Seahawks face challenge in replacing injured Richard Sherman

AP

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Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman (25) comes off the field with an injury in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The Seahawks won, 22-16. (Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times/TNS)

SEATTLE (AP) — In the grand scheme of what the Seattle Seahawks are trying to accomplish this season, a failed physical could end up becoming a huge benefit.

The Seahawks began taking inventory of their injury situation Friday, a day after a brutal 22-16 victory over Arizona kept Seattle on the heels of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West at 6-3. Yes, it was an important win. It was also a costly victory after cornerback Richard Sherman was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon in his right leg.

Sherman first injured the tendon a month ago against the Rams and it finally popped against the Cardinals. After never missing a game in his career due to injury, Sherman will now be a spectator the rest of the way.

That’s where a failed physical suddenly becomes so important. Cornerback Jeremy Lane was supposed to be a member of the Houston Texans at this point after being included in the trade where Seattle acquired left tackle Duane Brown. Except the trade had to be modified after Lane failed his physical with the Texans and returned to the Seahawks.

Lane will now play a significant role in how the Seahawks move forward without Sherman. Rather than having to scramble to find a veteran on the open market or put undersized nickel cornerback Justin Coleman in an unfamiliar role, the Seahawks can lean on Lane and his experience playing on the outside as Sherman’s replacement.

Lane was the starter opposite Sherman when the season began. Eventually, rookie Shaquill Griffin took Lane’s spot, precipitating the trade. But now it’ll be Lane, Griffin and Coleman as the primary cornerbacks.

“If it was anything I could play with, I would be out there,” Sherman said. “J-Lane, (Coleman) and the rook, Shaq (Griffin), they are all capable, and they will do a great job. I will stay in the room and make sure they get all the coaching points and give them everything I got.”

Sherman represents the second major loss this season for Seattle’s defense. Cliff Avril is on injured reserve with a neck injury suffered in Week 4 against Indianapolis and all indications are he will not return this season. Standout safety Earl Thomas has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury.

Seattle signed veteran Dwight Freeney to help make up for the loss of Avril. While former Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell is unsigned after being released by Miami, there may not be a similar immediate move for the secondary.

“At the end of the day, you have to continue to play our ball. We can’t dwell on what’s going on,” Griffin said. “You just know (Sherman’s) going to get back as soon as possible. We’re going to continue to prepare everybody else. Like the people that stepped up today, they’ll be ready for the next game.”

The Seahawks were battered in Thursday’s victory. On top of the loss of Sherman, several others — Brown, C.J. Prosise, Michael Wilhoite — left the game with injuries and didn’t return. Normally upbeat even in the most difficult circumstances, head coach Pete Carroll was noticeably somber after the victory.

At least Seattle will get extra rest. The Seahawks don’t play again until Nov. 20 when they host Atlanta.

NOTES: The NFL said Friday it was reviewing whether Seattle followed concussion protocol when QB Russell Wilson was told to leave the field after a hit in the third quarter. Wilson was on the sideline briefly and missed just one play. The team could be penalized if it is found in violation.

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