Kam Chancellor is apparently going to be out again.
That means the Seahawks are preparing Kelcie McCray to be in again at strong safety Sunday night at Arizona.
McCray – and all of Seattle – hopes this game is less eventful and scrutinized for him than the last one.
“Back at it again, man,” McCray said at his locker following Friday’s practice.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
McCray is preparing to make his fifth start in two seasons while Chancellor has been injured. One of those starts was Jan. 3 in last season’s regular-season finale at Arizona.
Another was last weekend. Teammate Richard Sherman singled out McCray during his postgame news conference while discussing his sideline blowup and two blown coverages for Atlanta scores following Seattle’s win over the Falcons.
The three-time All-Pro cornerback mentioned McCray not playing much and Seattle missing Chancellor’s experience and communication as reasons for the mistakes in the secondary that led to the Falcons’ two touchdowns that quickly tied what had been a 17-3 game in the third quarter.
“Kelcie hasn’t been in the defense long and we tried to make an adjustment,” Sherman said last Sunday. “Just a miscommunication.”
Asked if it was “weird” for him to hear or see the much-discussed coverage mistakes and Sherman’s screaming, McCray said: “Naw, it wasn’t weird for me. It wasn’t weird, for me.”
The fifth-year veteran then gave his version of what happened when Julio Jones got behind him and Sherman for the Falcons’ first touchdown last weekend.
“I’m not here to throw nobody up under the bus,” he said. “We just got to do better, as a team. The whole defense, we’ve got to do better.
“You know, it wasn’t one person’s fault, regardless of what everybody is saying or people are saying. It wasn’t one person’s fault. We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to do better.”
The Cardinals studied this week what the Falcons did to confuse the Seahawks. On the play Sherman blew up over, Atlanta used pre-snap motion with their outside receivers. Then the Falcons sent Jones out of the slot wide – and wide open – down the left sideline behind an in-then-out route short by tight end Levine Toilolo, who was outside Jones wide left at the snap.
McCray expects the Cardinals to try the same motions and crossing of receivers outside, high and low, on Sunday.
“Yeah, probably so, with the plays that we gave up last week, you know, it is a copycat league,” McCray said. “We’ve been seeing those concepts all year, anyway, but we will probably see those concepts more the next couple weeks because we had problems with it last week.”
McCray is going to be seeing them, because Chancellor won’t Sunday night in a game that could give Seattle a three-game lead on Arizona in the loss column approaching the regular season’s midpoint.
“He’s listed as doubtful for the game,” coach Pete Carroll said of Chancellor following Friday’s indoor practice. “He had trouble both (Thursday) and (Friday).
“We don’t have to rule him out, but we’ll go to game time. But he was not able to do much” in practices this week.
Jimmy Graham is OK. He practiced fully Friday and will play against the Cardinals. Graham missed practice Thursday with what the team listed as a hip injury. Carroll on Friday said Graham was just sore from last weekend’s win.
“Great. He’s doing good,” Carroll said of his tight end who has 18 catches the last three games. “He had a great day (Friday), so he’s ready to go.”
Starting strong side linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is out for Sunday because of a sprained ankle. Cassius Marsh could start there, and recently signed Jordan Tripp could see time, too. But expect the Seahawks to be in nickel the majority of the time with the fifth defensive back, Jeremy Lane, replacing the strong-side linebacker position.
The last time Seattle’s defensive starters played a full game against the Cardinals, last Nov. 15, the Seahawks were in nickel for 51 percent of their defensive snaps.
The Cardinals’ running game is better now than it was then, with big, fast David Johnson leading the league in yards from scrimmage and co-leading with eight touchdown runs. Arizona is fourth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 124 yards per game. Yet the Seahawks shut down a New York Jets running game that was averaging 131 yards per game, holding it to 58 yards on the ground, while playing nickel 87 percent of the time on Oct. 2.
Carroll wouldn’t say who will play strong-side linebacker Sunday.
“We will show you that on game day,” he said with his usual Friday grin when discussing injuries.
Defensive end Frank Clark is ready to start Sunday after missing last weekend’s game with a strained hamstring. He will be back at his inside spot next to Pro Bowl end Michael Bennett on passing downs, when Seattle’s pass rush will again include Cliff Avril and Marsh as rush ends. Carroll said Clark “had a great week. He practiced every day. He’s ready to go.” ... Rookie defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson has a new knee injury he got in practice on Thursday. The team is not yet sure of the severity, pending tests. ... Carroll said rookie running back C.J. Prosise will play with a protective device over his healing broken hand. The third-round pick has played in just one game, the opener, in which he broke his hand going out of bounds on a play. Prosise said the new device is a brace and allows him to catch and carry the ball, unlike the previous cast with which he was practicing.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle