RENTON — A day later, it became clearer that the Seahawks appeared to escape a significant injury to middle linebacker and defensive team captain Bobby Wagner.
Wagner missed the final 14 plays of the 30-24 victory over Carolina after suffering what looked like a bad injury that was eventually diagnosed as a sprained ankle. He was not cleared Sunday to return to action.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said in his Monday news conference that Wagner was “feeling pretty good’’ and hopes to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
“He’s pretty determined about playing,’’ Carroll said.
Wagner was one of six defensive players the Seahawks were without by the end of the game Sunday. The others: free safety Quandre Diggs, defensive ends Ziggy Ansah and Jadeveon Clowney, strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks and cornerback Shaquill Griffin.
Carroll made it sound as if all but Diggs, who suffered a high ankle sprain that’s worse than Wagner’s sprain, have a chance to play Sunday against Arizona.
“He had good results (on) his test but he does have a sprained ankle,’’ Carroll said of Diggs.
Carroll said Diggs has had a similar injury to the same ankle, which would help his recovery.
Clowney, who didn’t make the trip to Carolina on Friday after suffering from the flu last week, is “over his sickness now,’’ per Carroll, but will have to show this week he is totally past that and has had no setbacks with the core muscle injury that held him out of the Eagles game the week before.
Ansah has missed the past two games with neck/shoulder issues, but Carroll said Ansah plans to practice this week. On his radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle earlier in the day, Carroll said he was “counting’’ on Ansah to play against Arizona. Ansah has missed five games this season.
Griffin and Kendricks are dealing with hamstring injuries.
Griffin missed his first game of the season Sunday, but Carroll said he will practice to some extent Wednesday with the hope of a return Sunday.
Kendricks has missed the past two games and did not make the trip to Carolina so he could have some treatment done on his hamstring. Carroll said Kendricks is likewise “pretty determined to play,’’ and if he does not have a setback, “he’s got a chance’’ to play Sunday.
Carroll said Seattle got good play from many of the subs, such as Cody Barton (who filled in for Kendricks), Akeem King (Griffin) and Lano Hill (Diggs). He said if Diggs cannot play Sunday, then Hill would likely start. Hill, a third-year veteran from Michigan, has four starts in his career, two earlier this season.
“He did well,’’ Carroll said. “He tackled well. He was in position, was not out of position at any time. He was on the deep end for the most part and did fine with that.’’
Carroll also said Barton, who had 10 tackles, showed improvement from his first start against the Rams, and King “held his own, played solid.’’
Despite four starters missing the entire game and Diggs not playing in the second half, Seattle had a 30-10 lead and forced three turnovers (two interceptions by linebacker K.J. Wright and another by Wagner) midway through the fourth quarter.
But losing Wagner, who relays the calls from the sidelines to the defense and helps set alignments, proved harder to overcome.
When Wagner left, the Panthers finished off the rest of that 75-yard drive for a touchdown (getting 62 yards on seven plays after Wagner was sidelined), then drove 84 yards for another touchdown the next time they had the ball without Wagner on the field.
In all, the Panthers had 146 yards on the 14 plays Wagner missed, or an average of 10.4 yards per play, compared with 268 yards on 58 before he was hurt, or 4.6 yards per play.
Carroll noted on his radio show the Seahawks were in a lot of zone/prevent defense without Wagner — at which time Seattle was without six defensive starters — and “played it kind of soft. Played safe. Kind of rope-a-doped our way to a win.’’
Carroll noted that, for a few plays, such as when Wright was sidelined for two snaps late in the game, the Seahawks had five rookies playing defense at the same time — Barton, safety Marquise Blair (who filled in for Hill for a few plays), linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, nickel corner Ugo Amadi and end L.J. Collier.
Carroll joked on his radio show that it “looked like preseason” at times with so many young players on the field.
“They were battling and getting themselves squared away,’’ Carroll said of the rookies. “Didn’t play great, but they worked hard at it and it was great to get the playtime for them.’’
The good news for Seattle is it sounds as if the Seahawks should have a lot more experience on defense this week.