When the Seahawks signed Chris Carson to a two-year contract worth up to $10.4 million in March they figured they had secured the running-back position through the 2022 season.

But Carson will miss his fourth consecutive game because of a neck injury when the Seahawks host Jacksonville at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Lumen Field.

And more ominously, coach Pete Carroll said Friday that there is no timeline for when Carson will return and said he couldn’t say if or when the fifth-year running back will return this season.

“No updates about him coming back at any time that we can predict it at this moment,” Carroll said. “Just got to wait it out.”

Carroll previously termed the neck injury a lingering issue and not something that was necessarily the result of any one incident this season. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said recently on his radio show that Carson began experiencing discomfort in his neck area during the preseason but played through it for the first four games of the regular season.

The unfortunate reality is that neck injuries are more serious than most others. Neck injuries ended the NFL careers of Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril in 2017.


And Carroll’s comments Friday didn’t clear up much about if, when or whether Carson will return.

“He’s got to make a turn here, show us that he is feeling better and good enough to really go for it,” Carroll said. “He hasn’t been able to come out to practice yet and go.

“Pretty soon you will be saying, ‘Is he going to make it back?’ just like you are asking, and I’m not ready to do that yet. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for him that he gets a chance to come back and play. He’s working out hard, but he’s not ready to practice football yet.”

Asked whether the injury affects Carson’s range of motion, Carroll said that isn’t the issue, adding, “He has pretty good motion and flexibility.”

Instead, he said Carson is “uncomfortable. … He feels the discomfort with what’s going on, so we’ve got to get rid of that.”

Carson gained 232 yards on 54 carries in the first four games. He sat out against the Rams and then was placed on injured reserve the following week.


By rule, Carson could return when the Seahawks come back from their bye following the Jaguars game.

Carson played just four games as a rookie in 2017 after suffering a broken leg that ended his season.

He started all but seven games the past three seasons, twice rushing for more than 1,000 yards and becoming the first Seahawk to top that mark in a season in consecutive years since Marshawn Lynch did it from 2011-14.

Carson became a free agent for the first time last spring. After considering a few other offers he re-signed with the Seahawks on a deal that included a guaranteed $5.5 million.

The contract includes a void year in 2023 to spread out the salary-cap hit. Still, his deal includes a $6.425 million cap hit for 2022.

With Carson out indefinitely, the Seahawks will continue to rely on Alex Collins and Rashaad Penny at running back.


Collins is listed as questionable for the Jaguars game because of a groin issue, but Carroll said Friday “he should be able to go.”

Collins got the start Monday night against the Saints and rushed for 35 yards on 16 carries in 22 snaps. But he had no gain of longer than six as the Seahawks struggled to run the ball consistently.

Penny gained nine yards on six carries in 20 snaps. It was his first action since the season opener against the Colts, during which he aggravated a calf injury.

Carroll said he hopes to get Penny, who was Seattle’s first pick in the 2018 NFL draft, more action against the Jaguars.

“I think he just got started on his return,” Carroll said. “He got enough carries to get out there and feel good about it. We didn’t get any good spacing for him to get rolling. I’m anxious for him to get more reps this week and get going even more. We really need him to be part of it. I would love to see a battle for the 1-2 spot between he and Alex right now. And the other two guys (DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer) are doing a nice job of complementing. But I would like to see that competition really show up. We’re going to give him some chances to do that.

“Meanwhile, Alex has been pretty effective for us, and we like what he has done. Two weeks ago, he had (101) yards (against the Steelers), and he’s given us a bunch of good plays so far. So it’s nothing about Alex. I just would like to see Penny add in and see what he can bring.”

And for now, with Carson’s immediate future uncertain, Collins and Penny are what Seattle will have to ride with in the backfield.