IS A DIFFERENT RUSSELL WILSON THE SAME RUSSELL WILSON?
He was noticeably different on that sprained ankle for the final 1 1/2 quarters last weekend against Miami. Standstill in the pocket. Not running away from pass rushers. Took off just once to run, on the final, game-winning drive. One week later on an apparent high-ankle sprain, he’s likely to be limited from his normal game again. He’s quick to point out he was a deft pocket passer at the end of last year, en route to becoming Seattle’s first 4,000-yard passer in a season. But can this offensive line – already with new starters at four spots, and with fill-in right guard J’Marcus Webb questionable with his own ankle injury — give Wilson a pocket against the attacking Rams’ defense?
ARE THE RAMS AS BAD AS THEY LOOKED MONDAY NIGHT?
No. If they were, they’d be in the Big Sky Conference instead of the NFC West. Coach Jeff Fisher called a stubborn game in the 28-0 loss at San Francisco. He stuck with Todd Gurley running with the 49ers crowding the line against him. He left usually electric Tavon Austin inert and underused. He even left the No. 1-overall pick Jared Goff not only on the sidelines — the quarterback was in street clothes and inactive. Goff got promoted to No. 2 behind Case Keenum for this Seahawks game. The Rams are going to be much better today in their LA return game — if they unleash Austin to help out Gurley.
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ARE THE 49ERS AS GOOD AS THEY LOOKED AGAINST THE RAMS?
No. But here’s the thing with new Niners coach Chip Kelly: He provides instant energy early to his teams with his pace and schemes on offense. Remember how good Philadelphia looked in its first game with Kelly on a Monday night against Washington a few years back? Or his first year with the Eagles, 10-6 and the playoffs in 2013? He got fired two years later. It was the defense that made San Francisco look so strong against LA. They jammed the line to throttle Gurley and the run. But starting Sunday at Carolina, the 49ers are going to get offenses that are much more varied and will attack them in a variety of ways. Cam Newton and the Panthers will bring the Niners down closer to their reality.
CAN THE PATRIOTS ACTUALLY GO 4-0 WITH TOM BRADY SUSPENDED?
Jimmy Garoppolo led them over their tallest task of the four games Brady is serving for Deflategate with the narrow win at defending NFC finalist Arizona. Now New England gets three straight home games: Miami, Thursday night against Houston, then winless Buffalo. The Patriots — even without Brady — will be favored in all three. Then, when Brady comes back for Week 5, it’s at Cleveland. Suddenly, 5-0 with the rest of the AFC East gasping looks likely. Meanwhile, antsy Brady is posting online pictures of him passing to his wife and getting former top target Wes Welker with him to play catch.
WILL THE SEAHAWKS’ PREGAME LOCKED ARMS CONTINUE?
Apparently. That’s according to the locker-room talk from players this past week concerning what to do during another national anthem, to make a statement on relations of race. But the Seahawks want to make clear their intent to do more than just stand united. Doug Baldwin this week stood with Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole in Renton and present Seattle police officer Sergeant Adrian Diaz with a NFL Hispanic heritage leadership award and grant for $2,000. The wide receiver has mentioned a plan to meet with the mayor of Seattle and police chiefs across Washington. The Seahawks want to be known as guys who did more than make a statement during national anthems. “The difference between a mob and a movement,” Baldwin said, “is a follow-through.”
Gregg Bell: email@example.com