DK Metcalf is back. Back sooner than most mortals.
Maybe he is, after all, Wolverine.
“I am. I’m 100 percent,” the Seahawks physical marvel—or is it Marvel?—said before practice Thursday for Sunday’s opening game against Cincinnati at CenturyLink Field.
Then, he flashed a big grin.
It’s been 16 days since the hulking wide receiver’s knee surgery put him in jeopardy of missing his first NFL game.
“I’m excited,” the second-round draft choice said. “I’m very excited to get back out there playing. ...I can’t wait to be back out there on Sunday.”
All last month Metcalf told coach Pete Carroll and every Seahawk who’d listen that he was Wolverine. Not the animal, nor the Michigan mascot.
The Marvel superhero from X-Men and Avengers renowned for supernatural healing powers.
Carroll calls Metcalf’s return to the field and full health this week a “fantastic recovery.”
Metcalf was full go in practice Thursday, yet another sign he’s back.
“To say he’s back is really good for us,” offensive coordinator and play caller Brian Schottenheimer said.
Metcalf is returning to playing less than three weeks after knee surgery. In early August he missed the team’s mock-game scrimmage with a strained oblique muscle. His starring spring and summer in Seattle came after a neck injury at the University of Mississippi last October ended his college career. It left him in a neck brace on a hospital bed, with people questioning whether he’d play football again.
Does all that, especially his return Sunday, prove he is indeed Wolverine?
“A little bit, yes, sir,” Metcalf said, almost sheepishly leaning into his locker.
Why is Wolverine his favorite character?
“He doesn’t stay down for long,” Metcalf said. “He gets a bruise, or a cut, and it goes away immediately.
“I’ve been dealing with injuries the past couple of months, and they just kind of just linger around a little bit. And then they go away.”
Carroll was characteristically coy this week when asked if Metcalf is going to limited by a snap count Sunday against the Bengals. He’s poised to start in his NFL debut, as the split end on the line opposite the tight end as the number-two receiving target of Russell Wilson, after Tyler Lockett.
“I guess we’ll have to wait and find out,” Carroll said, as he usually does with playing time for those returning from injury.
But Metcalf’s playing. His parents, Terrence and Tonya are flying across the country to CenturyLink Field see their son stand on the sidelines for his NFL game Sunday.
“They are (excited),” Metcalf said.
He said his parents haven’t been to an NFL game since his dad’s last one as a Chicago Bears offensive lineman. That was in 2008.
Metcalf had what Carroll has called a “minor” surgery Aug. 20, about which Metcalf did not elaborate Thursday. It was two days after Seattle’s second preseason game. He and the Seahawks decided to have the surgery then to give him a chance, albeit remote, to be back for the opener.
And here he is.
“I mean, it was just really a decision me and Coach Carroll and John (Schneider, the team’s general manager) had to make. We were just up in the air (on whether he’d be back for the opener),” Metcalf said.
“We all just agreed on that.”
He only played in one of the four exhibitions, the first one Aug. 8 against Denver. The 6-foot-4, 233-pound receiver with 4.33-second speed in the 40-yard dash sprinted past each Broncos cornerback on fly patterns down each sideline early in the game. Geno Smith, the starting quarterback for idle Wilson that night, just overthrew Metcalf each time on what could have been two touchdowns for the heralded rookie in his first pro game.
Metcalf said missing the rest of the preseason was step back. To him, it was a slowed time to learn more.
“Oh. no, I don’t think it was a setback,” he said. “I got to sharpen up my mental game. I got to learn my offense a little more. Coming from that first game, I kind of got used to the speed of the game.
“I can’t wait to be back out there on Sunday. ... It’s going to be fun. Just going in there to have fun, and pull out the ‘W.’”
Metcalf said he took lessons from his first and only preseason game.
“The DBs are a lot smarter, a lot stronger and a lot quicker than in college,” he said. “Just thinking about that when I got out there and play on Sundays.”