Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has earned his first start in the team's third preseason game, coach Pete Carroll announced Tuesday, and team sources say a strong performance could elevate him into a starting role for the 2012 regular-season opener.
Carroll on Monday informed the quarterbacks, including Matt Flynn, the free-agent pickup who had started the team's first two preseason games but didn't make the official announcement until Tuesday.
"We told you we were going to need preseason to figure this thing out and I think we're moving along positively and I have no concern about the timing of this other than we need information and we need to figure it out," Carroll said Tuesday. "This is about competition. This is what we've always been about and if somebody doesn't see it that way then they don't understand us and I can't do anything about that. This is a great competitive opportunity to watch and for me to oversee as a coach and it's exciting and it's been fun to see it through and we're going to finish it up the next couple of weeks."
Wilson will take the majority of first-team reps as the Seahawks prepare to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night. Carroll plans to play Wilson with the Seahawks' starters through at least the first half. Flynn could get some first-team reps to start the second half depending on the flow of the game.
"We're going to wait after the game and see what happened and see what it feels like and talk it all out and see everything you can possibly see in analyzing it and move ahead with confidence," Carroll said. "I'm real confident we're doing the right thing. I don't have any hesitation in this."
While Flynn has been steady, Wilson has provided the Seahawks with more dynamic plays between the two quarterbacks, albeit against opposing team's second-string defenders. But a team source also noted that Wilson has played with second-teamers, for the most part, and has produced several big plays despite shoddy pass protection. He also has converted 54 percent of third-down possessions, a source noted.
Wilson has completed 22 of 33 passes for 279 yards this preseason, throwing for three touchdowns with one interception. He also has rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown. Flynn is 17 of 26 for 102 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
"I definitely imagined myself always being successful. I knew one thing, I was going to do everything I could to be successful," Wilson said. "That's what I always do no matter what the situation is."
The Seahawks also want to see how Wilson handles the pressure of a starting assignment as opposed to coming off the bench in a relief role, which has been one of the scenarios the team hasn't ruled out as part of its game plan in 2012.
"Getting out there and playing against first team defenses and playing with the first team offensive line will definitely help me as I continue to go on," Wilson said.
Although Carroll understands that conventional wisdom normally would call for Flynn to start, he also has noted to his staff that conventional wisdom didn't call for the Seahawks to use a third-round pick to select Wilson, who's 5-foot-10, out of Wisconsin.
If Wilson struggles against the Chiefs, the Seahawks haven't ruled out having Flynn start in the final preseason game.
Four teams have already said they will start rookie quarterbacks in Week 1 (Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 2012 could be the first year with more than two rookie quarterbacks starting in Week 1 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Last week, when Flynn was announced as the starter against Denver and Wilson the backup, Carroll said he felt that's where the two stood. Asked if that had changed, Carroll didn't answer directly, but said it's apparent making the jump from college to the NFL has not been overwhelming for Wilson.
"Even though the newness of it for Russell -- and it's really the newness of understanding the league and NFL and style and that stuff that takes time, nothing but time can solve that -- isn't factoring in his play," Carroll said. "He came back and played very much in command and did some wonderful things in Week 2."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.