Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett could need surgery to repair a knee injury that crept up after Seattle's game at Arizona Sunday.
The Seahawks will be without one of their most valuable and durable players — defensive lineman Michael Bennett — for Sunday’s game at New Orleans and possibly longer due to a right knee injury that could require surgery. Bennett will have the knee examined again on Monday when a decision will likely be made about how to proceed further.
The news came as something of a surprise, revealed Friday when Bennett was listed as out for Sunday’s game against the Saints. While he hadn’t practiced earlier in the week, it was thought he was merely resting his knee after playing 81 snaps in last Sunday’s 6-6 overtime game at Arizona.
Instead, it’s now unclear when the team will again have the services of Bennett, who was the Defensive MVP of the 2016 Pro Bowl. Bennett first hurt the knee in a win over Atlanta on Oct 16 when he took a chop block from Atlanta’s Jake Matthews. Carroll, though, said Bennett appeared to make it through the Arizona game okay before feeling more discomfort this week.
Carroll said Bennett’s injury “might be related” to what happened against Atlanta but also said the injury worsened during the week. When Bennett had another MRI Carroll said “a little cartilage” damage was revealed.
Asked if surgery might be in the offing, Carroll said: “There’s a possibility. Yeah.”
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Bennett met with the media on Thursday — the team does not typically make players it considers injured available to reporters. Carroll noted that an initial MRI after the Atlanta game did not reveal an injury but that a second one this week showed some damage — Bennett was not at practice Friday.
“It popped up during the game so we’re not sure (when it happened),” Carroll said. “Nothing showed after the game after Atlanta and there was a little something we found in the MRI so we’re going to make sure we know what we’re doing and take good care of him. So something happened during the week it looks like.”
Carroll said for Bennett has been ruled out only for Sunday’s game at New Orleans — which will be the first game Bennett has missed since coming back to Seattle in 2013 — and said further assessments will be made next week.
“We’re going to check him on Monday and see if there’s something we can do for him,” Carroll said. “His knee bothered him after the game coming out so we’re going to take care of him. We’ll look into seeing what’s necessary next week.”
Asked a follow-up question later if Bennett played injured against Arizona, Carroll said “no, he came out of the game feeling like there was something going on. He had a little swelling on Monday and Tuesday after the game and so that’s when we took a look at it and wanted to make sure we knew what was going on.”
Bennett has been one of Seattle’s ironmen on defense, having played in every game for the Seahawks since coming back to the team in 2013 as a free agent. He last missed a game while playing with Tampa Bay in 2011. He led the Seahawks’ linemen playing 81 percent of snaps in 2015 and has played 85 this season despite missing the last quarter-and-a-half against the Falcons.
Bennett turns 31 on Nov. 13, when the Seahawks play at New England, a team that features his brother, Martellus, at tight end.
Bennett has started every game since 2014 — 38 in a row in the regular season and five more in the playoffs — having emerged as one of the most durable and valuable defensive lineman in the NFL. Bennett also is in the third year of a four-year contract worth $28.5 million he signed in March, 2014. Bennett has considered holding out the past two seasons desiring a new deal, but has reported each time. Seattle has resisted giving Bennett a new deal due to its stance of not renegotiating contracts that have more than a year remaining. It has been thought the team has been talking with his agent, Doug Hendrickson, at least laying the groundwork for a new contract following the season.
Asked Thursday about playing Sunday despite the injury the previous week, Bennett said: “That was very difficult. I think Brett Favre said it best, when you can play really great when you’re injured, that’s when you become a great player. That’s one of the things where you just have to, of course it was painful, but you have to be able to put your mind to the side and kind of just keep going in, focus on your teammates and focus on the task at hand and try to win the game. I think that, we tied which sucks, I don’t even like tying arguments with my wife, but overall, I thought we played a really good game as a defense. We didn’t win the game, but overall I thought we did a great job and everybody was there for each other and everybody had something that they were dealing with.”
Second-year player Frank Clark and third-year vet Cassius Marsh will help pick up the slack on the defensive line, Carroll said, specifically as pass rushers against a Saints team that leads the NFL in passing at 339.3 yards per game.
“Frank will get more snaps,” Carroll said. “Frank has been doing great. Been looking forward to him getting a big load. He’ll get more. It will call on Cassius to do a little bit more. … You’ll see the rest of it when it happens.”
Also helping fill in will be Malliciah Goodman, a four-year vet the team signed as a free agent last week — he played the last three seasons with Atlanta.
Carroll said Goodman can play at both of Bennett’s primary roles — the three-technique spot and the base defensive end role.
“We are fortunate that we had him coming in this week,” Carroll said. “He did well in practice and he will dress for the game and will be part of it. He’s got really good technique length-wise, he’s got really long arms. He’s got a nice, physical way about him. Studied his stuff that he showed us in Atlanta film in the preseason and he looked like he was ready to help us in practice so we are gong to go ahead and go with it and see how he does.”