The Seahawks received some bad news as the team begins preparations for this weekend's NFC divisional playoff contest at Atlanta. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters that defensive end Chris Clemons had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test on Monday, which revealed that the Seattle defensive end suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus in his left knee that will require surgery.
"It's a big loss for us in a lot of ways," Carroll said. "Chris has been a great football player. He's just been a symbol of consistency for the years we've had him. But he's been a great leader for us, too. And a tough dude."
Carroll said that rookie first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin will step in and fill Clemons' spot in the starting lineup. The Seahawks also will look to Greg Scruggs and outside linebacker Mike Morgan to help provide some pass rush off the edge.
"This is Bruce's opportunity," Carroll said. "It's what we drafted him to play. And we'll see how he does. We expect him to do really well as he steps up."
Irvin is second on the team with nine sacks.
Carroll said general manager John Schneider is looking for available free agents who could fill backup roles for Irvin.
Clemons, 31, led the Seahawks in sacks for a third straight season with 11.5. His 33.5 sacks since 2010 are tied for sixth best in the NFL. All the players ahead of him on the list have been to at least one Pro Bowl in that time.
Clemons was a first alternate for the Pro Bowl this season.
Clemons has recorded double-digit sacks in three straight seasons, joining Jacob Green (1984-86) and Michael Sinclair (1996-98) as the only Seahawks to accomplish that feat.
Not bad for a guy Philadelphia unloaded on Seattle in exchange for popular defensive end Darryl Tapp and a fourth-round pick.
"I want to thank everyone for their prayers," Clemons said via Twitter. "I will be ready for next season. We still got a Super Bowl to win!"
Carroll was asked if he felt the loose sod at FedEx Field played a role in Clemons' injury.
"I don't know that," Carroll said. "As he planted, there was a push on him by the offensive lineman that kind of hit simultaneous as his foot planted, and he got caught.
"I don't know that. The field was not a great turf to play on. There was a lot of loose footing out there."
Carroll said the team talked about filing a complaint with the NFL about the playing surface at FedEx Field, but as of right now the team has not followed through with any type of formal, written complaint.