SEATTLE – Russell Wilson’s streak of 149 consecutive regular-season starts to begin his career – the sixth-longest consecutive games started streak in NFL history – is at an end.
According to an NFL Network report, Wilson had surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his middle finger Friday and is expected to be out “roughly six weeks.” The report said the surgery by Dr. Steven Shin stabilized his finger, injured in the third quarter of Thursday night’s 26-17 loss to the Rams, with screws. The NFL Network reported the surgery was “more complicated than expected” necessitating the need for screws to repair the injury. Shin is based out of Cedars-Sinai Orthopaedics in Los Angeles.
That means Geno Smith will become the first quarterback other than Wilson to start a game at quarterback since Tarvaris Jackson at Arizona on Jan. 1, 2012, when Seattle plays next at Pittsburgh on Oct. 17.
Wilson traveled to Los Angeles on Friday morning to see a hand specialist and get a diagnosis on the injury.
Coach Pete Carroll said during his regular day-after-game news conference Friday morning only that he did not have anything definitive yet on Wilson’s injury.
But he also expressed confidence in Smith to lead the Seahawks while Wilson is out, stating “now he’s going to get a chance and we are thrilled for him.”
If Wilson misses only a month that could mean missing just three games. After the contest against the Steelers, Seattle returns home to host New Orleans on Oct. 25 and Jacksonville on Oct. 31 before its bye week and then traveling to Green Bay on Nov. 14. Seattle returns home to host Arizona on Nov. 21, which would be roughly six weeks from Wilson’s surgery if he cannot return before then.
Carroll said during his Friday morning meeting with the media that Wilson had X-rays taken on the finger after Thursday’s game but added “they are going to do all of that again today” to make a proper determination.
Carroll added, “I’m going to really try to not talk about the details of it, because I don’t know. I mean, I heard a lot of stuff, but I’m passing information along improperly if I do, so just let’s just wait and we’ll know a lot more by the end of the day.
“ … but there’s something going on. There’s definitely something going on, and we’ve got to figure out what the extent of it is and what is the next step to deal with.”
Wilson was injured when his hand hit the arm of Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald while finishing a pass attempt to Tyler Lockett on a play that snapped with 7:17 to play in the third quarter.
Wilson played one more play in that series and then one more series – which lasted three plays and included a complete 1-yard pass to tight end Colby Parkinson – before coming out of the game.
Carroll noted that the middle finger is critical for a quarterback, and that after Wilson played the four more snaps, as well as throwing a number of passes on the sideline, he simply realized he could not grip and throw the ball the way he needed to continue.
“Nobody should question his toughness,” Carroll said. “Nobody should question his resolve. He’d have gone in if he could have thrown the football and held on to it – he would have done it, and anybody that says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You can deal with all kinds of stuff in your hands and you can still throw the football, and he tried last night and did not have the power and the control of the ball.
“So I think if he could have he would have. Let’s be really clear about that. There’s no doubt. There’s nobody out there that can challenge his will and his desire and his toughness about carrying on last night.”
The news comes at a particularly pivotal time in Seattle’s season. Thursday’s loss, the second in two home games for the Seahawks this year, dropped Seattle to 2-3 and already assured of being two games behind the leaders in the NFC West by the end of the weekend and possibly three if 4-0 Arizona wins at home against the 49ers, who will have to start rookie Trey Lance at quarterback.
Wilson’s streak of consecutive starts was the longest active in the NFL for a QB – Tom Brady is next at 80.
But aside from not having missed a start in his Seattle career, Wilson has also rarely even missed a play – the previous time he’d missed a snap because of injury was in a 2017 game at Arizona, when he had to come out for one snap to be examined for a concussion.
Wilson played through a knee injury and an ankle injury in 2016 to start every game and played every snap in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 he played every snap other than the final 18 of a blowout win over the Jets.
Wilson was replaced Thursday by Smith, a nine-year veteran and former starter with the New York Jets who will take over.
Seattle also has Jake Luton on the practice squad and could sign him to the 53-man roster as depth.
Smith completed 10 of 17 passes for 131 yards in playing 25 snaps against the Rams, including all five attempts in leading a 98-yard TD drive on his first possession, which he capped with a 23-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. Smith threw an interception when Seattle got the ball back with 2:09 left and the Seahawks trailing 23-17 on a play in which intended receiver Tyler Lockett was bumped by Rams safety Jordan Fuller and fell to the ground.
Smith, drafted 39th overall by the Jets in 2013 out of West Virginia, has been with Seattle since 2019 but played only in mop-up duty against the Jets last year before filling in against the Rams.
But he has 31 career starts – 29 with the Jets in 2013 and 2014 – and Carroll said he has full confidence in the 31-year-old to lead the Seahawks for as long as Wilson may be out.
“It’s not the makeup that Geno would like to be proud about – ‘I’m really good at backing up’ – because everyone wants to be a great starter,” Carroll said. “And I’ve always talked to him like that, that he is (a great starter), and that’s what he will be when the time comes.”
As for Wilson, Carroll said he had spoken to him about a half-dozen times overnight and into the morning and that Wilson had the same attitude as always about the injury and getting better.
“This is Russ at his finest in terms of competitiveness,” Carroll said. “He’s doing everything possible to be ready to take advantage of whatever is available to him. He’s tuned in, he’s focused, he was up all-night working, and he’s already flying out of here to go see the doctor. Everything that has been done has been as efficient and fast as possible. It’s looking ahead, that’s how we are talking about it, and I know he will maximize whatever the time frame is. He’s going to do a fantastic job of whatever he is up against.”
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