From his first repetitions during rookie minicamp in May until now, one thing steadily improved for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson – fewer of his throws are hitting the ground.
“I feel confident with the protections, calls and everything,” Wilson said. “And just throwing the ball to the receivers – that’s the thing that I’ve noticed – just making the connections to the receivers that much more, because I’ve thrown a thousand more balls to those guys now.”
Wilson had the best completion percentage of the three quarterbacks competing for the starting job in last week’s intrasquad scrimmage, finishing 9-of-15 for 116 yards.
Part of the reason for Wilson’s improved accuracy is a better overall command of Seattle’s offense, which has allowed him to play faster and better anticipate where to throw the ball.
Seahawks quarterbacks coach Carl Smith said Wilson has gotten more accurate throwing long passes.
“He’s progressed on throws,” Smith said. “He’s better on up balls and seam balls than he was when he got here. He wasn’t (accurate) on any one of those in spring ball. And he is now, and he hit them today. So I’m really happy with him.”
Wilson showed off that improved accuracy Thursday when he dropped a pinpoint pass to Braylon Edwards in stride on a go route. And he connected with Terrell Owens on a fade route for a touchdown against cornerback Marcus Trufant.
Wilson said he’s ready to take the next step in his development Saturday against Tennessee. Wilson is expected to play the entire second half with the second-team offense in the exhibition.
Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has had the task of trying to stop the elusive and accurate Wilson during training camp practices.
“With Russell, we’re thinking, ‘OK, we should be able to get some batted balls,’ ” Bradley said. “But he’s really learning fast. You’re seeing less and less batted balls.
“His ability to see defenses, making checks and getting guys lined up has been very impressive.”
HAWKS VIOLATE RULE
The Seahawks confirmed that they violated an NFL rule by suiting up receiver Owens in shoulder pads one day sooner than he was eligible.
A league spokesman said that according to the league’s collective bargaining agreement, players must have a three-day acclimation period during the preseason. Day 1 is for a physical examination and meetings. On Days 2 and 3, the player may participate but may wear only a helmet and either a padded shirt or a soft, padded “shell” to protect his upper torso.
Starting on Day 4, and for the rest of camp, a player may be in full pads.
According to the team, Owens signed on Monday, attended a team walk-through practice that day and an afternoon meeting on Tuesday before attending his first practice on Wednesday. So Owens should have been in a helmet and shell on Wednesday instead of full gear, including shoulder pads.
The violation is Seattle’s second this year. The league ruled that the Seahawks violated its offseason workout rules because of a too-aggressive organized team activity (OTA) session. As punishment the Seahawks lost two OTA days and an additional offseason workout day.
WAGNER ‘BABY WILLIS’
Michael Robinson isn’t one for hyperbole. So the Seahawks fullback created quite a stir when he compared rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to NFC West division rival Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers.
Comparing a rookie to perhaps the best inside linebacker in the game seems like a stretch, but Robinson should know. He played with Willis during his time in San Francisco and has to figure out a way to block him twice a year when the Seahawks face the 49ers.
“He’s very explosive,” Robinson said about Wagner, a second-round draft pick. “He’s a guy that can run sideline to sideline. And he’s learning. He’s still a young guy. He’s still learning how to get off blocks in the National Football League. But he’s going to be another special football player someday.
“I call him a ‘Baby Patrick Willis’ because I haven’t seen a linebacker move like that since Pat.”
At 6 feet tall and 241 pounds, Wagner ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds during his pro day at Utah State. Willis, the No. 11 overall pick by San Francisco in the 2006 draft, ran the 40 in 4.51 seconds at 6-1 and 242 pounds at the NFL scouting combine that year.
“He’s fast. He’s explosive,” Robinson said about Wagner. “And again, just the way he slips blocks – it seems like he’s always going toward the ball. He’s not worried about a blocker. He’s learning. Obviously, he’s still young. But he definitely has the ability.”
Seahawks offensive lineman John Moffitt apparently suffered an injury to his left arm during blocking drills and did not return to practice. Deuce Lutui replaced Moffitt at right guard with the first-team offensive line. Sidney Rice wore a red jersey and is not allowed to participate in contact while recovering from two offseason shoulder surgeries. But Rice got some team reps in 7-on-7 and team drills. Defensive lineman Alan Branch (leg), wide receivers Doug Baldwin (hamstring) and Ricardo Lockette (hamstring) and linebacker Matt McCoy (knee) did not practice. Tight end Cameron Morrah and cornerback Brandon Browner were new additions to the injured list and did not practice. Their injuries were no specified. Phillip Adams played cornerback with the first unit with Browner out. Linebacker Jameson Konz (shoulder) returned to practice on a limited basis. Tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) also returned to practice. Tight end Cooper Helfet switched from No. 43 to No. firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams