The worst thing that NFL teams want to see happen in the preseason — serious injuries to players — happened to the Seahawks on Saturday night with linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven and receiver John Ursua departing in the first half with serious knee injuries.
Coach Pete Carroll did not offer specifics on either following an eventual 30-3 loss to the Broncos at Lumen Field but indicated each could be season-ending.
“Both those guys got hurt seriously,’’ Carroll said. “And it breaks your heart. This is a rough game and sometimes it takes a toll. Those two kids are hurting, so we’ll see what happens with them. But it’s going to be a while.’’
Ursua, who left the game in the second quarter when he was hurt on a play in which he was not the intended target, later announced via Instagram that he had torn his ACL. That would obviously mean he is out for the season.
Burr-Kirven was hurt on the opening kickoff, which was a touchback.
Burr-Kirven, a former UW standout, appeared to be shoved by a Denver defensive player and stumbled and stepped awkwardly on his leg an injury that further depletes an already thin linebacker corps.
Teammates immediately called for trainers and a cart came on the field quickly. Teammates rushed to the cart to console Burr-Kirven after he hopped onto it with one leg and was taken off the field.
Burr-Kirven was slated to be a backup at both inside spots, a position where the Seahawks do not have much depth.
Cody Barton is the only other experienced player who can back up at the two inside spots and other injuries at the position have forced Seattle recently to use fullback Nick Bellore — a former linebacker with the Jets, 49ers and Lions — on defense.
Bellore was used on defense in the second quarter on a goal-line stand on Denver’s second possession and then played throughout the second half, finishing with five tackles, second-most on the team.
Others who have played inside in camp are rookies Aaron Donkor and Jon Rhattigan, though Rhattigan has yet to suit up due to an injury Seattle also recently signed free agent Lakiem Williams, a Spanaway Lake High grad who played in college at Syracuse.
The potential loss of Burr-Kirven for the season will undoubtedly lead to speculation about whether the Seahawks would approach veteran K.J. Wright about returning.
But the Seahawks would not likely view Wright as a fit at this stage of his career for what Burr-Kirven’s role was going to be this year — a backup at both inside spots, and maybe even more crucially, a core special teams player. Burr-Kirven last year played 293 special teams snaps, tied for second-most on the team. The Seahawks rely on backup linebackers to be core special teamers. Wright turned 32 in July and Seattle may not view that as a role for him at this point.
Ursua, a seventh-round pick out of Hawaii in 2017 who is battling for a roster spot, got significant playing time in the first half and led the Seahawks with three receptions for 34 yards at the time of the injury.
Carroll said defensive back Ryan Neal also suffered an oblique strain in the first half.
“Sometimes those are kind of gnarly and we’ll see if he can get through it,” Carroll said. “I don’t know. But that can take a little while sometimes. Just depends on how he responds.”
Carroll says starters play next week
In preseason game two, the Seahawks continued their trend of being increasingly careful about playing starters and other key players with 22 sitting out for Saturday’s contest at Lumen Field against Denver. (Officially, 27 Seahawks didn’t play, including a few who were ruled out due to injury).
The Seahawks held out 31 players for their first preseason game last week against the Raiders in Las Vegas, which was the third-highest total of any NFL team in the opening weekend.
That number included quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Chris Carson and receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, with only two players who might be starters when the season begins — center Kyle Fuller and left guard Damien Lewis — seeing action on offense.
Among defensive starters not playing were linebacker Bobby Wagner, safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, ends Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa and tackle Poona Ford.
Carroll, though, said to expect the starters to see action next week against the Chargers.
“It’s going to look a bit different a week from now,’’ he said adding “week three is a big deal for us.’’
Carroll said the team having two weeks from the last preseason game to the regular season has changed the team’s philosophy somewhat, meaning the Seahawks know starters can get a good run next week and then have 15 days to recover before the regular season.
The Seahawks have also had an uncertain offensive line in recent weeks, particularly with injuries at tackle, and may not have wanted to play Wilson until that was more stable. Carroll, though, said sitting out many of the key players the first two weeks “was the plan all along.”
Carroll noted that this week marks the official end of training camp and that the team will treat next week as something similar to a typical regular-season game week.
“This is the game that they can play and get more airtime,” Carroll said.
Many starters — including Wilson, Lockett, Adams, Metcalf, Diggs and Wagner, key players put on full uniform and went through warm-ups but then took off the pads for the game itself.
The Seahawks had a pretty predictable rhythm to the preseason before 2020, with starters usually at least seeing some action in the first game and then a bit more in weeks two and three — usually playing into the third quarter in the third game, which was often referred to as a “dress rehearsal’’ for the regular season. Starters then usually played little or none in the fourth game. That, though, began to change a little in 2019 when starters did not play in the first or fourth games.
Schneider: Adams deal came together quickly
In his pregame radio interview, Schneider also said the contract for Adams — which was signed Tuesday — came together swiftly following the team’s trip to Las Vegas last weekend to play the Raiders.
Asked by Steve Raible that the deal must have been closer than Schneider had let on during his interview last Saturday, Schneider said: “Actually, that’s not true. I didn’t know that. Things moved along very quickly over the next two days.’’
That jibes with reports that the two sides were at a stalemate as of Monday afternoon before a text from Adams’ mother help spur things along. He agreed to the contract Tuesday morning and signed it that afternoon.
Schneider called it “a long negotiation’’ but said he is “super excited’’ to have it done.
“Just his energy, I think everybody felt it, people seeing the interviews (after he was signed),’’ Schneider said. “He was carrying himself like that when he was not practicing. He still was treating our staff amazing, the equipment guys, the trainers and obviously his coaches and teammates. … He brings a lot of energy and you could feel it this week in practice.’’