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A little road trip, Russell Wilson style
Russell Wilson is the surprising third-round draft choice who just keeps on giving.
During his rookie season, Wilson did everything he could – and more than many expected he could – to help the Seahawks post the third-best regular-season record in franchise history (11-5) and win a road playoff game for the first time since 1983.
He did it with his arm, tying Peyton Manning’s single-season rookie record for touchdown passes (26). He did it with his legs, rushing for more yards in a season – his first season – than any quarterback in franchise history (489). He did it with his leadership, above all else.
Now, Wilson is doing it again as the Seahawks prepare to match the lofty expectations for 2013 that are being hoisted upon them at seemingly every turn.
Because of the new CBA that followed the 136-day lockout in 2011, the offseason program does not start until April 15 – almost a month later than under the old CBA. But Wilson isn’t waiting, as he is organizing a passing session with his receivers in Southern California next month as prelude the beginning of workouts at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
“Just get together and throw, and just get our minds ready and our bodies ready for a great season,” Wilson said Friday, during an appearance at Roosevelt High School to promote the Verizon Wireless-sponsored “Save it Seattle” program that gets students to sign a pledge that they won’t text and drive.
This should not come as a surprise. It was Wilson who met with Percy Harvin in the film room – or “his office,” as teammates refer to it – the day it was announced that the receiver/returner/runner had been acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. It was Wilson who left detailed notes about the upcoming opponent in the cubicles of his receivers each Monday during the season. It’s Wilson who still ends every interview session or public appearance with his now-trademark “Go Hawks!”
“The team we’re going to have next season is very exciting,” Wilson said. “But it’s a new year and it’s going to present new challenges. I think the key is guys staying healthy, guys getting ready for the season and really preparing – mentally and physically.”
That assessment, and Wilson’s road trip, should not come as a surprise either. Leading by example is in Wilson’s football DNA.
“Russ has kind of taken this whole thing into his own hands,” tight end Sean McGrath said Saturday, when he was at VMAC to watch a friend and former Henderson State teammate – safety Jeremy Rodenburg – participate in the NFL Regional Combine.
“He’s taking us all to L.A. So it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better and kind of be on the same page as far as just a feel.”
A year ago, neither Wilson nor McGrath were even members of the Seahawks. Wilson was still more than a month away from being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. McGrath was one of the rookie free agents the team signed just after the draft. So they’re used to being around teammates more while on campus. That’s why this bonding experience will be valuable, especially because it’s Wilson who’s putting out the call.
“This is so typical of Russ,” McGrath said. “We’re grown accustomed to him doing things like this, just because that’s the type of person he is. It will be a great team-building opportunity.”
Wilson is sensing the heightened expectations for his team, and wants to fulfill them.
“It’s going to be a really exciting season,” he said. “Obviously the energy around CenturyLink and the Seattle area are just unbelievable. It’s really exciting with the new additions. So it’s going to be really great, and we can’t wait for that opportunity.”