When Russell Wilson injured the middle finger on his throwing hand in Seattle's Week 5 game against the Rams, the initial diagnosis was one he refused to accept.
"Most likely 6-8 weeks to be ready to go," Wilson recalled being told. "I wasn't going to take 6-8, that wasn't in my mind."
And sure enough, Wilson is back on the practice field this week, one month removed from surgery and having missed just three games, getting ready for Sunday's game in Green Bay. On Monday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll referred to Wilson's quick comeback from surgery "a remarkable story of recovery," and it's a recovery Wilson never doubted was possible.
"It was definitely a challenge," Wilson said of missing games for the first time in his 10-year career. "I think adversity brings the best out of you, and for me, I definitely went through some adverse times with the hand and everything else."
Working with a team that includes physical therapist Amy Atmore, hand therapist Mo Herman, and Dr. Steve Shin, who performed the surgery on Wilson's finger, Wilson estimates they "probably spent 19 or 20 hours a day working on this hand, trying to break records with this thing. It was a pretty severe injury in the sense of how many things happened. I think for me, my whole mindset was to cut the time in half, and that has been my mindset since the moment that it happened. I think to have amazing people like Amy to be there pretty much every second of the day and to also have amazing people too, Mo, the hand specialist has been awesome. Obviously, Dr. (Shin) is the best in the world at hands. For me, I never lost confidence, where I was going to do, when I was going to do it, and how I was going to get it done. Throughout the whole process, I was hoping that, and knew in my head that this was my goal, this is where I want to be, and just had to keep my head in it. Every day at practice, I got every single rep and more by just staying on the side and mentally go through everything. Obviously, I saw the games and was mentally into them too. You have to have vision, the ability to play the game in your head, and the ability to stand tall when it's tough."
That mental work Wilson mentioned has allowed him to look sharp in practice this week despite the long layoff, which included the longest stretch of not throwing that Wilson can remember experiencing since he first picked up a ball.
"It looks like he never left," receiver Tyler Lockett said. "That's just how mentally strong he is."
Wilson should have no issue jumping back into things from a mental standpoint—he even noted that having to watch games from the sideline for the first time gave him a new perspective on the game—but the bigger question of course is how his finger is feeling and how it affects his ability to throw, and in Wilson's view, if he isn't all the way back, he's getting really close to that point.
"I feel great, I feel really close," he said. "I'm not 100 percent, but I'm pretty dang close. I'm in the 90th percentile, if not higher. I feel great, I have great conviction about what I am doing and how I am doing it, my mindset is better than ever, I'm ready to roll, and ready to go… I have great conviction in what I'm doing, I can make all of the throws, and I feel great about it."
And now, with the Seahawks heading into the second half of the season needing to go on a run to get back in the playoff picture, a "ready to roll" Wilson sees these final nine games as a reset to a season that didn't start off according to plan for him or the team.
"I feel like it's a new beginning, a new start, and it's time to get going all over again," he said. "… It's a new season, new journey, new day, and we are focused on that. The only thing that we can control is right now. That's what gives us confidence because we know what we need to do and that is to control today. The rest of the stuff doesn't matter."
Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Packers as the two teams get ready to face off during Week 10 at Lambeau Field.