The Seahawks are hopeful that they'll get a key defensive player back this week with safety Quandre Diggs working his way back from an ankle injury, but they will also head into Sunday's playoff game at Philadelphia missing another defensive starter in linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed Monday that Kendricks, who left Sunday's loss to the 49ers in the third quarter with a knee injury, has a torn ACL and will undergo surgery. Kendricks' absence means rookie Cody Barton will again take over at strongside linebacker, a spot where he started two games late in the season when Kendricks was dealing with a hamstring injury.
Carroll said Barton "did all right" after taking over for Kendricks Sunday, but noted that the rookie out of Utah should play better this week after getting a full week with the starting defense: "He's a good football player for us. Give him a whole week of starting and all the reps and stuff, he'll do a nice job for us. He's very able to play well for us."
As for Diggs, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, Carroll was optimistic that the play-making free safety will be back this week, though as is always the case with injuries, they'll have to see how he responds to the workload in practice this week.
"Because the workout went so well yesterday, the trainers are saying he has a really good chance to play this week," Carroll said. "We think he'll have a chance to practice Wednesday, and we'll know a lot more Thursday after he practices. But it's good positive signs from the training room."
Asked what getting Diggs back would mean this week, Carroll said, "You all saw it and felt it too, you asked us questions about, 'Hey, it looks like things are a little different when he's playing.' It is. His experience, his savvy, his confidence, it has an effect. So I'm thrilled to get him back out there if that's the case. We need him, we need everything we can get."
In addition to Kendricks, the Seahawks also lost receiver Jaron Brown to a knee injury Sunday, though his injury is less severe. Even so, Brown won't play this weekend, Carroll said.
"He's got a knee sprain that's going to be a couple of weeks," Carroll said. "Can't tell you how many, but it's a couple anyway, so he won't be available this week."
With Malik Turner inactive Sunday due to a concussion, the Seahawks were down to four receivers for most of the game following Brown's injury. Whether or not they'll need to add more depth at that position could depend on Turner's health this week, Carroll said.
"We're talking about it," Carroll said of possibly adding depth at receiver. "It really depends on Malik. Malik Turner is a really well-versed player in our system, he can do all kinds of stuff, and we missed not having him out there. He's recovering from concussion syndrome stuff, so he's got to make it back, and I can't tell you he's fully back yet."
Left tackle Duane Brown, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, has a shot to get back this week, though Carroll said that would be a "miraculous recovery" for a player who had knee surgery only a week ago.
"We're going to see how he comes out—he did some things this weekend to try to help him along in the process, and by the end of the week he has it in his mind maybe there's a chance he can make it back," Carroll said. "That would be a miraculous recovery. His knee was really irritated in general. It was just kind of a pissed off knee, so he needs to come back from that. So we're just trying to get it quieted down and all that and see if he can get back out. Structurally he's in good shape, we've just got to make sure that his knee is quieted down and he doesn't have swelling and that kind of stuff and he can get moving again. I don't know if that will happen this week or not."
Carroll was pleased with what he saw from George Fant starting in Brown's place.
"George Fant did a nice job," Carroll said. "Played a good game and did well. That's a good sign, depending on how Duane turns out. We'll check in with Duane late in the week and see what's going on. It's going to be all the way until the end of the week if he has a chance. That'll be an extraordinary recovery if he can do it, but in the meantime, George played really well, and I was really happy to see that."
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney returned Sunday after missing the previous two games, and while his core injury is an issue that isn't going to go away, the Seahawks are expecting that he'll be able to play this week as well.
"He's sore today, but he played throughout and looks to be playing this week and should be out at practice and all that," Carroll said. "We'll work him through it, but we're counting on him being available to us."
Running back Marshawn Lynch came out of the game healthy and feeling good, no small feat for a running back who last played in October of last season and only signed last week.
"He came out of the game very healthy," Carroll said, later adding, "He handled it well. He's got a little band aid on his knee or something like that, he's fine. He took it very well. He looked good too. He looked aggressive and tough. We didn't give him a lot of space a number of those carries, but when he got any kind of crack at all, he really showed he could hit it. So I'm anxious for him with another week under his belt, feeling more comfortable—he was just cramming the whole time to study so he would know what he needed to know. He's always been a really, really smart football player, and he didn't like the feeling of not having the grasp of everything, so he really jumped to it. I think he'll be sharper this week."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.