Seahawks trying to adjust to life without Richard Sherman

posted by Curtis Crabtree - 

Atlanta Falcons v Seattle Seahawks

RENTON --  It's been 100 games since the Seahawks last played without Richard Sherman as a starting cornerback.

Sherman had started 99 straight games for Seattle dating back to Week 8 of the 2011 season. Injuries to Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond put Sherman in the starting lineup for the first time against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sherman intercepted Andy Dalton once, tipped another interception to Kam Chancellor and called A.J. Green one of the most overrated receivers in the league after his first start.

"He's probably one of the most overrated receivers out there," Sherman said that day. "He wasn’t anything special. Dalton is a good quarterback. He makes good decisions. But A.J. Green is just a lot of noise-talking and bad routes."

And a star was born.

The Seahawks now have to adjust to life without Sherman as a torn Achilles ended his 2017 season last Thursday night in Arizona. With Chancellor's status also in doubt this week due to a stinger sustained late in the game, it could present a much different look in Seattle's secondary than has been seen in some time.

"It's definitely going to be weird," linebacker Bobby Wagner said of potentially missing Sherman and Chancellor Monday night against Atlanta. "I've never played a game without Richard. He's definitely going to be missed. But to have both of those guys missing in action is not something that we've ever had to deal with but I think it's something that we're prepared for. I think we can hold it down until at least one of them gets back. The other one (Sherman) might take a while."

Chancellor wasn't in the building until right about the time practice ended Thursday afternoon. He's been having his injury further evaluated by outside physicians.

I don’t know that yet," Carroll said of whether Chancellor's injury will be a long-term situation. "I have only communicated with him. We will see him later. I don’t know anything yet."

Jeremy Lane will get the start at cornerback in place of Sherman while Bradley McDougald is expected to slide over to strong safety to replace Chancellor should he be unable to play. Chancellor did not practice with the team on Thursday as he was returning from getting tests done to further evaluate his stinger issues.

"We're very fortunate to have Bradley. He's played great," head coach Pete Carroll said of McDougald. "It's no big deal for him to play strong safety versus free safety so he'll jump right in there."

McDougald has started the last two games at free safety in place of Earl Thomas. However, Thomas is expected to be back in the lineup this week after missing the previous two games with a hamstring strain.

"I feel like I've been going back and forth since OTAs. I've got a good bit of reps in each package of being a strong (safety), being a free (safety) so I feel like I'm ready at either position," McDougald said.

Super Bowl XLIX is the closest Seattle's come to being as banged up in their secondary as they are currently. Sherman played the game was a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Chancellor sprained a medical collateral ligament in his knee the Friday before the game and nearly missed the game. Meanwhile, Thomas played with a labrum tear in his shoulder that required offseason surgery.

Sherman, Chancellor and Thomas all played against the New England Patriots. That won't be the case on Monday. Learning to play without multiple pieces of their stellar secondary with be a new endeavor for the Seahawks.

Notes:

-- Left tackle Duane Brown and left guard Luke Joeckel are both expected to be game-time decisions for Monday night's game against the Falcons.

Brown sustained an ankle sprain last week against Arizona while Joeckel has missed the last four games after knee surgery over the team's bye week.

"I think they’re both going to be close come Monday, he and Duane both," offensive line coach Tom Cable said of Joeckel and Brown. "We’re just keeping each day kind of working through it. We know that we’re getting very close with both of them, so probably going into this weekend, Monday, before we really know anything."

Cable said they've missed Joeckel's strength at the left guard spot, which has been occupied by Ethan Pocic in recent weeks.

"I think just the experience, more than anything, and the strength," Cable said. "He was playing at such a high level before he got hurt, so you don’t just replace a guy who’s knocking people back and protecting like he was, and all of those things."

Once Joeckel returns, Pocic could factor into the competition with Oday Aboushi at right guard.

"Ethan has done a nice job, Ethan has grown a ton, and I think when Luke comes back, it’ll allow us to maybe use Ethan in  some other spots and create more competition," Cable said.

-- The NFL made a rule change this offseason to their policy regarding how players returning from the physically unable to perform and the non-football injury lists.

So to correct information previously on this page, cornerback DeShawn Shead and defensive tackle Malik McDowell do not have an expiration date to where they can return from the injured lists. In the past, players that had not returned to practice by the day after Week 11 would go on injured reserve and be done for the season.

That end date has now been eliminated, which keeps open the potential for Shead and McDowell to return at any point this year. They can return to practice at any time for a period of three weeks. If they cannot return to the roster after those three weeks, they would still end up on injured reserve.

Carroll spoke about the progress each player was making in their recoveries on Thursday. Shead is working back from a torn ACL in the playoffs in January while McDowell is still recovering from a serious concussion sustained in an ATV accident in July.

"They are in totally different stages," he said. "Malik is still out of action right now, getting activity. He is doing some activities and stuff like that. DeShawn Shead is really close. We are trying to get him over the hump. He is really frustrated by it because he has worked so hard and he is in great shape, but he just isn’t quite fully functioning the way we need him to be to cut him loose. So he is right at the edge of it and we will just keep cheerleading for him because he is such an extraordinary kid and we wanted him to have that op to help us."

-- Defensive tackle Jarran Reed has a chance to get back this week after injuring his left hamstring against the Cardinals last week.

"He is trying to do some stuff," Carroll said. "He is trying to work his way back. It will be one day at a time here.  I don’t know how it is going to turn out but he’s got a chance. He thinks he can do it, so we will have to wait and see. Again, it will take us all the way to game time.

-- Defensive end Marcus Smith was cleared from concussion protocol and was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.

-- Running back Eddie Lacy was a limited participant in practice and is expected to play this week against Atlanta after missing last week's game with an ankle injury.

-- Quarterback Russell Wilson was listed as a full participant with a jaw injury. Wilson took a hit to his helmet from Karlos Dansby Thursday night in Arizona that led to referee Walt Anderson sending Wilson off for a concussion check. Wilson's quick return to the game has led to an NFL inquiry into whether Wilson followed concussion protocol guidelines.

Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 16: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons runs a pass route against cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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