SEATTLE — It’s been a season of superlatives so far for Russell Wilson.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback was already off to the best start of his career when he delivered another surgical performance Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams. Wilson tossed four more touchdowns — with one coming on an improbable throw to Tyler Lockett — and avoided trouble with his legs. He had a perfect passer rating through three quarters before finishing at 151.8.
You’d only need a few fingers, if any, to count better performances from Wilson in his seven-plus NFL seasons. But what he did in Week 2 at Pittsburgh might be on the same hand.
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“Russell played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play,” coach Pete Carroll said after the Seahawks’ 30-29 win. “… All of the plays that he came up with his legs, running, for one, but also, not just to get out of trouble, but to find the receivers and make the throws just one after another after another. The extraordinary play to ‘Lock’ … everybody’s just raving it’s one of the best catches they’ve ever seen.
“But it’s also one of the best throws ever made if that’s the case. Because there was no room for error. But I just thought Russ was — he stole the show tonight as he did so much. And on top of what he’s done to start the season off in great fashion. So really fired up for him and our team.”
Wilson’s play tops the list of reasons the Seahawks are 4-1 and a half-game behind the undefeated 49ers the NFC West standings heading into their Week 6 game at Cleveland. Wilson’s play has raised his odds of winning the MVP from 25-1 (10th in the NFL) to 5-1, second behind Patrick Mahomes, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
All of the most relevant passing numbers paint a clear picture illustrating that Wilson has never been better to begin a season than right now. As the chart below shows, it’s not all that close. His 12-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best of his career through the first five games, as are his 73.1% completion rate, 9.0 yards per attempt and 76.8 Total QBR, which is third in the league behind Dak Prescott and Mahomes.
Wilson’s hot start reminds many of the second half of the 2015 season. Prior to this, Wilson has never been hotter than he was during that eight-game stretch, when he threw 25 touchdowns to two interceptions.
“It feels different because of the way it’s happened,” Carroll said. “I think that’s looking back. We’re right in the middle of it now. It’s hard to say if it’s the same or not. I have higher regard for Russ’ command of the game now than we did three, four years ago — the things that he’s doing and how he’s controlling things. That was a great streak. That was an all-time streak. He and [receiver] Doug [Baldwin] were just on fire for all that time. I need some more games just to compare it I think. It feels different.”
But some of Wilson’s current numbers compare favorably to those from the final eight games of 2015. He posted a lower completion rate (67.5%), yards per attempt (8.62) and passer rating (124.3) four years ago. Wilson’s 12 touchdown passes would average out to about 19 over eight games. His career-high for a single season is 35, set last year.
It’s safe to say Wilson is earning every penny of the record $140 million extension he signed in April, which made him the league’s highest-paid player.
“He’s been playing MVP-level all season, man,” Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown said. “He’s been doing this his whole career. I know a lot has been said about his performance thus far this season, but he’s been doing this every year. He’s just amazing, man, he’s just amazing. … He’s a generational talent. He’s a Hall of Fame player, man, and I’m just glad he’s on my team.”
Anyone looking to poke holes in the Seahawks’ start would have ample ammunition. Their first three victories came against teams (Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Arizona) with two wins between them. Three of their four wins were by a combined four points. And they would be 3-2 had Greg Zuerlein not pushed a 44-yard field goal try wide right in the closing seconds Thursday night. The Seahawks’ pass-rush has run hot and cold despite their firepower, their secondary remains a question mark and they’re still prone to getting in their own way.
But they have what might be the most valuable asset an NFL team can have: a quarterback playing at an MVP level.
“We’ve been witness to a freshman coming up,” Carroll said of Wilson. “He’s way into graduate school now and he’s doing great stuff.”
Ex-Seahawk Malik McDowell sentenced 11 months in jail
Former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Malik McDowell has been sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years of probation after pleading guilty last month to a series of crimes earlier this year in Michigan, court records show.
As part of McDowell’s sentencing Wednesday in Oakland County (Michigan) Circuit Court, a judge also ordered him to write four essays within the next 90 days.
The 23-year-old McDowell never played a down for Seattle after injuring his head in an ATV accident in July of 2017, three months after the Seahawks drafted him 35th overall out of Michigan State. He was arrested in February and charged with assault, resisting arrest and operating a vehicle while intoxicated after an incident in which he fought with two officers after a DUI stop. In April he was found in possession of a stolen Ford F-150 Raptor, leading to a charge of receiving and concealing stolen property.
