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Originally published Monday, October 1, 2012 at 7:01 PM

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Seahawks quarterback controversy? Pete Carroll stands behind Russell Wilson

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll insists Russell Wilson isn't far away from a breakthrough at quarterback, but downplays backup Matt Flynn's sore elbow.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON — The Seahawks are getting close to seeing a change at quarterback, said coach Pete Carroll.

It's not the switch the city's fans debated after Seattle's 19-13 loss in St. Louis over the weekend, however. Carroll isn't thinking about changing who's playing quarterback, but rather how rookie Russell Wilson will change as he continues to develop.

"He's not far off from being really, really successful right now as a leader in that position," Carroll said.

Players were not available for interviews Monday, which left the coach to clarify the situation under center. He gave no indication he was considering a change at that spot, let alone getting close to making one.

Wilson remains Seattle's starting quarterback heading into this week's game against Carolina, and one-quarter of the way through this season, Seattle's coach tried to take a big-picture perspective on his rookie's performance.

"He's a first-time starter," Carroll said. "He has been in every game and had a chance to win 'em. He's won one of them, and two of them got away from us at the end there."

All true. Seattle has had the ball in the opponent's half of the field with a chance to win in the two road games it lost.

The flip side of that is Seattle ranks last in the league in passing yardage, and that lack of production threatens to undermine what otherwise appears to be a burgeoning contender. The Seahawks have a defense strong enough to be the backbone of any team, a running back in Marshawn Lynch who leads the league with 423 yards rushing and another option at quarterback in Matt Flynn.

There's a reason they say the backup quarterback is one of the most popular players on the team. In Flynn's case, the appeal is heightened by the expectations that greeted his arrival as a free agent from Green Bay when he signed a three-year, $26 million contract that stands as Seattle's largest financial commitment to a quarterback during Carroll's tenure as coach.

Flynn suffered from a sore elbow in August, a condition similar to tendinitis and it prevented him from playing in the team's third exhibition game at Kansas City. That game turned out to be Wilson's closing argument in earning the starting job.

As the backup quarterback, Flynn doesn't get as many repetitions in practice, but in Week 3, he served as the scout-team quarterback, doing his best imitation of former teammate Aaron Rodgers to get Seattle's defense ready for the Packers.

"He had a very good week that week," Carroll said, "and it looked like he's ready to go."

But even then, Flynn's number of throws were limited, something Carroll compared to a pitch count.

"We've never had him throw the amount of throws that a starting quarterback does," Carroll said.

To say Flynn is injured is incorrect, though. He is the only quarterback other than Wilson on the roster, and would be ready to play were Seattle's starter to suffer an injury. The only caveat is there's a little bit of uncertainty if the elbow injury would flare up again if he's given the workload of a starter.

"I don't know if it would act up or not," Carroll said, "because he hasn't had to do that yet."

But for now, the question of Flynn's potential readiness as a starter takes a back seat because Wilson remains in that spot, and Carroll insists he sees improvement on the horizon.

"We're that close," the coach said. "So we're going to keep working hard at it, and try to make those plays happen that make the difference and close out the issue, and finish these games off and make sure that everybody's doing their part. There's a lot going on.

"It's not just one guy."


• G John Moffitt missed last week's game with a sore knee, and he is not expected to return for this week's game. Paul McQuistan started in Moffitt's spot at right guard with James Carpenter starting at left guard.

• G Allen Barbre finished his four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and Seattle released him when he came off the suspended list. He was not on the 53-man roster.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or On Twitter @dannyoneil.

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