There are smoother ways to prepare for a big game than this.
Let’s see: their indispensable running back, their best run blocker on an offense that absolutely must run to win, plus their Pro Bowl wide receiver and their most consistent defensive player the first half of this season are all missing from practice for Sunday’s key game at the division-leading Los Angeles Rams.
Other than that, it was a banner Wednesday on the Seahawks’ practice field.
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Chris Carson’s hip “soft-tissue” injury, to use coach Pete Carroll’s description, road-grading starting right guard D.J. Fluker’s strained calf, Doug Baldwin’s new groin injury and strong safety Bradley McDougald’s banged-up knee kept those key players out of practice four days before Seattle (4-4) tries for a revitalizing upset win at Los Angeles (7-1).
Carroll said before the indoor workout the team “will let you know” Thursday about Carson’s status—except no Seahawk talks about injuries on Thursdays.
The coach specified again this is a new injury, not the one more in Carson’s “groin or something” that he got while carrying the ball a career-high 32 times for 102 yards in the Seahawks’ win over Dallas in week three. That was back in September. Carson missed the next game, Seattle’s win at Arizona Sept. 30. Mike Davis filled in for him and gained 101 against the Cardinals.
Davis said Wednesday he’s preparing as if he will be the lead back in L.A.—but that he prepares that way each week.
I asked if Carson could play Sunday after what seems increasingly possible: him missing the entire week of practice.
“It depends on the week. It depends on how it’s going. It depends on how he looks and all that. He certainly could play,” Carroll said.
“We’ve got plenty of guys to go to. We don’t have to just rely on one guy right now, so if he’s not making it through the week and looking really good and we clear him for the game, then we would operate accordingly with that.”
Even Davis, who stands to gain most if Carson is out, said after Carson carried it only eight times and missed the second half of last weekend’s loss to the Chargers that not having number 32 “changes the physicality...I feel like Chris can do it all.
“We usually click more. We didn’t click like we have been.”
Carroll even mentioned mothballed C.J. Prosise on Wednesday as a possibility at running back against the Rams if Carson can’t play.
Prosise has been active for just 15 of 40 regular-season games since Seattle drafted him in 2016. He’s been a healthy scratch for four of the last six games. And one of the two games he played in during that span, he only appeared on special teams, not on offense.
Prosise has as many carries this season as you do.
“Yes. Yes, C.J. is ready to go. He’s dying to play,” Carroll said.
“He’s frustrated by not being able to play. He’s healthy and he’s talented, so it’s just a matter of getting the slots right so we can get him on the field on game day. I love what C.J. can do so we feel like we have a lot of depth and we’re not depending on just one guy playing.
“We’ve loved the way Chris has played, but we’ve got other guys that can go too. We’ll see what happens this week.”
Yes, Seattle has Davis (288 yards on 67 carries), rookie first-round draft choice Rashaad Penny (146 yards on 42 rushes this season) and Prosise ready behind Carson if the starter misses his 14th of a possible 25 games since the Seahawks drafted him in the seventh round last year.
But only Carson runs with the decisive, shoulders-down, straight-ahead and punishing attitude upon which the Seahawks’ offense has thrived this season.
Seattle is 0-3 this season when Carson doesn’t get at least 10 rushes. The Seahawks are 0-3 this season when Fluker misses some game time because of hamstring and now calf injuries.
Carroll backed off his assessment from Monday that Fluker was OK after missing the final 25 plays of Sunday’s loss to the Chargers with a calf injury.
But he was more positive about Fluker’s chances of playing against the Rams than he was about Carson’s.
“He did come back feeling a little more sore (Wednesday), so we’ve just got to take care of him and make sure that we don’t push him back too soon,” the coach said.
McDougald has had a sore knee for weeks. He shuttled in and out of the win Oct. 28 at Detroit because of it. Last weekend, second-year man Delano Hill got his most extensive work as a Seahawk. He played 25 of 51 snaps on defense against the Chargers.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker K.J. Wright said Wednesday Hill was getting a “full load” of preparation and practice at strong safety.
That wasn’t exactly the strongest sign McDougald will play against the Rams.
“We’re going to hold him out a little bit,” Carroll said.
Baldwin’s groin injury was his first such listing this season. The 30-year-old receiver and top target for quarterback Russell Wilson for years missed games two and three this season with a knee injury. That was the opposite knee from the banged-up one that had him on the sidelines for the entire preseason.
The Seahawks had Baldwin speak as usual in his weekly press conference Wednesday(in which he said he’s thinking about someday running for political office). The team usually doesn’t make players available to the media who are unlikely to play that week.