If it wasn’t clear already that Pete Carroll’s Seahawks operation is uniquely player-driven and player-friendly, consider the case of their quarterback plowing on through three injuries.
The Seahawks have tried to discuss with Russell Wilson the merits of resting for at least a game. Yet he will play on Monday for the 82nd consecutive time to begin his career when Seattle (4-2-1) hosts Buffalo (4-4) — which, ominously, leads the NFL with 26 sacks.
“They tried to talk to me about the idea of not playing,” Wilson said Friday of the sprained ankle and knee he got over the first three games in September.
“There was no chance. I was playing. There was no chance I wasn’t playing.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
Wilson also said “I’ve been having to play with some tough injuries. I haven’t been able to run as fast as I normally can, but definitely getting there. That’s for sure.”
Wilson was still listed Friday on the Seahawks’ practice report with the pectoral injury on his right throwing side he sustained in the Arizona game Oct. 29, as well the sprained knee for which he is still wearing a brace. He again was a full practice participant.
When asked the now-weekly question of how he’s feeling, Wilson sounded as sure as he’s been since early September.
“I’m feeling great,” he said. “I’m feeling the best I have since Week 1.”
That first game Sept. 11 was when he sprained his right ankle while getting sacked by Miami’s Ndamukong Suh. He sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee two games later, Sept. 25, when San Francisco’s Eli Harold pulled down the hobbled Wilson from behind.
Now, five weeks after the sprained MCL, Wilson said he’s gone to a lighter, Titanium brace on his left knee. It was visibly smaller during the game in New Orleans. He said the smart thing is to keep wearing the brace, though he didn’t answer if he’ll be wearing it the rest of the season.
Carroll said Thursday the team indeed considered ending Wilson’s consecutive-games streak so he could heal for the long run.
“Every week. Every week it was a concern,” Carroll said. “As the issues changed (from ankle to knee) he was able to work his way through it. But it was every concern that he wasn’t going to make it through the week. ... Had we said, ‘Let’s wait for him to feel good,’ we’re at that point right now, five or six weeks or whatever that is.”
OK, but why not have Wilson take at least a practice off to heal? He’s yet to do that.
“I think practice is everything,” Wilson said. “That’s how I grew up. I think it’s easy to play great when you’re healthy and all that — I shouldn’t say easy — but it’s easier to play great when you’re healthy. You have to be able to overcome situations and see mentally what you can do, what you can’t do, and try to step out on the field and win the football game.
“Like I said, it’s one of those things that you have to be able to play when you’re dinged up and find a way.”
Wilson has found a way, but he’s been noticeably limited in his running. Last season he rushed for 553 yards, almost 25 percent of Seattle’s team total. This season through seven games he’s rushed for 44.
Last week in the 25-20 loss at New Orleans he was limited in his down-field throws. He completed just one pass beyond 20 yards against the Saints, the league’s worst pass defense. It was the only one he attempted. The Seahawks’ longest completion was for 43 yards, 28 in the air — by undrafted rookie wide receiver Tanner McEvoy to C.J. Prosise on a trick play, a double pass.
Wilson was asked if it’s been difficult to hold himself back from running.
“The first three or four weeks, after the first weeks, so Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, it was really tough to be: ‘OK, I need to be smart here,’” he said. “I didn’t have quite as much explosiveness and all that kind of stuff, getting out of cuts and making moves and that stuff.”
Before this, Wilson wasn’t admitting to any limitations. But now it’s become too obvious to deny.
Wilson said his quarterback coach Carl Smith “said he was going to put a shock collar on me anytime I left the pocket the first few weeks, just to be smart. Long season, long journey, and we could still win without me just running it or whatever.
“We were able to do that,” he said. “We’re 4-2-1 — not sure about that ‘one’ part (the 6-6 overtime tie at Arizona on Oct. 23), I don’t know if I like that part…
“We’re about to hit a stride. We really believe that we have a great chance.”
Wilson knows the healthier his legs get the more he can help Seattle’s offense. With him limited, it’s scored one or no touchdowns in four of the seven games. It is 28th in the NFL in rushing.
The Seahawks are still waiting for him to run read-option keepers and scramble for first downs when the pass protection breaks down.
Now here come the Bills. Their Ryan coaching brothers will send every Buffalo pass rusher at Wilson and Seattle’s iffy offensive line.
“I think that there’s some exciting plays that I possibly could make,” Wilson said of having healthier legs. “I would add maybe two or three more explosive plays to a game, maybe make that challenge to the defense to either come up or play me or try to cover the guy deep and get a first down.”
That would not just turn around the Seahawks’ offense, it could turn around Seattle’s season.
LOVE FOR POPE’S RETURN
Your summer love is back.
Preseason rushing leader Troymaine Pope signed with Seattle’s practice squad after the New York Jets cut him Tuesday. He averaged 6.8 yards per touch in four exhibition games for the Seahawks, who then Seattle put Pope on waivers at the end of the preseason hoping he’d clear those so they could sneak him onto the practice squad.
But the Jets claimed the undrafted rookie from Jacksonville State off waivers and put him on their active roster to begin the regular season instead.
“When they released me, I didn’t know what to think,” Pope said. “I really just wanted to get the (active-roster) money so I can help take care of my daughter.”
The 22-year-old Pope has a 3-year-old, Cassidy. He earned $31,765 per week for two months with the Jets, even though he played in just one game with one carry. Players on practice squads get a minimum of $6,900 per regular-season week.
Seahawks fans remained gaga for Pope. He said he kept getting messages of love.
“I got a lot of stuff: ‘Why are you not here?’... It was crazy, man,” he said, chuckling.
“I get a lot of it on my Instagram and stuff, and they just are going right now. They are happy to see me back, and I am happy to be back.”
Christine Michael is showing wear as the fill-in lead back. Starter Thomas Rawls has been out since Sept. 18 with a cracked fibula, though may try to return for the Nov. 13 game at New England. Carroll said rookie C.J. Prosise is going to get more chances.
And now another potential option: everyone’s darling from August. But first he needs to show progress in areas such as pass blocking.
“It’s a blessing,” Pope said. “I’m glad to be back.”
SS Kam Chancellor (pulled groin) missed yet another practice. It appears he will miss his fourth consecutive game Monday while Kelcie McCray starts for him. It would be the seventh time in Seattle’s last 11 games Chancellor has been out. … TE Jimmy Graham and LT Bradley Sowell were limited by knee soreness.