RENTON The Seahawks continue to wait for Kam Chancellor to get healthy.
But they aren’t waiting on him. They have been moving on. They’ve had to, for chunks of the last two seasons.
The Seahawks on Saturday listed their four-time Pro Bowl strong safety as out for Monday night’s home game against Buffalo. It will be the fourth consecutive game Chancellor has missed with his pulled groin he got in a practice coming off the team’s bye week last month -- and fourth consecutive game Kelcie McCray starts for him.
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Chancellor will miss for seventh time in 11 Seahawks’ games dating to last season. Counting the two games Chancellor missed to begin the 2015 season when he was on a two-month contract holdout that netted him nothing but lost time, this will be the ninth time in 24 games Seattle will play without their defensive captain. Yes, more than one-third of the time the last two seasons the Seahawks have played without Chancellor.
Seattle is 3-4-1 in games without Chancellor the last two seasons, including 1-1-1 the last three weeks.
“I really hope he’s going to be out on the practice field by next week,” coach Pete Carroll said following Saturday’s indoor practice.
Then even Carroll acknowledged that’s his nature -- and, indirectly, that he’s been saying that for weeks now.
“I am kind of optimistic about stuff like that, so...” Carroll said with a slant of his head and grin of his next-week-practice estimation for Chancellor.
I asked Carroll, who has called Chancellor’s pull as “substantial,” if the defense is getting used to playing without their hard-hitting man in the middle. Chancellor had been in the back of the defense as a full-time starter since 2011.
“Well, I think we are better at it, yeah. We are better at it,” Carroll said.
“When Kelc gets back there with the guys, it’s really about communication and being sharp and the evaluation of what’s going on. It’s that stuff that he’s continued to grow at. He’s playing well. He’s playing hard for us and has done a nice job. It’s just making sure that we are maximizing all the calls and the opportunities that we have. And so it just gets better. It certainly gets better.”
Seahawks second-year defensive coordinator Kris Richard was Chancellor’s secondary coach from 2012-14. He says his unit, which second in the NFL in points allowed per game (15.7, behind only Minnesota at 14.9), is "ballin’" without Chancellor.
"Kelcie has done a fantastic job," Richard said.
"Obviously there is no replacement for Kam Chancellor throughout the entire NFL. He’s a special player, a special teammate, special member of our defense. We all understand that.
"But Kelcie has done a fantastic job of coming in and filling in. He’s played great. We’ve been able to make our calls as usual, and we’re ballin’."
Chancellor has one year after this one remaining on the four-year, $28 million extension he signed before the 2013 season. His salary is $5.1 million this year and is scheduled to be $6.8 million with a salary-cap charge for the Seahawks of $8,125,000 in 2017. None of that is guaranteed, and Seattle’s cap charge if it releases him before next June 1 would be $1 million.
Though Bradley Sowell is listed as questionable, Carroll made it sound as if the starting left tackles sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee is going to keep him out for the second consecutive game. Carroll said Sowell did not progress this week. He did not participate in any of the practices.
Carroll said lead running back Thomas Rawls did well in his running this week, testing the cracked fibula that’s had him out since the second quarter of the second game, Sept. 18 at Los Angeles. But the coach pushed back his estimation of Rawls returning to playing in a game another week, to the Nov. 20 home game against Philadelphia, at the earliest. Monday’s game and the Nov. 13 test at New England will be the fifth and sixth consecutive games Rawls will miss.
Expect more of rookie C.J. Prosise along with Christine Michael running against Buffalo.
Carroll said outside linebacker Mike Morgan is ready to play again after his sports-hernia surgery last month, and that the veteran is simply waiting for him time when he’s allowed to return. That confirms Morgan will be the Seahawks’ injured-reserve player designated to return. Each team gets to designate one IR player to return to playing eight weeks after he goes on IR, provided he was on the 53-man active roster at the start of the regular season. The earliest by that rule Morgan can return is the Dec. 4 home game against Carolina. He can return to practicing two weeks before that, the week of Nov. 21.
Carroll said Brock Coyle will start for the second consecutive game for Morgan at strong-side linebacker. Coyle had been Bobby Wagner backup at middle linebacker for 2 1/2 seasons until he started last weekend at New Orleans and earned coaches’ and Wagner’s praises.