RENTON — The Seahawks will find out Sunday what life is like without starting center Ethan Pocic, who has not missed a snap in steadying an offensive line that helped Seattle lead the NFL in scoring during the first half of the season.
They also will find out what life is like without starting cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar, yet another challenge for a secondary that has dealt with injuries all season.
The Seahawks on Friday ruled out Pocic (concussion), Griffin (hamstring) and Dunbar (knee) as well as defensive tackle Bryan Mone (ankle). Mone’s absence will open the door for veteran Damon “Snacks” Harrison to play for the first time as a Seahawk.
Coach Pete Carroll confirmed that Kyle Fuller will start in place of Pocic, and Tre Flowers will again start for Griffin. It’s somewhat unclear who will start at the other cornerback spot for Dunbar as he battles a chronic knee injury that bothered him throughout last Sunday’s 44-34 loss at Buffalo before he was finally replaced late in the game.
The most likely candidate might be Linden Stephens, who stepped in for Dunbar last week. But D.J. Reed could be an option with starting nickel Ugo Amadi back, and Carroll also said Neiko Thorpe is ready to be taken off injured reserve, a move that will likely happen Saturday. Whoever gets the call, it will be Seattle’s seventh different starting secondary foursome in nine games this season.
The Seahawks listed seven other players as questionable, including running backs Chris Carson (midfoot sprain) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring), who both have missed the past two games.
Hyde practiced on a limited basis Friday, and Carson did some running. Carroll didn’t rule out that both could play.
“We think Chris has a chance if we don’t overdo it early, so that’s why we decided not put him on the field today,” Carroll said. “He still worked out and ran and all of that. Carlos, this was a chance for him to show, and he looked pretty good today. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.”
Also listed as questionable was linebacker K.J. Wright (ankle). But Wright practiced on a limited basis Friday, and Carroll said he “has a really good chance” to play Sunday.
Defensive end Benson Mayowa (ankle) is questionable, but Carroll essentially ruled him out, saying it was “a longshot” he would play. Mayowa did not practice Friday.
Also listed as questionable are backup receivers Freddie Swain (foot) and Penny Hart (knee) and defensive end Alton Robinson (illness). None of the three practiced Friday.
Pocic, who won the job as the starting center in camp, played every snap against the Bills. But Carroll said Pocic “reported some symptoms” after the game and entered the league’s concussion protocol. He did not practice this week.
That might also put at risk Pocic’s ability to play Thursday at home against Arizona, as well.
“Whatever time it takes,” Carroll said. “This is a very serious area that we’re always really concerned about. But he didn’t report it during the game, so we didn’t know.”
Fuller has not played an offensive snap with Seattle, having been with the team all of last year on the practice squad and this year on the 53 after serving a two-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. But he did start two games for Houston in 2017 at tackle and 39 games at center in college at Baylor.
Fuller has played only on special teams this season — six snaps in each of the past two games.
That might seem like a difficult task going against a defensive front that includes perennial All-Pro tackle Aaron Donald.
But Carroll expressed confidence, saying, “Kyle will be ready to go. He’s going to do a good job for us.”
The Seahawks also are expected to get back left guard Mike Iupati, as he was not listed on the injury report after missing the past three games because of a back injury. He was a full participant in practice Friday.
As for cornerback, Griffin will miss his third consecutive game, and Dunbar could miss his third in nine games this year, also sitting out against Miami and Dallas.
But this would be the first for Seattle without both Griffin and Dunbar. Carroll said Dunbar is having “rehab work” done and added that it’s “going to be a bit before we get him back and get him right. It will take some time to take advantage of the rehab. So he’s making good progress but not enough progress to play in the game.”
With Amadi back to handle the nickel if needed, the Seahawks could go with Reed at the other outside corner spot. But Stephens might be more likely given he took over last week. Thorpe could also be a possibility now that he is ready to come off IR after battling a sports hernia.
Thorpe, though, undoubtedly will have a big role on special teams, in his third year as Seattle’s special-teams captain.
“We’re really excited about getting him back,” Carroll said of Thorpe. “Neiko’s been a real centerpiece on special teams and the captain of the special teams, and we’ve really missed him, so he’s a really good contributor in a lot of different ways.”
Seattle, though, will have to make a move to create room on the 53-player roster to add Thorpe.
Seattle also can elevate two players from the practice squad. One will be Harrison, and the other could again be Alex Collins to add depth at running back, especially if neither Carson nor Hyde can make it back.