Pete Carroll joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Salk" on Monday morning following his team's 40-7 win over the Carolina Panthers. Here's five things we learned from the Seahawks head coach coming out of Week 13:
1. "No New Updates" On Earl Thomas' Injury
Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas left Sunday night's game in the second quarter with what was announced as a lower leg fracture. Carroll said postgame that the injury could require Thomas to miss six weeks, but did not have any new information on Thomas' status while on the radio Monday morning.
"No new updates," Carroll said. "We've been communicating a little bit through the night here, but other than that he's going to handle this well. He's going to be fine and he's going to go to work and help Stevie [Steven Terrell] and get him ready and do all that and contribute wherever he can."
As Carroll noted, the fourth-year pro Terrell will fill in at free safety in Thomas' absence. Terrell, who started in Thomas' place in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while Thomas was nursing a hamstring injury, played 71 percent of the team's defensive snaps agains the Panthers, finishing with two total tackles, also hauling in an interception that was called back because of penalties.
"Stevie's going to do fine," Carroll said. "He's very disciplined. That's really important in our scheme. He's really fast, he's 4.3s [40-yard dash], he's real fast. That's why you see him burst to cover the ground that he does. If he can keep doing that for us and make his timely hits we'll be in good shape."
Later, Carroll added of Terrell: "I think you're going to really like what you see. I think you're going to see Steven do a great job flying around out there. He's going to be the beneficiary of a lot of good pass rush and some balls up in there. I thought it was a great interception and return he had, it was a beautiful play that he made. I think he's going to do terrific. But Earl's very special and he's willing and able to take those chances that he takes. He has all of the years of experience to give him that confidence, not like he needed some confidence — he's got about as much as you can get — but we've been the beneficiary of watching a really terrific football player. But I think you're going to see Steve do really well."
2. Justin Britt's Return "Was Really Important"
Center Justin Britt missed the team's Week 12 game at Tampa Bay with an ankle injury, but in his return to work against the Panthers the Seahawks offense had its most productive day of 2016, putting up 534 yards, including 240 on the ground — the team's most since gaining 255 in a win over San Francisco last season — to go along with 40 total points.
"I think you saw Justin Britt was a real factor," Carroll said. "Justin played great. He really was blocking people. … But I think that factor of Justin being in there was really important and at the latter part of the week I really sensed that because I could see the way they were practicing and the way they were coming together, so that was great to see that."
Britt is playing his third position in three years with the Seahawks after starting at right tackle his rookie year, moving to left guard last season, and this year transitioning to center, where the level of communication he's brought to the offensive line has been "really obvious."
"It is his leadership, it's his direction, it's the chemistry, it's the snap counts, it's the subtleties of things that have to happen that these guys are growing," Carroll added of what Britt brings to the offensive line. "And we're going to get so much better. We're going to keep getting better right now. This is a great time for us to continue to prove in this fourth quarter of the season, I'm really looking forward to that."
3. Seattle's D-Line Rotation "A Wild Bunch Of Guys"
Four starters returned to Seattle's defense yesterday, with Thomas, defensive end Michael Bennett, linebacker Mike Morgan, and cornerback DeShawn Shead returning from injury. The unit held the Panthers to 271 yards and one touchdown, lowering the team's NFL-leading scoring defense average to 16.2 points per game. Despite the defense not registering a single sack of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Carroll expressed excitement over the way the Seahawks' defensive line rotation will look going forward.
"It's going to be good," Carroll said. "I was watching them closely when looking at the film, it's a wild bunch of guys now. They're just wild riders. They're flying off the ball, running into stuff. They're not very big, so those guys get knocked around quite a bit — Cassius [Marsh] and Frank [Clark] get knocked, Mike's not a big guy either, so they get out of whack a little bit, they'll get tossed a little bit — but they're so active and moving that's going to be really fun to see this thing come together in the end of the season, because Frank is ready to go and Cassius is the best he's ever been.
"Frank and Cassius are the best they've ever been, and Cliff [Avril] is roaring off of his side, too. We're going to be a factor. The rush was good last night. We didn't sack him — he's hard to get down — the guys were very active, close to making plays, and causing problems for them."
4. Jermaine Kearse "Had A Very Good Game"
The offense's best day of the season was also the best game of the year for wideout Jermaine Kearse, who tied a season-high with five catches and set a season-high with 68 yards receiving to lead all Seattle pass catchers in the win.
"He was really active," Carroll said of Kearse, who tied with tight end Jimmy Graham for a team-high nine targets. "He was physical, he had some good hits, ran well with the ball, had a nice catch down the sidelines. He had a very good game last night."
5. "Now We Get To Finish"
The end of Sunday night's game signaled the beginning of the fourth quarter of the regular season for the Seahawks. Seattle is scheduled to play two of its final four games at home and two on the road, starting with next week's matchup against the Packers in Green Bay, where the club will look to maintain its hold of first place in the NFC West division and improve upon its 8-3-1 record.
"Now we get to crank it up," Carroll said. "Now we get to finish. … I love getting in this mode because this is when we really call on our guys to really play well and really do stuff right and perform at preparing so the preparation is all part of the build up, see if we can really crescendo this thing. So it's exciting."
Check out some of the best action photos from Week 13 at CenturyLink Field vs the Panthers.