Russell Wilson met with the media on Thursday ahead of his team's Week 8 road matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. Here's four things we learned from the Seahawks quarterback:
1. Paul Richardson Looks "Unbelievable"
When wide receiver Paul Richardson started practicing earlier this week, he credited the trust he had built with Wilson as one of the key reasons why he was able to come on strong for the Seahawks late in his rookie season.
An ACL injury in the playoffs this past January forced Richardson to start 2015 on the team's physically unable to perform list, but coach Pete Carroll said Richardson looks "lightning fast" in recent workouts and has said it's not unrealistic to think Richardson could play in Sunday's game at Dallas. A roster move would need to be made first in order for that to happen, but for what it's worth right now, Wilson has been satisfied with what he's seen from the second-year receiver in practice.
"He's looked unbelievable, honestly, this week," Wilson said. "He runs so fast, catches the ball so well, can run every route in the book and loves the game. He's been working his tail off to get back and so to see him out there this week, all the receivers, all the guys, everybody on the team is just so happy for him just because we know what a tough challenge that is to overcome what he had to overcome. He's done it with such class and such work ethic, and he truly enjoys the game and just being out there. You can see a smile on his face, it's exciting to see him out there practicing with us. I don't know what the situation is this week. I don't know anything about that, but he's a great football player."
As for that rapport Wilson and Richardson built up toward the end of last year, the Seahawks quarterback sees them getting back on the same page soon.
"I don't think it'll take too long at all," Wilson said. "I think just watching him practice the past few days, he's been on it and we've been on it together and he's been in every meeting for the most part. If he's not getting rehabbed, he's been here every single second. He hasn't missed a beat. Physically, obviously, but he's been training so hard and the trainers did a phenomenal job of getting him back so quickly. He'll be ready to go. I'm not nervous about him being out there or anything like that. I think he's going to have an unbelievable season and an unbelievable career."
The team practiced in the IPF on Turnover Thursday as preparations for the Week 8 match-up with the Dallas Cowboys continued at VMAC.
2. He's Not Concerned About His NFL-High 31 Sacks
Through seven weeks, Wilson has been sacked a League-high 31 times, six more than the next most-sacked quarterback.
On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said he thinks the offensive line is "getting better" and "going in the right direction" in terms of pass protection, and on Thursday, Wilson said he wasn't worried about the amount of hits he's taken. Wilson even shouldered some of the blame for the high sack totals, pointing to the amount of time he holds onto the football when trying to extend a play with his legs.
"I'm not concerned," Wilson said. "I think it's one of those things, I can say that some of those are on me, sometimes you're just trying to make a play. Sometimes you get a zero yard gain, you get back to the line of scrimmage, that's considered a sack, we've had a few of those for sure. I think we could all be better, I think it's definitely on me to make sure that we really cooperate and work together and are in sync at all times, and get the ball out and do everything that I can to eliminate some of those."
While getting the ball out quicker would help the offensive line in pass protection, it could also lead to a dip in the amount of explosive plays that come off of Wilson's scramble drills. Bevell and Wilson agreed it's a fine line the offense is trying to walk.
"At the same time, you don't want to eliminate some of the explosive plays that we make too from it," Wilson said. "It's a happy medium. I think that the key is being smart in certain situations. Sometimes, and this may sound crazy, but sometimes a sack's not the worst thing in the world. It's better than giving the ball away. You can live on to the next down and some of those sacks you get back to the line of scrimmage. You're trying to make a play and you get back to the line of scrimmage and now it's second and seven or third and seven or whatever, so you just have to live with it."
3. Will Tukuafu Is One Of The Most Valuable Players In The NFL
He's listed as a fullback on the Seahawks' roster, but Will Tukuafu is so much more.
The 6-foot-2, 280-plus-pound former Oregon Duck has played fullback, tight end, defensive line, and special teams this season for Seattle. In last week's win over the Niners, Tukuafu saw snaps on offense, defense, and special teams, and with fullback Derrick Coleman (concussion) inactive, Tukuafu helped pave the way for Marshawn Lynch's first 100-plus yard game of the year.
"He's got to be one of the most valuable players in the National Football League to think about what he can do," Wilson said. "You think about both of our fullbacks really, Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu, they're both so physical. Will Tukuafu, I think, is 290 and playing fullback, can run, can catch and goes to the defensive line and does a great job playing with our defense, one of the top defenses in the National Football League. To think that he can play there on that side too and then he goes to special teams. I remember in the San Francisco game, there was a time when he was on offense, defense and then right to special teams, or something like that. It was crazy watching him participate in all three phases of the game at such a high level."
4. The Players Believe In One Another
After the Seahawks' Week 6 home loss to the Carolina Panthers, Wilson and defensive end Michael Bennett led a talk to teammates huddled inside their CenturyLink Field locker room.
The theme of that huddle was choosing to believe in each other, Seattle's system, and the team's preparation, a formula that led to a 20-3 win over San Francisco the very next week. Wilson said he's seeing his teammates respond the way he hoped they would from his and Bennett's talk.
"I think everybody's just fully committed to this football team and what we're trying to do," Wilson said. "It's a belief in one another, it's a belief in what we're doing and how we're preparing, and belief in the coaches we have, belief in each player, each opportunity that we get, and obviously belief in our fans too, that they're going to continue to support us. I think that's a huge thing for us and that's not going to fade away for us. We can't let it."
The Seahawks have a chance to get to 4-4 by the time they enter their Week 9 bye, after which they will enjoy three straight games at CenturyLink Field. Following a 2-4 start, a record that includes two tough fourth-quarter defeats against the Bengals and Panthers, Wilson said it feels like it could be a weathering-the-storm type moment if Seattle can enter its break with a .500 record.
"Yeah, I definitely think so," Wilson said. "It's one of those times when you have to notice those moments and take advantage of them when you have them. At the same time, you don't want to think about it too much, don't want to think too far ahead, because that's our mission, that's our goal is to go 1-0. If you think too far ahead, you kind of get lost in the shuffle at times and you get maybe too hopeful, or whatever it may be, and think about things that aren't even in your control.
"For us, we just have to prepare at a high level, and hopefully we play a great football team, obviously going to the Cowboys it's going to be a tough challenge. It's going to be a tough crowd, it's going to be a great environment, and we're just so grateful to have the opportunity to play. This week's going to be a phenomenal week. We're looking forward to it. We're preparing at the highest level we possibly can and hopefully that shows up on Sunday."