One of the Seahawks’ goals entering the 2020 season was not to just reach the playoffs, but to get there as healthy as possible.
That’s always a goal, of course. But a year ago coach Pete Carroll lamented how injuries to key players derailed the team’s postseason, hitting the running backs, offensive line and tight ends.
This year, as the Seahawks prepare for Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the Rams at Lumen Field, they are as healthy as any point this season.
The Seahawks declared just two players as questionable for Saturday’s game — cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) and defensive tackle Jarran Reed (strained oblique)
But in Zoom comments to media after practice Thursday, Carroll said he expects both to play.
Carroll said Griffin was “just a little bit tight” and added that “we just wanted to give him a day” off. Griffin had not been mentioned on the injury report this week. Carroll said Griffin’s injury is not the same as the one that held him out of four games this season.
As for Reed, who was injured against the 49ers on Sunday, Carroll said he practiced Thursday and “did fine. … He’s ready to go.”
Everybody else on the 53-man roster was cleared to play, including strong safety Jamal Adams, who suffered a shoulder injury Sunday but told media Wednesday there was “no way” he wouldn’t play.
Assuming Griffin can play, the Seahawks would have their starting secondary over the second half of the season intact. And assuming Reed can play, they would have intact their preferred starting front seven down the stretch, with the emergence of rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks and the acquisition of end Carlos Dunlap.
Also intact will be the starting offensive line, for just the sixth time all season — left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Mike Iupati, center Ethan Pocic, right guard Damien Lewis and right tackle Brandon Shell. Shell has missed five of the past six games and Iupati the past two. Only Brown and Lewis made all 16 starts.
Shell and Iupati were listed as full participants in practice Thursday. Last season the Seahawks played the playoffs without starting center Justin Britt and Iupati. Brown had knee surgery late in the year and played only in the divisional loss to Green Bay.
The Seahawks scored at least 31 points in all five games this season with its preferred starting offensive line.
They will also have their full complement of tight ends with veteran Greg Olsen returning this week after missing the 49ers game to allow his foot to heal further. He was a full participant Thursday.
And the Seahawks will have all three running backs, with Carlos Hyde returning from an illness that caused him to miss the 49ers game. Also back is rookie DeeJay Dallas, who was a full participant Thursday after missing two games because of an ankle injury.
Rams list Goff as questionable
The Rams continue to have some intrigue over who will start at quarterback — Jared Goff or John Wolford. Goff was listed as questionable after having thumb surgery following an injury suffered Dec. 27 against the Seahawks. For the third consecutive day he was a limited participant in practice, getting at least some work in.
Wolford started last week in L.A.’s 18-7 win over Arizona, running six times for 56 yards.
“We’ll see what happens,” Carroll said. “We don’t know who’s going to play. We’re preparing for both quarterbacks, but we are aware that John has run the football a little bit, and coaches see that in him, so we may see more of that.”
Taylor may play in postseason
Rookie defensive end Darrell Taylor, a second-round draft pick out of Tennessee, practiced for the first time this week after spending the regular season on the Non-Football Injury list while recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture.
Carroll said Taylor showed enough that he said it “is possible” he could play this postseason, though that would likely be in the event of the Seahawks having a few more games to play.
“He’s flashed, obviously,” Carroll said. “We’ve seen the quickness. Today I’m anxious to see this film, because this was the best day for him. We’re kind of ramping him up, and today he cut it loose a little bit, so I’m anxious to see it, but there’s no question that he belongs out here with these guys.”
Carroll happy Willson is back
The Seahawks signed tight end Luke Willson to the 53-player roster this week after he returned to the practice squad last week after being waived by Baltimore.
The Ravens signed Willson after he was waived by the Seahawks in November after rookie Colby Parkinson was activated, which briefly gave them five tight ends on their roster.
The Seahawks again have five tight ends, though at least one figures to be inactive Saturday to get down to the game-day limit of 48 players.
That may well be Willson, given he played just 10 snaps in the two months he was in Seattle this season.
But Carroll said Thursday that Willson’s value is far greater than playing.
“Luke has been such an instrumental part of the spirit of this club that I wanted to get him as close to it and have as much impact as possible,” Carroll said. “He’s just an unusually gifted, spirited soul, and in this environment where we have to generate all our own energy and our own juice and all that, I really missed not having Luke during the time when he wasn’t here. And so we got a chance to get him back, want to get him as close to the action as possible.”
Carroll: Storming of U.S. Capitol ‘horrible’
Carroll handled his coaching duties Wednesday while trying to stay abreast of the events in Washington D.C., where a mob of Donald Trump supporters rushed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election.
“There was a lot going on yesterday,” Carroll said. “I do have a little bit of a knack for being able to kind of multitask. But yesterday was a horrible day, and it was a horrible event, and you can see it coming, and it was awful. So, you know, I tried not to be distracted by it, but I certainly was aware of it.”