Seahawks Insider Blog

Finally good injury news for Seahawks: Pete Carroll says at least 4 starters could return Sunday vs NYG

Today, Pete Carroll finally got to talk about injuries in the additive -- rather than reductive -- sense.

The theme of the coach's comments the day after the Seahawks' 30-24 escape/slog/battle of attrition past Oakland was renewal through a return to health.

Carroll says Seattle (5-3) has a good chance of getting at least four starters or essentially starters back from injuries this week in time for Sunday's home game against the New York Giants (3-4 entering tonight's home game against Indianapolis).

He called that nothing short of "amazing."

And it's oh, so needed.

Center Max Unger's sprained foot continues to improve; he was dressed yesterday but did not play, active only because the Seahawks already had designated seven other injured playeers off the 53-man roster as inactive, so there was no place to make Unger inactive. Strong safety Kam Chancellor missed his first game Sunday since 2011 with a groin injury. He also was technically "active" but didn't dress. Left tackle Russell Okung has a chance to start this week after missing the Raiders game with a strained calf. And nickel back Jeremy Lane is eligible to come off Seattle's injured-reserve list with a designation to return so he can play for the first time since he strained his groin in the Sept. 4 opener against Green Bay. It will take a roster move of releasing someone currently on the active roster (safety Terrance Parks, perhaps) for Lane to play against the Giants.

Carroll also said reserve safety and special-teams player Jeron Johnson is likely to play after missing yesterday's game with a concussion and backup defensive tackle Jordan Hill is readying for a return from a sprained ankle.

Sounds like middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (turf toe), tight end Zach Miller (ankle surgery) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (calf strain) are going to be the starters who will remain out against the Giants Sunday -- though Carroll said Wagner and Miller are improving more rapidly now than previously.

Left guard James Carpenter is in a walking boot today for his sprained ankle. Carroll said he doesn't not yet know how long Carpenter will be out. Alvin Bailey, who started for Okung against Oakland, could play guard for Carpenter provided Okung returns. Stephen Schilling could, too, though the Seahawks like him more at center. That's where Schilling would start for the fourth time in five games if Unger doesn't return -- but it sounds like he will.

Fourth-stringer Patrick Lewis started at center against the Raiders because Schilling had a sore knee that Carroll says is better now, after Schilling entered in the third quarter against Oakland to "settle down" a makeshift line that at that point included college tight end Garry Gilliam at guard, former defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy at another guard, second-year man Bailey making his first regular-season start at left tackle and rookie Justin Britt at right tackle.

No wonder Carroll is so buoyant about getting some guys back this week.

"It's a big turn. It depends on how much good fortune we have, but we will have four guys back, likely, that will be ready for us this week and we could have eight," Carroll said. "It's amazing it could be like that.

"Pretty realistic we'll get four guys back."

Actually, Carroll was buoyant about the six-point win over the winless Raiders -- at least the first half that ended with Seattle up 24-3, before an avalanche of mistakes on special teams and offense allowed Oakland to score two touchdowns in the third quarter to make it a game.

"This was actually the closest, I think, to really being on, the start of this game," Carroll said. "I just loved the way we played the first half, the energy ... loved the way our defense played. Our defense has started to play well the last couple weeks. ... We've had some turnovers we've gotten the last couple weeks, which has really changed us. It's exciting to see that.

"Turning to the second half (of the season) here he wanted to make a move. And we think we have."

Carroll attributed the second half to so many fill-ins on the offensive line -- communication issues and missed assignments with Lewis making calls at center, for instance -- and on special teams, especially the punt team that had a Jon Ryan boot blocked and then allowed a long Raiders return to set up another Oakland score in the third quarter.

As for Russell Wilson and the offense, Carroll had a fitting comment about that Raiders game.

"The offense survived the game, basically," he said.

Behind all the turmoil up front, Wilson completed 17 of 35 passes for 179 yards and no touchdowns. It was just the sixth game of his career in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and the seventh time he didn't throw a touchdown pass.

"He had a normal person's day," Carroll said of his quarterback, who was above 70 percent in completions for the season a few weeks ago.

"We survived the game. We got through it. And the quarterback didn't get killed. And on we go."

So there's that.

"We'll be better. We'll be better this week," Carroll said. "We may end going with the exact same guys that we ended up with (Sunday), you know. We'll figure it out this week."

