The Seahawks returned to work Wednesday ready to bounce back from a disappointing weekend in Buffalo. All eyes are looking ahead at the date with division rival Rams in Los Angeles on Sunday and the Seahawks are preparing for another tough opponent.
At his Wednesday press conference, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll provided injury updates, spoke about his veteran defensive leaders and noted Rams DT Aaron Donald's game-wrecking ability.
Here are five things we learned from his press conference:
1. Injury updates on Shaquill Griffin, Chris Carson, Ugo Amadi and more.
The Seahawks' growing list of injuries can be hard to keep track of at times. Carroll spoke about a number of players who are recovering from various injuries:
Shaquill Griffin: "The return for Shaquill now is about his hamstring and getting it right. He's running some. We'll see how he progresses through the week. If he has a chance to get back, we won't know until the end."
Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde: "Chris is running more so than Carlos is able to at this time. Chris is ahead of Carlos also coming back. He's going to run today and tomorrow and see how he handles that. I can't tell you anything more than that right now. I wish I could."
Ugo Amadi: "He's practicing today. Full go today. Anxious to see how he can handle it throughout the week. Looking forward to him playing."
Quinton Dunbar: "Quinton's knee has bothered him for some time and last weekend for sure, so we have to attend to that. Have to wait and see. I don't know (if he'll be available Sunday) yet.
Benson Mayowa: "He's trying. He's battling to get back. See if he can get it done. He's determined to show that by the end of the week."
Bryan Mone and Damon Harrison: Carroll emphasized that Mone's ankle was not doing too well and Harrison is likely to be activated for the first time this weekend.
"Really good chance he'll be out playing," Carroll said of Harrison. "I'm counting on it. Hopefully he has a good week and we put it together right and it'll work out."
2. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are critical to improving the defense.
After allowing just seven points through three quarters against the 49ers in Week 8, the Seahawks felt like their defense was turning a corner. The group was starting to click in the pass rush and in the secondary. But over the last five quarters (one vs. 49ers, four vs. Bills), the defense has struggled to get stops.
The group has a number of young players, and another large portion of players who are new to Seattle. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, unlike most of their teammates, have been here for years and know the defense better than anyone. Carroll believes their presence is a huge factor in getting this defense back on track.
"It's an ongoing relationship that we have that really allows us to go places and talk about stuff and benefit from our history in so many ways," Carroll said. "I just rely on those guys. I know them so well. We've been connected in a really rare way that you have this long of a time to be with guys. They're great guys to deal with. Their work ethic and habits and care, love for this team and community, I mean, just doesn't stop.
"They're tremendous ambassadors for what we do across the board on and off the field in all ways. They're perfect teammates, and happen to be lifelong friends and the rest of it, you know. I rely on them regularly to talk to guys, send the message, to give me feedback, to help me respond and stay abreast of what's going on, all that."
3. Carroll isn't concerned about pass protection, even with Aaron Donald on the schedule for Sunday.
The Seahawks fell behind early against the Bills last Sunday and were never able to even the game up. Despite scoring 34 points, the offense did turn the ball over four times and Russell Wilson took five sacks – a season-high.
Despite those shaky numbers, Carroll isn't too worried about the Seahawks' offensive line – which has been much-improved this season. It's easy to look at those numbers and then see Aaron Donald on the schedule and start to worry, but the Seahawks aren't panicking at all.
"Well, (Buffalo) was a game we were really behind and they were able to tee off on us," Carroll said. "They did a nice job. We didn't do as nice as we would like to in handling some stuff. We need to get the ball out. We were trying to get back in the football game and they just seemed to gain in edges as the game went on. … I think we were just playing from a big deficit and didn't handle it as well as we need to.
"I have so much respect for his play and what he does," Carroll said of Donald. "I like the challenge of it. I like the thought that we're looking at him and trying to figure out who has come up with some ways to handle him, slow him down, trying to create ways to make it easier for our guys to find him in the alignments and things like that where we can handle him protection-wise. It's a coach's challenge. He poses as much a threat as anybody that plays the game, in anybody's position. He's that good. Every play he's right there trying to get the quarterback."
4. Carroll is excited to see SoFi Stadium for the first time.
After coaching at the University of Southern California for nine years, heading back to Los Angeles is always notable for Carroll. This time, though, he'll be coaching at a stadium he's never stepped foot in.
The Rams and Chargers opened up SoFi Stadium this season, and Sunday marks the Seahawks' first visit. While Carroll's flown over the stadium a few times, he's excited to finally see the field and visitors locker room.
"Honestly looking forward to seeing SoFi, see the new place and see what it is," Carroll said. "I've flown over it a couple times and been blown away by just the size and magnitude of the whole setup. Can't wait to see it."
5. The lack of practice time might be contributing to higher injury numbers.
If you feel like there's been a higher number of injuries this season, you aren't alone. Carroll was asked if the lack of a normal offseason and practice schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on injuries. He wasn't ready to say one way or the other, but it's certainly something the team is thinking about.
"Yes, we have talked about that," Carroll said. "We won't really know until we get through (the season). We're halfway through. But at the halfway point, I would suspect there is some effect. I think it has to do with the overall off-season conditioning opportunities the guys missed out on. So work collectively, so we guarantee that everybody is, I guess, to a certain level of conditioning. You know, because they work together when they work here in the building, and we didn't get to see our guys. That alone is a factor. Then the whole thing about camp and the games and stuff like that. That's a factor also."
The Seahawks and the Rams will meet at Lumen Field for the Wild Card round of the 2020 playoffs on Saturday, January 9 at 1:40 p.m. PT. Take a look back at photos from past games between the two teams.