Seahawks’ McCray in line for first career start with Chancellor hobbled

RENTON — Kelcie McCray is like everyone else who’s been around Kam Chancellor, the thumping safety and intimidating, indestructible persona, for more than a minute.

He never expects Chancellor to get hurt.

So last weekend at Baltimore, McCray was, in his word, shocked. He had to enter the game at strong safety for the injured, five-year mainstay in the middle of the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.

“You know what? That’s crazy (you’d say that) because it was a shock,” McCray said Friday. “You don’t look at him as a guy that’s getting hurt.”

It looks and sounds like McCray will make his first career start at strong safety on Sunday against Cleveland because Chancellor has stayed hurt. He has a bruised tailbone. McCray took all the first-team snaps at practice this week.

Coach Pete Carroll said following Friday’s indoor practice at team headquarters that Chancellor’s availability will be a game-time decision. The hard hitter and team leader hasn’t practiced all week. He bruised his backside during the second quarter of last week’s 35-6 win over the Ravens.

“He’s questionable right now. We’ll wait until all the way up until game time to see if he can bounce back,” Carroll said.

Chancellor is certainly so well-acquainted with Seattle’s defensive system he doesn’t need to practice to play. But this may be the week to get him fully healthy for the Seahawks’ final push toward the playoffs. Two regular-season games remain after this one against the 3-10 Browns: Home against St. Louis (6-8) next week and at NFC West-leading Arizona (11-2) Jan. 4.

Coming up to the line of scrimmage to stop the run is what the Seahawks’ scheme asks of the strong safety. McCray said Seattle’s defense asks that more than Kansas City’s, Tampa Bay’s and Miami’s did when he played safety for those teams from 2012 through last season.

But Cleveland has the league’s 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Then again, it may indeed matter who is at strong safety for Seattle on Sunday. The Browns also feature the tight end. A lot. Gary Barnidge leads them with 65 catches and eight touchdowns. Tight ends have given the Seahawks’ defense problems all season, during Chancellor’s holdout and after his return. And tight ends are a primary responsibility of the safeties.

McCray said his practice and reserve-playing times at strong and free safety were “about 50-50” with the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Dolphins.

The Seahawks traded a fifth-round draft choice to Kansas City at the end of the preseason to get McCray because they valued the former three-year quarterback at Hardaway High School in Columbus, Georgia, for his standout special-teams play. All season the Seahawks have been impressed with the 6-foot-1, 205-pound McCray’s ability to tackle in the open field — no small feat on full-speed punt and kickoff returns on which he’s sprinting more than half the field.

“He had great range, really good speed, and he played really good in space,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. “Those are all attributes that we’re looking for in regards to a safety. And the simple fact that when he puts his body on people, he tackles really well, they go down.”

Richard sounds fine with McCray if he has to start for the first time in his 45-game NFL career, based on what the defense’s chief saw last week at Baltimore in the 21/2 quarters McCray played for Chancellor.

“He did a really good job,” Richard said. “Aside from the fact that he maintained his role on special teams, and then came out and continued to stand up for us on defense. The guy is in great shape, and he knows what to do. He’s a true professional in regards to the fact that he’s always preparing himself to be ready to play.”

At least this week, McCray is going to have more than one series to prepare to replace Chancellor.

“Yeah, it’s great having a full week, so it’s not a surprise to me going into the game,” he said. “I’ve definitely had all the looks, so that’s a big help.”

Carroll mum on lead runner

As usual on a Friday, Carroll was coy about who will be the lead rusher Sunday.

Bryce Brown was with the team in November and was inactive for two games before the Seahawks released him. They re-signed the 24-year old on Tuesday.

Christine Michael, the second-round draft choice from 2013 Seattle traded to Dallas in September then re-signed Wednesday, has by all accounts a new attitude. He seems to realize this might be last chance in the league.

Derrick Coleman, usually the fullback, has also gotten practice time at tailback this week.

“This chance right now is something he’s really pumped about, too,” Carroll said of Coleman. “We’ll see how much he gets.”

The potpourri of backs is because Marshawn Lynch is “off site” — Carroll’s words — rehabilitating from abdominal surgery Nov. 25. And because 830-yard rookie back Thomas Rawls went on injured reserve this week with a broken ankle and torn ligaments.

