For the first time in his Seahawks career, Russell Wilson was a spectator at Seahawks practice rather than participating in the on-field work.
Wilson twice has been away from the team, once for voluntary organized team activities while supporting then-teammate Jimmy Graham at the funeral of the tight end's longtime mentor, and once during training camp to attend his grandfather's funeral, but prior to Monday, Wilson has never been present at practice and unable to take part.
And while it's a new role for Wilson, who had surgery Friday to repair damage in his right middle finger sustained in Thursday's loss to the Rams, the Seahawks quarterback is fully embracing the challenge of doing all he can to support Geno Smith, who is preparing to start against the Steelers this weekend.
"He was great," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson's presence on Monday. "He knows his job is to help Geno and get him ready… If he can figure out a way how to compete at that, he's doing it. He's already starting to listen to the gameplan, he's figuring out where it fits, he's going to prepare just like he's playing. His plan is to stay as sharp and as fresh as he possibly can."
As for Wilson's injury, Carroll reiterated that everything went well with Friday's surgery, but did not give a timeline for a possible return.
"Russ had a very successful surgery, we're really happy with all the reports, and we don't have any timelines for you at all right now," Carroll said. "He's in really good spirits, really active today as much as he could be around us and all of that. Really happy for the results of the initial part of it."
Asked if Wilson could end up on injured reserve, which would require him to miss at least three games—the Seahawks next three games are at Pittsburgh, vs. New Orleans and vs. Jacksonville, followed by a bye—Carroll said, "We'll see. That's an option."
Smith, meanwhile, will spend the week getting ready to start his first game since 2017 when he was the backup to Eli Manning with the New York Giants. Smith was the starter for the Jets his first two years in the league in 2013 and 2014, starting 29 of 30 games played, but since then he has started only twice as a backup for the Jets, Giants, Chargers, and since 2019 the Seahawks.
"I think there's a lot of things that change in a young guy's mind when he gets this opportunity," Carroll said. "He's been there, a lot, it's just been a while. It's not the reps part of it. He would love to practice every snap, every day, and is able to do all of that. He's healthy and strong and tough and physical and all that, so that none of that is going to be an issue, he's going to love that. He loves the fact that he's got this chance to help his team. That's why he's been here, he's been here for this opportunity when it does arise. I was so proud of him and so happy for him to be able to jump out there and have a chance to take us down and win a game, we were going down to win the game, and none of us were thinking otherwise. And unfortunately, we get knocked around and stumble and they get the ball, and we don't know what would have happened in that situation."
While losing a starting quarterback is a blow for any team, especially when that quarterback is an eight-time Pro-Bowler like Wilson, Carroll noted that it is "a real advantage" to have a backup of Smith's caliber who has been with the team for three seasons.
"He's been through everything that we've done, he's gone every step of the way with Russ," Carroll said. "They have been shoulder to shoulder through all of the process, he's been a great help for Russ, he's been a great sounding board for Russ. He's just been an asset. And what he's done also is he has prepared to play every single week we've ever been out here, and he's always been prepared to go, always worked really hard at it. He knew how important it was to do that and embrace the opportunity and the role of it, and you could see it, look at look how sharp he was for jumping in there, he was prepared to do that.
"We love him, he loves the program, so it's been a real love-fest in that regard. Now that he gets a chance, we need him now. We need him to come through and play hard and play great football, and he knows that. This is what he's been preparing for."
As Carroll notes, Smith was sharp coming off the bench in the fourth quarter on Thursday, completing 7 of 7 attempts for 72 yards and a touchdown to lead the Seahawks on a 98-yard scoring drive the first time he took the field. Smith then led another scoring drive, this one ending with a Jason Myers field goal, to keep the Seahawks in the game, but Seattle's final shot at a game-winning drive came to a quick end with Smith being intercepted, though not because of a bad throw, but rather because intended receiver Tyler Lockett got tripped up after bumping into a defensive back.
And Carroll was not at all surprised to see Smith play well in his first meaningful snaps in three seasons with the Seahawks.
"He takes great pride in the work and knowing the details," Carroll said. "He's really verbal, really articulate with the football stuff that he needs to know. He's really sharp with calls and checks and all that kind of stuff. He's a really good athlete, he's got a tremendous throwing arm, he's got a great arm. He you throw the ball a mile, he can throw the ball hard on the move going in both directions. He scrambles—we saw him the other night--and he's a tough competitor too. And he's got good touch too. He throws the ball impeccably well, I mean he's got great throwing mechanics and all of that. He can make all the throws."
The Seahawks are not required to put out an injury report until Wednesday, but Carroll did note that linebacker Bobby Wagner, "bumped his knee" in Thursday's loss to the Rams and has a bruised knee.
Running back Chris Carson, who missed last week's game with a neck injury, "had a big turn over the weekend, so we'll see how it goes," Carroll said.
Rookie cornerback Tre Brown, who returned to practice last week from injured reserve, could work his way back onto the roster this week depending on how the week goes for him.
"He's going, he's going to go this week," Carroll said. "He practiced today, and he'll practice Wednesday, and if all goes well, then he's competing to get back on the field."