As the Seahawks kicked off their week with a "Bonus Monday" practice following their bye weekend, quarterback Russell Wilson casually tossed passes with a right hand that only one month ago had undergone surgery to repair significant damage to his middle finger.
It was an important first step back for Wilson, who is aiming to return for Sunday's game at Green Bay to complete an incredibly quick recovery from an injury that caused him to miss the past three games, the first he has missed during his 10-year career.
"This is a remarkable story of recovery, and really of a guy setting the intent that he was going to do this and pull off, and he's way, way ahead of schedule," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We just came off the practice field, and he threw the ball all over the place. He did really well for the first time out in a limited amount of plays. Everything about it—we knew that Russ was going to go for it; we didn't know if his body could respond, but it did. His team that worked with him and helped him throughout did a remarkable job. So we'll just go one day at a time and see how it goes. I know he's thrilled to be back, everybody's excited to see him back out here. It's an amazing accomplishment to be back. Just throwing like he just did on the practice field is a great achievement."
Carroll wasn't quite ready to name Wilson the starter for Sunday's game against the Packers, but that is the plan assuming all goes well this week.
"We're going one day at a time here," Carroll said. "He's not out here to do anything but play; he's not coming back just to practice. So we'll see what happens as the week goes on—give us days to figure that out—but the intention is that if he's OK, he plays."
While Carroll refused to put a timeline on Wilson's return when asked about it over the past month, the hope everyone was holding on to was that he could make it back after the bye having missed only the three games required when a player is placed on injured reserve. Despite some initial reports that Wilson could miss six to eight weeks, Wilson always intended to get back sooner, and Carroll even said that had Seattle played on Sunday instead of having a bye, Wilson would have been pushing to play in that game.
"Knowing Russ, this was the week that I was thinking, if he could pull off something miraculous, then this would be the week he could play," Carroll said when asked if he thought this quick of a comeback was realistic. "Just judging from the six to eight-week thing with broken bones that everybody's aware of, that's kind of how you could look at it on one end of it. But we thought, what could be the earliest he could possibly do it, could he possibly pull it off? And he did. Just to make it to practice today, he looked great out there today, that's an enormous accomplishment. That was the kind of the hopes that if he could pull off something special that it might happen this week. That's kind of what we're thinking. He was ready to go yesterday. He would have wanted to play yesterday if he was able to."
Carroll later added, unprompted by a question, "What we just watched Russ do, to see somebody that so clearly took control of his rehab and the process and the mentality of it, this is really exciting to see. There's a lot of people that are sick and hurting, coming back from stuff and all of that, it's always nice to know a story of somebody who just overcame the odds and pulled it off and was so clearly intent to do all of this. I just think it's remarkable and I hope as we follow this and Russ can find his way back to success and all that in a quick fashion, I just think it's important. There's a lot of hard times, a lot of people working through a lot of hard stuff; his is a really cool story, and I'm amazed but yet not surprised, and I'm really fired up about it. I'm anxious to see how this goes."
Wilson practiced without a glove on his injured hand on Wednesday and was able to throw the ball seemingly without any issues, but Carroll did say just about every option has been discussed between him and Wilson.
"We've talked about as many alternatives as we can come up with, and he's exploring all kinds of thoughts, but he doesn't need anything," Carroll said. "Really, he was fine today."
As for what Carroll needs to see between now and Sunday for Wilson to start, Carroll said, "Just watching how he recovers from the work. So often what we say—we've got to wait and see how the next day goes. In particular, in this case, he's already had days where he's thrown the ball more than he did today. They had a real great ramp up to it and all that, a really well-educated scheduled formula to get there, and this was not more than he's done, so he should be OK tomorrow and getting to Wednesday, but we'll see how it goes. We've just got to watch how he responds."
Photos from Seahawks practice on Monday, November 8 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.