RENTON — So what happens to the Seahawks’ quarterback competition now that Drew Lock is out for Thursday’s game against the Chicago Bears after testing positive for COVID-19?
Maybe to be expected, coach Pete Carroll didn’t say when he met the media after Wednesday’s practice.
Lock was going to start against the Bears to get his shot to make an impression with the first-team offense after Geno Smith started the opener against the Steelers and played the entire first half with the starters.
Could Lock now just start the preseason finale on Aug. 26 in Dallas?
“Let’s wait and see,” Carroll said. “Let’s see what happens. We don’t need to make that decision yet.”
What he did say is the obvious — Lock missing the game, as well as the practice reps with the first-team offense he would have gotten Wednesday, won’t help his chances to earn the starting job.
Carroll had announced after Tuesday’s practice — when Lock ran the first offense for all four of the team sessions — he would start against the Bears.
Carroll said that was not a reflection on anything that had happened so far but just the way the team had planned it all along, with Carroll stating that Smith remained atop the depth chart.
Smith has also gotten almost all of the reps with the first-team offense in training camp practices as well as all but one series in the team’s mock game.
Carroll said Lock’s positive test “came out of nowhere.”
Lock was tested after he felt “under the weather” during practice. “He barely made it off the practice field,” Carroll said. “He was just dragging.”
The team got him off the field the minute practice ended to take a test. It is the second time Lock has tested positive, also missing two games last year while with Denver. At that time, it was reported by the team that Lock had been vaccinated, and Carroll said, “he had done all of the work to get prepped for it and all that and just so happens it got him again.”
Lock now has to isolate for at least five days but could return as early as Sunday.
With Lock out, Smith will start again, with Carroll implying he will play the first half.
Smith threw four touchdowns during Tuesday’s practice — three on consecutive plays during a red zone period — statistically outplaying Lock on the day (Lock had no touchdowns and threw an interception to Tariq Woolen on a pass intended for Metcalf).
“I’m fired up for Geno to go,” Carroll said. “He had an excellent abbreviated week for us, so he’s ready to go.”
All of that might point to Smith now having something of a stranglehold on the job even if Lock has been impressive — he threw two touchdowns working with the second-team offense against the Steelers, finishing with a passer rating of 131.1 to Smith’s 85.7.
But Carroll insisted nothing has been decided about what happens beyond Thursday, saying “we’ll see what happens next week. We’ll figure it out.”
As Carroll noted, this was already a short week with a Thursday game following a Saturday road game three time zones away, meaning Lock was going to get basically two practices and the game with the No. 1 offense.
“This week is a screwed up week for a guy to get a bunch of turns and all that,” Carroll said.
That’s why the team had planned for him to do some extra work after practice with receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and tight end Will Dissly, among others.
“It was important,” for Lock to get as much work as possible this week with the ones, Carroll said. “That’s why we were gonna do extra work after practice, and we just weren’t able to do that. So we missed out on that opportunity.”
Carroll said Lock’s absence means former UW and Lake Stevens standout Jacob Eason — the only other quarterback on the roster — will now “get a good shot in the second half” to play. Eason did not play against the Steelers and also did not play in the regular season last year after being claimed off waivers from the Colts in October following an injury to Russell Wilson.
Eason has also typically gotten few snaps during team sessions, working with the third-team offense when he does. But Wednesday he appeared to basically split snaps with Smith, typically working with the second offense.
Carroll said Eason has handled well not getting many snaps, saying “he knew that coming in it was going to be structured like that. But he’s shown a really, really tremendous attitude about learning the stuff. He’s picked up everything. … He’s practiced really well so I’m anxious for him to get out there and play some football.”
Ken Walker III having ‘procedure’ but may not be out long
Carroll clarified on Wednesday that rookie running back Ken Walker III, who was not at practice again, had a “procedure” to repair what Carroll on Tuesday had called “a little hernia” thing. Carroll clarified on Wednesday, though, that it is not a sports hernia injury and that the team thinks he can be back by the first game of the regular season Sept. 12 against Denver.
Carroll said he is counting on Walker to play Week 1.
Carroll said he couldn’t define exactly what the procedure is that Walker is having done, but said “this is not a sports hernia. It’s not that. He’s dealing with something a little bit different. We have a chance to get him back quickly.”
Starting running back Rashaad Penny returned to practice this week after being limited last week with a groin injury. But as with some other starters, he may not play against the Bears, which would leave Seattle with four available running backs in Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, Darwin Thompson and Josh Johnson.
— Carroll said defensive lineman L.J. Collier is “really close” to returning from an elbow injury suffered in the mock game Aug. 6 but won’t play against the Bears with the hope he can return against Dallas.
— Cornerback Sidney Jones IV practiced with the first-team defense all week after sitting out last week with a concussion.
— Right tackle Jake Curhan was back at practice Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday with back spasms and will play against the Bears, Carroll said.
— Carroll said cornerback Artie Burns (groin) will not play against the Bears but has a chance to play against Dallas.
— Linebacker Aaron Donkor is suffering from a hamstring injury and did not practice all week.