Russell Wilson won't play against Broncos; Geno Smith to start

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers

RENTON -- Russell Wilson will not play in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Denver Broncos. Geno Smith will start at quarterback for the Seahawks before having an injury issue addressed following the game.

It's the first time in Wilson's eight years with the team that he will not have played in the team's first preseason game. He has been held out of the final preseason game in each of the last two seasons, but it's the first time head coach Pete Carroll has held him back in the opener.

"They'll be some mixes in the starting lineup that you'll see right from the get-go and some guys won't play in this game," Carroll said. "It's really the game to get the season started and get these young guys rolling and give them the opportunity to compete like we want to compete around here. We want to see if they can help our football team and they can't do it just watching. They need to get out and play."

Despite missing practice on Tuesday, Geno Smith will get the start in place of Wilson against the Broncos. However, Smith will need a procedure after the game to address the injury that kept him out of practice.

"He's got an issue that we're dealing with that we're going to attend to after the game," Carroll said. "He's going to play in the game. He's going to start the game and get a chance to play some good football for us but we're going to fix him up after that.

"We think he's going to be OK for the second game too is what the plan is. We have an unusual length between these two games that we're going to try to take full advantage of."

The battle for the backup quarterback spot between Smith and Paxton Lynch is one of the more prominent battles on the roster as the preseason gets set to begin. With Wilson watching from the sidelines, the two quarterbacks will get their first major audition to show if they can be the guy for the job against Denver.

Carroll said that several starters, including Wilson, would not play against the Broncos as the team looks to give its youngest players chances to play in a live game environment. They intentionally gave the first-team units more reps in practice on Tuesday as a way to offset the lack of plays they will get Thursday night.

"I think that we might have gained ground by doing it that way," Carroll said. "We had more competition with 1's against 1's out here that they won't get if they were going to play a handful of plays in the first game. So I think we made an effort to get more out of this process than to get less out of it by them not playing in the game. It's really dedicated to the young guys. You'll see the lineups. There's a mixture of guys playing, all with really specific decisions along the way. Once the game gets going it will be like a really classic first game."

While some of the decisions on who will and won't play will be voluntary decisions by Carroll and the coaching staff, injuries will keep several more players sidelined Thursday night. The team has found itself somewhat short-handed at both tight end and running back this week because of injuries.

Tight end Ed Dickson had surgery on Tuesday to address a knee injury that became an issue late last week. Carroll said the surgery went well and that they hope Dickson will be back in four-to-five weeks. Jacob Hollister is also set to miss the game due to a minor groin strain sustained during the team's mock game at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell on Saturday.

"Jake has done a really nice job for us," Carroll said. "We're really excited about his contribution to us. He's got some different elements to his play that really accents and helps us at that spot so we're really excited about him."

Additionally, Will Dissly is being held out one more week. Carroll said they are thrilled with his progress but don't want to force the issue in the meantime as Dissly works back from last year's patella tendon tear.

"He's done beautifully," Carroll said. "He had his best day since he's been back just yesterday. He looks great. He's ready to go, but we want to wait. We didn't think that Will would be this far along so he's way ahead of schedule and we're just going to not push the issue right now."

At running back, C.J. Prosise, Travis Homer and J.D. McKissic may all three miss Thursday night's game. Prosise and Homer are definitely out while McKissic will be a game-time decision. Prosise has a first-degree hip strain. Homer has a minor quadriceps strain, and McKissic is nursing a minor foot sprain.

With Carroll's desire not to expose starters too heavily in the game, the Seahawks added a running back to the roster after practice on Thursday. The team signed Xavier Turner, who had been released by the Arizona Cardinals on Friday. Seattle waived/injured cornerback Davante Davis to make room for Turner on their roster. Without the addition of Turner, Carroll may have had to use Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny more than desired against the Broncos as only Bo Scarbrough and fullback Nick Bellore would be available otherwise. Turner gives the team a little added depth to get through the game.

Safety Marquise Blair, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven all will play against Denver after missing varying amounts of time since the start of camp. Carroll said they're really excited to see Blair get a chance to play in a game for the first time.

"Probably as much as anybody out there we're excited to see him run and hit because he hasn't had a chance to show what he's so unique at," Carroll said. "He's really a physical football player. We'd love to see how that fits in, get a chance on special teams and he'll play a lot of plays in this game."

Safety Lano Hill, who started camp on the PUP list, will not play. However, he is getting closer to returning to action after working back from a fractured hip that ended his 2018 season.

"He looks great," Carroll said. "It's great to have him back out. With his injury he lost quite a bit of weight. He lost 20 pounds and he had to work his way back up and he looks in beautiful shape right now. He looked great the last couple days, just not enough background to play him yet. That's a really important player for us to figure into the competition. Lano had a really good finish to the year last year and we were really excited about all things that he was doing and so we just need that to be as competitive as can be. By the time he gets back he'll be ready to crank it up, so next week should be really important for him and then the following week would be the one that would tell us if he's ready to go for the game."

Guard Phil Haynes (sports hernia) and defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas (back) remain on the PUP list for the time being. Both players are progressing with Christmas appearing to be a bit closer to returning to the field at the moment.

"I talked to Demarcus this morning and the reports back... he's had a couple epidurals to get him back to where he is and he feels like he's really making a turn right now," Carroll said. "He is conditioning and working so it's probably another... after this next game he might have a shot to be getting back out there. Phil has made great progress. He's running and doing some stuff. He's got to put the weeks behind him just to get back in shape and ready to go."

Photo Credit: SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 16: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks scrambles with the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Curtis Crabtree

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