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Focus on: Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has collected a lot of labels during his first 27 games with the Seahawks.
First, there was “rookie” – in the literal sense – because the Seahawks selected Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft and he surprised everyone but himself by winning the starting job. Then there was “rookie” with some negative undertones as he struggled at times early last season. Then there was “winner,” as Wilson began to do just that and now has 20 victories in 27 starts, including the playoffs.
We might as well throw “elusive” in there, because Wilson definitely was that in rushing for 489 yards and four touchdowns last season – and continues to be that this season, when he has 375 rushing yards and another TD. Then there’s the way he whirls away from pressure in buying time to find an open receiver.
Recently, coach Pete Carroll added “fixer,” because of Wilson’s uncanny ability to be presented with a problem and come up with a way to correct it.
But the latest label is “tough.”
Entering Sunday’s game against the Falcons in Atlanta, Wilson has been sacked 27 times, after being dropped 33 times all of last season.
In the Week 7 win against the Cardinals in Arizona, Wilson lost two fumbles while being sacked three times. The following week against the Rams in St. Louis, he was sacked a career-high seven times. In Sunday’s overtime win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wilson was not sacked, but he absorbed some after-the-throw or just-as-he-was-throwing shots that left him sore after the game.
How’s he feeling as the team prepares to depart for Atlanta, in search of its ninth win in 10 games and fifth road victory?
You could see the next question coming like an unblocked linebacker on a blitz: Would you say if you were hurting?
First, Wilson smiled. Then, he offered, “Would I say if I was hurting at all? I probably wouldn’t, knowing me. I feel good, though. It’s one of those things that every week my goal is to be 100 percent and try to heal myself as good as I can and then be ready to play.
“But I really do feel good. I’ll be ready to play.”
The offensive line that will be missing tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini, and could be missing center Max Unger, needs to do a better job of protecting Wilson while he is playing.
As line coach Tom Cable said this week, “We still got him hit after throws five times. No sacks, which is really cool. Run the ball for a bunch of yards (198), which is cool. But we’ve still got to keep him from getting hit.”
Carroll definitely agrees with that assessment.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of keeping him clean,” Carroll said. “We get out of the game with no sacks, but he still got hit five times and he got hit substantially, with a couple of (roughing-the-passer) penalties in there, too.
“So he got hit pretty good. But he’s a tremendous athlete to take those hits and to roll with it and all that. He takes full advantage of his athleticism to get out of that stuff.”
Not to mention his toughness.