By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — In Pete Carroll’s world, every week is a championship week, and you’ll never catch the Seattle Seahawks head coach or his players looking ahead.
Well almost never.
With the Seahawks playing in Arizona on Thursday night, Carroll and his coaching staff went into last week with an eye also on this week’s game. That’s not to say that the Seahawks weren’t focused on the Tennessee Titans last week, but they did manage some players’ practice reps as well as try to rotate players during Sunday’s game knowing another game was coming up quickly.
“Since last week, tailoring the reps that we’ve taken in preparation, knowing that we have these two games coming up in short order, and we came out of this game with great rotation, we kept our numbers down on the players and hopefully we can take advantage of that and be a little bit healthier,” Carroll said. “Fortunately, we got out pretty healthy.”
Pretty healthy, but not 100 percent healthy. Defensive end Chris Clemons hyperextended his elbow late in Sunday’s game. An MRI revealed what Carroll called “a little issue,” but it is not an injury that will require surgery. On a short week, however, Carroll said, “it’s going to be a challenge for him to get back in a short week. It really doesn’t work to his advantage. In a normal week he’d have a better shot, but we don’t know. He’s very tough about handling stuff and coming back, so we’ll just see if he’s able to endure it and get his strength back and play. We don’t know that right now.”
While Seattle’s offensive snap counts looked fairly similar to usual weeks, the Seahawks did appear to have made a concerted effort to limit the toll on their defensive line, something that could pay off if Clemons is unable to go. It’s normal for NFL teams to rotate defensive linemen, players who exert a ton of energy on every play, but Seattle’s defensive line snap counts in Week 6 show that playing time was even more spread out than usual.
Part of that no doubt has to do with Seattle’s depth on its line, which has increased in recent weeks with players returning from injury, but Carroll apparently was also cognizant of the approaching quick turnaround. Through five weeks, at least two defensive linemen played 60 percent or more of the team’s snaps in every game, even lopsided victories against San Francisco and Jacksonville. On Sunday, however, even in a game that went down to the wire, the Seahawks managed to keep a single defensive lineman from playing more than the 58 percent of the snaps played by defensive end Cliff Avril.
“I am happy about is the number of plays that our guys played in this game this week,” Carroll said. “It worked out really well for us, and the rotation worked out well to give them the best chance to be as healthy as possible for this week.”
Carroll reiterated that tight end Zach Miller will be available this week and was very close to playing Sunday. Miller has missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner is progressing ahead of schedule from the high ankle sprain that kept him out Sunday, but Carroll did not know if the middle linebacker would make it back this week.
Receiver Percy Harvin is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list as soon as this week, but even though Harvin is making good progress, that won’t be happening just yet.
“This is kind of a difficult week, because again it’s a short week, but he’ll be running and doing a lot of stuff this week,” Carroll said. “We won’t expect him to play this week, but we’ll find out how far along he’s come. Everything is going great, there have been really no setbacks now, and he’s ahead of schedule in a number of areas, so we’re excited to see what happens. … It’s looking good, but I can’t tell you if that’s a month or three weeks, I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Carroll was asked again about the decision to pull cornerback Brandon Browner after the cornerback gave up a couple of first-quarter catches, including a 32-yarder that was the Titans’ longest play of the day, and Carroll reiterated that he “just wanted to give him a break.”
“I wanted to make sure we got it clear to him what was going on, what was happening,” Carroll said. “They got up on top on him on two different plays there, and I just wanted to make sure he was clear, and we have great guys to throw in the game to take care of business, and that’s what happened.
“That’s just the coach’s decision at the time. I would never expect him to be comfortable with that. I don’t want any of our guys to want to come out of the game. He wanted to get back in and he did a good job when he went in.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.