Here's all of what Carroll said:

Head Coach Pete Carroll

November 3, 2014

(Opening) This was, I think, the closest that we felt to really being on it. The start of this game, I just really loved the way we played in the first half – the energy and playing at CenturyLink and the effort across the board was really good. Loved the way our defense played. The defense has really played well the last few weeks – numbers are starting to come in and rushing totals and overall yardage and factoring into the rush and we’ve had some turnovers in the last few games too that just changes us. It’s really exciting to see that and turn at the half. We wanted to see if we could make a little move here and it feels like we have. Under the circumstances of this game where so many guys played that haven’t played before, I take maybe more out of it because of that and so offense played tough, special teams played tough. We just didn’t play well all the time. The kind of effort that we need to be a good football team was there and so that’s a good sign for us – a couple weeks in a row of feeling that so we’re going to try to stay on track and keep pushing and watch this game tonight and get ready for the Giants as we get ready through this week.

(On if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel on the injury front at this point) Yeah, it’s a big turn. It depends on how much good fortune we have but we will have four guys back likely that weren’t ready for us this week and we could have eight. So it’s amazing that it could be like that but we’re on the verge of getting some guys back. Pretty realistically is to get four guys back.

(On who those four guys are) We have a chance for Jeremy Lane, Jeron Johnson, Max Unger and Jordan Hill. Max dressed but we were not going to play him unless we had to. So those guys should make it back and we will make the decision on everybody at the end of the week. But Jeremy, there’s a transaction has to take place later to do that.

(On some of the defensive players saying the effort and energy felt like the way it has felt in the past when they were really rolling and if he felt that too) That’s what I’m saying. I thought it was really clear, it did – that’s what it was. Being able to turn the football over has obviously something to do with that but just the play in general and the effort. I made a point to the team about Brandon Mebane was really, really good again. He was really a big factor. To hold any team to thirty-something yards rushing is enormous and their running back was under two yards a carry and he’s a really good running back. The plan, the effort, the finish of it was really on. So those are good indicators for us and we’re trying to get better. We just try to get better each week and we definitely did this week.

(On what happened with Kam Chancellor and Russell Okung at the end of the week to knock them out and where are they at now) We weren’t sure because they both had mild strains but they happened in the middle of the week so they only had a couple days so we had to wait all the way up to game time. They both feel like they’re ready to play so we will see what happens. Getting Kam back would make five guys coming back so that’s even better.

(On if he’s expecting Kam Chancellor back this week) Yeah.

(On how he mentions effort and if he thought there was a lack of effort before) There’s a fine line between that crazed mentality that you see and when you think you’re going, you’re trying really hard, but there’s a difference and the energy of it and the emotion of it was so obvious. The guys have really captured it and I’m hoping we can keep going. It will make all the difference to us.

(On how valuable the playing time was for the guys who had to step up yesterday) It’s incredibly valuable for them personally but also for our team because they gain so much out of the play time. You can only gain so much out of watching. For a guy like Patrick Lewis to play all those snaps and to get through it, in his mind and in ours as well, we know that he can play. It goes right across the board with all the guys, Brock [Coyle] as well. Everybody that stepped up did a nice job, a couple guys on special teams as well.

(On the issues that he has had on special teams the past few weeks and if that’s a factor of the trickle down from injuries) Yeah, we have to take some backwards steps to get caught up with guys that haven’t had reps. We’ve had such a good core group of our special teams guys that’s really been hit hard. So there were mistakes made in this game that were characteristic of preseason games. The kinds of things that guys would make when they get out of their lanes, they don’t feel the guy next to them, they don’t have the sense for the spacing and stuff. It’s not an effort thing at all. The guys had great effort but we weren’t sharp. It makes you appreciate the experience that guys have when they know how to play all those unique situations that they get in. There are so many variables there to that that first time experiences, guys don’t always make the right choices and stuff and that happened in the coverage a couple times.

(On if the team is able to get healthy here, how important will it be to have some of these guys also available who were thrown into the fire a little bit) Exactly, that’s the byproduct –  is the fact that they played, if they’re still with us, ready to go and there on the 46, we wouldn’t hesitate. We would expect them to play really well and that just makes us stronger. This is a good thing. It’s a really good accomplishment to have endured. We knew it going in and I was just hoping that we would be able to come out of here with a positive experience out of it and we did so that just makes us better. Hopefully we will be able to call on them again. It may be sooner than later, we don’t know. Alvin Bailey playing all those snaps at tackle and getting in there and he played a little bit of guard and Garry Gilliam playing tackle in there, playing guard. That’s just great stuff for those guys and it helps everybody in their position group – a lot of positives.

(On Russell Wilson saying he didn’t know why he was off yesterday and if he was able to see much on film about what was happening) Yeah, sure. He wasn’t connecting like he normally does. He was a little high with the ball and maybe a little quick getting rid of it. Timing was just not normal. That’s already gone. That game is already behind us as far as I’m concerned and we move ahead and go back on track again and expect that we will do really well. We will learn from the experience and benefit from it but he had a “normal” person’s day. He wasn’t quite as sharp as he has been.

