BRADY HENDERSON

Seahawks’ Russell Wilson says he’s feeling fast, may ditch knee brace

Jan 4, 2017, 7:36 PM
Russell Wilson has worn a brace on his left knee since spraining his MCL in Week 3. (AP)...
Russell Wilson has worn a brace on his left knee since spraining his MCL in Week 3. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – The Seahawks finished the regular season ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing, unfamiliar territory for an offense that was no worse than fourth in any of the previous four years. Quarterback Russell Wilson’s diminished mobility was far from the only factor in the dropoff in Seattle’s rushing production, but it was one of the biggest.

Slowed by a high-ankle sprain from Seattle’s opener and then a sprained MCL on his other leg from two weeks later, Wilson finished with only 259 rushing yards, less than half of what he averaged over his first four seasons.

How’s his speed feel now compared to what it’s been at this point in previous years?

“Well, I’ve had some bumps and bruises along the way, but I feel really good,” he said Wednesday. “I feel like any play I need to make, I can make, for sure. So that’s the exciting part. I still feel really fast and all that. If you had asked me several weeks ago, I wasn’t moving my fastest, but I feel really good right now.”

Wilson said he’s considering playing without a knee brace Saturday in Seattle’s wild-card game against Detroit. He’s worn one since he hurt his knee in Week 3 but said he feels he no longer needs it.

“My leg’s good,” he said. “I think it’s just more of a safety thing.”

With as unreliable as Seattle’s running game has been this season, the Seahawks need Wilson to be at his best in the playoffs to have any realistic shot at getting back to the Super Bowl. And Wilson at his best means being fully mobile or at least close to it.

The jury is still out on that.

Wilson has at times looked like he’s was regaining the speed that was clearly missing earlier in the year, when he didn’t have his usual quickness to evade pressure in the pocket nor much acceleration in the open field. He rushed for a season-high 80 yards on eight carries in Week 12 at Tampa Bay but has only 100 yards on 25 attempts in the five games since then.

There were some plays Sunday against San Francisco when Wilson didn’t look all that fast. One was in the third quarter, when he rolled to his right on a naked bootleg and was caught from behind by 49ers linebacker Carl Bradford, forcing a throwaway. He finished the game with 4 yards on two carries.

Wilson has shown again this season that he can carve up defenses from the pocket. One of his best games statistically came against the Jets in Week 4, when he went 23 of 32 (71.9 percent) for 309 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 133.5 rating. That was a week after he hurt his knee, at which point his sprained ankle was still bothering him, too.

But his mobility has always been the Seahawks’ trump card. It’s a major component of their running game, it’s threat that defenses have to respect and it allows Wilson to turn busted plays into big gains. It would go a long way toward helping the Seahawks find some consistency on offense as they enter the postseason.

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