TAMPA, Fla. The Seahawks’ official list of inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff left half their starting secondary on the sidelines for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.
Earl Thomas didn’t even make the trip here. That’s why the team downgraded the three-time All-Pro free safety from doubtful to out on Friday, upon the decision Thomas would not play for the first time after 118 consecutive starts to begin his career. That is a Seattle record for a defensive player. He strained his hamstring in last weekend’s win over Philadelphia.
Starting right cornerback DeShawn Shead was also inactive Sunday. He tried to test his hamstring injury.
Justin Britt was on the field during early pregame warmups testing his sprained ankle. He was active, but was going to be anyway. The Seahawks don’t have another center beyond Britt and rookie Joey Hunt. General manager John Schneider told the team’s flagship radio station, Seattle’s 710 AM, before the game Hunt was making his first career start Sunday.
As my colleague next to me Dave Boling pointed out, that left Seattle with three rookies starting on its offensive line, including right guard Germain Ifedi and left tackle George Fant, against Bucs star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and ex-Seahawk Clint McDonald.
That means Steven Terrell was expected to make the first start of his four-season career, replacing Thomas. And Jeremy Lane was expected to be Shead’s replacement at cornerback in Seattle’s base defense, with Lane moving to his usual nickel-back spot and Neiko Thorpe at cornerback when the defense goes to five defensive backs on passing downs.
All that raised the likelihood three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was going to shadow Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, the NFL’s No. 3 receiver in yards and catches coming in.
The rest of the Seahawks’ inactives: Pro Bowl defensive end and former Buc Michael Bennett (three weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery), linebacker Brock Coyle (foot), running backs C.J. Prosise (broken shoulder blade) and Troymaine Pope (high-ankle sprain) and defensive lineman Damontre Moore (foot).
The Seahawks announced Kevin Pierre-Louis as “expected to start” at strongside linebacker for Coyle. Coyle had been starting for Mike Morgan. Morgan is due back for next week’s game against Carolina in Seattle as the Seahawks injured-reserve player designated to return from a surgery for a sports hernia.