RENTON The Seahawks had nine players miss their indoor practice three days before they play Washington. Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor were again the most notable absentees.
Thomas’ absence was not a surprise. Coach Pete Carroll said it would be Friday at the earliest that the three-time All-Pro safety might practice with his strained right hamstring. He injured the leg chasing DeAndre Hopkins at the end of the Houston receiver’s long catch and run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Seattle’s home win last weekend.
If Thomas doesn’t practice Friday, the final full workout before the game, expect Bradley McDougald to make his first Seahawks start since they signed him as a free agent this spring from Tampa Bay.
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“I’ve been working to be a starter since I’ve been here, so this is no different,” McDougald said.
Sheldon Richardson was new on the practice report after missing practice with an oblique injury to his side. The veteran defensive tackle played 54 of 71 defensive snaps against the Texans last weekend, around what’s become his normal workload in the middle since Seattle acquired him in September in a trade with the New York Jets.
Seahawks coaches have been saying all week they are comfortable with McDougald, the former starter with the Buccaneers. McDougald has been getting increasing roles recently as a bigger, fifth, “nickel” defensive back against larger tight ends.
This is why they signed him, to be far better off than Seattle’s defense was this time last season when Thomas missed his first NFL game with a hamstring injury, and then by December was out for the 2016 season with a broken leg. The Seahawks’ defense, especially against the pass, collapsed without Thomas.
Asked following Thursday’s practice how confident he’ll be if McDougald has to start against Washington, defensive coordinator Kris Richard said: “Extremely confident. He’s been a starter in this league. He has starter ability. He’s a multitalented guy who can do plenty of things out there on the field, so we have extreme confidence.”
Chancellor’s and Wagner’s injuries are new, in that Carroll did not discuss them either after the Houston game or at the start of this practice week. It is common for veteran starters to get time off to rest and maintain injuries on the practice days between games in November and December.
Tight end Jimmy Graham and new defensive end Dwight Freeney returned to practice after getting a veteran rest day on Wednesday.
Defensive tackle Jarran Reed returned to practice one day after missing it while in the league’s mandated treatment protocol following a concussion.
The Redskins had three of their five starters on the offensive line miss practice for a second consecutive day: tackle Trent Williams, guard Shawn Lauvao and center Spencer Long. Jamison Crowder, who leads Washington’s wide receivers with 28 catches, missed practice for the second day in a row because of a hamstring injury.