SEATTLE – Seattle won’t have linebacker K.J. Wright or guard James Carpenter in its game against the New York Jets on Sunday, both ruled out with concussions.
How much the Seahawks miss the pair of starters depends on Seattle’s depth, which is being tested for the first time this season.
“It’s not about who’s stepping down, it’s who’s stepping up,” coach Pete Carroll said. Mike Morgan steps in for Wright at strongside linebacker, John Moffitt for Carpenter at left guard. This is part of the drill in the NFL. Players get hurt, and so far this year Seattle has remained remarkably healthy. Receiver Ben Obomanu is the only player the Seahawks placed on injured reserve since the regular season began, and this week will be the first time Seattle has had to change its starting lineup on defense.
“This is the biggest challenge we’ve had,” Carroll said. “Missing a front-line player like K.J., that’s a big deal to us.”
Seattle will have a bye after Sunday’s game, and the fact the Seahawks have played nine games without a break is starting to show in terms of bumps and bruises.
Eight players sat out practice Thursday. Wright and Carpenter are the only two who have been ruled out for Sunday, though rookie defensive lineman Greg Scruggs is doubtful because of a strained oblique.
Defensive end Red Bryant sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday with a foot injury, but returned on Friday and is listed as probable. Safety Kam Chancellor returned to practice Friday, too, after a bruised thigh kept him out Wednesday and Thursday. He’s almost certain to play, as is running Marshawn Lynch, who had a sore back and wrist.
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is questionable with a sore groin. Carpenter’s absence on the offensive line doesn’t create all that much uncertainty. Moffitt started in his spot last week, and while it was the first time he had played left guard since college at Wisconsin, he started nine regular-season games as a rookie and two more early this season before stepping in for Carpenter last week.
The situation on defense is different, as Wright has been a starter since the second month of his rookie season last year.
His replacement, Morgan, was undrafted out of USC in 2011 and was released coming out of training camp before being added to the practice squad in October. He appeared in five games, mostly on special teams.
He began the season as a core special-teams player, but played some nickel linebacker earlier this year. Morgan came on to replace the injured Wright in the opening minutes of last week’s game.
“It was pretty much like I started last week,” Morgan said. “K.J. got hurt on the first, second play of the game, and I was in there the rest of the time. So I’m kind of looking at it like my second start.”
And the Seahawks are looking to see if they have the depth to withstand the injuries that are an inevitable part of a 16-game season.
“This is a natural challenge for the football season,” Carroll said. “These things happen.”
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