What did Russell Wilson say about returning to Seattle to face the Seahawks?
Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl title and returns to Lumen Field to face his former team as a Bronco on Monday.
The NFL’s schedule-makers like drama. How else to explain quarterback Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle falling on the first Monday night of the season?
Wilson, who guided the Seahawks to their lone Super Bowl title, will play his first game for the Denver Broncos at Lumen Field, where he spent his first 10 seasons before an offseason trade.
Wilson: “I know they’ll be rowdy”
“Hopefully, it’ll be positive,” Wilson said when asked what kind of greeting he might get from the 69,000-plus fans. “Listen, I gave my heart and soul every day. ... I know they’ll be rowdy. I know they’ll be excited.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise will be who is starting at quarterback for the Seahawks. After failing to make another offseason move or draft someone, they’ll open with Geno Smith, who served the past two seasons as Wilson’s backup.
Smith started three games when Wilson was out with a hand injury last year, going 1-2. He hasn’t been a regular starter since his first two NFL seasons with the New York Jets in 2013-14.
“The reality is it’s just step one,” Smith said. “I’ve got to make sure that I’m ready to go out there, win and play 17 games and more... I’m grateful. I’m thankful. I’m forever indebted to the Seattle Seahawks organization. But it’s time to get to work.”
Wilson isn’t the only veteran the Seahawks let go in the offseason, as middle linebacker Bobby Wagner has moved on to the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
Always-upbeat Seahawks coach Pete Carroll isn’t ready to write off his team, though most predict they’ll finish last in the NFC West and might challenge for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.
“I’m really excited about this team,” Carroll said. “I love the makeup. I love the way that they’ve come together from way back when. I love the leadership. I love the speed. I love our style in all aspects. And now we need to go out and show it and live up to that. My expectations are very high.”
As for facing Wilson in the opener, Carroll suggested there wouldn’t be many surprises.
“I do have as much information as you can have,” Carroll said. “I’ve probably never known a player any closer than knowing Russ, his quarterbacking, and his playing and his mentality and all of that. He knows me, too. He knows us. So, we’ll see what happens.”
With the addition of Wilson, who recently signed a five-year extension worth $245 million, the Broncos expect to contend not only in the stacked AFC West but also for trophies.
“For me, it wasn’t really about how much (money), necessarily,” Wilson said. “It was about how many -- how many Super Bowls we win. And that was really the focus.”
Broncos right tackle Billy Turner missed most of the preseason while recuperating from knee surgery and it’s likely Calvin Anderson starts in his place. Turner was limited in practice this week, as was outside linebacker Randy Gregory (shoulder/knee), inside linebacker Josey Jewell (calf) and wide receiver KJ Hamler (knee, hip).
Seahawks rookie running back Kenneth Walker III isn’t expected to play after hernia surgery last month. Cornerback Artie Burns has been slowed by a groin injury and might not be ready after sitting out practice on Thursday. Linebacker Alton Robinson (knee) and long snapper Tyler Ott (shoulder) also have missed practice time this week.