RENTON — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll announced that Geno Smith will start at quarterback when the team opens the preseason Saturday at Pittsburgh. He also stated that Smith and current No. 2 QB Drew Lock will play a lot against the Steelers as they continue their competition for the starting job.
But other than that, Carroll is remaining purposefully vague about how the two QBs will be used against Pittsburgh.
“You guys will see,” Carroll told reporters after the team’s walk-through Thursday before the team flew to Pittsburgh. “We’ve got a plan. We’ll roll with the game a little bit to make sure that the opportunities (that arise) that we can maximize them. But those guys will play quite a bit.”
The game will mark the most significant step yet in the team’s quest to decide on a successor for Russell Wilson.
Lock, who continues to work almost exclusively with the backup offense, had the better day in a mock game last Saturday. But that was a controlled game with quarterbacks off-limits to contact. Facing an opponent in a live setting will change the dynamic some, Carroll said.
“We’ll see what happens,” Carroll said. “See if that makes some change. … There’s a lot of things that can happen when we go out there. We’ve just got to wait and see and we’ll put it together. We’d love to see the guys execute, and they’ve done really well on the practice field. We’d love to see a carry-over. But at the quarterback position, there are opportunities and if there are opportunities how do they seize them? Do they come through and make the play, make the big throw in the red zone or if it’s third down or whatever it is. We just have to wait and see.”
One challenge for any team with a quarterback competition is creating a fair playing field. That Smith has played mostly with the ones and Lock with the twos in practice raises the obvious question of whether that will continue into the games. Carroll said only “you’ll have to wait and see” to a question about how the snaps for the two could be split, and also if it would mean the number one offense would have to play more than it might in a normal year.
The Seahawks this week did more mixing of the starting skill position players to try to get each QB equal work with receivers such as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. But each are players who in a normal situation might not play much, if at all, in the preseason.
Asked if he’s been surprised by anything he’s seen from either Smith or Lock, Carroll’s noted Smith’s experience with the Seahawks (this is his fourth year) “so we knew his stuff.”
But Lock, Carroll said, has been a revelation for some of what he has done using his legs “his natural ability, his ability to move and throw the ball with his feet, and in awkward positions at times to get the ball out, the quickness of his release. I saw that stuff (on film) but until I saw it in person, I didn’t know. … So it’s just been kind of the whole package has been a surprise to see that he’s just well-equipped. So now it’s just down to the competition of it.”
Receiver corps getting thin
At least three receivers likely in line for roster spots did not practice the last two days and would seem unlikely to play. Dee Eskridge hasn’t practiced since July 27 and remains out with a hamstring injury and was joined on the sidelines this week by Marquise Goodwin and Freddie Swain.
The veteran Goodwin has been a standout since signing in late May.
“He felt his hamstring a little bit,” Carroll said of Goodwin. “He has a little something, so we are taking really good care of it. This time of the year when the guys are running so much, they get loaded up, so we are pretty sensitive to taking care of them as soon as we can.”
As for Swain, Carroll said: “His back tightened up in the weight room yesterday. He made it through and he’s going to go on the trip, but he has a little bit of tightness.”
Artie Burns, Sidney Jones IV out at cornerback
The Seahawks will also be without both of their starting cornerbacks — Sidney Jones IV and Artie Burns. Carroll said Burns is going to need “a couple of days” to recover from a groin injury suffered Tuesday. Jones, meanwhile, has been dealing with a concussion.
“He’s making progress,” Carroll said. “He won’t play in this game, but he got to run around a little bit today and handled it yesterday, so he’s making progress to get back. I don’t know about Thursday (against Chicago), but we will see.”
That means rookies Tariq Woolen (right cornerback) and Coby Bryant (left cornerback) are likely to start. Bryant also continues to play some at nickel, with Michael Jackson also working some at left cornerback. Justin Coleman, who has been the starter at nickel through camp, also saw a few snaps on the outside this week.
L.J. Collier remains out but won’t need surgery
Defensive lineman L.J. Collier won’t play against the Steelers due to a sprained elbow suffered in the mock game. But Carroll said again it does not appear to be a serious injury.
“Yeah he sprained his elbow and I think we said if he was a pitcher, we would thinking about the Tommy John stuff,” Carroll said. “He’s not a pitcher and he doesn’t throw the ball very well either so we are not concerned about that, but it’s going to be a little bit — probably about another week. But it shouldn’t be a long thing. He’s not getting operated on or anything like that.”