RENTON — Monday presented a sight unseen since 2011 — a Seahawks regular-season practice without the familiar No. 3 leading the quarterback drills.
Russell Wilson, instead, was a spectator as the Seahawks returned to the field at the VMAC on Monday following their mini-bye, holding a football in his left hand and with a wrap on the middle fingers on his right, wearing a Seahawks jacket and sweats instead of playing gear.
Wilson had surgery Friday to repair a dislocation and a ruptured tendon in the middle finger on his right hand with reports stating he could be out anywhere from four to eight weeks, which on the optimistic side could mean missing only three games.
But when he met with media members after practice Monday, coach Pete Carroll did not commit to anything specific, saying “We don’t have any timelines for you at all right now. … We don’t have anything like that.”
Carroll, though, did allow that Wilson had “a very successful surgery,” which was performed in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan Jobe Surgery Center.
“He went to a great doc and a great setup and all that and it seemed like he really maxed out what he could possibly get done,” Carroll said.
According to the NFL Network, Wilson had three screws inserted to stabilize the finger.
Carroll, though, was vague on specifics on what happens next with Wilson other than to say he will stay in Seattle for his rehab.
“It’s already underway,” he said of Wilson’s rehab.
Carroll also wouldn’t say if the Seahawks will place Wilson on injured reserve, calling it only “an option.”
If Wilson went on IR, he would have to miss three games, but it would open up a spot on the 53-man roster.
For now, Wilson remains on the roster.
It also means that for now Seattle has just one quarterback on its 53-man roster in veteran Geno Smith, who will take over as the starter. Quarterback Jake Luton remains on the practice squad. Luton will have to either be elevated off the PS before the game Sunday at Pittsburgh or put on the 53-man roster to be able to play. But neither move has to be made until Saturday, and the Seahawks could assess options until then.
The Seahawks practiced for just 30 minutes Monday, with Smith leading Luton in the quarterback line during early warm-ups with Wilson watching.
“He was great,” Carroll said of Wilson’s attitude as he was forced to watch a practice for the first time in his career. “He knows his job is to help Geno and get him ready.”
Carroll said there was no debate about Wilson having surgery because the injury meant that was the only option.
The injury snaps a 149-game streak of consecutive starts for Wilson, the sixth longest in NFL history.
And it means Smith will become the first Seahawk other than Wilson to start a game at quarterback for Seattle since Tarvaris Jackson at Arizona on Jan. 1, 2012, in what was the final game of the 2011 regular season.
Smith played the final quarter-and-a-half in place of Wilson against the Rams in what were his first meaningful snaps since he started for the Giants against the Raiders on Dec. 3, 2017. Interestingly, that game snapped a streak of 210 consecutive starts for Eli Manning, which is third in the record books.
Smith completed 10 of 17 passes for 131 yards, including all five on his first drive for 72 yards, when he marched the Seahawks 98 yards for a touchdown that got Seattle back in the game.
Smith, who was the 39th overall draft choice by the Jets in 2013, has 31 career NFL starts, and while he has a 12-19 record, Carroll said that experience is something the Seahawks will lean on, as well as his experience in Seattle’s system.
“It’s a real advantage to him,” Carroll said. “He’s been through everything that we have done, and he’s gone every step of the way with Russ (Wilson). They have been shoulder-to-shoulder through the process. He has been a great help to Russ, a great sounding board for Russ, and he’s just been an asset. What he’s done also is that he’s prepared to play every single week that we have ever been out here. He’s always been prepared to go, always worked hard at it, knew how important it was to do that, and he embraced the role of it. You can see it, look at how sharp he was for jumping in there (against the Rams). He was prepared to do that.”
Smith has been Wilson’s backup since 2019, and before Thursday had played only in mopup duty of a blowout of the Jets in 2020.
But after going through a 2016 season with only rookie Trevone Boykin behind Wilson — a year when Wilson played through knee, ankle and pectoral injuries — the Seahawks wanted to get back to having someone with experience as a backup.
“That’s the way we should be thinking (with the backup quarterback spot),” Carroll said. “A guy who’s been there and done that and all that.”
Smith has signed one-year contracts each of the past three seasons, and he said in August he had options other than the Seahawks. But he said he returned to Seattle, despite understanding full well that Wilson’s famous durability meant he might never play, because “I really felt a connection here with a lot of people in the building” and he likes what new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron is implementing.
Smith said the uptempo aspects of Waldron’s scheme are similar to the offense he ran at West Virginia, where he threw for 98 touchdowns in 39 starts.
“Just being able to work with him, I’m coming into my ninth year but I’m still learning new ways to get things done and I really think Shane is going to do a great job,” Smith said in August.
Now Smith finally will again prepare to be a starter on game day, with the 2-3 Seahawks counting on him to keep their already-listing season alive.
“Now he gets a chance,” Carroll said. “And we need him now to come through and play great football. He knows that and this is what he has been preparing for.”