JOHN CLAYTON

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson staying busy off the field, sharp on it

Sep 2, 2016, 1:20 PM | Updated: 1:25 pm
Russell Wilson said he wants to become a "master" at calling protections at the line of scrimmage. ...
Russell Wilson said he wants to become a "master" at calling protections at the line of scrimmage. (AP)
(AP)

On Friday night, Russell Wilson is throwing out the first pitch before the Mariners game.

He’s in a great place with a night of baseball to go along with his long days of football preparation. He loves baseball and he lives for being on the football field. As the Seahawks quarterback heads into Year 5 of his NFL career, life couldn’t be any better for him. Away from football, he keeps himself active in charity work and trying to be an inspiration to kids.

On the field, Wilson couldn’t be any sharper. Each morning at 10:45 on my 710 ESPN Seattle show, we go behind the lines with Gee Scott. He has a great feel for what’s going on behind the scenes with the Seahawks and made an interesting point the other day.

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He said that not until this year has he seen a Seahawks offense attack a Seahawks defense in practice every day – attack and often defeat. So much of that has been the play of Wilson. He’s been on fire since the start of OTAs.

“I feel real confident out there,’’ Wilson said this week. “The game has really slowed down.”

With the game slowing down before him, Wilson is making quicker, better decisions with the football. It’s also helped that coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider re-stocked Seattle’s offense in the draft with three running backs, a tight end, three offensive linemen and a wide receiver.

“We’ve always said we weren’t that far off,’’ Wilson said, looking back to last season. “We lost some games at the end, but we were one or two more plays from being there. You’ve got to be great on third down and great in the red zone. We are playing with great confidence and letting it go fully at the highest level.’’

Assistant head coach Tom Cable is trying to revamp the Seahawks’ offensive line, with new starters in at least four and possibly all five spots. He remarked the other day how much better Wilson is at making the protection calls.

For his first three seasons, Wilson had one of the NFL’s best communicators at center in Max Unger, who made sure the offensive line was in the right protections. After Unger was traded to New Orleans last offseason, the Seahawks struggled with communication along the line. Wilson was learning. Drew Nowak just wasn’t very good at that aspect of playing center. It improved when Patrick Lewis took over as the Seahawks’ starter, but it really elevated when Wilson advanced that part of his game.

“I want to become a master of protection,’’ Wilson said. “I admire the guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. I always set the bar high, believing I’m doing it right. I want to be perfect every time. Coaches have helped me. We’ve studied a lot.’’

Most people expect Wilson to have his best season. He’s arguably one of the top five or six quarterbacks in the league. The game has slowed down enough for him that he’s able to confuse defenders with his eye movement, trying to disguise which part of the field he’s taking a play.

The key with Wilson is his schedule. He studies constantly, works out hard and stays busy off the field.

“I’m always better when I’m busy,’’ he said. “It keeps you going and keeps you motivated. Sometimes people don’t always comprehend that. For me, I’ve always said there is no time to sleep. I’m 27 years old. There’s a lot more things I want to accomplish. I want to be able to change a generation. There is no time for sleep, no time to take any breaks.’’

That means no breaks for the opposing defenses he’ll face this season.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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