Mychal Kendricks returned to the Seahawks' starting lineup on Monday against the Vikings, but broke his leg during the game and is now out for the season.
The Seahawks’ revolving door at weakside linebacker will take another turn as Seattle has placed Mychal Kendricks on Injured Reserve due to a knee injury suffered against the Vikings on Monday night.
Kendricks will have surgery to repair what coach Pete Carroll said were several different injuries to his knee and lower leg — he suffered a crack of the tibia as well.
“There’s a couple things they are going to work on,” Carroll said. “It’s not a terrible knee injury but it is going to take a little bit — at least six-to-eight weeks kind of a situation. So we have to wait it out.”
Kendricks was injured on a play with 5:16 to go in the second quarter, when Minnesota center Pat Elflein fell on his knee. He came out and was replaced for one play by Shaquem Griffin and then by Austin Calitro. But he returned to play the rest of the game, and was on the field for 44 of 58 snaps overall.
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“He just got hit on the outside of his knee and just got him,” Carroll said. “And in unbelievable fashion he finished the game. It was early enough that he got through it the whole time.”
The game was the first for Kendricks following his return from an eight-game suspension for insider trading. He played three games earlier this season for Seattle before being suspended.
It’s unclear when he will play again as he is due to be sentenced in January — some reports have stated he could receive a sentence of 30-37 months, but the Seahawks appear to think he could be part of the team’s future.
“It’s been such a difficult season for Mike,” Carroll said. “My heart goes out to him. He wants to be part of this thing so badly but he doesn’t get to this time around. We will look forward to getting him back next time and keeping him with us.”
Kendricks will become an unrestricted free agent in March and if he is eligible to play next season, Seattle could re-sign him.
The Seahawks are expected to once again start Calitro at weakside linebacker. K.J. Wright continues to recover from a knee issue. Wright did not practice on Wednesday and Carroll said he is not expected to play against the 49ers “unless something changes.”
Carroll said Wright took part in the team’s morning walkthrough and did some running on Tuesday.
“He looks good. He is getting close,” Carroll said. “This will be an important week to just kind of work him back in, and then hopefully a couple of weeks from now we get a chance to get him back.”
Wright suffered a knee injury in the third preseason game at Minnesota that required surgery, which began the team’s merry-go-round at weakside linebacker.
Griffin started the opener at Denver but was replaced by Kendricks when the Seahawks signed the veteran to a one-year contract that week — Kendricks had been waived by Cleveland after pleading guilty to insider trading.
Calitro started the following week against Dallas (but with Kendricks also playing substantially) and Kendricks got the start the next week at Arizona before he was then suspended.
Seattle then used Barkevious Mingo at that spot, going primarily with a nickel package against the Rams. Calitro then started against the Raiders before Wright returned and started three games. But the knee injury continued to bother Wright and he has not played since a loss to the Rams on Nov. 11.
The Seahawks started a nickel package with Mingo and Bobby Wagner as the linebackers the next two weeks before starting Calitro against the 49ers on Dec. 2 and then going back to Kendricks against the Vikings.
Now the Seahawks will return to Caltro, a second-year player out of Villanova who had 10 tackles in the 43-16 win over the 49ers.
“He played really good against these guys last time out,” Carroll said of Calitro. “He’s been able to be really consistent with his run fits. We really don’t have any problem with him playing at all. We were excited to play Mychal last week to give him a chance to get out there, but Calitro and he could easily have swapped, so we feel like we have a guy we have developed as a starter stepping up. So we feel fortunate in that.”
For now, Carroll said Griffin remains a backup — he has played only four snaps on defense since getting 41 in the opener against Denver, a game Seattle lost 27-24 while allowing 470 yards.
Carroll disagrees with the perception that Griffin has not progressed enough to play more this year, instead saying he needs more time to develop given that he is playing weakside linebacker for the first time in his career after being primarily a defensive back at Central Florida.
“We threw him in there so early,” Carroll said. “We might have done that too early for anybody coming off the big transition he was making from the position he played. Remember, he was a DB just a couple of years before. He’s doing good and he’s ready to jump when we need him and he’s way better schooled now than he was earlier. But he still hasn’t had a lot of play time so this is going to be a big offseason for him.”
The Seahawks also signed linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee off the practice squad to take Kendricks’ place on the team’s 53-man roster. Ellerbee was claimed off waivers from the Chargers in October and played on special teams against the Chargers and 49ers.