By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks’ ability to defend the run took a hit when outside linebacker K.J. Wright was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets due to a concussion.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll made the announcement Friday. James Carpenter is also being held out of Sunday’s game due to concussion symptoms.
Wright, Seattle’s second-leading tackler with 63 stops, suffered a concussion on the opening series last week against Minnesota, and Carpenter did not play against the Vikings because of concussion-like symptoms he experienced leading up to the Minnesota game.
“Both of those guys need a little bit more time,” Carroll said. “So with the (bye) week coming up, we’ll take great care of them, and get them in after the bye, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Mike Morgan will get his first career start in place of Wright, a second-year player from Mississippi State who will miss his first game since being selected by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2011 draft.
Morgan, a USC product who has played in Carroll’s defense since his days with the Trojans, replaced Wright last week at outside linebacker and finished with three tackles.
Carroll is counting on this week’s practice to help prepare the second-year pro for his first career start.
“Mike is a core special teams guy, and he’s got a lot of special teams duties,” Carroll said. “So having the chance to focus not just on that, but playing down after down, is really important. He had a very good week. He knows our system really well, and he’ll be a good factor for us.”
Added rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who leads the team with 72 tackles: “This whole week he knew he was going to start, so you can get your mind right and be better prepared. So I think he’s better prepared for this opportunity.”
John Moffitt will start for the second straight week at left guard in place of Carpenter.
“I’m glad I got a week under my belt, and got to practice,” Moffitt said. “So I had a chance to really knock off the rust and polish up some stuff, so I feel good.”
The Seahawks have allowed an average of 167.3 rushing yards in the last three games. The Jets come into Sunday’s contest averaging 110 rushing yards per game, and with two weeks to prepare for the Seahawks after a bye week.
Carroll’s defense is prepared for anything the Jets will throw at them offensively, including a heavy dose of reserve quarterback Tim Tebow — even though he’s only seen the field for 55 plays in eight games.
“We have to expect that they are going to do more, just so we’re prepared and ready,” Carroll said. “It doesn’t mean that they will. They have a commitment in the way they are doing things.
“They have a variety of things that they do, and so we’ve worked hard to be ready for all of that. And we don’t know — that’s why they call it defense. You’ve got to get out there and wait to see what they put at you. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used him (Tebow) more.”
Rookie defensive tackle Greg Scruggs missed his second straight practice with an oblique injury, and will be a game-time decision, Carroll said. He’s listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report.
Several other players returned to practice on Friday, including running back Marshawn Lynch (wrist/back), cornerback Richard Sherman (illness), safety Kam Chancellor (quad) and defensive linemen Red Bryant (foot) and Clinton McDonald (groin).
Carroll indicated that those five players are on schedule to play on Sunday, along with defensive tackle Jason Jones (ankle) and receiver Braylon Edwards (knee), who both missed the last two games with injuries.
All of those players were listed as probable on Seattle’s final injury report except for McDonald, who’s listed as questionable.
Carroll said that although cornerback Walter Thurmond is now on the active roster, he will still be a game-time decision on whether or not he’s active for Sunday’s game.