“You’ll find out at game time how we’re going to do it,” Carroll said. “Guys really, really practiced hard this week and they know that they’re competing for their playing time. It’s going to be fun to see how they do … we’ll show you what happens at game time.”

Coaches gave up on Michael — drafted to be Lynch’s eventual heir — after two, frustrating seasons and this summer’s training camp. Dallas cut him this fall, then Washington signed him to its practice squad before releasing him this week.

“He’s very serious about the opportunity. Worked really hard, met extra to make sure he could catch up. He did pick everything back up very quickly,” Carroll said. “He’s very comfortable in the offense and all of that, so that’s really a good sign. Part of the reason for picking him up, we knew he could jump in like that. He had a very good week and looks very quick. He’s really hungry and ready to go.

“He hasn’t had really enough time, we’ve never really had enough chances to find out how he would do over the long haul. Maybe this is that opportunity for him.”

Extra points

Though DeShawn Shead is listed as questionable, Carroll said he will start at right cornerback against the Browns. Shead has made a speedy recovery from a sprained ankle he got during the win at Baltimore. … TE Luke Willson has also wowed coaches with how quickly he got back from an injury to his ribs last weekend that Carroll described as more than a bruise. He’s going to play, as well. “I don’t know how they got back so fast,” Carroll said of Shead and Willson. … DT Jordan Hill is out for the third consecutive game. The coach said Hill has a partial tear is his big toe. Carroll hopes to have him back next week against the Rams. … Backup TE Anthony McCoy is out for Sunday after sustaining a high-ankle sprain in his season debut last weekend.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Davis’ Blake Garza (2) dunks the ball during a boys game between Glacier Peak and Davis at Shorewood High School on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Shoreline, WA. Glacier Peak fell, 65-54.. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Glacier Peak boys outmuscled by Davis in 65-54 loss

The Grizzlies lose the battle of the boards as they’re knocked into the Class 4A round of 12.

State basketball roundup for Friday, Feb. 23

State basketball roundup for Friday, Feb. 23: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Toby Trichler, right, yells during a team cheer before the start of the game on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024 in Shoreline, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Sultan boys overcome hurdles to break 15-year state drought

A flooded gym and rotating lineup haven’t stopped the Turks from reaching their goal.

Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly (89) stiff arms Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone (34) while carrying the ball against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Why the Seahawks could part with ex-Husky Will Dissly this offseason

The UW product is the only tight end under contract for 2024, but the team could save nearly $7 million in salary cap space if he’s released.

Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodríguez warms up during spring training baseball workouts Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Servais calls 2024 Mariners ‘the hungriest team I’ve ever had’

The team is ready to rewrite the script after a disappointing postseason miss last year.

Matt King of Team United States swims in the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Community roundup: Glacier Peak grad captures gold at swim worlds

Plus, an Edmonds College basketball coach reaches a milestone, and spring teams at Edmonds and Everett nab top-10 NWAC rankings.

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (9) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Walker, Charbonnet sure to lead RB corps again

The running back position brings rare certainty to Seattle’s offseason of upheaval.

Monroe players hug after a tough loss during a 3A girls game between Monroe and Roosevelt at Roosevelt High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Seattle, WA. Monroe fell, 58-37. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Monroe’s charmed run ends against Roosevelt in 3A state regionals

After winning three loser-out games to reach state, the Bearcats struggle with the Rough Riders’ tenacious press in a 58-37 loss.

State basketball roundup for Tuesday, Feb. 20

Prep state basketball roundup for Tuesday, Feb. 20: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To… Continue reading

Snohomish’s Sienna Capelli and Arlington’s Samara Morrow scramble for the ball during the 3A girls district championship game on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seedings announced for high school basketball state tournaments

Who, when and where area teams are playing in the state regional round.

Seattle Mariners pitcher George Kirby during a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Mariners’ strike-throwing machine Kirby hones his craft in solitude

George Kirby spent his offseason training without distractions — or a catcher — in his hometown.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) plays against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Seahawks position overview: Will Smith still hold reins at QB?

The veteran’s 2024 salary recently became guaranteed, but a trade is still possible.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.