The Seahawks chances of limiting NFL rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott’s effectiveness got a significant boost Friday after coach Pete Carroll confirmed linebacker Bobby Wagner (hamstring) practiced fully, and is ready to resume full-time duties in the middle of Seattle’s defense.
In fact, Wagner wasn’t even listed on the team’s final injury report Friday. Neither was outside linebacker K.J. Wright (concussion), who missed last week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams — a 42-7 Seahawks loss at CenturyLink Field.
“(Wagner) couldn’t do anything last week. We didn’t see him until Sunday, you know,” Carroll said. “He is well ahead of that, and that is a great sign. Because he was able to play last week, when we took him out when we had to, he came out of the game better than he was the week before.
“The whole week turned out turned out very positive for him.”
Even after serving his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy for an alleged domestic-violence incident against a former girlfriend in 2016, Elliott ranks 16th in the league in total rushing yards (783) — and is tops in per-game average (97.9).
Seattle’s run defense was torched by the Rams last week with no Wright, and a noticeably-hobbling Wagner, who was eventually removed from the blowout loss in the third quarter. Los Angeles totaled 244 rushing yards, led by Todd Gurley’s 152 yards on 21 carries.
“Those guys (Wagner and Wright) have been with us for such a long time, and they mean so much to us,” Carroll said.
Normally voluable, Carroll was mostly brief in his answers to reporters’ questions after practice Friday — possibly a sign how much pressure the players and coaches around the VMAC are feeling this week heading into a must-win game against the Cowboys.
Just to disrupt the football-answer malaise, Carroll was even asked if he decorated a Christmas tree this year.
He flashed a meek grin.
“It’s kind of hard to get focused on Christmas for us,” Carroll said. “I know it is there. We’re grateful it’s the season and all of that, but there’s minimal amount of time spent on Christmas, unfortunately.”
* Safety Bradley McDougald (knee), who missed practice time this week, returned Friday. Despite being lsited as questionable, Bradley is ready to roll, Carroll said.
* Linebacker D.J. Alexander (concussion) won’t play Sunday, and defensive lineman Nazair Jones (high ankle sprain) is being listed as doubtful.
* Carroll was non-committal whether cornerback Deshawn Shead (knee), who has not played for nearly a year after reconstructive surgery, will be activated before the game Sunday. Shead has been practicing on most of the special-teams units during practice.
As far as reaction to the NFL leveling a $100,000 fine against the Seahawks on Thursday for violating the league’s concussion protocol with Russell Wilson against the Arizona Cardinals early last month, Carroll said the organization has made changes to make sure that action does not take place again.
“We never had any intention of trying to avoid that at all. It is the way things came down,” Carroll said. “I see why the league did what they did. The best thing about this is that should not happen like that again. In the long run, it’s a good thing.”