RENTON — The Seahawks won’t have left tackle Duane Brown for the wild-card playoff game Sunday at Philadelphia, again ruled out with a knee injury, and they might not have left guard Mike Iupati, who is questionable.
But they will have two key defensive players — free safety Quandre Diggs and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Diggs has not played in two weeks due to a high ankle sprain but was able to practice this week and was not listed on the injury report Friday, meaning he is fully cleared to play.
Seattle forced 16 turnovers in the five games Diggs started, including five in a 17-9 victory against the Eagles in Philadelphia on Nov. 24.
“He had a good week,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Diggs, who was acquired in October in a trade from Detroit and has teamed with Bradley McDougald to solidify the two safety spots. “He was really able to go right back in on Wednesday and take the reps and finished up looking just like he was fine. It’s really a good deal, a real plus for us. He’s had a real positive impact on us and hopefully he can do that again.”
Clowney played 33 snaps in the 26-21 defeat Sunday against the 49ers after having missed the previous two games, but then was listed as not practicing Wednesday and Thursday, leading to at least some doubt whether he would be able to play against the Eagles as he battles a nagging core muscle injury.
But Carroll said holding Clowney out of practice earlier in the week was part of the strategy to get him ready for the game, and he also was not listed on the injury report Friday.
Clowney practiced on a limited basis Friday, seen enthusiastically mimicking some of the famous moves from Rocky as the song Eye of the Tiger played during early warmups (the movie was set in Philadelphia).
“We’re just getting him to game time is all we can get done right now,” Carroll said after practice Friday. “He worked today. He got his reps in today and was able to demonstrate the game plan and that he knew what was going on. If this is what we got, this is what we got. We got to work with it.”
The defense won’t be fully healthy, though, with Mychal Kendricks one of three players listed out after he suffered an ACL injury against the 49ers. Rookie Cody Barton will take the place of Kendricks, who had a game-high 13 tackles in the first meeting with the Eagles.
Also ruled out along with Brown and Kendricks was receiver Malik Turner, who will miss his second consecutive game with a concussion.
But the only other two players listed on the injury report were Iupati and receiver Jaron Brown, each listed as questionable.
Iupati will be a game-time decision, Carroll said. If he can’t play, Seattle could have a starting combination on the left side of its line it has not used this season.
George Fant will again start for Brown at left tackle while Jamarco Jones likely would get the start at left guard if Iupati can’t go. Fant started last week against the 49ers and two games in October in place of Brown, as well. Jones got two starts at right guard in October in place of D.J. Fluker. But Jones and Fant have not started together on the left side.
Carroll had held out some hope early in the week that Duane Brown might be able to play but also said it would be a “miraculous” recovery.
“He hasn’t been able to just jump right back,” Carroll said. “He’s still feeling the effects of the surgery and the challenge is to try to get rid of the swelling. He’s not bad, but he’s working through that. He wasn’t able to make it this week. There was a chance. That would’ve been crazy if he had come back out. We’ll see where he is next week.”
The loss of Turner could be mitigated somewhat if Jaron Brown can make it back. He suffered a knee sprain on the first series against the 49ers and Carroll initially said he would be out a few weeks.
But Carroll said he is recovering more quickly than anticipated, though he also sat out Friday due to a family issue that meant he had to leave the area.
“He would have practiced today,” Carroll said. “He had a family thing that he had to take care of, so he had to head out of town here. I don’t know what to tell you about game time with that. I know he’s got to take care of this family thing first. We anticipated that today he was going to practice and go. We were shocked. He just bounced right back from it. I can’t explain why other than it’s just a good thing for him and for the club if he’s able to play.”
With Turner out and Brown questionable, rookie John Ursua will be active again and could again serve as the team’s fourth receiver. Seattle could also make a move to add another receiver to the 53-man roster if needed. Seattle has Penny Hart, Jaylen Smith and Brendan Langley — the latter two signed this week — on the practice squad. Seattle could activate one of the receivers by putting Kendricks on Injured Reserve.
Seattle also will get back tight end Luke Willson, who missed the 49ers game with a hip injury suffered last week in practice.
“It really helps us,” Carroll said. “It really helps us getting him back. His experience. He does a number of things and he does them well. At the line of scrimmage, on the move, routes, and all kinds of things. We have such a background with him. It’s really valuable. I think he just hit the goal post, too, by the way.”
The Eagles ruled out just one player — receiver Nelson Agholor — and two as questionable, tight end Zach Ertz and left tackle Lane Johnson.
Ertz is battling what the team is referring to as ribs and back injuries but he is also dealing with a lacerated kidney. He is the team’s leading receiver with 88 receptions for 916 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Seattle coaches and players have said this week they assume he will try to play.
“He’s a fantastic player and he’s a focal-point guy,” Carroll said. “The quarterback (Carson Wentz) knows where he is. They design plays for him. Just as they do, their style is to really utilize their talent and Zach is a really, really good ballplayer. He’s in the core, he’s out all by himself singled up. They’re looking to match him up wherever he can. He’s a really big deal to their offense.”
The rest of the Eagles are considered good to go including running back Miles Sanders, the team’s leading rusher this season who has been battling an ankle injury.