Chancellor was among five Seahawks players who didn't practice Friday, and all indications pointed to him not being able to play in their next game, Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks have officially declared strong safety Kam Chancellor as out for Monday night’s game against Atlanta due to a neck injury suffered Nov. 9 at Arizona.
Whether Chancellor could be sidelined longer — and possibly even for the season, as was reported Saturday morning by the NFL Network’s Mike Garafalo — the team is not yet ready to say.
“We’re still looking at what our options are, and we’ll continue to do that and re-evaluate what’s going on,” coach Pete Carroll said following Saturday’s practice. “We’re working really closely with him on that.
Along with the NFL.com story that Chancellor is “expected” to miss the season, ESPN also reported that Chancellor will likely be placed on injured reserve, which would officially sideline him for the final seven games of the regular season (players on IR have to miss at least eight before possibily returning).
Carroll, though, said the team hasn’t determined if a roster move will be made soon.
“Not yet,” he said. “Maybe something (later) but not yet.” There were no roster moves listed for the Seahawks on the official NFL transactions wire Saturday.
Asked if the injury could put Chancellor out for the season, Carroll similarly hedged.
“We’ll wait and see, we’ll just wait and see,” Carroll said. “We’re working through it like I said, and we’re hanging together, and just trying to talk our way through it and not have to do anything any faster than we have to. We’ll just wait and see.”
Chancellor has not been at practice all week while undergoing tests to determine the severity of the injury, which apparently occurred on a tackle of Arizona running back Andre Ellington with just over two minutes left, though he was back at practice on Saturday watching from the sidelines in sweats.
This is now the second time this season the Seahawks have had to go through a process of assessing a star veteran player battling a neck injury that caused stingers. Defensive end Cliff Avril was placed on Injured Reserve last month with a similar issue amid speculation that his career could be over.
Carroll, though, said that while the situations of Avril and Chancellor are similar “it’s not the same injury.”
The Seahawks would have to add another player to the 53-man roster by Sunday for that player to be eligible for the game Monday night.
But Seattle has just three players it has declared as out for Monday — Chancellor, offensive lineman Luke Joeckel and linebacker Michael Wilhoite — and just two others as questionable (offensive lineman Duane Brown and defensive tackle Jarran Reed). So with having to declare seven players as inactive anyway the Seahawks may feel no urgency to make a roster move with Chancellor just yet.
Chancellor Tweeted an apparent response to the reports that broke Saturday morning stating “The best is yet to come. Thank you for all the prayers and messages. Gods Grace is all you can ask for.”
ESPN reported ominously that the injury might compel Chancellor, who turns 30 on April 3, to evaluate if he can play beyond this season.
“Kam is still looking to play [next season],” the source told (ESPN’s Josina) Anderson, as reported in the ESPN story. “Neck injuries are serious. … [Chancellor] will continue to be evaluated in hopes of getting him ready next year.”
That Chancellor is at least out for the Atlanta game and possibly longer is another blow to and a quick reshaping of the team’s famed Legion of Boom secondary as the Seahawks will already be without cornerback Richard Sherman, who suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in the same game.
Bradley McDougald, who started 31 games with Tampa Bay the last two seasons before signing with Seattle as a free agent in the spring, is expected to start at strong safety Monday in place of Chancellor. Rookie Delano Hill took Chancellor’s place for the final two minutes of the game at Arizona. However, with free safety Earl Thomas back for the Atlanta game, McDougald will slide into the strong safety spot held by Chancellor — McDougald started the last two games at free safety in place of Thomas. Sherman’s spot, meanwhile, will now be filled by Jeremy Lane, who has been with the team since 2012 but who was traded for a day to Houston last month as part of the Duane Brown trade before the Texans’ failed his physical and the deal was amended.
Carroll said the silver lining is that at least the Seahawks have known commodities in McDougald and Lane to fill in for Chancellor and Sherman.
“We couldn’t be more fortunate in that the guys that get to step up for those guys — you can’t replace either one of those guys (Chancellor and Sherman) directly,” Carroll said. “They have been here a long time and just done so much and stand for so much. Yet we have guys coming in and Bradley McDougald has played excellent football and is a first-flight starter in the NFL. So we are lucky to have him jump in. And Jeremy Lane was a starter for us this year and (rookie) Shaq (Shaquill Griffin) has taken over as the starter on the right side and to be able to answer with Sherm going down with Jeremy coming back and also bring back (Byron Maxwell, signed as a free agent earlier this week at cornerback), we just feel fortunate we have been able to respond in this manner. A lot of teams are not able to do it like that. We’ll see how it goes, but we expect those guys to play really well.”
Chancellor, a founding member of the Legion of Boom, was a fifth-round Seattle draft pick in 2010, and became a starter in 2011.
In his first five seasons, Chancellor missed just three games, and two of those were when he was holding out in a contract dispute in 2015. But injuries have forced him to miss 11 games the past three seasons.
Earlier this week, Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner talked about the possibility of playing without both Sherman and Chancellor against Atlanta.
“It’s definitely going to be weird,” Wagner said. “I’ve never played a game without Richard. He’s definitely going to be missed, but to have both of those guys missing in action is not something that we have ever had to deal with. I think it’s something that we’re prepared for if we can hold it down until at least one of them gets back. The other one might take a while.”
Chancellor signed a three-year, $36 million extension shortly before the season that included $13 million fully guaranteed and another $12 million guaranteed due to injury.
That contract came roughly two years after his contract holdout and Chancellor regarded it as potentially the last contract of his career.
“I love this team,’’ Chancellor said. “They gave me my first opportunity, the only opportunity. And I would love to retire here.’’