Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ battle to backup Russell Wilson, Lano Hill joins safety competition, and more

Pete Carroll updates rookie DK Metcalf’s surgery, more Seahawks news coming out of 2nd preseason game

Coach Pete Carroll updates rookie DK Metcalf’s surgery, more Seahawks news coming out of their second preseason game.
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Coach Pete Carroll updates rookie DK Metcalf’s surgery, more Seahawks news coming out of their second preseason game.

Geno Smith now gets a prime chance to retake the job to be Russell Wilson’s backup.

The veteran former starter for the New York Jets and Giants practiced fully on Wednesday. Smith will play Saturday when the Seahawks meet the Los Angeles Chargers in their third of four preseason games.

Coach Pete Carroll made that clear following Wednesday’s practice. Paxton Lynch missed it because of the concussion he got on a ejection-worthy hit to the head by Vikings defensive back Holton Hill during Seattle’s preseason game at MInnesota.

Lynch, competing with Smith for the number-two quarterback job, will not play against the Chargers Saturday.

“We are going to hold him out this week,” Carroll said. “He didn’t quite make it back and passing the all protocol and all. We are just going to take care of him. We think it’s a good idea.

“Geno needs to play a lot. It’ll work out. This is really because we want to take care of Paxton. He took a nasty hit. His neck is still sore.”

Hill was ejected for that.

Lynch is now like the golfer who is already in the clubhouse, his round (and perhaps preseason) complete, while Smith is the contending golfer still out on the course with holes to play to win.

Smith missed the game at Minnesota. He had a procedure Aug. 9 to remove a cyst from his knee.

He now has all this week of practices then the final two preseason games—Seattle’s last one is Aug. 29 against Oakland—to retake the backup-QB job he had entering the preseason games.

Geno Smith on being the Seahawks’ starting quarterback for a day with Russell Wilson gone to a funeral, and on what he learned starting in New York.

Smith seemed well ahead of Lynch entering the first preseason game against Denver Aug. 8. Then Lynch, playing against deeper Broncos reserves, out-played Smith that night while Smith played on the cyst in his knee. He had it removed the next day.

Lynch was 11 for 15 for 109 yards and a touchdown pass to undrafted rookie Jazz Ferguson against the Broncos. The 6-foot-6 former first-round pick by Denver showed precision when throwing on time, and ran for 38 yards and another touchdown.

Smith was 3 for 9 passing in the first half against Denver defenders higher up its depth chart than the guys Lynch faced.

Last weekend, Lynch showed the inaccuracy throwing while having to move his feet he’s displayed all training camp. Playing behind an especially leaky Seahawks reserve offensive line, where injuries have cut deeply into quality depth, Lynch was 6 for 15 against the Vikings before Hill lowered the crown of his helmet into the side of Lynch’s.

Lynch’s injury leaves the job Smith’s to win these last 10 days of the preseason. The roster cut-down day from 90 to 53 players is Aug. 31.

STARTERS SATURDAY: Carroll would not specify how long Wilson and the rest of his starters will play Saturday against the Chargers in Carson, Calif.

“I’m expecting everyone to play in this game, and I’m looking forward to it,” was all Carroll would say about that on Wednesday.

The coach typically has his veteran starters play the third preseason game into the third quarter, to cool down at halftime, confer with coaches and ramp it up again one time before they do it for real in the regular season.

BARRETT STICKING AROUND: It’s conceivable if not likely the Seahawks keep J.T. Barrett on the roster until cut-down day, then try to get the former Ohio State star through waivers and onto the practice squad to begin the regular season.

Barrett, signed the day after Smith had his knee procedure, entered for Lynch in the fourth quarter at Minnesota and his team down 25-16. His first throw as a Seahawk was intended to be onto the back shoulder of the 6-5 Ferguson. Barrett underthrew it slightly. It went into the back of Minnesota’s defender instead and landed incomplete in the end zone.

Barrett escaped a sack on the next play, third down, and threw incomplete before a field goal by Jason Myers. He then had two desperate plays in the final 5 seconds of the 25-19 loss.

Quarterback Russell Wilson pleased with starting offense in Seahawks’ second preseason game at Minnesota.

BLAIR STILL HURTING: Rookie safety Marquise Blair, impressive in the preseason opener, missed practice with ongoing back spasms that had caused him to leave the Minnesota game on the back of a cart in the second half.

“He had back spasms in the game and he just didn’t quite make it back today. He tried and wasn’t able to go,” Carroll said. “So that’s a day-to-day thing.”

HILL ENTERS: Lano Hill is now fully in the competition with Blair to possibly begin the season next to Bradley McDougald as the starting safety pairing.

Hill practiced Wednesday. Carroll said the starting strong safety for two games in December until he cracked his hip will play against the Chargers.

“Lano Hill will also get a chance to play in this game for the first time,” Carroll said, “so that’s a good deal.”

COLLIER UPDATE: Still no idea, at least not publicly, when rookie first-round draft choice L.J. Collier will return to the field. The defensive end has been out since uniquely spraining his foot near the ankle in practice July 30.

Carroll said Collier’s is the most frustrating of the Seahawks’ many injuries this summer. That includes to six of the team’s 11 rookie draft picks, and the top three: Collier, Blair and wide receiver DK Metcalf (knee surgery Tuesday).

“L.J., we are just going to have to wait it out. In that regard, L.J. is the one that’s frustrating because he hasn’t really had a shot to get going,” Carroll said.

“We just talked about it today and he’s doing a lot of stuff. He’s up and moving and all that and AlterG (an anti-gravity treadmill) and all those kinds of things. Not quite ready to unload on it where he can run up on it and change direction.

“So, not quite (ready to return).”

(STILL) WAITING ON IUPATI: Carroll praised Ethan Pocic for his play at left guard filling in the last three weeks for veteran Mike Iupati. The 32-year-old Iupati remains out with a sprained foot.

Carroll made it clear Pocic, the team’s second-round pick in 2017, is not the Seahawks’ planned starter at left guard.

“Ethan has done a great job stepping up with the starters. He’s done a great job,” Carroll said. “I’m really counting on Mike to come back in, but he’s got to get well. If he doesn’t, if he’s not right, then Ethan is ready to go. Ethan is a starter for us. If Mike comes back and he’s great and in shape and all that stuff, then he’ll get a first look for us.

“Ethan really has done beautiful.”

SHAQUEM GRIFFIN STILL OUT: Linebacker Shaquem Griffin remains stalled in trying to become more of an edge pass rusher this season than the off-the-ball, weakside linebacker Seattle tried and failed to make him in his rookie year of 2018.

“He hasn’t responded yet, he had a pretty good day (Tuesday),” Carroll said. “It wasn’t quite as good (Wednesday) morning.

“He’s got a bruised knee that he’s just not quite back from yet.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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