RENTON — Maybe the biggest surprise for the Seahawks on roster cutdown day occurred on the practice field after all the moves had been made.
In the first real drizzle the Seahawks have had to practice in since camp began, there was rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba out on the field, running around and making catches during a no-pads, non-contract practice, less than a week after having surgery to repair a slight fracture in his left wrist.
The wrist was covered in a heavy wrap, and at one point, Smith-Njigba juggled a pass that he might usually have corralled easily before reeling it in. But that he was out there at all impressed coaches and teammates alike.
“It was great seeing Jaxon back out there,” said quarterback Geno Smith. “Got some reps in today. He’s a tough kid, man, and I think it’s remarkable what he is doing.”
Smith-Njigba, a first-round pick from Ohio State selected 20th overall, suffered the injury against Dallas on Aug. 19 when he landed on the wrist while bracing a fall after catching a pass for 48 yards. He flew to Philadelphia a week ago Tuesday for the surgery.
Carroll initially said the team was hoping for a 3-4 week return.
Saturday after the preseason finale at Green Bay, Carroll offered an even more optimistic view.
“He came back to the building (last Friday) and he was playing with the football,” Carroll said. “He was ready. He was talking like he is OK. His attitude is great. They might say it is going to be 10 days or something. He wants to get going and get running and all of that so we will see how that works out.”
Carroll did not talk to the media Tuesday to offer more of a possible ETA.
That Smith-Njigba is wearing a brace/wrap on his left hand shows there’s still some healing to do. The Seahawks will surely need to see how his wrist handles the practice he gets over the next two weeks before making a decision if he can play in the regular season opener Sept. 10 against the Rams at Lumen Field.
Smith said he felt Smith-Njigba caught the ball “a little different” than usual.
“I mean he’s got a big, little thing on his hand that obviously restricts him a little bit,” Smith said. “But he looked fine to me. So I’ll love to see how he progresses and how things go as the coming weeks go.”
Carroll had called the procedure done on Smith-Njigba “elaborate” for such a small fracture and said the team would take all precautions to keep him safe.
But Saturday, Carroll also seemed to foreshadow that Smith-Njigba would be back on the field quickly.
“He is the kind of kid that we will have to hold back more than anything,” Carroll said. “I was really pleased about it. On his departure, he was talking the same way. ‘Whatever this is I am going to be OK, don’t worry about it,’ kind of thing. He came back even more forthright in that regard, so it was really good.”
Smith-Njigba potentially being back Week One helps ease some of the concerns about the receiver spot Seattle might have felt in the moment when his injury was revealed.
The team plans to play him as the primary slot receiver with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on the outside. Rookie undrafted free agent Jake Bobo, who made the roster, for now appears to be the fourth receiver on the roster. Dareke Young and Cody Thompson also made the 53, but each also sat out the preseason finale due to injury (Young a hip/adductor issue and Thompson a shoulder) and each also sat out practice Tuesday. The team could make a move Wednesday to put either or both on IR and recall them after four weeks. That could have Seattle re-signing someone such as Easop Winston Jr., who was waived Tuesday.
The Seahawks could also scour the waiver wires to add someone on the back end of the rotation.
But what Tuesday seemed to show is that barring a setback, Smith-Njigba shouldn’t be out too long.
Smith-Njigba caught six passes for 83 yards in two preseason games and also took the field a couple times for punt returns, though without ever getting an official attempt. It’s a role he could handle significantly this season.
— Cornerback Devon Witherspoon, who has been out three weeks due to a hamstring issue, was not seen during the portion of practice open to the media. Carroll said the team hoped Witherspoon, the fifth overall pick, would return to practice this week. He has been taking part in walk-throughs.
— Safety Jamal Adams, who was activated off the physically unable to perform list last week, was also not seen during the portion of practice open to the media. However, linebacker Jordyn Brooks was on the field and took part fully in the portion of practice open to the media.
— Others who did not appear to be practicing included defensive linemen Mike Morris and Cameron Young and linebackers Darrell Taylor and Derick Hall. Hall suffered a shoulder injury against Green Bay.
— Running back Kenny McIntosh remains out.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)