Defensive depth getting a tough test

Seahawks bandagesThe Seahawks are focusing this week on figuring out how to finish games, but a fair number might not even get in the game Sunday when they play the Carolina Panthers.

Of the 10 players on the Seahawks’ injury report Thursday, nine were defensive players – and their front seven suddenly has joined their secondary in making the entire defense a M*A*S*H unit.

That could create problems against Carolina, which comes in with the No. 4 rushing offense in the NFL (132.3 yards per game) and has the best toxic differential (turnover margin and big-play margin) in the league.

The Seahawks, already so short on cornerbacks that they signed Crezdon Butler this week, are now looking at a shortage of linebackers and pass rushers as well – Bobby Wagner (chest) and Frank Clark (hamstring) did not practice Thursday. Neither did Jordan Hill (quadriceps), who is expected to miss a couple of weeks, and new linebacker Nick Moody (ankle). Brock Coyle (knee) was limited, meaning he is questionable for the game.

The Seahawks look likely to get Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) back after he missed the past two games, which means the LB corps would be K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin and KPL if Wagner cannot play. In that case, Wright would play the middle again – as he has several times in the past.

“He’s done a fantastic job,” defensive coordinator Kris Richard said of Wright’s work in the middle when called upon. “It’s a testament to his preparation. He’s a guy who’s always available to play Mike, Will and Sam. So whenever needed, he’s able to play all three positions for us.”

Mike Morgan would be the only reserve linebacker. The Hawks have Eric Pinkins and newly re-signed Tyrell Adams on the practice squad.

On the D-line, Clark is a surprising addition to the report. If he is out, the Hawks will be without two of their top five pass rushers. If Demarcus Dobbs (limited by a shoulder) cannot make it back, David King would see a lot of action along with Cassius Marsh in support of the starting four.

As Richard said, “The next man’s the best man. … Everybody that we put out there we have trust, faith and belief in. Everybody in the room gets coached. So we’ve just got to roll.”

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