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Seahawks QB Geno Smith remains grounded ahead of first start since 2017: 'I'm fresh, I'm ready'

The visual was a little jarring. Russell Wilson, right hand in a bulky cast and brace, out at a Thursday practice with a jersey and a helmet. Throwing lefty.

"He's actually not bad," said a joking Geno Smith, who starts at quarterback for the Seahawks today. "I would say he's actually not terrible. I would call him a work in progress. But hopefully he won't have to do that for much longer."

For the next three weeks, that'll be all Wilson can do. He was officially placed on injured reserve prior to Sunday, meaning it'll be at least three weeks until he can don a helmet and jersey at practice. For now, it'll be Smith's show, starting tonight versus the Steelers.

"Read it, execute, go play football," Smith told on Friday, before reflecting on an eventful last game. "Russ is a super tough guy, and I almost had to beg him not go back in the game. You could see he was injured, he just didn't want to come out. But just having that opportunity to go in there, I was thinking, 'How are we going to win this game now?' It was go in, 'Try to win the game.'"

They nearly did. A rarely needed backup who threw just nine passes from 2018-2020 -- thanks to Wilson's endless starting streak -- Smith took all the first-team reps in practice this week after an impressive showing last week.

In a phone conversation following the week of preparation, Smith shrugged off the monumental difference between the two weeks. He was told this is his first start in a while.

"First and foremost, my first start in a little bit, but I always played in the preseason and I've started them," Smith said. "So, it's not like I haven't been playing football at all. The difference is now, it's physical reps. I'm getting all the reps. You always take mental reps and prepare that way, but this is about physical preparation as well, more than just the mental side of playing quarterback. This week was different because I'm taking physical reps, as well."

Smith was 10 of 17 for 131 yards with a touchdown last week against the Rams. He led an attempted comeback that fell short after Tyler Lockett fell down and his pass was intercepted. With all those throws, plus all the reps this week. Smith was asked how tired his arm is.

"Nah man, I'm fresh," Smith said. "I feel like I'm 21 years old. I'm ready!"

Smith said the week of practice was good and efficient, with Wilson doing his usual to prepare his teammates. For Wilson, it was like usual.

"He works non-stop," Smith said. "That's all he does, that's all we do. I think that's why we're so close -- we both love what we do. We have love for the game. Ultimately, it's about setting the standard for one another. That's the only thing you have to live up to: the standard you set for yourself. Whatever someone else thinks, that's their problem. I love Russ for being the ultimate competitor and a super tough guy. He just goes out and prepares to play like he always does. I'm just taking reps on the field, he's not."

The former Jets starter, who famously filled in for Eli Manning with the Giants as well, has an opportunity, beginning tonight. He can, perhaps, show a few people that he belongs in the league as a starter. Not that he's not focused on that or anything.

"The moment is what it is," Smith concluded. "We have a Sunday night game in Pittsburgh. It's one night, not the rest of my life. Mostly, it's a game I love to play, a game that I'm passionate about. It's one that I prepare for and am ready for whether I get to play or not. It's not a chance to showcase anything, that's how I see it. I'm not going to change my stripes. I'm just looking forward to playing football."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.