RENTON — The Seahawks on Wednesday brought back a familiar face to fill out a linebacker position that has suffered a few injuries — Mychal Kendricks, who started 17 games for Seattle the past two seasons.
Only, they once again are taking advantage of new roster rules this season and for now are signing Kendricks to the practice squad while he works his way back into football shape after suffering an ACL injury last Dec. 29 in the regular-season finale against the 49ers.
The hope of both sides is that Kendricks will soon be able to join the team’s 53-player roster.
For now, Kendricks fills the last opening on the 16-player practice squad — last year, practice squads were at 10.
And new rules this year mean Seattle can keep some roster flexibility while Kendricks rounds into playing form. This year, teams can elevate two players a week off the practice squad to the gameday roster — able to do that with each player twice before he would have to be placed on the 53-player roster permanently or have to clear waivers to return to the practice squad.
“Mychal is a really good ballplayer and we thought he did great stuff for us in the past,” Carroll said. “He had a huge injury and has done a marvelous job of returning. Right now, this is the first day that he’s practiced since he got hurt, so we’re going to take it slow and make sure that Mike gets enough time to get going again, then we’ll see where he fits in.”
Kendricks started 14 games for the Seahawks last season before being injured. He then became a free agent.
He had a workout with the Seahawks two weeks ago, during which time the team was able to assess where he is on his recovery. He had a later tryout with the Raiders but did not sign. Going on the practice squad means for now Kendricks gets a salary of $12,000 per week.
Kendricks signed with the Seahawks originally in 2018 after he was released by Cleveland after being charged with insider trading but played just four games while serving an eight-game league suspension and then suffering a knee injury.
Kendricks is still awaiting sentencing in the insider trading case with court documents showing that he has a new date set of Jan. 13, 2021, in Philadelphia. Sentencing in that case has been delayed seven times — he had been set for a sentencing date of Oct. 14, but that was recently changed.
Kendricks started last year for Seattle at the strongside linebacker spot. The Seahawks brought back Bruce Irvin to fill that roll in the spring, but he suffered an ACL injury in the second game of the season.
Seattle has been using K.J. Wright at strongside linebacker, with Cody Barton and Jordyn Brooks then starting at Wright’s weakside spot (with Wright staying on the field in the nickel package and at times playing weakside in those schemes.)
But Brooks has missed the last two games with a knee injury, requiring Barton to start. Brooks may be back soon — Carroll said the hope is he would practice Wednesday — but adding Kendricks brings depth and experience to that mix (Brooks has just 29 snaps this season).
And intriguingly, Carroll said Kendricks will initially be used by Seattle at weakside linebacker, where Brooks is also playing and where Barton started the last two games — indicating Wright is going to stay at strongside linebacker for the duration and Kendricks could move into the starting WLB slot eventually depending on the health and progress of Brooks and Barton (Brooks was officially listed as limited Wednesday, his first work since being injured against Dallas Sept. 27).
Kendricks played at weakside linebacker in 2018 when Wright was dealing with a knee injury. But with Wright back last season, Kendricks played solely the strongside backer spot in 2019.
“That is his best spot,” Carroll said. “He’ll get in there, see how he does there knowing that he can play (strongside linebacker). And we used them all over the place when he when he was here.”
Barton had some struggles in Seattle’s 27-26 win over Minnesota, in which the Vikings rushed for 201 yards.
But Carroll said bringing back Kendricks wasn’t a reaction to that but “just getting good football players that are available and give them a chance to compete. It’s a long season, so much stuff happens and we need all the help we can get.”
Kendricks’ addition is the latest example of Seattle taking advantage of new rules allowing for players who have any amount of experience to be eligible for the practice squad, and then for teams to be able to elevate two players each week from the PS to the gameday roster, to create an overall roster of 55.
Seattle has not used any elevations on Harrison and could now use two on Kendricks, as well.
As had been anticipated, the Seahawks on Wednesday added Randall to the 53 since he was not out of elevations.
Seattle created room by placing safety Lano Hill on injured reserve. Carroll said Monday Hill may have some long-term issues with a back injury that held him out of the last three games.
Seattle also signed linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong to the practice squad to then fill the spot created by the signing of Randall to the 53.