Chris Clemons, the Seahawks’ premier pass rusher, will undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, as well as meniscus tears, and will be lost for the remainder of the season.
On the Monday prior to the division-round matchup against the Falcons at 10 a.m. Sunday in Atlanta, coach Pete Carroll did not attempt to minimize the absence of Clemons, who went down Sunday in the 24-14 win at sloppy FedEx Field in Landover, MD. He has 33½ sacks in his three years in Seattle, including a team-high 11½ this season.
“It’s a big loss for us in a lot of ways,” Carroll said. “He’s a symbol of consistency, a great leader and a tough dude. We’ve become very comfortable playing with Chris and we’ll miss the heck out of him.”
On his Twitter account, Clemons, 31, who played collegiately at Georgia, acknowledged his supporters: “I want to thank everyone for there (sic) prayers. I will be ready for next season. We still got a Super Bowl to win!”
First-round draft choice Bruce Irvin, who has backed up Clemons all season and has eight sacks, a Seahawks rookie record, will start Sunday. If the Seahawks win, they will meet the winner of the 49ers-Packers game for the NFC championship.
“Bruce did well,” Carroll said. “He chased the football well, and he had a good active game for us. He understands the position. He’s been playing it all year so this is
nothing new. He’ll just be called on to play more.
“This is why we drafted him. He’s not as big as Chris, but he’s faster and quicker and really chases the ball well. He has held his own.”
Early on, Irvin was slow to develop moves to complement his speed, but has looked lately like the capable pass rusher the Seahawks believed he was when he was taken in the first round. Carroll said another rookie, Greg Scruggs, probably will be moved over from the inside of the defensive line to back up Irvin, although the Seahawks may pursue a veteran free-agent backup as well.
Pro Football Focus reported that Clemons played 892 snaps during the regular season, most among Seahawks D-linemen, and Irvin had 452 snaps. On some passing downs, Irvin replaced DE Red Bryant and joined Clemons on the field at the same time.
Carroll said Clemons planted his left foot at the same moment he was blocked by a Redskins lineman and “got caught,” he said. Carroll said he couldn’t attribute the injury directly to the poor condition of FedEx Field, which some have said contributed to aggravating the strained knee that eventually forced Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III from the game in the fourth quarter and limited his effectiveness almost throughout.
“It was not a good turf to play on,” Carroll said. On his weekly Monday radio show, Carroll was much more critical of the lumpy, sandy, patchy sod that caused players on both sides to slip.
“It was horrible, it’s a horrible field,” Carroll told ESPN 710. “It was as bad as a field could get for being dry. It’s really too bad, and we deserve better . . . It was worn out. There was a lot of slipping. It didn’t change the game at all, in my opinion, because it was relative, both sides, but we should just expect to see a better field at that time of year.”
The Seahawks were reported to have filed a complaint to the league office, but Carroll said in the afternoon he was unaware that anything formal had taken place.
“We talked about it, but I don’t know specifically what’s happened,” he said. “The NFL doesn’t have control over the fields, but (fields) should be closer to same standard. It makes some sense to be somewhat standardized so that it’s equal for everyone. Obviously, safety is a top priority in the league.”
Spokesman Greg Aiello told NFL.com that no complaint has been received.
“It is the responsibility of the home team to maintain the field,” Aiello said. “It’s a grass field. It’s winter. There were no complaints about it by either team . . . injuries occur, unfortunately, on every field.”
The other potentially significant injury was to PK Steven Hauschka, who strained a calf muscle during the game. He made all three field goal attempts, but punter Jon Ryan took over some of the kickoffs. Carroll said free-agent kickers will be brought in for tryouts Tuesday, but was waiting to see Hauschka’s progress during the week before a decision on whether a hire will be made.
Regarding other personnel issues, Carroll said he was pleased with CB Brandon Browner’s game after ending a four-week suspension from the NFL for use of a banned stimulant, as well as the job-share at left guard between starter J.R. Sweezy and backup John Moffitt.
“It was thrilling to see,” he said of Browner. “He finished well, and didn’t hyperventilate from excitement at the beginning.”
COORDINATORS DRAWING INTEREST — Carroll confirmed that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley have been given permission to interview for head-coaching vacancies. Bevell will talk with the Chicago Bears about succeeding Lovie Smith, and Bradley is talking to the Philadelphia Eagles about following Andy Reid.
“The guys who are doing the hirings are looking for coaches who have their acts together,” Carroll said. “It’s a big step, and these guys can do it. They’re going to be head coaches, whether now or in the near future.
“Neither one of them are going to let this distract them. There’s very limited opportunities. They’re not going to travel. In all due respect for what we’re after right now, it’s low on
their list. Nobody needs to worry about them running off.”
SHERMAN PRAISED FOR RESTRAINT — After the game, Redskins tackle Trent Williams was caught by TV cameras pushing the face of Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, who was taunting him. Carroll said he was pleased Sherman did not retaliate.
“Richard did a really nice job of handling it,” he said. ” He showed tremendous composure. He didn’t respond. He really just laughed it off in the locker room and was fine about it. I don’t really know why that would’ve happened, but I don’t care.”
Williams after the game publicly apologized for losing his cool.
GRIFFIN MAY HAVE TWO LIGAMENT TEARS — The MRI exam of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s right knee suggested that Griffin suffered partial tears of his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, the Washington Post reported Monday, citing several people with knowledge of the test results.
Griffin is scheduled to be examined Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews to determine whether the test results show new or previous injuries.
It was not immediately clear whether surgery would be required or how long Griffin would be sidelined if the partial ligament tears are determined to be fresh injuries. Griffin suffered a torn ACL in the same knee in 2009 at Baylor, and has been playing in recent weeks with a mild sprain of the LCL.
One person with knowledge of the situation said Griffin might have to undergo exploratory surgery to determine the extent of the damage. Another said Griffin hopes to avoid full-blown reconstructive surgery if the tears are partial, even if they are new.