(On the five upcoming division games and how he looks at everything ahead of him) That’s great. I really like the scheduling the way it comes down like that. I think it really adds to the build up at the finish for everybody. I think it’s cool. It also leaves everything out there as late as possible which is great for us in our particular situation but I think it’s good for anybody that watches the game. Since that’s happened, I think that’s an interesting way to do that. I can see why the league wanted to do that.

(On how he assessing where the team is through eight games) I think we’re making progress. We’ve survived some really hard games and we’ve won some really hard games. We’re battle tested and we’re ready to go. The fact that we can make this turn with young guys prepared to play and with some guys coming back to their health and we will get a second wave of that as well, I’m feeling pretty good about our chances to go out and win this game this week. This week is really what’s a hand and we’re going to focus in on that like we always do and then we will just keep cranking, see if we can keep going.

(On where Zach Miller and Bobby Wagner are now with their injuries) Bobby’s improving quickly. He’s doing well. I don’t know what that means days wise but he’s really come back ahead of schedule and we’re going to get him back pretty quick. It doesn’t look like this week. Zach’s running on the apparatus, he’s not on the ground yet but he’s running. He had a very positive day today so it’s just really one day at a time. The apparatus is this machine that they run on. That’s an encouraging day and it’s really just day to day. They have to come back from the work load, that’s always what the case is, he works hard today then can he go again tomorrow without stepping backwards and we will see what happens.

(On if Malcolm Smith has a chance to play this week) Possibly, it’s going to be a late week recovery if he can do. It’s looking like it might be two weeks but he’s one of those guys that could have a shot at it.

(On how he liked the group of linebackers with Brock Coyle at middle and K.J. Wright back outside if Malcolm Smith and Bobby Wagner are still out this week) I think the whole thing worked out well. We were pleased with it. Brock and K.J. [Wright] handled all the calls and assignments out there. Brock did a nice job and made his tackles and Kevin [Pierre-Louis] had a chance to play on third-down situations and some nickel stuff and he did real well. So it worked out fine and if we have reason to change we will let you know but we don’t at this moment. We will kind of keep going like we’re going.

(On how DeShawn Shead played every defensive snap and how he did) He did a solid job. He’s never played that many snaps just at strong safety. He’s always been moved around. He’s always bounced around from corner to free safety to strong safety. He had a good week in preparation. He’s an extremely diligent kid; I mean he is on it. He did everything he could do to be right and ready and we still got on the wrong side a couple times. There were a couple things here and there that would happen but all in all, he played very well and was on point. He had a couple missed tackles that were kind of crucial at times but he did very, very well.

(On if playing Mike Morgan a lot late in the game was an experience thing) Yeah.

(On Marshawn Lynch running, receiving, and blocking) He had a fantastic game. I guess you guys picked up the block he had on Christine Michael’s run—where he just blocks the guy all the way out of bounds and knocks him into the bench. He just of accents the whole game—he ran great down inside the ten yard line. He ran really hard all day long. The perimeter passing game—he was able to take advantage of really showed in the open field. I thought it was really cool to see him have that much space and utilize his blockers, and he had to have the ball doing that. It couldn’t have been more fun—so much space for him. He rarely gets that kind of opportunity. So I thought he just did just great in all phases and had a big contribution to this game.

(On James Carpenter & Doug Baldwin injury) We’ll have to wait and see—I haven’t heard any updates on Carp. He had an ankle sprain of some sort—we don’t know how serious it is—he’s in the boot today. Doug was a thumbs up, he’s ok but we’ll see.

(On Gregg Scruggs injury) Yes—his knee got sore during the game, that’s a day to day thing. He didn’t re-injury it or anything; he just had a sore knee. We have a number of guys that are banged up, aside from the guys that we’re talking about. We just have to wait and see in a couple days how they came out—not that we’re withholding any information. We’ll let you know—when we know, we’ll let you know.

(On assessing the offense) Well we made a number of mistakes. We had trouble targeting some things, we cut some guys loose in the run game, in pass protection there were a couple problems. It was just the communication challenge for Patrick [Lewis] to run the show down there and James [Carpenter] between Patrick and Alvin [Bailey]—there was some miscues in there. So we misfired on some plays and we survived it. The offense survived the game basically is what they did and got it done. When Carp went down, you saw we had a couple combinations in there and Tom [Cable] was scrambling trying to get those guys squared away. The Raiders were difficult—they’re very tough up front and very effective up front. So it made for a really hard game for those guys—that’s why our expectations were that we survive the game and we got through it and the quarterback didn’t get killed and we made it through it. So on we go and we’ll get better. We’ll be better this week and we may wind up going with the exact same guys that we wound up with but we don’t know yet, but we’ll figure that out as the week unfolds.

(On how concerned is he about Russell Wilson’s health) He’s fine—he does a fantastic job. He’s as good as you can get at avoiding the big hit. He got tripped up when he was throwing the ball away on the back of his leg one time, but he’s a great athlete and he knows how to go as well as anybody that plays the game. He also has tremendous discretion on when to go for it and when not too. So I’m not worried about it.

(On using Steve Schilling in case of emergency) He made it through ok so he’ll at least be ready to do that this week. So we’ll have some choices to make as we get through the week. Max Unger still has to survive the week too—he did last week on limited amount of work, but he’s really gung-ho to get this done. There was a moment I saw Max on the sideline kind of looking down, sitting on the bench—in the middle of the third quarter and he had made the comment that, ‘I’ve never been in this situation before.’ He was dressed for a football game and he doesn’t get to play. So I caught him at one point and that was kind of poetic—he was sitting over there trying to figure it out and deal with it; that was really unusual for him.

(On has he ever had a game with this many injuries) No—I don’t ever remember ever being in this situation. We didn’t have forty-six guys in this game and they could have gone on the field, but they shouldn’t put them out if we can avoid it. All of the intent was to get them through this week and if they had to go out there, they’d just go out there and survive it with going at the pace that they could go at—which we never want to do but that was a very unusual situation and fortunately we should jump right back out of that.

(On Doug Baldwin being back on punt return) Well for this week—yes. We did ok. You saw Doug made a decision that backed us up and that I think we’d like to do otherwise. So he’s still learning and we’ll figure that out. We’ll see what happens this week and we’ll some things occur during the week.

(On Steve Schilling being an option at guard) Yes—he has been. He has been a guy that can play there. We like him at center particularly though.

(On elaboration for media to suck it up) I think that was just having fun with the message that games don’t always go like you want them to and for the fans too—I’ve joked about it at times. Most fans would love to see the game over in the first quarter and then they can kick back and not have to freight through what the outcome would be, but it isn’t like that. The league is so tough and the games are so hard and there are challenges every single week that we’ll take them when we can get them and sometimes games go out of balance one way or the other, but for the most part, if you’re with us, they’re pretty darn close always. So that’s all—I’m just having some fun—get tough.

(On Brock Coyle) Brock did a good job. He was active, he fitted things up well, he had some good tough hits, he played like he played at practice—he was really sharp in practice during the fits in the running game. We had a fantastic day against the run and he was right in the middle of all of it. K.J. [Wright] kept stealing all the tackles—he was stepping in and making a bunch of hits, but he did a really good job and that’s a really good accomplishment for a first year player to jump in like that. So we’re real happy to play him—we’re real confident that he can play the game and do fine.

(On K.J Wright being back at his original position help him get more tackles) Yes—I think it did a little bit. He’s prepared a great deal at the will backer spot for us and he had just jumped in at mike linebacker—he had to do it for a game here but he’s better equipped and he’ll play faster at the will spot. He missed a couple fits a week ago that, in time, he would never miss. So he’ll play quicker to the football at the will spot because he’s had way more background and preparation for that.

(On how Will Tukuafu played) He only had a couple good chances. He threw his body at them couple times—he had to block Khalil Mack and whiffed him one time but we’re anxious to give him a chance to learn what we’re doing—learn more than five or six plays. I thought he added something significant and we’ll see how it goes the next couple weeks.

(On his thoughts on the pass rush) I thought the pass rush good—we made them move a lot. Here’s something that showed up—the passed up couple weeks, the quarterback efficiency numbers are way down. They are down in the sixties—when we’re playing good pass defense, that’s what it’s been in the past. So that has to do with all phases—I thought Richard [Sherman] and Tharold[ Simon] played really well in this game too to add to that. So as always it fits off of one another. I think the rush was up and Michael Bennett was really active in his rushes and Cliff [Avril] had some terrific rushes off the edge. So I’m certain that we’re progressing and we’re getting better—it certainly showed up in pass rush.

(On Tharold Simon doing well) Yes—he did very well. There are a lot of plays in this game where the ball didn’t go his way that you can still evaluate him covering routes. He stuck some routes really well in this game and did a nice job. One time they challenged him up top—he’s right there to pick the ball off and they fought for it. So that’s a really good sign for us—he’s a really big dude out there and he has the influence of the bigger corners just like we like. We’re real excited about him making it through some games, getting going, and we’re going to need him down the stretch.

(On Justin Britt struggling) He got pushed a few times, but he played a pretty good game though.