The Seahawks’ quarterback race has stopped with Drew Lock having COVID. It’s unclear when it may truly start up again.
And rookie Ken Walker’s hopes of playing in the season opener are trending up.
Coach Pete Carroll told reporters Wednesday following the team’s light practice for Thursday’s preseason game against Chicago at Lumen Field Lock’s positive test for COVID-19 Tuesday “came out of nowhere.”
Geno Smith will now start against the Bears. Smith started Seattle’s preseason opener at Pittsburgh on Saturday and ran for a touchdown.
Lock threw two touchdown passes while working exclusively with the second-team offense.
“I’m fired up for Geno to go,” Carroll said Wednesday. “He had an excellent, abbreviated week (of practice since the Steelers game). He had a terrific day (Wednesday). And so he’s ready to go.”
Carroll had said Tuesday afternoon Lock was going to start Thursday’s game. About an hour later the Seahawks announced his positive test result.
Carroll said Lock has had the coronavirus before this. He did not inform the team he was sick before he practiced Tuesday.
Then again, why would he? It was the first and only practice he’s been the clear first quarterback since he arrived in Seattle in March. He was part of the Seahawks’ trade of Russell Wilson to Denver.
Ninety minutes after that practice ended, the Seahawks announced Lock had tested positive.
“He was under the weather yesterday. He barely made it off the practice field,” said Carroll, who returned Aug. 5 from having COVID. “He was dragging, as it does.”
So the coaches scrapped their plan to have Lock work extra with receivers DK Metcalf and Will Dissly Tuesday.
“We were going to do post-practice work, but it was ‘No, let’s get him out of here,’” Carroll said. “It hit him.
“He has had it before, already. He has done all of the work to get prepped for it, it just so happens that it got him again.”
Lock can return following a five-day quarantine the NFL adopts per CDC guidelines for positive coronavirus tests. If he is symptom-free and tests negative on day five — Saturday — he can return to practice Sunday. That’s the team’s first practice before its final preseason game, Aug. 26 at Dallas.
“He’s got a five-day window that he’s got to take care of,” Carroll said.
“It’s just unfortunate. It was his turn to play, start, you know. We’ll figure it out.
The question now is: Will Lock get a do-over next week? Will he start at Dallas in the third preseason game as if it was Chicago and the second preseason game he was supposed start, to make this competition with Smith more equitable?
“We will have to wait and see what happens,” Carroll said. “We don’t need to make that decision yet.”
So until at least Sunday it’s still Smith. He was 10 for 15 passing with 101 yards and a 2-yard rushing touchdown during his deft 2-minute drill late in the second quarter Saturday at Pittsburgh. He played the entire first half.
“I felt like my decision-making was on point,” Smith said.
Lock was 11 for 15 for 102 yards and the two passing touchdowns that tied and re-tied a game the Seahawks had been trailing 17-3.
Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said he was pleased with Smith and Lock.
“Both guys, I thought, played sharp, operated the plays in the context that they presented themselves,” Waldron said, on his way out of the locker room to the team bus in Pittsburgh. “I thought they did a good job being smart with the ball and the downfield stuff.”
Waldron didn’t like Lock missing picking up a blitzing Steelers linebacker off the offense’s left edge with the game on the line. The QB didn’t call an audible or change the pass protection, got sacked, lost a fumble and Seattle lost the game.
Now, again, he will be watching Smith start Thursday, this time from quarantine.
Consider the 25-year-old Lock’s NFL career since Denver drafted him in the second round in 2019 out of Missouri.
He was vying to start that year as a rookie but broke a bone in his hand. He missed 3 1/2 months. Lock returned to start and go 4-1 to end that 2019 season. Just when he was getting comfortable with that Denver offense, the Broncos changed offensive coordinators and systems, away from the roll-outs and running at which he excelled. He led the league with 15 interceptions in 2020 in that new, foreign system.
Denver signed veteran Teddy Bridgewater before the 2021 season. And that was basically the end of Lock with the Broncos. He was 8-13 starting parts of three seasons for them.
Now this, getting COVID just as he was getting his chance to start for Seattle.
Lock’s latest misfortune is a break for Jacob Eason. The Seahawks’ third quarterback and former University of Washington QB from Lake Stevens didn’t play in Pittsburgh. He’s gotten limited opportunities in scrimmages during training camp. Coaches instead are maximizing Smith’s and Lock’s work to determine which of those two wins the job to succeed Wilson as the starter.
Eason is likely to play the end of the game Thursday.
Walker playing opener?
Carroll said rookie running back Ken Walker does not have a sports hernia and that the second-round pick was having “a procedure done.”
An unspecified procedure for an unspecified ailment.
“This is not a sports hernia. That’s not what he is dealing with,” Carroll said. “It’s something a little bit different, and we have a chance to get him back quickly.”
The Seahawks are expecting Walker to play in the opening game Sept. 12 against Wilson’s Broncos.
“It’s a procedure...I would tell you if I knew, I don’t know. There is a word that they threw out, I can’t say it,” Carroll said, adding it’s not related to his core muscles.
“No, it is not. It is not a muscular thing,” the coach said.