Anytime most of us come back from summer vacation, there’s a decent chance we are qualified to become Porky Pig’s stunt double. But that is not permitted in professional sports, where the only cartoon character allowed in NFL camps is The Roadrunner (with the exception of Yosemite Sam, played by Bill Belichick).
So it wasn’t a surprise that the first day of Seahawks’ training camp Sunday at the VMAC, QB Russell Wilson came back slim. Svelte. Lean.
While that doesn’t seem especially newsy, greater context says otherwise. Because of injuries last season, Wilson became . . . how to say this? . . . cherubic. Chunky.
Not corpulent, nor voluptuous. It was a bit hard to tell with all the bulletproofing NFL quarterbacks wear under their jerseys, but he was overweight.
“I wasn’t able to run at all (in practice) during the season,” he said after the first workout that drew 2,444 to the berm on a perfect-weather day in Renton. “I had to practice, and couldn’t move. I had to save it all for game day. I played every game, every play, and all that . . . ”
While reporting for duty is good, the expectation was for Wilson to play superbly. But separate ankle and knee injuries limited him to a career-low 259 rushing yards — his previous low was 489 yards his rookie year — and diminished his ability to avoid the rush behind a way-too-young offensive line.
In the absence of RB Marshawn Lynch, Wilson set career highs in pass attempts, completions and yards, but had a career-low QB rating of 92.6. The Seahawks still finished 10-5-1 and won a playoff game, but without Wilson at or near his apex, the offense put too much pressure on an oft-injured defense to be a serious title contender.
Wilson didn’t divulge the maximum numbers on the scale last year, but guessed he reported at 212 to 214 a year ago, and went up from there to as much as 225. Saturday, he reported for work at 208, seemingly a modest difference, but not to a discerning eye.
“He looks pretty slim,” said coach Pete Carroll. “He’s excited about it too. This is the lightest he has reported by quite a bit. He is in fantastic shape. He has really had a hard-working, diligent off season. You can see it.”
Wilson’s mobility was a valued asset in the arsenal, because with a healthy Lynch, defenses dared not overload for either, for fear of being burned by the other. With both missing, the Seahawks went touchdown-free in four games, and had one TD in a fifth.
“That was a major part of the reason trying to get back to full strength, speed and health,” Wilson said, referring to an ambitious off-season regimen that included the hiring of two assistants who moved to Seattle to attend to Wilson’s needs.
As outlined in an ESPN.com story by Sheil Kapadia, Wilson now employs trainer Derrick Decker and physical therapist Janet Jin. It’s a full-time personal staff that is similar to one used by New England QB Tom Brady, in pursuit of a similar goal: Playing to age 40 and beyond.
Brady turns 40 this season, and neither he nor the Las Vegas bookies believe he has been diminished by age, installing the defending champs as favorites to repeat. Just as Brady has no reason to think of retirement, Wilson said his goal is to play a quarter century, or until 2037.
That’s a little mind-bending for a sport where the average career is 3.5 years.
“I’ve always aimed high,” Wilson said Sunday. “I don’t think I’m the type to aim low. I had something in my head.
“I don’t look at 25 years, I look at today. Next five hours. What I do in the next five hours helps me prepare for the next 25 years. That’s kind of how my mind works.”
Presuming the re-made line is a bit more capable, and running backs Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy can contribute a poor man’s Beast Mode, Wilson’s skinny repeal of 2016 may improve the health of Seahawks fans.
Contract extension for Chancellor looking ‘positive’
There was some expectation that a contract extension for SS Kam Chancellor, 29, would have been done before now. But there is no calendar deadline for such a thing, only the interest of both parties. Carroll said progress is afoot.
“We have looked long and hard at that,” he said. “There is a lot of real positive stuff coming. We aren’t quite there yet, but I think it’s nothing but positive stuff. Hopefully. we will be able to get stuff done soon.”
Chancellor will make $7 million this season, the final year of a $28 million deal. His ferocious style and recent injuries have made the issues of length and value a tough negotiation.
Other players out for awhile
Besides the absence of DT Malik McDowell because of an ATV accident two week ago, the Seahawks are also missing CB DeShawn Shead (recovering from knee surgery), WR Tyler Lockett (broken tibia and fibula), and rookies OL Justin Senior and DL Dion Jordan. Shead is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season, but Lockett’s absence is likely to be short-term, Carroll said . . . RB C.J. Prosise also was out with the stomach flu — “sick as a dog,” Carroll said.