RENTON — Mychal Kendricks’ awkward season came to an abrupt end Wednesday when the linebacker was placed on injured reserve after injuring his left leg in the Seattle Seahawks’ win over Minnesota.
Coach Pete Carroll said Kendricks will need surgery to repair what sounds like a pair of injuries to his left knee and leg. Carroll didn’t get into specifics.
“There’s a little nick in there. There’s a couple of things they’re going to work on. It’s not a terrible knee injury but it’s going to take a little bit,” Carroll said, noting it likely would have taken Kendricks at least six to eight weeks of recovery to come back.
The injury brought an end to a roller coaster season for Kendricks. The Minnesota game Monday night was his first following an eight-game suspension handed down by the NFL after Kendricks pleaded guilty to federal insider trading charges. Kendricks was originally suspended indefinitely but the suspension was reduced.
Kendricks started the season in Cleveland but he was released in late August after he was charged. Seattle signed him before Week 2 and he played in three games prior to his suspension.
“It’s just been such a difficult season for Mychal. My heart goes out to him,” Carroll said. “He wants to be part of this thing so badly. He doesn’t get to this time around. We’ll look forward to getting him back next time and being with us.”
When and if Kendricks ever rejoins the Seahawks is likely in the hands of a federal judge. Kendricks is expected to be sentenced sometime in the first couple months of 2019.
He may still be recovering from surgery when that happens. Kendricks was hurt in the third quarter of the 21-7 win over the Vikings but missed only a couple of plays. He was examined by trainers and returned to the field. Kendricks played 76 percent of the defensive snaps.
“Getting back with the guys, getting acclimated to the system and practicing well, it turned over to the game, the game is just like practice,” Kendricks said after the game. “We’ve been practicing well and we play well. And we came away with the victory.”
Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said that for a few moments, it seemed like a revolving door playing next to him. Kendricks left the field to be replaced by Shaquem Griffin, and then he was replaced by Austin Calitro before Kendricks was back on the field.
“I didn’t know the extent of the injury,” Wagner said. “Something might have happened, he mentioned something, but he said he felt good, said he was OK and went out there. I didn’t know it was that extent until after the game.”
With Kendricks out, the Seahawks will likely rely on Calitro in the short term with the hope that veteran K.J. Wright will be able to return before the end of the regular season. Wright has played in just three games this season due to surgery to repair a knee injury suffered in the preseason. He returned in Week 8 and played three straight weeks before missing the past four games.
“He’s getting close. This will be an important week to work him back in and then hopefully a couple of weeks from now we’ll have a chance to get him back,” Carroll said.
Calitro has proven to be a capable fill-in after some struggles early in the season and he could end up being one of Seattle’s main options going into next season. The second-year player started three games at weakside linebacker this season, but Calitro said it was the game he started in Week 2 at middle linebacker that really helped his development.
“The game just finally slowed down for me. I don’t feel like I’m playing catch up as much as I was at the beginning of the season,” Calitro said. “I got comfortable with both positions and know how each position is fitting off each other.”
Carroll sounded hopeful that WR Doug Baldwin (hip/groin) would be able to return this week against San Francisco, saying he would be monitored day to day. But he all but ruled out guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring), saying it would be “something special” for Fluker to be ready. Both players missed last week’s game. Fluker was replaced by Jordan Simmons, who played well in his second start of the season. … Seattle promoted LB Emmanuel Ellerbee to take the roster spot of Kendricks.