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Seahawks play through defensive injury crisis on Sunday

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NFL: DEC 15 Seahawks at Panthers Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Quandre Diggs may have been healthy enough to swap jerseys with Jarius Wright after the game on Sunday, but he may not be back on the field next week against the Arizona Cardinals. The Seattle Seahawks latest spark in the secondary, Diggs suffered a sprained ankle against the Carolina Panthers and is unlikely to be available when the team hosts the Cardinals in Week 16. Perhaps longer.

Diggs was acquired from the Detroit Lions via trade and is already tied for the team lead in interceptions, with three, despite only playing in five games. He gave Seattle an immediate upgrade at the position from where they may have been at with Tedric Thompson and rookie Marquise Blair, but it appears that the team may have to revert back to Blair or other options for now.

When Diggs left the game, he was replaced by Lano Hill, but he also had to exit the game for a few snaps due to injury. For the time being, it seems that Hill would be the option at free safety if he’s healthy, followed by Blair. Hill started on defense in Week 2 and Week 3; he has four career starts in three seasons with zero interceptions and one pass defensed.

That was far from the only injury on Sunday or going into the game, however.

The Seahawks also lost middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who ended up missing 24 snaps due to an ankle injury of his own. The moment was scary, as Bobby lay on the ground for a couple of minutes in what appeared to be severe pain, but he was able to walk off the field on his own power. Pete Carroll said after the game that Diggs’ ankle injury was more severe than Wagner’s, and Wagner appeared confident that he would not miss a game due to the injury. It’s possible Wagner could have returned Sunday, but there was no need to push for it.

The team was already without four starters on defense going into the game: defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah, outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and number one corner Shaquill Griffin were all inactive. Carroll said that Clowney was so “violently ill” that he couldn’t travel with the team.

Between those four, Diggs, and Wagner, that left the defense without six starters for some time against the Panthers. But that’s still not all.

Defensive tackle Al Woods, who had been dealing with an ankle injury for some time, had to be helped off the field after 21 snaps. K.J. Wright also had to leave the game for a few snaps due to an injury. So the Seahawks entered the game down four starter, lost two other key starters during the game, lost their top rotational defensive tackle who is basically a starter, and minor injuries to the other linebacker and the backup safety.

Seattle gave up 24 points, but 14 of those came in the fourth quarter when we were seeing snaps go out to players like Ben Burr-Kirven (2), Blair (5), Ugo Amadi (25), Shaquem Griffin (26), LJ Collier (37), Hill (43), and Cody Barton (58) who was making his second start in as many weeks. Akeem King started for Griffin and played all 72 snaps.

Barton finished the game with 10 tackles and one QB hit. Collier finished the game with no stats to speak of. Rasheem Green had the team’s only sack.

The Seahawks are now set to face the Cardinals and 49ers in two matchups that, if they win, should set them up for a first round bye. But which Seahawks will be available for either of those games? That’s something we’ll have to monitor as the week goes on, but we can probably mark off Diggs, and cross our fingers that Clowney’s body will be recovered enough to get going again. Same for Ansah, Griffin, and Kendricks.

Every team is fighting through injuries, especially in late December, but this was a worrisome one.