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Seahawks notebook: O-line’s crucial role in Russell Wilson’s great start, injury updates

Russell Wilson is benefiting from strong pass protection, Pete Carroll said. (Getty)

Through three games for the Seahawks, all eyes have been on Russell Wilson, and for good reason.

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Seattle’s star quarterback is off to the best start of his already storied career, to the point that’s it’s been historically great. He’s the first QB in NFL history to open a season with at least four touchdowns in each of the first three games, and his 14 total TD passes is a record through three games.

During his weekly Wednesday press conference, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that while Wilson is playing exceptionally well, some of the credit belongs to the amount of time he’s getting to throw.

“The pass protection has been better. We really have protected better,” Carroll said. “Russ has got his base underneath him the best he’s had probably as I can remember.”

Wilson has been sacked nine times so far, and that puts the Seahawks ahead of only seven other teams in the NFL. Part of Wilson’s playing style is how long he keeps plays alive, however, which can result in more sacks, and it’s hard to argue with the results considering he just won NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second time already this season.

There was only one other time Carroll could think of where Wilson had comparable pass protection – a “remarkable run” in 2015 when Wilson and wide receiver Doug Baldwin went on a tear, setting an NFL record for a QB-receiver duo with 10 TDs over a four-week span.

The Seahawks have dealt with injuries on the offensive line in the first three weeks, so Carroll pointed out the importance of what offensive line coach Mike Solari and the rest of Seattle’s involved coaching staff have had in the improved pass protection.

“What I’ve been pleased (with), the backup guys that have had the chance to get in, it hasn’t changed,” Carroll said. “(The coaches) are doing a great job with these guys and they’re making sure they’re where they need to be with conviction and power and strength and all the things, and we’re going to get better. I think we’re going to continue to improve.”

The big play problem

While Wilson is racking up big numbers on one side of the ball, opposing teams have also been torching Seattle’s defense for big plays. That was especially a problem in the Week 3 win over the Dallas Cowboys, who had 522 total yards of offense and three touchdown passes of at least 40 yards.

That was a topic that was visited and revisited a few times during Carroll’s availability Wednesday, and as someone who was a defensive back in his playing days and came up the coaching ranks with the secondary as his specialty, it was evident it’s something he is eager to get fixed.

“We have to quit making errors that come from the newness and the guys not being together (for very long). It’s been sloppy at times and the communication has not been as effective as it needs to be,” he said. “… We’ve had a few breakdowns that we give a regular, routine play access to the end zone – you know, it’s just wrong. Getting beat over the top is a different story but when the plays come across the field and we’re in zone and they make touchdowns, that’s not supposed to ever happen. So we have to be better, try to recapture the emphasis of keeping the ball in front of us with a lot of intent.

“It’s really important, we gotta get this done, we’ve gotta slow guys down.”

The secondary is an area that is dealing with multiple injuries, particularly at safety where Marquise Blair is out for the year and All-Pro Jamal Adams may have to miss time with a groin strain. Carroll pointed to that as a reason for the ineffectiveness against long passes.

“We have been mixing safeties and mixing guys in and out a little bit more than we would like, and we haven’t responded as well as we need to to be really sharp and clean,” he said. “It’s just a challenge for us. Sometimes we look like we haven’t been practicing a whole lot on the back end – we have been, so we just have to do better. I really can’t imagine that we’re not gonna do this a whole lot better here in the coming weeks.”

Seahawks injury updates

Here’s a look at the injured players that Carroll provided the latest on:

• It sounds likely that running back Chris Carson (knee), guard Damien Lewis (ankle) and center Ethan Pocic (knee) should all be able to play Sunday in Miami. “All three of those guys were at the walkthrough today. They were all out there and participated in the full walkthrough. Chris is really sounding positive, Damien looked pretty good and Pocic was alright, so might get a really good turn from those three guys.”

• Linebacker Jordyn Brooks, Seattle’s 2020 first-round pick, may have a tougher time with his knee sprain. “He’s limping a little bit today. He’s pretty sore,” Carroll said. “It’s gonna be a real challenge for him to make it back as stiff as he is right now. He got whacked pretty good. Have to wait and see, though.”

• Cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee), who was inactive against Dallas, fits somewhere in the middle compared to the aforementioned players. He’ll get to rest this week in the hopes of healing up enough to be ready to play against the Dolphins. “He’s holding on to a good thought that he can get back this week and we’ll see what happens. … Just wait all the way to the weekend to see where he is. We’ll be ready to play without him but also looking forward to see if he can make it.”

Roster moves

With the secondary in the shape it’s in, the Seahawks added veteran safety Damarious Randall to the practice squad Wednesday and promoted Ryan Neal, who had the game-clinching interception vs. Dallas, to the active roster. The 28-year-old Randall spent three years with the Packers and two with the Browns after being taken in the first round out of Arizona State in 2015. He has 14 interceptions, 47 passes defensed and 290 tackles in 65 career games. Linebacker Tim Williams was also signed to the practice squad.

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