DANNY ONEIL

Russell Wilson’s knee injury could have been worse, and may still be

Sep 25, 2016, 7:13 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2016, 9:02 am
Pete Carroll didn't rule out the Seahawks sitting Russell Wilson vs. the Jets knowing their bye is ...
Pete Carroll didn't rule out the Seahawks sitting Russell Wilson vs. the Jets knowing their bye is next week. (AP)
(AP)

It wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

That’s about the only good thing you can say about the third-quarter play when Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was pulled down by the back of his shoulder pads, his left leg twisting unnaturally as 49ers linebacker Eli Harold came down on top of him.

“He was in a bad situation,” coach Pete Carroll said after the 37-18 Seahawks win. “He knows it, too. He lucked out that it wasn’t worse, and so we’ll see how he does.”

In other words: It might be a little soon to describe just how relieved Seattle feels.

First, there will be more tests, like an MRI to evaluate damage to the soft tissue, specifically the ligaments in Wilson’s knee. Then there’s going to be the question of how much the injury limits a quarterback who was already hurt.

The sprained knee Wilson suffered may not be a worst-case scenario, but Seattle’s quarterback is a long way from being healthy. If Wilson doesn’t limp into next week’s game against the Jets, it’s only because it will be hard for him to favor his left knee with his right ankle already injured.

“He’ll do an incredible job of rehabbing,” Carroll said of Wilson, “and probably the biggest issue is that he’s still rehabbing his ankle, too.”

So buckle up, Seattle. Because while the offense may have rolled through the first half of a blowout win over the 49ers, things could get pretty rocky here starting this week in New York, where the Seahawks are going to face (another) opponent known for its strength along the defensive line.

But before the hand wringing begins in earnest, let’s stop to marvel at the seemingly indestructible quarterback whose joints are as flexible as his press conferences are predictable. First, it was his right ankle, which somehow remained intact even after it was stepped on by the brontosaurus named Ndamukong Suh. On Sunday, it was his left knee that flexed so unnaturally after he was pulled down by Harold.

“I didn’t know what happened, honestly,” Wilson said. “I got up gingerly just to see. Didn’t want to get up too quick, and just kind of went in my own kind of zone mentally and see how it felt, first of all.”

Wilson stayed down, trainers coming out to him. Receiver Doug Baldwin felt a sinking feeling that plenty of people in Seattle can probably identify with.

“My heart dropped,” Baldwin said. “Which was weird. I hadn’t felt like that in a long time.”

And for the first time since Wilson entered the NFL in 2012, an injury forced him to leave a game. For one play.

Wilson came back out to finish the series, a pair of handoffs to Christine Michael sandwiched around a 10-yard pass that Wilson completed to Baldwin. Turns out that that re-entry was one last audible called by Wilson.

“When he came back into the game, he kind of did that on his own,” Carroll said. “We had to yank him after that. Give him the hook.”

Baldwin was there one series later as Wilson wore his helmet, asking to get back into the game. Baldwin was impressed. Not swayed, as Baldwin told Carroll to keep the quarterback on the sidelines, but certainly impressed.

“It’s a tribute to the person that he is,” Baldwin said. “His resolve and his passion to be out there for his teammates. It’s ridiculous, and sometimes we have to hold him back from himself.”

And now a city and a franchise must wait not just for the results of the tests, but to see what Wilson looks like for next week’s game at New York. Because even as Wilson expressed confidence that the injury won’t be as severe as it could have been, there’s a question of how good he can be next week.

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Russell Wilson’s knee injury could have been worse, and may still be