The Seahawks will travel cross country to face the Steelers in Pittsburgh without two of their best offensive players. Quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Chris Carson were officially ruled out and both players could be sidelined for at least three weeks.
After undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his right middle finger last Friday, Wilson's absence was expected despite the fact he was listed as limited on Thursday's practice report. His streak of 165 consecutive starts, including 149 straight regular season games, will officially come to an end with Geno Smith stepping into the lineup as his replacement under center.
According to coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are expected to place Wilson on injured reserve before this weekend, which would guarantee he misses at least the next three games before being eligible to return.
"We're planning he's going on IR and I don't mind telling you that," Carroll confirmed on Friday.
If Wilson goes on injured reserve, the star quarterback won't be able to play again until Week 10 against the Packers at Lambeau Field. Either Jake Luton or Danny Etling could be elevated from the practice squad to fill his roster spot and serve as the backup to Smith for the next three games.
Unlike Wilson, Seattle held out hope Carson would be able to play after missing last week's loss to the Los Angeles Rams with a neck injury. Carroll indicated earlier this week that the veteran runner had made a "big turn" in his recovery and anticipated he would practice on Thursday. However, Carson wasn't seen on the field during warmups accessible to media and didn't participate.
While Carroll reaffirmed that Carson had turned a corner in terms of pain management, he simply wasn't ready to return to play yet.
"He made a really good jump over the weekend and felt way better, but coming out of it and starting to come back to work with it, there's not enough progress made," Carroll said. "It's better for us to get him back and make sure that we don't rush it back and so we're gonna just take this time—it is a delicate thing, he's got something going on in his neck—so we gotta make sure we do it really well. We're gonna take care of him."
Dealing with what Carroll deemed a "long term" neck issue a week ago, there may now be viable reasons for concern about Carson's availability moving forward. When asked if he could land on injured reserve like Wilson to give him extra time to recover, he said they're "looking at" the possibility.
As was the case a week ago with Carson out, Alex Collins will start in his absence for a second straight game with DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer serving as backups in the backfield. Beyond this week, Carroll said Rashaad Penny should be ready to be activated from injured reserve next week to add insurance at the position.
Along with Wilson and Carson being sidelined, the Seahawks will also be without reserve swing tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who cropped up on the injury report on Thursday dealing with recurring bicep/chest issues. He opened the season on injured reserve due to a similar injury before being activated in Week 4.
Without Ogbuehi, Seattle should have Jamarco Jones and undrafted rookie Jake Curhan available as reserves behind starters Duane Brown and Brandon Shell.
If there's a silver lining to the Seahawks final injury report, no players were given questionable or doubtful designations, including receiver DK Metcalf and linebacker Bobby Wagner. Though Wagner sat out Wednesday's practice with a bruised knee, he was limited on Thursday and should be ready to roll. As for Metcalf, despite being out on Thursday with a lingering foot issue, he will start against the Steelers.
Seattle should also have linebacker Darrell Taylor, who was limited at practice this week with an ankle sprain, as well as guard Damien Lewis, who missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday due to an illness.