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Seahawks send Russell Wilson, top RB Chris Carson to injured reserve

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The Seattle Seahawks lost two of their best players to injured reserve this week, with Russell Wilson recovering from finger surgery and Chris Carson managing a neck injury. That puts them up against the New Orleans Saints next week without some critical playmakers.

New Orleans will fly out the Pacific Northwest for a Monday night game on Oct. 25, coming out of their bye week refreshed and well-rested. They’re expecting to get a number of their own injured players back from various reserve lists, including as many as four starters on offense (wide receivers Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith, offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Erik McCoy). Help could be on the way on defense, too, with Kwon Alexander, Marcus Davenport, and Ken Crawley working their way back.

But let’s circle back to Seattle. The Seahawks will be without their franchise quarterback, instead starting veteran backup Geno Smith in his place. Smith went 10-of-17 for 131 yards in spot duty a week ago, tossing one touchdown pass against a game-ending interception (when a wide-open Tyler Lockett lost his footing, sending Smith’s pass into a defender’s mitts). He’ll have an opportunity to settle in on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And the rest of the Seahawks backfield will look different, too. Carson saw almost as many rushing attempts (54) as all of his teammates put together (62). With him out of the picture, it’ll fall on backups Alex Collins (28 carries for 124 yards), DeeJay Dallas (5 tries for 12 yards), and Travis Homer (2 rushes for 10 yards) to carry the run game. None of them are great receiving options — Homer leads the trio with 6 receptions for 75 yards gained through the air.

In theory, it’s an offense New Orleans should be able to defend well. But Lockett and DK Metcalf are still one of the best one-two punches at wide receiver you’ll see around the NFL, and the Saints secondary must stay on their toes. It’s a combo that a capable backup like Smith should still be able to work with. He’s beaten the Saints once before, even if it was ugly — Smith went 8-of-19 for 115 passing yards, taking two sacks while scrambling 6 times for 18 rushing yards and scoring a critical touchdown run in a 26-20 win as a rookie in 2013.

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