The Seattle Seahawks took the practice field for the first time without Russell Wilson on Monday, October 11. The NFC West team expects to be without him for multiple weeks, but the Seahawks have yet to decide if Wilson will head to Injured Reserve.
The seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback underwent surgery on Friday, October 8. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he had three pins inserted into the middle finger on his throwing hand.
Per ESPN, Carroll told reporters after the October 11 practice that Wilson had no other option than surgery, but he would not provide any estimates for how long Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback. When specifically faced with questions about putting Wilson on Injured Reserve and missing a mandatory three games, Carroll said, “We’ll see. That’s an option.”
“Russ had a very successful surgery and we’re really happy with all the reports and we don’t have any timelines for you at all right now,” Carroll said, per ESPN. “I know that’s all you want to hear. But we don’t have anything like that. But he’s in really good spirits and really active today as much as he can be around us and all that. Really happy for the results for the initial part of it.”
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Injured Reserve Rules Changed During the 2020 Season
Prior to the 2020 season, the phrase “heading to Injured Reserve” meant that a player would miss at least eight games, if not the entire season. However, COVID-19 forced the NFL to change the approach to make more players available for their respective teams.
The new rules made it possible for players to return to the team from Injured Reserve after only missing three games. Though only those on the 53-man roster after final roster cutdowns were eligible for this return.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league sent a memo to the 32 teams prior to the season informing them that the rules would remain for 2021. The Seahawks have already used this option for multiple players. Both tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and tight end Colby Parkinson went on Injured Reserve in mid-September, only to return on October 2.
Similarly, the Seahawks placed running back Rashaad Penny and wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge on IR on October 2 and 7, respectively. Both players will have the option to return to the team — provided they are healthy — after missing three games each.
Wilson Will Remain With the Seahawks While Recovering
He may not be able to suit up and lead the offense against at least the Steelers, Saints, or Jaguars, but the quarterback will continue to play an important role. He will remain with the team and spend a considerable amount of time helping Smith prepare for the upcoming games.
Per Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, Carroll told reporters on October 11 that Wilson is “already competing” to be the best Smith preparer. He was present on the sidelines during the later stages of practice, and he is able to provide tips to Smith and Jake Luton.
“Imagine how if [Wilson] can figure out a way how he can compete at that, he’s doing it,” Carroll said during the presser. “So he’s already starting to listen to the game plan, he’s figuring out where it fits and how it’s going to go. He’s going to prepare just like he was playing. His plan is to stay as sharp and as fresh as he possibly can.”