The Seahawks will face the Bears on Monday night minus three Pro-Bowlers, as receiver Doug Baldwin and linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright were all ruled out prior to the team leaving for Chicago on Saturday.
Wagner’s absence was the least expected, as he finished the opener seemingly without issue, only to have a groin injury show up during the week. Carroll said the hope is that Wagner only misses one game with this injury.
“He had a groin thing that showed up kind of late,” Carroll said. “He felt it, but thought it was a cramp during the game, and it just took him a couple of days to get it assessed. He’s running, he’s already working hard, but he’s not quite ready, so we’ll get him probably next week."
Wright, meanwhile will miss a second-straight game, the result of arthroscopic knee surgery he had in August, but like Wagner, Wright could be back next week.
“I watched him run today,” Carroll said. “He ran great. I can’t imagine him not competing to play next week. He really looked great today. He had an extensive workout, and I was just thrilled for him. To come back in two and a half weeks and look like that is a fantastic recovery. Great job by the trainers in working him back through it, but also just him handling it and dealing with it. It depends on how he works next week—he could have some setbacks, you never know—but he looks like he’ll be ready to go.”
Carroll did not say who will start in those spots, but options include Austin Calitro, who has played both middle and weakside linebacker, rookie Shaquem Griffin, who started in place of Wright last week, and Mychal Kendricks, who was signed earlier this week.
Asked what the biggest challenge was of playing without both of those Pro-Bowl linebackers, Carroll said, “Being right. Those guys have been with us a long time and they make a lot of great decisions and they’re in the right spots and they fit really well. It’s the discipline of the scheme—we’re a fairly simple system that we play with, and we expect these guys to play right play after play for whole ballgames. That’s the challenge, for the guys to just be disciplined enough to on the demands of the fits and the things they have to do in the running game and all that, there’s a lot of stuff. After a while, you get really accustomed to those guys knowing exactly what’s happening—they can teach the scheme inside and out. So that’s the concern.”
On Baldwin, who sustained an MCL injury during last week’s game at Denver, Carroll said, “He is running, and he’s trying to find out where he is in his return. But he did run pretty hard a couple of days, did not run today.”
On a more positive note, the Seahawks should have starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who showed up on Friday’s injury report with a thigh injury.
“Nothing really happened,” Carroll said of Griffin. “It was just a little bit of wear and tear. We checked him out and made sure he was OK; he’s fine though, and we rested him again today. So he’s ready to play.”
But while Griffin should play, fellow starting corner Tre Flowers is doubtful because of a hamstring injury.
“Late in the game he felt a little something, and again thought it was a cramp,” Carroll said. “It took him a couple of days for it to process, kind of like Bobby’s thing, and he has just had a hard week getting back. He’s going to travel with us and we’ll see how he is on gameday.”
Also doubtful, though not yet ruled out is guard D.J. Fluker, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury.
“D.J. is moving around pretty good now,” Carroll said. “He’s really close too. He’s going to go on the trip with us.”
As is always the case when injuries come up, it will be important for players to focus on what they can control on Monday rather than on who isn’t available.
“It really is something that you should have been talking about all along knowing that it’s going to happen at times, so that guys aren’t shocked by the fact that something happens,” Carroll said. “I think the way we (as coaches) respond is really important, and we always respond to give the love to the guys who are going to have to step out for a little bit, but the focus really goes on the guys who are stepping in, and we ask them to elevate to play at the same level as the guy before them, without exception. And everybody around those guys realizes that too, so we embrace the new opportunity that’s there at hand, and it’s always been something that has not been an issue for us.”
Here are the full injury reports for both teams:
LB K.J. Wright (knee, did not participate in practice)
LB Bobby Wagner (groin, did not participate in practice)
WR Doug Baldwin (knee, did not participate in practice)
G D.J. Fluker (hamstring, did not participate in practice)
CB Tre Flowers (hamstring, did not participate in practice)
S Delano Hill (hamstring, did not participate in practice)
CB Shaquill Griffin (thigh, limited participation in practice)
DB D. Houston-Carson (forearm/back, did not participate in practice)
The Seahawks and Bears will meet for the 16th time in the regular season this Monday night in Chicago. Take a look back at photos from past games played between the two teams.