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Seahawks set to host Panthers and honor the past while focused on the present

Panthers going with Dalton at QB as Young is out with ankle injury

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: September 23, 2023, 6:35am

SEATTLE — This weekend, the Seahawks will celebrate their history by honoring the team that brought Seattle its only Super Bowl championship 10 years ago.

But not everyone can fully participate in the celebratory part of the weekend.

Pete Carroll is still coaching. Bobby Wagner is still playing linebacker. And while they expect to appreciate this weekend’s events, they still have to focus on Sunday’s task of facing the Carolina Panthers.

“I think there’s a balance. As I get older, you have to enjoy some of the things,” Wagner said. “Obviously, I’m going to be locked in, I’m going to be focused, so I won’t do everything. I definitely want to be around those guys, but a lot of those guys live in Seattle. I see them pretty often. It’s not going to be any different. It’s just I have a jersey on, and they don’t.”

It was Wagner’s passionate speech last week that helped Seattle (1-1) refocus after its opening loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Seahawks ultimately pulled out a 37-31 overtime win at Detroit last Sunday.

It’s the same kind of leadership Wagner showed a decade ago when he was in his second year and an anchor to that Super Bowl-winning defense.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal when you have your 10-year anniversary of something like this. He’s those guys, they’re the same,” Carroll said.

The Panthers (0-2), meanwhile, are focused on their future.

It’s been a rocky start for Carolina in its first season under Frank Reich as the only team in the NFC South without a win. Much of it has to do with injuries. No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young has been ruled out for Sunday due to an ankle injury. Young played the entire game in Carolina’s 20-17 loss to New Orleans last Monday, but came out of the game with the ankle issue.

That means 13-year veteran Andy Dalton will make his fifth career start against the Seahawks. Dalton is 3-1 in those previous starts, including last season when he led New Orleans to a 39-32 win.

“I’m just going to operate like I know that I can. I think for me it starts with being myself pushing guys, pushing the tempo, doing everything that we need to do to give ourselves a chance,” Dalton said.


After a shaky performance in the opener, Geno Smith was terrific in Week 2, throwing for 328 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions. Smith was able to open up an intermediate passing game that was absent against the Rams and allowed the Seahawks to push the ball downfield a little more.

“We played one bad half of offensive football, and just for us to answer and just come out and put up the amount of points that we did, for Geno (Smith) to have the type of day that he did, then the O-line to play the way that they did just really speaks volumes of the type of offense that we can have,” receiver DK Metcalf said.


Shaq Thompson has been a mainstay for the Panthers at linebacker for the last nine seasons. But Carolina will be without its emotional leader on defense for the remainder of the season after he broke his leg in Monday night’s loss to the Saints. Kamu Grugier-Hill, who has been in the league since 2016 and has spent time with five other teams, will take Thompson’s spot.

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Linebacker Frankie Luvu said losing Thompson, who played collegiately at Washington, was an emotional blow for the Panthers because his impact goes beyond his production on the field.

“He kind of does everything for us,” Luvu said. “He’s kind of like that glue for the team. Losing a leader like that just hurts.”


The Seahawks are fortunate to have depth at cornerback, especially with standout Riq Woolen unlikely to play after suffering a chest injury last week against the Lions. Rookie first-round pick Devon Witherspoon stepped in at Woolen’s spot and Tre Brown — finally healthy after injuries derailed his first two seasons — had a sack and an interception return for a touchdown.

It’s likely Witherspoon and Brown will start against the Panthers.


The Panthers would like to recommit to running the ball in the loud environment at Seattle, which likely means a healthy dose of Miles Sanders. The free-agent pickup from the Philadelphia Eagles has just 115 yards rushing in two games despite coach Frank Reich saying he expected Sanders to be the team’s three-down back.

Chuba Hubbard will also see action.

One of the problems for the Panthers on offense has been “getting behind the sticks,” Reich said. With two inexperienced guards in rookie Chandler Zavala and Cade Mays, Carolina hasn’t been able to establish the run and put itself in second- and third-and-short situations.


AP Sports Writer Steve Reed contributed to this report.