RENTON – Go big or stay home.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll continued his no risk/no reward philosophy Tuesday, announcing this year’s third-round pick, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, will start against Kansas City in the Seahawks’ third exhibition game Friday.
Free-agent signee Matt Flynn played steady as the starter in the first two exhibitions for Seattle. But Wilson performed with an impressive command of the offense while playing the second halves of the first two games. And Wilson’s penchant for making big plays against second and third-unit defenses earned him a shot with the starters.
Carroll said if Wilson continues to play well, he could earn the starting job for the season opener Sept. 9 at Arizona, in what appears to be a two-man race.
“I’ve just got to keep working,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot more to do, and I’ve just got to keep improving. That’s my main goal every day I wake up.”
Although incumbent Tarvaris Jackson has not played in the first two games and is reportedly being shopped around as potential trade bait, Carroll did not rule him out of the conversation as the team’s potential starting quarterback.
“It’s just exciting to watch this kid play,” Carroll said about Wilson. “And everybody that’s grown up watching him back at N.C. State and Wisconsin, we’re seeing the same thing that you saw. He’s carried the style of play from the college level to our level, at least in these first few preseason games.
“And we’re going to see what that means in Game 3.”
Wilson has a chance to be the fifth rookie quarterback to open this season as a starter, joining Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill.
Of course, all those names mentioned besides Wilson were drafted in the first round.
If Carroll does name Wilson the starter, he would be the first, third-round pick in the NFL to start a season opener as a rookie since Joe Ferguson for Buffalo in 1973.
A closer look at Wilson’s statistics over the first two games reveals why Carroll is rolling the dice.
Wilson has competed 22 of 33 passes for 279 yards, throwing three touchdowns and one interception.
Wilson has been sacked once, has an 8.5 yards per completion average and is third in the league with a 110.5 passer rating.
Wilson’s also rushed eight times for 92 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown. He’s been efficient on third down, converting 10 out of 16 for first downs.
And Wilson has created big plays, with seven plays of 20 yards or more while he’s commanding the offense.
Flynn’s longest play from scrimmage is a 14-yard completion to tight end Zach Miller against Tennessee. Flynn is 17-for-26 passing for 102 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
He’s been sacked three times, has a 3.9 yards per completion average and a 56.9 passer rating.
However, Carroll said he won’t determine Wilson’s role as a potential starter based on the Kansas City game alone. Carroll’s watched Wilson’s steady development in practice since the team’s first rookie minicamp in May.
Carroll said that initially the coaching staff had planned on starting Flynn in the first game against Tennessee and Wilson against Denver in the second game, but that he wanted to see Flynn for a second time against the starting defense to make a better evaluation on the free-agent addition.
Traditionally, teams have played their starters at least three quarters in the third preseason game as a primer for the regular season.
However, Carroll said it’s possible that Seattle uses the final preseason game to continue the quarterback evaluation.
Carroll would not provide a date on when he planned to name a starter for the regular season, saying it’s possible that he does not make the decision until the week heading into the Arizona game.
“I know that there is a traditional thought, a conventional wisdom about game three and all of that,” Carroll said. “And I understand that. And we need to always be in tune with conventional wisdom.
“However, neither John (general manager John Schneider) nor I feel like we need to operate under that kind of guidance system, so we’re not. And we haven’t been since we got here.”
Carroll said that despite the fact his team has not settled on a starting quarterback, he still believes the process Seattle has taken is the right path.
“I’m real confident that we’re doing the right thing,” Carroll said. “I don’t have any hesitation in this.
“And I understand that maybe not everybody else feels like that, and I really don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me”
BALDWIN HAS SURGERY
Carroll said that receiver Doug Baldwin had surgery to fix a problem with his hamstring, but should be ready to practice next week.
However, Carroll said he’s uncertain if the team’s leading receiver from last year will play in the final exhibition game against Oakland.
Baldwin practiced last week, but was a late scratch for the Denver game, the second consecutive game he missed because of injury.
With Baldwin out, Deon Butler will continue to get first team reps at slot.
RICE A POSSIBILITY
Carroll did not rule out receiver Sidney Rice playing in his first preseason game against the Chiefs.
Rice was full go Monday, and took a decent whack from safety Earl Thomas on a catch across the middle.
“I don’t know that yet, but he had a great day today,” Carroll said. “This was Sidney’s first full-speed, all out, one-on-ones and everything today. It was the first time he had a full-go day where we really cut him loose and let him do everything.
“And he got banged around, which is great. He made some good catches today. He looked very fast out there. And it’s exciting to see.”
The Seahawks had 15 players watching practice Tuesday, including center Max Unger (calf), fullback Michael Robinson (toe), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe), offensive guard John Moffitt (elbow), linebacker Allen Bradford (hip), cornerback Ron Parker (knee), defensive end Jason Jones (knee), cornerback Coye Francies (head), defensive lineman Pep Levingston (knee), linebacker Matt McCoy (knee) and defensive back Roy Lewis (unspecified). Cornerback Walter Thurmond (leg) and offensive lineman James Carpenter (knee) remain on the physically unable to perform list. Undrafted rookie free agent defensive end Cordarro Law returned to the field after suffering a high-ankle sprain last week. Others who returned to practice include receiver Ben Obomanu (neck), linebacker Mike Morgan (head), tight end Miller (head) and linebacker Malcolm Smith (hamstring).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams