By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
HOUSTON — Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was immobilized and carted off the field late in the second quarter Sunday after his head snapped back while rushing the quarterback.
Bennett came off the right edge in pursuit of Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, when he was caught in traffic. Bennett laid face down on the ground for several minutes while trainers tended to him.
The good news is Bennett has only a strained muscle in his back, according to Seattle head coach Pete Carroll.
“They were just really concerned because it was close to his vertebrae,” Carroll said. “They weren’t sure what it was, so they took good care of him.”
Bennett was taken to the hospital, but returned to the sidelines before the game was over.
When Bennett was injured, several Seahawks took their helmets off and knelt on the field. Carroll bent over with his hands on his hips in the middle of huddle of medical personnel.
Bennett was eventually rolled onto a red backboard before having a yellow stretcher with a blue pad on it slid underneath him. He was motionless as four people pushed the stretcher off the field. Several Texans players and most of the fans applauded in support of Bennett as he was wheeled away with 10 seconds remaining in the first half.
Bennett played at Alief Taylor High School in Houston before playing in college for Texas A&M. He had several family members in attendance.
Bennett has become a force for the Seahawks. He had 2.5 sacks coming into Sunday’s game. Carroll has repeatedly said Bennett’s impact was more than the Seahawks expected when they signed him in March to a one-year, $5 million contract.
Bennett had spent the prior four seasons with Tampa Bay after originally coming into the league as a free agent with the Seahawks in 2009.
“It was an emotional time for us as a defense,” Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. “He’s kind of the spark plug in our defense.
“He came back (to the sidelines) with tears in his eyes. It kind of got us teary-eyed, it got us emotional, it got us ready to go. Because guys you grind with, guys that you fight with, you never want to see them out of the game. You never want to see them carted off in that kind of way.
“It’s hard on your heart.”
Carroll said he’s unsure of Bennett’s availability for next week.