On Tuesday afternoon, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll met with the media ahead of his team's "Competition Wednesday" practice and preparation for their divisional-round playoff matchup with the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers (8-8-1).
Here are 10 key takeaways from Carroll's Tuesday press conference:
1. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who injured his knee in the team's Week 17 win over the St. Louis Rams, has been ruled out for Saturday night's game against the Panthers. But it's a new injury suffered during the Seahawks' bye week that's affecting Hill's playoff status, "He injured himself while working out over the weekend," said Carroll. "He has a pretty severe calf pull that's going to keep him out, on the other leg." Carroll said the setback could also keep Hill out of the NFC Championship should the Seahawks advance.
UPDATE (1/6, 3:10 p.m. PT): Seahawks Place Jordan Hill On Injured Reserve
2. Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs, who's missed the team's past three regular season games with an ankle injury, will work as the next-man-up in place of Hill. "He looked really good in the workout," Carroll said. "So we think he has a really good chance to fill that spot for us." Carroll said recently-signed defensive linemen David King and Landon Cohen will also compete for playing time at the spot.
3. Center Max Unger, who has missed the team's past six games with ankle and knee injuries, has been practicing and "looks like he's going to be in good shape" for Saturday's game, said Carroll.
4. With Unger likely back in the lineup, Carroll doesn't expect the team to do anything different along the offensive line. But he did admit when the former Pro Bowl center is in the lineup the team is better running the ball and in pass protection. "He's an expert at looks and calls and recognizing what's going on there," said Carroll. "He really knows what [assistant head coach/offensive line coach] Tom [Cable] is looking for and what he wants. We really get the benefit of that connection."
5. Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who was kept out of the team's regular-season finale after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 16 against the Arizona Cardinals, had a successful rehab and is back at practice. "He's ready to go," said Carroll.
6. Safety Jeron Johnson, who dislocated his elbow in Week 17 against the Rams, won't make it back in time for this Saturday's game against the Panthers.
7. Cornerback Tharold Simon, who injured his shoulder against the Cardinals and sat out against the Rams, is "full speed" and expected to be ready to play on Saturday, Carroll said.
8. Outside of the injuries to Hill and Johnson, Carroll said the club is in good shape health-wise. Carroll didn't make specific mention, but from that we can infer that linebacker K.J. Wright (finger) and tight end Cooper Helfet (ribs) should be ready to go for Saturday's game at CenturyLink Field.
9. Carroll said his club has been "very fortunate" they've been able to contain the big-play ability of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the team's three regular-season wins against Carolina over the past three seasons. "Nobody else plays like them at all and it's because he has so many things he can do so well," Carroll said of the Panthers' offense with Newton under center.
10. Much will be made this week of the similarities between the two teams' All-Pro middle linebackers - Bobby Wagner for Seattle and Luke Kuechly for Carolina. But the two teams boast another pair of linebackers with like traits - Carolina's Thomas Davis and Seattle's K.J. Wright, both of whom Carroll credited for their excellent work in pass coverage.