While the Seattle Seahawks ultimately lost on the scoreboard in Sunday's defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers, the team also dealt with several significant injuries over the course of the contest.
Among those who couldn't finish the game, safety Bradley McDougald spent most of the second half on the sidelines nursing a sore knee, leaving Seattle without a veteran presence in an already-young secondary.
Thankfully for the Seahawks, second-year safety Delano Hill capitalized on extended reps at practice this week and played his finest game as a pro, helping the team shut out the Chargers during the second half.
"He did really well... He had a really good week of practice with the onus on that he may be starting in the game." Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday. "He got all the first-team reps and really focused and was really in on it and he played the game exactly as he practiced."
McDougald has been battling patellar tendonitis in his knee and sat out each of Seattle's practices last week as a precaution. He played the entire first half, but once the Seahawks took the field for the third quarter, Hill took his spot and stayed in the lineup for the rest of the game.
Seizing the opportunity, Hill finished with three tackles in his first extended action at safety in a regular season contest. His finest play came late in the third quarter, as the former Michigan standout lined up near the line of scrimmage and quickly shot through the "B" gap to bring down Chargers running back Melvin Gordon for a two-yard loss.
Carroll believes Hill took an "obvious step forward" in Sunday's game and if McDougald can't make it back for next week's game in Los Angeles, he's clearly more confident the young safety can step in and handle a spot start for Seattle.
"He really played on the money and [I] was really happy to see him get a couple good hits and play fast and chase the football like he did..." Carroll stated. "So in case we have to go with him this week, he hopefully will build off this past week and keep moving."