RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks leading rusher Kenneth Walker III is returning from an ankle injury for Thursday night’s NFC West showdown against the San Francisco 49ers at Lumen Field.
He did not have a game designation on their latest injury report, indicating he is expected to play.
Walker missed the Seahawks’ loss to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday as well as the second half of the win over the Los Angeles Rams after spraining his ankle.
Coach Pete Carroll wouldn’t say whether Walker would play against the 49ers when he met with reporters Wednesday afternoon, but said the rookie second-round pick “finished the week well.”
The Seahawks considered Walker a limited participant when they held a walk-through on Monday and listed him as a full participant Tuesday and Wednesday.
“He did really well,” Carroll said. “I’m really excited, and he looks really fast here.”
The Seahawks listed one of Walker’s backups, DJ Dallas, as questionable with his own ankle injury. Defensive tackle Al Woods, safety Ryan Neal, backup corner Trey Brown and backup safety Joey Blount are also questionable. Dallas, Woods and Neal were listed as out for the rest of the week.
Walker leads all rookies with nine rushing touchdowns and ranks second with 449 rushing yards (4.7-yard average). The Seahawks’ running game held fewer than 70 yards and just 46 in three of the team’s four games against the Panthers, and Walker and Dallas were both sidelined.
Seattle’s run defense has also struggled, with at least 150 rushing yards in four straight games. Woods, one of the Seahawks’ best running backs, missed the second half of the game against Carolina with an Achilles injury, while Neal played with a knee injury. Carroll said Wednesday that he wants newly acquired safety Jonathan Abrams to play more than the four defensive snaps he got in the Panthers game.
The 49ers have listed star receiver Debo Samuels and quarterback Brooke Purdy as questionable. Former quarterback Josh Johnson, signed by the 49ers after Jimmy Garoppolo injured his foot, will start if Purdy misses the game. The Seahawks signed Johnson for the 2018 free agent visit.
“We passed him, and Josh was all over the place,” Carroll said. “We’ve seen him play for a lot of teams. He’s always been a real vet. He’s a great kid, a real addition to your program. So, if you go that way, the experience will pay off and I’m sure he’ll play smart and lead that team well.”
After losing three of their last four, the Seahawks are two games behind the 49ers in the NFC West and have fallen behind the Washington Chiefs and New York Giants for the wild-card spot.
They need a win on Thursday night to keep their hopes of winning the division alive. The 49ers beat the Seahawks 27-7 in Week 2 to win the NFC West division title.
“These guys happen to be ranked first…in our division and playing well,” Carroll said. “If you have a good year, you’ve got to win games like this. You’ve got to win them. You’ve got to find your way through the big challenges. … They’ve had a great run. What’s up? They’ve done it with different guys because it’s been amazing. Some guys have been beaten, and they’ve been able to maintain their level of play really well. . . . This is a great team. This is what it takes. It’s a great match.