RENTON — Officially, three key players on the Seahawks’ defensive line — end Jadeveon Clowney and tackles Jarran Reed and Al Woods — are listed as questionable for Monday night’s game against the Vikings, a contest that has playoff implications for both teams.
But the expectation of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is that all three will play, which Clowney backed up when he talked to reporters at his locker after practice Saturday.
Clowney practiced Friday for the first time since suffering a core muscle/abdominal injury against the 49ers on Nov. 11. He made it through that workout just fine, and did some light practicing Saturday and pronounced himself ready to play.
“Yeah it felt good out there,” Clowney said. “Starting to come around. Looking forward to playing.”
Reed reinjured an ankle Sunday against the Eagles, but Carroll said he’ll play against the Vikings. Same with Woods, who Carroll said emerged with a sore foot from the 17-9 win at Philadelphia.
“This is the time of year where these guys, not any of them, are going to be perfect, but they all feel like they can play and are excited to play,” Carroll said. “… Until they don’t or can’t (play) we are counting on those guys.”
Carroll said two other key players will be game time decisions — starting strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks and tight end Luke Willson, both dealing with hamstring issues.
Carroll said Kendricks felt some tightness in his hamstring this week and he was held out Saturday. Willson, who missed the Eagles game with his injury, was also held out of practice. Each was officially listed as questionable and Carroll said each will have to go through a pregame workout Monday to get cleared. If Kendricks couldn’t play, rookie Cody Barton would likely fill in.
Two players who have been expected to be out were listed as doubtful — fullback Nick Bellore (quad) and cornerback Neiko Thorpe (groin).
But everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to play.
That includes four players who sat out Friday and Saturday with illness — receivers Tyler Lockett and David Moore, defensive tackle Poona Ford and offensive lineman Jordan Roos.
Carroll said “we let some guys stay home” and said keeping them away from practice was in part a precautionary measure to assure no one else caught the same bug and he said all are expected to play.
“There’s no reason that they won’t other than they feel lousy,” Carroll said.
As for Clowney, he repeated to reporters Saturday what he’d said Friday — that he will likely have to have surgery following the season but is holding off on that for now since the Seahawks are in the stretch run to a playoff spot.
Clowney was examined late last week in Philadelphia by Dr. William Meyers, a noted core muscle surgeon who has performed sports hernia/core surgery on numerous athletes, including former Seahawks such as Marshawn Lynch in 2015 and Doug Baldwin following the 2018 season.
“I told them hold that off and try to finish this season,” Clowney said. “If there were a lot of games left it would be different. … I told them I think I can get through this, try to help this team.”
Clowney has been down this road before as he had sports hernia surgery in 2014 following his rookie season.
“It’s not as bad,” he said. “It’s not anything that crazy. I’ve just got to stay on top of it … just hope for no setbacks from week to week.”
That, Carroll and Clowney said, will mean constantly monitoring Clowney’s practice reps. Carroll wouldn’t say if Clowney’s snaps on gameday will be limited, but he seemed to imply that may be necessary, too. Clowney played 83 percent of the snaps in his last two games against Tampa Bay and the 49ers, each a season high, before sitting out against the Eagles.
But Clowney held out hope that maybe once the game starts, he can play as usual.
“During the game, once you get out there and start moving around, I hope and I expect not to feel it much and just play a solid game,” he said.
Clowney said Friday he felt as if he had just one leg he could use at the end of his momentous performance against the 49ers, when he had a sack and returned a fumble for a touchdown in Seattle’s 27-24 overtime win.
Saturday, he went into a little more detail saying he began to feel it during the second quarter.
“But I told them I need to keep playing,” he said. “I was having a good game, and I didn’t want to come off the field.”
The Vikings listed WR Adam Thielen as questionable with a hamstring injury. Thielen, a Pro Bowl receiver the last two years, has not played since Nov. 3. Also questionable are two key defensive players — DT Linval Joseph (knee) and S Harrison Smith (hamstring).
Thielen said Friday he was optimistic he would play, and Carroll said “I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t make it back” for a game in which Minnesota could move into first in the NFC North if Green Bay loses to the Giants on Sunday. Thielen was listed as limited in practice on Saturday.
Joseph and Smith were listed as full participants, seeming to indicate they are trending toward playing.
The only player the Vikings ruled out is linebacker Ben Gedeon (concussion).