The Seahawks defense has been playing great over the past three games, but that group suffered a significant blow in Sunday's win over the Cardinals.
Outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, who has been a standout and leader on defense since signing in free agency last year, suffered a pectoral injury in Seattle's 20-10 win that will likely require season-ending surgery.
"He's got a pec injury that's going to probably require surgery," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "That's what we're hearing right now.
Asked to clarify if that meant a season-ending situation, Carroll said, "I don't have all of the information on it, but it sounds like it's heading towards surgery, so if that happens, yes."
Nwosu, who signed with the Seahawks last season, then signed a three-year extension this offseason, was one of the team's best defensive players in 2022, recording 9.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 26 quarterback hits and 66 tackles, all career highs, on his way to being named a Pro-Bowl alternate. This season Nwosu has 2.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and six quarterback hits, and just as importantly has become a leader on defense.
"He's one of the real pillars of this thing, and it's going to be hard to not have him, because he has a great voice, and they listen to him," Carroll said. "He doesn't say a lot, but when he does, he's strong and firm. That's leadership, so we're going to miss that. There's really no way to replace that, he's too unique. Other guys will have to add what they can bring, but we're really going to miss 'Chenna."
While the Seahawks obviously could look to add to the outside linebacker group via free agency or a trade, Carroll said for now the focus is on getting everyone else in the rotation ready to step up in Nwosu's absence, a group that includes Boye Mafe, who has been the starter opposite Nwosu, Darrell Taylor and rookie Derick Hall. The Seahawks also have Tyreke Smith on the practice squad as another option at outside linebacker.
"We've got to count on our rotation," Carroll said. "We've had a rotation going the whole time, and we'll just continue that. It challenges us though. Uchenna's a fantastic football player and a great team member. He's such a tough guy and such a heady player and so consistent. He's always really physical, so he always sends the right message. Really, we'll miss him."
In other injury news, Carroll said DK Metcalf, who missed a game for the first time in his five-year career, will try to get back on the practice field this week, but it's too soon to know if he'll be back for Seattle's Week 8 game against Cleveland.
"We're hoping he's going to start making some progress this week and see him get back on the field," Carroll said. "So we'll see what happens."
Carroll also provided updates on several players not on the 53-man roster who are eligible to return to action.
Rookie running back Kenny McIntosh, who was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season with a knee injury, should be back at practice this week, Carroll said.
"We're hoping Kenny is coming back out Wednesday to start running and going," he said. "We have that option. We're going to make sure everything fits right, but he's ready to go."
Receiver Dareke Young, who is also on injured reserve, is "really close" to returning, but not quite ready to practice yet.
"He's really close to being there," Carroll said. "It's either this week or next week. He's running really hard and conditioning like crazy, so it's just around the corner."
On right tackle Abraham Lucas, who is on IR with a knee injury, Carroll said, "I can't tell you that he's ready to come back next week."
Nose tackle Bryan Mone, who is trying to work his way back from last season's ACL injury, is "still behind the timeline a little bit," Carroll said. "We're just waiting it out."
The Seahawks also can bring receiver Dee Eskridge back this week following a six-game suspension, and Carroll expects him to be ready to play soon, though for this week he can practice without being added to the 53-man roster.
"He's got a week exemption, potentially," Carroll said. "But he has been working out to the extent that he can practice this week. And he could play this week if he can get through the week. We've got to find out where he is. It's somewhat unknown, but we're pleased with the conditioning. He's been working like he's been practicing, so it's not like he's going to have to take a couple of weeks of practice to get back to full speed. He's running full speed, so he should be ready to roll. I'm pretty excited about that."
Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from the Seahawks' Week 7 win over the Arizona Cardinals at Lumen Field. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.