The Seahawks head into a big Week 16 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs with a number of key players on Friday’s injury list, but one player not listed for the first time in a while is linebacker K.J. Wright, who is expected back after missing the past five games with a knee injury.
“K.J. made it through the week in great form,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s going to play. We’re really excited about him playing and coming back. He looked terrific, and those fresh legs may help us out a little bit.”
This has been a challenging season for Wright, who missed the first six games of the season after having arthroscopic knee surgery in August. Wright made it back in the middle of the season to play in three games, only to have the knee injury sideline him again for more than a month.
“I’m very excited, man. It has been quite the journey this season, a little bit of a roller coaster, but I’m thankful to be out there playing with my guys, playing the game that I love,” he said following Friday practice. “It’s a special game. That’s something I was telling the guys, you can’t take it for granted, because you never know how many opportunities you’ll have. So I’m going to go out there and enjoy the hell out of it and have a good time.”
Wright acknowledged he’ll be on a pitch count, with the goal being to be ready for 100 percent playing time by the postseason, but he said his knee feels the best it has since the initial injury.
“This is the best I’ve felt,” he said. “I’m out there running around with no pain, just out there flying around, having a good old time. It just feels good to play healthy—your mind is focused on other things versus your knee.”
However many snaps Wright is able to play against the Chiefs, his presence can help make the entire defense better.
“It is an uplift,” Carroll said of Wright’s presence on the field. “It’s not just the play that you’re going to get, it’s the mentality that he brings and the confidence that he exudes. Of course he’s a fantastic player, but it’s that other stuff, it’s the intangibles that he adds that gives other people confidence. K.J. is such a good player and such a great communicator, he helps other guys play well. He and Bobby, it’s so fun to watch them play and get back together and make their communications and identify stuff as they have for so many years. They really know how to work in tandem. There’s an effect that goes beyond just the tackles he’s going to make.”
While Wright is able to play, the Seahawks will be without free safety Tedric Thompson, while several other starters will be game-day decisions.
Carroll explained that Thompson, who is listed as having chest and ankle injuries, has some swelling and “fluid or something in an unusual place” in his chest, before adding. “It’s not a life-threatening deal at all, it’s just that he can’t play with it, so we’ve got to wait until it goes away.”
Fellow starting safety Bradley McDougald was away from practice all week while getting treatment on the knee injury that has bothered him for much of the season, but Carroll said McDougald thinks he can play Sunday.
“He has every intention of playing; he just had to miss the week for his treatments,” Carroll said.
Two offensive linemen will be game-day decisions, right guard D.J. Fluker, who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, and right tackle Germain Ifedi, who as Carroll explained it, “tweaked his groin” in a drill during Thursday’s practice.
Running back Rashaad Penny, who missed last week’s game with a knee injury, is also a game-day decision.
“We’re holding out hope that maybe on game day he can do something,” Carroll said. “We’ll find out. He did a little bit of work today for the first time this week, and his recovery is going really well. It’s just whether or not it’s the right decision for him to go and if we can get enough information on game day. He’s going to do some stuff tomorrow too, so we’ll know more.”
Two key pieces of Seattle’s defense, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and defensive tackle Jarran Reed, are both listed as questionable, but Carroll said both should be able to play.
On Reed, who has a career-high 8.5 sacks this season, Carroll said, “He’s going to play. There’s no way he’s not playing.”
And on Griffin, Carroll said, “He’s going to be OK. He made it through the last couple days of the week, he’s ready to go.”
Also expected to play despite a questionable designation is long snapper Tyler Ott, who didn’t practice Friday due to illness. For those who are curious anyway, Carroll said tight end Ed Dickson would be the team’s emergency long snapper should the need for that ever arise.
Here are the full injury reports for both teams:
S Tedric Thompson (chest/ankle, did not participate in practice)
G D.J. Fluker (hamstring, did not participate in practice)
RB Rashaad Penny (knee, limited participation in practice)
S Bradley McDougald (knee, did not participate in practice)
DT Jarran Reed (oblique/groin, did not participate in practice)
CB Shaquill Griffin (hip, full participation in practice)
LS Tyler Ott (illness, did not participate in practice)
T Germain Ifedi (groin, did not participate in practice)
Kansas City Chiefs
WR Sammy Watkins (foot, did not participate in practice)
RB Spencer Ware (hamstring, limited participation in practice)
CB Kendall Fuller (thumb, limited participation in practice)