Kelcie McCray says he'll be ready again to fill in for Kam Chancellor if needed and says the team knows it has to improve its communication in the secondary after the busted coverages of last week.
From the day he arrived in Seattle in September 2015, Kelcie McCray’s steadiness of play and personality immediately impressed Seahawks’ coaches and players.
“He’s awesome,’’ Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said this week. “He’s one of the best, most humble guys that I’ve been around.’’
Those qualities helped McCray stay calm when he found himself in the middle of an unexpected storm in the third quarter of last Sunday’s raucous 26-24 win over Atlanta.
It was McCray, who was filling in for an injured Kam Chancellor at strong safety, who was on the side of the field with Richard Sherman when the Seahawks had a lapse in communication that led to a Julio Jones 36-yard touchdown, which then set off Sherman’s extended sideline outburst.
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Sherman and coach Pete Carroll each later said the fact that McCray didn’t have as much experience in the defense as Chancellor played a factor in the mishap.
“Kelcie hasn’t been in the defense that long and we tried to make a new adjustment and just miscommunication,’’ Sherman said. “Frustrating play.’’
Said Carroll: “He’s (McCray) been there, but it’s not the same. We have to adapt to that. Kelcie played really well, he did a nice job in the game, but still the communication is not as good, otherwise it wouldn’t matter if we played together for five years. It matters and there’s something to that. I thought it was evident that that happened.”
McCray and Sherman are likely to have some more chances to work together Sunday at Arizona, though, as Chancellor is listed as doubtful with a groin injury. McCray, a 6-2, 202-pounder in his fifth season out of Arkansas State, would again fill in if Chancellor can’t play.
“When the opportunities come around, just got to make the best of them,’’ McCray said Friday of the possibility of again filling in for Chancellor.
McCray has largely done exactly that since being acquired by the Seahawks in a trade from Kansas City before the start of the 2015 season, picked up at the time as insurance with Chancellor still holding out.
McCray ended up starting the final three games of the season when Chancellor was sidelined.
His start against Atlanta was the fourth of his career — he played primarily special teams with Kansas City in 2014 and during stints with Miami and Tampa Bay in 2013.
And Carroll said that overall “he did a solid job, as he has. He’s a very consistent player. If he plays again this week we’ll count on him to fill the whole role and do it all. We’ll just continue to get better communication wise, and that just takes some time.”
Asked what happened on the touchdown to Jones, McCray said: “I’m not here to throw nobody up under the bus. We’ve just got to do better as a team, as a whole defense. We’ve got to do better. It wasn’t one person’s fault, regardless of what everybody saying or what people are saying. It wasn’t one person’s fault. We’ve got to do better as a team.’’
McCray said that was the theme of the week, that the entire team has to ensure that everyone is communicating as well as possible on each play.
On the play in question, the Seahawks had to adjust their coverage when tight end Austin Hooper came in motion, which then made Jones an inside receiver. Sherman moved off Jones and covered Hooper in man-to-man with the rest of the defense in a zone.
McCray said the teaching point from Richard this week was to be as diligent as possible to make sure everyone is on the same page.
“I feel like he was just saying every play we should communicate,’’ McCray said. “Sometimes you go out there and you think certain stuff is understood and it’s not. So even the smallest detail you should probably communicate on every play just to make sure everybody has it.
“… It’s just something that sometimes you take for granted. Sometimes when you do stuff so much you kind of take certain things for granted like ‘okay, I know he’s got this or he is going to do this or whatever’ and sometimes that’s what happens.’’
McCray said he anticipates Arizona trying some of the same tactics to see if the Seahawks have sorted out their communication issues
“With the plays that we gave up, it is a copy-cat league,’’ McCray said. “We have been seeing those concepts all year, anyway. But we’ll probably see those concepts more the next couple of weeks because we had problems with it last week.’’