenever they get around anybody that’s in that kind of mode, our guys gravitate. … We welcome it, and it’s great for our guys.”