Tudor: Russell Wilson an instant hit in Seattle

Former Wolfpack star could start Saturday against Broncos

ctudor@newsobserver.comAugust 14, 2012 

It took Russell Wilson less than one game -- one NFL exhibition game at that -- to create a big stir in the Seattle Seahawks’ preseason camp.

When the former N.C. State and Wisconsin quarterback didn’t get picked until the third round of the April draft, there was speculation among talent pundits that Wilson wouldn’t even get the proverbial cup of Gatorade.

But by the end of Seattle’s 27-17 victory over Tennessee on Saturday, Seahawks fans were in a dither. So was head coach Pete Carroll, who is now trying to decide whether to start Wilson or veteran Matt Flynn this Saturday in an exhibition at Denver.

Although the 5-foot-11 Wilson worked primarily against Tennessee’s second-string defense, his pro debut was a basically a replay of what he did in three seasons at State and one at Wisconsin. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 124 yards with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards and then added a 32-yard scoring run.

Wilson did throw an interception. But so did the 6-2, 220-pound Flynn, the former Green Bay backup who completed 11 of 13 passes for 71 yards.

Wearing jersey No. 3 rather than 16, Wilson called his night at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field “a great experience.”

“I felt like I did a good job, especially for the first time out,” Wilson told reporters after the game. “I was really, really calm (and) just trusted what I saw.”

Seattle running back Leon Washington, a former Florida State standout, said “the night belonged to Russell … people saw what he can do, how he can make things happen with his quickness.”

Carroll, who worked as State’s defensive coordinator under Monte Kiffin in the early 1980s, has been high on Wilson since his first pre-camp workout.

“Russell was terrific,” Carroll told reporters. “I’m like everyone else -- I’m interested to see what he’s going to do the next time, but it’s a lot of fun watching him play.”

After Tuesday’s practice sessions, Carroll told reporters that the coaching staff was still working its way through the process concerning Saturday’s starter.

The game at Denver (9 p.m. Eastern) will not be on national television even though the Peyton Manning factor has networks scrambling to air as many Bronco preseason games as possible.

Wilson wasn’t the only former area quarterback to enjoy some success last weekend.

Former East Carolina standout Dominique Davis played much of the second half in Atlanta’s 31-17 loss to Baltimore.

Davis, who was skipped entirely in the draft, completed 6 of 11 passes for 53 yards but was intercepted once. Established starter Matt Ryan played the first quarter before being relieved by John Parker Wilson, who completed eight of 13 for 69 yards.

In Cleveland’s 19-17 win at Detroit, ex-Duke star Thad Lewis completed 5 of 8 passes for 90 yards for the Browns. Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace and rookie Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) shared time about evenly for the Browns.

Lewis signed as an undrafted free agent with St. Louis out of Duke in 2010 and was picked up by Cleveland last summer. He hasn’t yet played in a regular season game.

UNC product T.J. Yates helped Houston stop the Carolina Panthers, 26-13. Yates, who completed eight of 12 for 89 yards, is expected to back up Matt Schaub (Virginia).

Ex-ECU and Southern Durham High star David Garrard was scheduled to start for Miami but was slowed by a knee injury and underwent arthroscopic surgery Saturday. He’s expected to be sidelined for approximately two weeks but could be ready for the Dolphins’ regular-season opener at Houston on Sept. 9.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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