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Russell Wilson embraces any opportunity to improve his game
Russell Wilson is always working it. Even when he’s supposed to be relaxing.
Take the ESPY awards in July, when the Seahawks’ second-year quarterback was a presenter as well as a nominee for “Best Breakout Athlete.” Members of the two-time NBA Champion Miami Heat also were there, and Wilson didn’t waste the opportunity.
“I tried to learn as much as I could from LeBron (James) and Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen,” Wilson said Tuesday after the Seahawks’ final practice before their preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. “Just ask them questions: What was it like? What’s it like to be on the top? And how do you continue to stay there?
“That relationship that they have, that bond that they have, it’s something that we’re trying to continue to build here for the Seattle Seahawks.”
Take the CBA-imposed “downtime” the players had in March. Wilson put together a passing camp in Southern California because the players were not allowed to use the facilities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for organized activities.
“You learn about each other throughout the season, but to be able to have that offseason, to be able to get to know guys on and off the field, is really important and is really going to help us this year,” Wilson said.
Take Tuesday’s visit from Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who was at VMAC to see how the Seahawks do things but also shared his experiences of winning back-to-back NBA titles.
“Spending time with coach Spoelstra and listening to his thoughts,” Wilson said, “is really awesome for us because we can gain that knowledge and use it for the best.”
|FEELING THE HEAT: ERIK SPOELSTRA VISITS|
The coach of the two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat spent the day at VMAC. While the Seahawks players and coaches were able to pick his brain on how to lay the foundation for a championship season, Spoelstra was interesting in seeing how the Seahawks do things.
“Just having coach Spoelstra in front of the team and having him in meetings with us and just having him out here at practice is an unbelievable experience for everybody,” Wilson said.
Spoelstra is from Portland. He attended Jesuit High School in Beaverton and also the University of Portland.
Revisiting Wilson’s beyond-dedicated approach to his job is timely, because it was a year ago that the third-round draft coach was named the starter over incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and free-agent addition Matt Flynn after leading six consecutive scoring drives to open the third preseason game against the Chiefs in Kansas City. Jackson was traded to the Buffalo Bills, only to return in June after the Bills released him. Flynn was traded to the Raiders in April.
So much has changed for Wilson in the past 12 months, in part because nothing has changed when it comes to his preparation.
“I don’t see him being different,” quarterbacks coach Carl Smith said. “He’s the same as when he showed up. He’s still working every day and trying to get better. So I’d say if that old wives’ tale about practice and working hard and experience is worth something, then he’s probably a lot better.”
Last summer, Wilson was in a three-way competition for the job he won. He would get the No. 1 reps every third day, and on the other days he’d wait his turn to play. Now, this is Wilson’s offense, and it’s Jackson and Brady Quinn who are alternating as the backup.
Or as Smith put it, “Everybody around him knows he’s the quarterback.”
That will happen when you tie Peyton Manning’s 14-year-old NFL rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes, as Wilson did during the regular season before adding three more in the postseason. And, run for more yards in a season (489) that any QB in franchise history. And, lead the team to victory in eight of its final 10 games, including the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983. And, finish third in the voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. And, lead five consecutive scoring drives to open the second half of the NFC’s 62-35 victory in the Pro Bowl.
Wilson’s performance within the performance of the team is a large part of what has spiked the expectations for the Seahawks this season. In last year’s season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona, Wilson was learning on the fly. In the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina, he’ll be able to just let it fly.
And doing it with the same attention to the most-miniscule detail that lifted that rookie QB from a year ago to his status as established starter this year.
“Russell is trying to learn more and get better each day,” Smith said. “And as he progresses his game, he progresses the Seahawks game.”