The big question hovering over the Seahawks as they prepare for the wild-card playoff game Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams — will star strong safety Jamal Adams play? — might not be answered until shortly before kickoff.
During his Zoom session with media members Tuesday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll repeated what he’d said earlier about Adams, who injured his left shoulder against the 49ers — “We’ll have to wait and see.”
“Well, he’s going to work through the week and see what he can get done and see if he’s OK,” Carroll said before practice. “We’ll have to wait all the way up until game day to figure that out.”
Adams was injured early in the fourth quarter and returned for two plays, which would seem to indicate the injury wasn’t overly severe.
Asked if he was more or less positive about Adams playing now than he was earlier, Carroll said: “Well, just judging from my general outlook, I’m positive. More positive than not.”
And obviously, at least partly at work is that coaches get even more tight-lipped about the status of injured players once the playoffs roll around.
Carroll offered no details on the specifics of the injury but said the team will prepare backup Ryan Neal to step in for Adams, if needed. Neal started three games this season when Adams was out and filled in for him late in the 26-23 victory Sunday over the 49ers.
“We have a lot of confidence in Ryan because of the way he played and what he does,” Carroll said. “In the position he’s playing and the makeup of that spot, when he comes off the bench to play for Jamal, you saw us last week; he came in and he was pressuring right off the bat, because that’s what we think of him. We think of him in the same mold. He’ll be ready to go if we need him, and we’ll be happy to play him.”
Carroll also said there might be a better chance that defensive tackle Jarran Reed will play after suffering a strained oblique against the 49ers.
“We’re going to be real careful with him during the week and see how he goes day to day,” Carroll said of Reed, who finished the regular season with 6.5 sacks. “He’s much better than he was on the weekend, so there’s cause for optimism there.”
Neither Adams nor Reed practiced Tuesday. Others who sat out were left tackle Duane Brown (knee/resting vet), running back Chris Carson (foot/load management) and cornerback Jayson Stanley (hamstring).
Shell off COVID-19 list
The Seahawks on Tuesday activated right tackle Brandon Shell off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning he can practice. Shell went on the list Friday after it was determined he had close contact with someone outside the organization who had tested positive. Safety Damarious Randall also went on the list due to a close contact but has not been activated.
Shell also has dealt with a sprained ankle that had kept him out of four of the previous five games. But Carroll said that is healed and Shell will return to the starting lineup — he was listed as a full participant in practice Tuesday.
“Exercising all the caution, we looked after Brandon, and he had no — really he never did catch the virus and all that,” Carroll said. “He bounces right back, comes to us, and we’re really happy about that. Just coming back to make sure that his ankle is as good as it can be, this week would have helped him to get one more, so he looks great, should be full speed and ready, and we love having him back out there.”
Carroll said left guard Mike Iupati will return after missing the past two games with a neck/stinger issue, meaning Seattle’s regular starting offensive line will be intact to start for only the sixth game this season. Iupati was listed as a limited participant in practice Tuesday.
“Both those guys have been solid performers for us,” Carroll said. “They have the most experience over the guys that have been playing. That should help the guys next to them. Both those guys are starters for a reason, so we’re happy to have them back. Looks great to see those guys in the huddle.”
Taylor returns to practice
The Seahawks on Tuesday listed rookie defensive end Darrell Taylor as returning to practice after he spent all season on the Non-Football Injury list. He had surgery last winter to repair a stress fracture suffered during the 2019 season at Tennessee.
That means Taylor — who was drafted in the second round — can practice for up to three weeks before the Seahawks must make a decision to put him on the roster or back on injured reserve.
That Taylor has not stepped on the field in any capacity until Tuesday might mean it’s not realistic that he could play Saturday. But at the least, the Seahawks will get a good gauge of where Taylor is in his recovery, and he will get some practice time during a lost rookie season.
Following practice Tuesday, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said simply getting to practice is big for Taylor.
“Just to have him on the field just to have him running around here being a regular football player, getting him out of the training room and having him put his shoes on and jersey on and run around with the guys and get him in a huddle — that’s just step one,” Norton said. “And we’re just taking steps right now just one step at a time, just keep him out day after day and we’re happy with that and we’ll see where it goes.”
Nothing new on Gordon
Receiver Josh Gordon remains on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list, which means he cannot practice but can attend meetings and work out.
With practice Tuesday being like the Seahawks’ usual Wednesday with the schedule moved up due to the Saturday game, he likely would have been taken off the list by now to play this weekend.
Gordon reverted to the list two weeks ago when the NFL told both Gordon and the team he had not satisfied the terms of his conditional reinstatement from suspension and was not eligible to practice and play.
“I have nothing to report,” Carroll said when asked about Gordon’s status. “We’ve heard nothing from the league about him being available.”
Hyde ‘ready to go’
Carlos Hyde, the backup running back to Carson, did not play against the 49ers after dealing with an illness that held him out of practice last week.
But Carroll said Hyde is recovered and available against the Rams.
“He’s ready to go,” Carroll said of Hyde, who was listed as a full participant in practice Tuesday. “Fresh legs. He’s cranking and ready.”
That gives Seattle a full complement of running backs entering the game with Carson, Hyde and Rashaad Penny and possibly rookie DeeJay Dallas, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury but was listed as a limited participant in practice Tuesday.
Alex Collins was elevated off the practice squad last week as a COVID-19 replacement and scored a touchdown late in the game when Penny was sidelined because of cramps.
But unless Seattle has another COVID-19 replacement it has to make, Collins would not be eligible to be elevated this week.