RENTON — Russell Wilson’s streak of missed Seahawks practices ended at one Wednesday.
Well, sort of.
Seattle officially listed Wilson as not participating in practice Wednesday, which was five days after he had surgery to repair a ruptured tendon and dislocation in his right middle finger suffered in Thursday night’s 26-17 loss to the Rams.
Still, unlike Monday when Wilson merely watched while wearing a hat, coat and sweats as the team went through drills, Wilson put on a helmet and his familiar No. 3 red jersey Wednesday and led the quarterbacks through early conditioning work.
Wilson is allowed to since the Seahawks have not put him on the injured reserve, which means that for now, he is free to take part in as much practice as his injury allows.
During the brief period open to media at the beginning of practice, Wilson held a ball in his left hand and had his right hand — with middle fingers bandaged up — mostly hidden in a pouch, or hand warmer, as he went through jogging and stretching drills.
Wilson was still on the field when practice ended and media were allowed back out, jogging off after a quick chat with coach Pete Carroll while other QBs did some post-practice throwing with receivers.
If Seattle puts Wilson on IR, then by rule he has to sit out three games before he can return. Putting him on IR would open up a spot on the team’s 53-man roster.
Asked before practice why Seattle had yet to put Wilson on IR, Carroll said only that the team didn’t have to yet — by rule, he can go on IR up to 24 hours before kickoff of Sunday’s game against the Steelers to have that count as one of the three games he’d have to miss.
“We don’t have to do that yet,” Carroll said. “And so we’re figuring it out. We’re going to use all of the days that we need to make a really good choice here.”
Could Seattle be weighing that Wilson could be back sooner, thus not wanting to put him on IR and having to sit out three games no matter what?
Such an answer won’t come from Carroll, who said Monday that the team had no timelines to offer on Wilson.
And that’s also not the expectation, as multiple reports have stated that Wilson’s camp believes the best-case scenario is that he misses three games and returns in time for a contest Nov. 14 at Green Bay.
The main reason not to put Wilson on IR appears to be simply to let Wilson be involved as much as possible as the finger heals.
In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday, Carroll said Wilson “took every play of walk-through.”
And when asked about Wilson missing practice, Carroll laughed and said: “He’s not going to miss today. He’s right out there. … He’ll watch every single bit of everything and be right there as much as anybody could.”
In that interview, Carroll offered no more of a timeline than he has in earlier media sessions for when Wilson might return, saying only: “He’s going to do everything he can possibly do, and he’s already in the midst of all of that. He’ll be quiet for a couple of weeks here, a few weeks, whatever it takes to get him back. I don’t know when that is. But he will do everything possible, and he will be at his best when the time comes.”
Seattle also doesn’t appear to have any urgent need for a roster spot right now, so there’s no harm in keeping Wilson on the active roster.
Seattle is down to 52 on its 53-man roster after the waiving of cornerback Tre Flowers Wednesday, a spot that will likely be filled by activating cornerback Tre Brown off IR. But that doesn’t have to happen until Saturday, as well.
And Seattle can also fill its backup QB spot behind Geno Smith by elevating Jake Luton off the practice squad Saturday.
Seattle placed a practice squad protection on Luton on Tuesday, meaning he can’t sign with another team’s 53-man roster. So he can stay on the PS and then be elevated before the game. Seattle could elevate Luton twice before he’d have go to on the 53 to be able to play.
On Wednesday, Seattle also signed Danny Etling to the PS as a fourth QB on the roster. Etling was on Seattle’s PS all last season and in camp this year before being waived in early August.
If Seattle doesn’t place Wilson on IR this week, though, it almost certainly won’t with the hope that he’d return for the game against the Packers.
Seattle plays the Steelers this week then hosts New Orleans on Oct. 25 and Jacksonville on Oct. 31 before its bye week and the trip to Green Bay.
With Wilson out, Smith will get the start Sunday at Pittsburgh, which will snap a streak of 149 straight regular season starts for Wilson, the sixth longest in NFL history.
“Everybody believes that he’s going to come through and do a great job, just like he showed the other night,” said Carroll before practice of Smith, who replaced Wilson for the final quarter-and-a-half against the Rams, leading two scoring drives. “So we need to support him and give him the help he needs by playing good ball around him and coaching real well around him and be really excited to see what the outcome is.”