RENTON -- If you expected Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll to ease off the throttle for the final week of the regular season, well, frankly, you don't know Pete Carroll.
Carroll said Monday that he has no intentions of sitting multiple players and playing it safe for Seattle's Week 17 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
"We’re going for it. We have a big game. We’re not changing anything. We’re going to do like we do and go forward," Carroll said.
The Seahawks don't have a ton to play for in the final week of the year after wrapping up a playoff berth Sunday night against the Chiefs. They can clinch the No. 5 seed and a likely trip to Dallas in the first round of the playoffs with a win over the Arizona Cardinals. They can also get the No. 5 seed with a Minnesota Vikings loss to the Chicago Bears.
The argument to sit some players would be to allow certain players with injuries - such as D.J. Fluker, Bradley McDougald, Doug Baldwin, etc. - an extra week to heal, or to keep key stars like Russell Wilson, Chris Carson and Bobby Wagner out of harm's way. But Carroll doesn't believe that's a worthwhile trade off, insisting it's more important to keep your team sharp for the games that really matter in the playoffs.
"We have to keep doing what we’re doing to keep the momentum going and the precision that it takes to keep sharp and all that. We’re not doing anything… there’s no other circumstance but to go take it like a championship (opportunity) and go for it," Carroll said.
It's also not practically possible to sit all of your key players. A team has a 53-man roster and only seven players can be truly inactive each week. Even if Seattle were to sit seven key players - for example: Fluker, McDougald, Baldwin, Carson, Wagner, Duane Brown and Frank Clark - that still means Tyler Lockett, Jarran Reed, Justin Britt and many other key contributors have to be in uniform and available. Wilson would be active as Seattle only carries two quarterbacks and would need a reserve should Brett Hundley get injured.
So the exercise isn't overly practical anyway. Add on the fact Carroll thinks it can have detrimental impacts and it's clear to understand his approach.
"I’ve done that in the past and I don’t like that at all," Carroll said. I don’t like doing it. I think it messes with us. Just go play.”
If the Seahawks find themselves leading, or trailing, by a bunch against the Cardinals, Carroll is certainly open to the idea of resting guys before the game is over. It's just not something he wants to do for an entire game a week before the playoffs begin.
"Maybe the game allows you to make some decisions or something during the game, and that would be a little bit different," he said.
As it stands, the Seahawks will be going into Sunday's regular season finale with the Cardinals trying to win with everything they've got available. Carroll doesn't know any other way to do it.
-- Right guard D.J. Fluker (hamstring), strong safety Bradley McDougald (knee) and defensive tackle Jarran Reed (oblique) all made it out of Sunday's game against the Chiefs without exacerbating injuries they had entering the contest.
Fluker had to play in an emergency situation after J.R. Sweezy was injured in the second quarter.
"He was rusty but he did fine," Carroll said of Fluker. "That was a real surprise that he could pull that off. He had a heck of a pregame warmup and workout and he was determined to be available for us, which we needed him. We were very fortunate that worked out."
McDougald and Reed had both been away from the team at times over the last week for treatments to address their injuries.
"I communicated with (McDougald) late last night just to check in with him and he reported that he was feeling pretty good about it," Carroll said. "He did a nice job in that game under the circumstances. It was really a game that one of the themes or side stories was those guys coming through. J-Reed too did it, he pulled it off after being gone for most of the week. He came out of it feeling better so that a real positive so hats off to those guys. It was great effort by everybody."
-- Left guard J.R. Sweezy was forced out of the game due to an injury to his left foot/ankle in the second quarter.
Sweezy was injured when his leg got landed on with force by a Chiefs defender. He did not return to the game but said afterward he thought the injury wasn't too bad.
"He’s got a sprained foot," Carroll said. "We thought it was an ankle but it’s more of an arch sprain we think at this point. That’s the early diagnosis."
Sweezy was expected to have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury. Carroll said he wasn't sure if Sweezy would have a chance to play this week.
-- Free safety Tedric Thompson is feeling better after Sunday's game with a chest injury.
Carroll gave more specific details about the exact nature of Thompson's issues on Monday.
"He’s feeling better today and he was running today," Carroll said. "He’s got a big test coming up, I think, on Wednesday to check it. He’s got - I can’t explain the injury - but he has some air in the tissues outside of his lungs that somehow showed up so they have to get that to go away. A real technical way of explaining that injury right there. So when that’s OK, when it dissipates he’ll have a chance to come back."
McDougald took over free safety duties in Thompson's absence with Delano Hill taking McDougald's normal role at strong safety.
-- Running back Rashaad Penny (knee) and right tackle Germain Ifedi (groin) are both on track to return to the lineup against the Cardinals on Sunday.
Penny has missed the last two games due to a knee injury that surfaced coming out of the team's win against the Minnesota Vikings. Ifedi tweaked his groin in practice last Thursday and had to sit out against the Chiefs.
As Carroll frequently states, both players will need to make it through practices without issue and come back the following days without setbacks before they'll know for sure Penny and Ifedi will be available to play. But all indications are good for the moment.
Pete Carroll signs contract extension:
The Seahawks signed head coach Pete Carroll to a contract extension on Monday that will keep him with the franchise through the 2021 season.
Here's our full story on Carroll's extension with the Seahawks.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 23: Jarran Reed #90 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after a fumble recovery with teammate Dion Jordan #95 during the second quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)