RENTON, Wash. – Malcolm Smith has played for Pete Carroll long enough, first at Southern California and then with the Seattle Seahawks, that he knows nearly all the intricacies of the defensive system.
It’s a good thing he has that kind of background and understanding. His flexibility and knowledge is one of the biggest reasons he has been able to find a spot on the Seahawks’ roster since being drafted in the seventh round in 2011.
“Our principles are pretty much the same as far as coverage. Just the experience, you know. I’ve been taking practice reps since I was in college for some of these defenses,” Smith said Wednesday. “It’s good to have and it will help me stepping in.”
Smith’s versatility is being put to test again. For the second time this season, Smith is being called upon to fill in for an absent starter. Earlier, he was Seattle’s starter at strongside linebacker when Bruce Irvin was serving a four-game suspension. Now he’s being asked to start at weakside linebacker with K.J. Wright out at least a month with a fracture in his right foot suffered early in the Seahawks’ loss last Sunday in San Francisco.
This latest test for Smith started when he immediately jumped in for Wright and will continue over the final three weeks of the regular season, beginning Sunday at the New York Giants.
Wright underwent surgery on Wednesday in North Carolina to stabilize the fracture in his foot. The injury is expected to take four to six weeks to heal and recover.
Smith at least gives Seattle a solid backup plan who likely would be starting if he was playing for another team in the league.
“Whenever we’ve called on him for the highlighted playing time, he’s always played well. He’s given us play at two linebacker spots and in nickel, he’s been a core special-teams guy throughout,” Carroll said.
Smith earned his way onto the roster his first season because of his play on special teams. By his second season in 2012, Smith was getting on the field consistently and started three games when Leroy Hill was out with injuries. That experience he got made Seattle confident Smith could step in at an unnatural position when Irvin was sidelined to start the season by suspension.
Smith started three of those first four games when Irvin was out, missing one due to a hamstring injury. Smith flipped to the other side of the defensive alignment and started against Tennessee and Arizona at midseason when Wright moved inside to play for injured starter Bobby Wagner.
Seattle placed SS Jeron Johnson (hamstring) on injured reserve and signed CB Perrish Cox on Wednesday. … Seattle’s lengthy injury report feature nine players who did not participate Wednesday: WR Percy Harvin (hip), TE Zach Miller (ribs), C Max Unger (pectoral), RB Marshawn Lynch (shoulder), CB Richard Sherman (foot), CB Brandon Browner (groin), LB Mike Morgan (knee), WR Doug Baldwin (neck), DE Chris Clemons (non-injury reason).