RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Outside of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, no one on the Seattle Seahawks defense has proven more valuable this season than safety Bradley McDougald.
And just in time for a visit from the leading passer in the NFL, the Seahawks aren’t sure if McDougald will be able to play Sunday against Kansas City.
McDougald’s knee injury is one of several that could change Seattle’s lineup for a Week 16 matchup where a victory and some help from others could clinch an NFC wild-card berth for the Seahawks.
McDougald has been dealing with a patellar tendon injury that flared up during the first half last week against San Francisco and forced him to become a spectator for the vast majority of the loss to the 49ers. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said McDougald is away from the team for a few days getting additional treatment on his knee and is expected back by the end of the week.
But when asked if he thought McDougald would be able to play against Patrick Mahomes and the NFL’s top passing offense, Carroll could only say, “possibly.” If McDougald can’t play against the Chiefs it would be second-year safety Delano Hill stepping in. Hill played 52 snaps last week against San Francisco.
Seattle is equally unsettled at right guard and potentially with its depth in the backfield.
The Seahawks placed guard Jordan Simmons on injured reserve Tuesday due to a knee injury suffered in the loss to San Francisco and it’s uncertain whether D.J. Fluker’s injured hamstring will be healthy enough for him to return this week.
The injuries have left Seattle possibly needing a major shuffle on an offensive line that has helped create the top rushing offense in the NFL.
Ethan Pocic struggled last week when he stepped in for Simmons. Seattle has used George Fant as an extra offensive lineman for significant snaps throughout the season and his ability to play tackle could allow some shuffling among the starters in the short-term until Fluker can return.
“Let’s wait and see on that one. We’ll wait and see how this goes,” Carroll said. “Jordan, he needs likely to get some work done on his knee to get him back so he’s out. There are some decisions that we’re making. Let’s see how the week goes.”
Seattle signed running back Bo Scarbrough off the Jacksonville practice squad to take Simmons’ roster spot and that’s partly due to depth concerns at running back. Seattle played last week without rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny due to a knee injury and Carroll said there was enough wear on starter Chris Carson and backup Mike Davis that they needed the extra depth in case Penny isn’t back this week.
“It’s uncertain if he can get back. We don’t know that,” Carroll said. “He’s really determined to try and make it back and Friday is the day he can try to go for it and show that he can run and go for it.”
Amid all the injury news, the Seahawks believe veteran linebacker K.J. Wright will be back after missing the past five games. Wright hasn’t played since Week 10 after aggravating a knee problem that first popped up in the preseason and required surgery.
Wright said when he returned in Week 8 against Detroit that he took on too much and that eventually led to a setback. When he returns this time, he said he’s going to be smarter about his play count and ramp up toward being ready for a full load when the postseason arrives — assuming Seattle gets there.
“We’re going to be smarter this time. We’ve got a good game plan going,” Wright said. “Ease it in these last two games, make the playoffs and kick it off from there.”