How does the quarterback who took the NFL by storm last season after being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft plan to handle the vaunted “sophomore slump”?
Wilson just smiled before offering, “I don’t even know those words.”
He wasn’t looking to dodge the obvious; it’s just that Wilson doesn’t have time to deal with such things. He is too focused on the now, as he puts it, and what the next play, the next practice, the next opportunity will bring – and how he’ll handle it.
That ability to have a fine focus, as well as ignoring the noise that comes with sudden celebrity, are two of Wilson’s more endearing traits. They’re also big reasons why the quarterback who was deemed “too small” to play at this level has continued to tilt the field in his direction.
“I think those kinds of things for a guy like Russell, those are challenges,” coach Pete Carroll said when asked about any “sophomore slump” after the first practice in a mandatory three-day minicamp that will conclude the team’s offseason program. “People try to put labels on you like that – that this is going to happen, that’s going to happen.
“He's not letting anything happen but going straight ahead. He’s going to keep balling, working, preparing. Somebody might want to label it something, but he’s so much farther ahead than he was last year at this time and he’s in such greater command. It’s amazing how far he’s come.”
Wilson has been one busy young man this offseason. Before the players were allowed to work out at Virginia Mason Athletic Center due to regulations in the CBA that ended the 136-day lockout in 2011, he took the receivers and backs to Southern California for a passing camp.
“It all kind of jumpstarted going down to California and getting ready with the receivers, and having that experience with those guys,” Wilson said. “It was a good experience. Just a team bonding-type experience, getting used to the guys and hanging out with them some more and just being around them and throwing to them.
“Just getting somewhere else where we can really just focus on football.”
Once back in Renton, there was the start of the offseason conditioning program in mid-April; the on-field work with the coaches that followed; and the OTA sessions that followed that. Last Friday, Wilson participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony as part of the grand re-opening of the Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field. Then, he was off to Safeco Field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners’ game against the New York Yankees – the team Wilson rooted for as a kid growing up in Richmond, Va.
“He said, ‘Bring the heat.’ So he was ready for it, and it was fun.”
Tuesday, Wilson also hosted Kevin Lee – a 12-year-old Make-A-Wish recipient from Farmington, Mich., whose wish was to meet the Seahawks’ second-year QB.
The veterans are off following this minicamp until training camp opens in late July. But with Wilson, “off” is a relative term. How does he plan to spend his time?
“Between now and training camp, just basically getting ready,” said Wilson, who also means “prepared” when he says “ready.”
“Getting my body ready. Getting my mind ready. Getting my spirit ready. You’ve got to all take that into account, in terms of just getting ready for the season. It’s a long season. I’ve experienced that now. This last year, I never hit that ‘rookie wall.’ So how do I improve on that even more? And how do I mentally get ready for the game? And mentally always be prepared for practice? I think that’s the biggest challenge: Can I always take it to another level.”
And that leads to yet another question for the QB: He is fearful of doing too much?
“I’ll rest later,” he said. “You guys have to remember, I played two sports (football and baseball) my whole life. It’s just one of those things. I never had a break, ever, before this past offseason. My biggest thing is I like to have a lot on my plate. And I think the biggest thing also is being selective, in terms of what I’m doing. You know, being efficient with my day.”
With Russell Wilson, is there any other way?