RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Somewhat lost in the wash of excitement and attention that comes with the start of a new season is a notable injury recovery that's taken place for the Seattle Seahawks.
On New Year’s Day, Seattle linebacker Jordyn Brooks was helped off the field with the first major injury of his career. It was a torn ACL in his right knee, which appeared likely to sideline him well into the start of the upcoming season.
But barely eight months after getting injured and even less time since having surgery, Brooks is expected to be on the field Sunday when the Seahawks open the season against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I hope we don’t just pass on it like this is not a big deal. That’s an extremely big deal, something that we should definitely applaud, definitely appreciate, definitely acknowledge because that’s not easy having that injury, coming back and being ready for the first game.” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
Brooks’ availability for the opener was another piece of good news for the Seahawks as they enter a season with expectations of playoff contention. Rookie wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who had surgery to repair a small fracture in his wrist a couple of weeks ago, is expected to play against the Rams. And fellow rookie Devon Witherspoon has returned to practice, raising the likelihood he returns soon after missing a significant chunk of training camp with a hamstring injury.
Neither of those returns are as notable or unexpected as Brooks'.
The linebacker was drafted in the first round by the Seahawks in 2020. He started 33 games the past two seasons and finished second in the league in tackles with 183 in 2021.
Brooks was hurt during Seattle’s win over the New York Jets on Jan. 1 and had surgery on Jan. 19. Most of his rehab and recovery was in the Dallas area alongside teammate Jamal Adams, who was recovering from a torn quadriceps tendon suffered in the 2022 season opener.
Brooks said the initial timeline for his return was nine months to a year. The opener will be 235 days after his surgery. Brooks said the idea of returning for the opener became a possibility when he joined the team at the start of training camp.
He was annoyed about having to stand and watch practice.
“It was honestly standing on the sidelines and I’m like, ‘I can’t get comfortable doing this. It’s hard for me to sit here and watch these guys practice,’” Brooks said. “We wanted to be out there.”
Seattle will likely limit his snap count early on. Wagner’s re-signing this offseason was partly protection in case Brooks’ rehab followed a more traditional schedule. Seattle also has Devin Bush, who could spell both Brooks and Wagner.
But the Seahawks are confident that the duo who held down the inside linebacker spots during the 2020 and 2021 seasons will be out there together again come Sunday.
“Once I’m out there, I don’t see myself coming out,” Brooks said. “I can definitely see myself playing 60 snaps, but at the same time we all got to be smart. So we’ll see how much I play.”
NOTES: Coach Pete Carroll said the expectation is Adams will return to practice next week. He has participated in walkthroughs since being activated off the physically unable to perform list but has not practiced. ... Seattle named six captains: QB Geno Smith and WR Tyler Lockett on offense, Wagner and S Quandre Diggs on defense, and LB Nick Bellore and K Jason Myers on special teams.
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Tim Booth, The Associated Press