Bradley McDougald is ready to step in for Kam Chancellor this week, if needed, after filling in for Earl Thomas the last two weeks.
Kam Chancellor was again absent from Seahawks’ practice on Thursday as the situation with a stinger the strong safety suffered a week ago in a game at Arizona continued to grow more ominous.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner appeared to hint strongly that he isn’t expecting Chancellor to be available for Monday’s game against Atlanta when he was asked what it might be like to have to play without both Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman, who is already out for the season.
“It’s definitely going to be weird,’’ Wagner said. “I’ve never played a game without Richard. He’s definitely going to be missed, but to have both of those guys missing in action is not something that we have ever had to deal with. I think it’s something that we’re prepared for if we can hold it down until at least one of them gets back. The other one (Sherman) might take a while.”
Sherman, in a video he posted on YouTube that was later deleted, said of Chancellor that he is “keeping his head up. Just trying to figure it out right now.’’
Seattle coach Pete Carroll didn’t offer much in the way of detail on Chancellor, who left the Arizona game following the two-minute warning. Two snaps prior to the two-minute warning Chancellor made a tackle on Andre Ellington on a pass over the middle though it’s unclear if that is specifically when Chancellor was injured.
“He’s still getting some work done and tests done,” Carroll said. “We don’t have anything updated yet.” Chancellor is in the area having those tests.
Asked if the recovery was week-to-week or day-to-day, Carroll replied: “Don’t know that yet. I’ve only communicated with him. I will see him later.”
The Seahawks, though, are at least confident in the backup plan they have in place if Chancellor can’t play against Atlanta.
With Earl Thomas excepted back at free safety after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury Seattle would move Bradley McDougald — who took over for Thomas — to strong safety.
McDougald started 31 games the last two years at safety for Tampa Bay and said throughout his career he has played about “50-50’’ of strong and free safety. It was that versatility and ability to step in at both spots that compelled the Seahawks to sign him as a free agent, even if they might have wished they didn’t actually have to put that plan into place at both spots with the season barely half over.
“He’s really smart,’’ Wagner said of McDougald. “To be able to play both safety positions, you have to be really smart. He’s not afraid to get down there and get dirty, he’s a very, very good tackler, and he’s able to read the ball in the air when it goes up.’’
McDougald said he will spend this week in practicing working at strong safety and said “nothing changes by my alignment, my responsibility on certain plays. Preparation has been the same it’s been since week one. I just know I’m going in as a starter now and getting ready to go play a hard-fought game against a good team.’’
McDougald made his biggest play as a Seahawk against Arizona when he batted down a fourth-down pass in the end zone with just over four minutes to go when Drew Stanton tried to hit Jaron Brown. That left the score at 22-10 Seattle and was a key in allowing the Seahawks to hold on.
“We’re very confident in him if he has to go, and he’s going to do the job,” Wagner said.
McDougald said he was “just reading the quarterback’s eyes, his intentions. And the whole way he was just looking (to Brown). He didn’t look anywhere else but to the backside. So I kind of started working that way and he let the ball and I stepped in front of it.’’
The play, McDougald said, helped him feel even more a part of the Seattle defense.
“Definitely,’’ he said. “Plays like that give your defense, the guys in front of you a little assurance that they’ve got a guy back there that can make the plays. Hopefully that makes them feel better and more secure in the guy they’ve got behind them.’’
It’s not going to be an easy task having to fill in for perennial Pro Bowler Earl Thomas one week and perennial Pro Bowler Kam Chancellor the next.
“I never want it to be through injury,” McDougald of likely again being thrust into a starting role. “But that’s part of game. That’s why I’m here to come in and play to the best of my ability and have no letup for the defense.”
While McDougald said he has experience at both safety spots in a number of different systems he said nothing is quite like how the Seahawks use Chancellor, who often plays as essentially another linebacker.
“Kam definitely has his own unique system,’’ McDougald said. “But being around him and having him to guide me through and walk me through the different intricacies of the defense I would say has been pretty easy adjusting.’’
Now for the yet-unanswered question of how long McDougald will have to fill that role.
If Chancellor misses Monday’s game it will be the fourth straight season he has missed at least one game — he has missed two or more games due to injury each of the last three seasons.
Chancellor has started all nine games this season and in fact has barely missed a snap — he’s played 598 this season, 97.87 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this season, second on the team behind Wagner.
Chancellor signed a three-year, $36 million extension before the season that runs through the 2010 season and included a $10 million signing bonus.