The Seahawks were hopeful Jaxon Smith-Njigba could make a quick return after fracturing his wrist in the team's second preseason game, but even for a coach as optimistic as Pete Carroll, the rookie receiver's comeback has been impressive.
Less than three weeks after having surgery on his injured wrist, Smith-Njigba was practicing fully this week and is not even listed on the final injury report of the week, meaning he will play when the Seahawks host the Rams Sunday at Lumen Field.
"Everything has surprised me," Carroll said of Smith-Njigba's quick return. "It could have been an entirely different process throughout, but he was a true competitor, he's the real deal, and he demonstrated that."
Asked if he has seen any limitations in Smith-Njigba's game, Carroll said, "He hasn't shown one. Seriously, it's been amazing, like I've been saying."
For his part, Smith-Njigba said playing with a brace on his wrist is "a little adjustment, but I've been getting adjusted real well. It's been good so far."
Smith-Njigba, who didn't immediately realize he had fractured his wrist at the end of a long catch and run against the Cowboys, hoped for a speedy return, but didn't know what to expect.
"I just took it day-by-day," he said. "Whatever they told me, I took with a grain of salt and figured it out as we kept going… With the information I was given, I just thought I could be back soon."
Smith-Njigba, who had taken ahold of the No. 3 receiver job before the injury, figures to have a significant role in the offense this week and beyond, and the 20th overall pick can't wait to get his NFL career underway, especially after missing most of his final year at Ohio State due to a hamstring injury.
"I'm very excited," he said. "A dream come true. Living out the dream. Excited. Get to put the helmet on, the shoulder pads on, and get out there Sunday.
"I'm blessed. I'm blessed for the opportunity for the Seahawks to pick me up at 20 and now I get to see the season. It's a long hard road to get here but I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I learned a lot sitting out last year and I get to use the tools that I learned to be greater and have success, hopefully."
Here is the initial 53-man roster for the 2023 Seahawks.