McDowell was sentenced to 153 days in jail over the incident with police and his second drunken driving offense, with credit for 66 days served, and another 244 days in jail for the stolen property offense.
According to the Oakland Press, McDowell apologized to his victims and others on Wednesday while vowing to abide by the law going forward.
“I’m doing everything I need to do, seeing all the doctors I need to, working out … doing everything I can to get back to where I was, back to the NFL,” McDowell said, according to the newspaper, and added that he’s “very remorseful.”
Judge Michael Warren ordered McDowell to write essays ranging from 750 to 1000 words on: finding meaning in life other than committing crimes, the importance of respecting the rule of law, the principles of the Declaration of Independence and how your behavior undermines them, and the importance of respecting property rights.
McDowell was previously sentenced to 12 months of probation from a 2017 drunken driving incident in Royal Oak, Mich. He was also arrested in December of that year on a disorderly conduct charge stemming from an incident at an Atlanta-area nightclub.
McDowell spent two seasons on the Seahawks’ non-football injury list before being waived with an injury designation in March. The team filed a lawsuit against McDowell in May, seeking the repayment of nearly $800,000 in forfeited signing-bonus money.
Biggest Week 11 injury questions for all 32 NFL teams
As the races for the 2019 NFL playoffs tighten, a number of key starters are battling injuries.
Get the latest scoop from inside NFL locker rooms here.
None. Don’t refresh your page — you read that correctly, although Buffalo fans might want to knock on wood. The Bills’ 53-man roster is shockingly healthy entering Week 11, and although three players are technically eligible to return from injured reserve, the only “realistic” option to do so is tight end Jason Croom. Yet, with four healthy tight ends already on the 53, even Croom’s return seems incredibly unlikely. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Dolphins safety Reshad Jones told reporters that this is the week he will return from what he called a crack rib. He has missed the past four games, and he’ll add strong veteran talent for a young secondary that is trending in the right direction. — Cameron Wolfe
The Patriots haven’t had much pass-catching production from the tight end position, and the hope is that Matt LaCosse, who injured an MCL on Oct. 10 vs. the Giants and has been sidelined since, will help improve that. LaCosse returned to practice two weeks ago on a limited basis. If he’s ultimately cleared for action, his presence would create more options for coordinator Josh McDaniels so the team isn’t as reliant on the wide receiver position. — Mike Reiss
Running back Le’Veon Bell (ribs, knee, ankle) is beat up, but he will play Sunday against the Redskins. The injuries seemed to affect him last week, as he appeared a half step slow to the hole. It wouldn’t be a surprise if backup Bilal Powell gets a few more carries. The Jets could be without cornerback Darryl Roberts (calf) for a second straight week, meaning another patchwork game at cornerback. — Rich Cimini
Defensive tackle Michael Pierce didn’t practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury, and the key run stopper likely will be sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Texans. Coach John Harbaugh didn’t officially rule out Pierce, but the Ravens signed veteran defensive tackles Domata Peko and Justin Ellis on Tuesday for a reason. Baltimore understands it has to be strong up front against the Texans, who have the NFL’s fourth-best rushing attack. — Jamison Hensley
Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson was limited in the Week 10 loss to the Ravens and missed Wednesday’s practice with a back injury. While Bengals coach Zac Taylor listed the starter as day-to-day, it appears he’s optimistic about Erickson’s availability at Oakland. Taylor: “He’s a tough guy, so start with that and make your own assumptions from there. He’s going to do everything he can to get healthy and get going.” — Ben Baby
While running back James Conner is off the injury report for Thursday night’s game, another starter landed there Wednesday afternoon. Cornerback Joe Haden is questionable with an illness, and his availability is the biggest injury question for this team. He has flown under the radar, but he had an interception a week ago and figured to be key in slowing Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. If Haden can’t go, he’ll likely be replaced with Artie Burns, who played 100% of defensive snaps against the Chargers. — Brooke Pryor
Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V was limited in practice on Wednesday, but it was the first time he has practiced since he injured a hamstring in Week 7. Fuller could still be a week away from playing, but this is a good sign for the Texans’ offense for the second half of the season. — Sarah Barshop
The Colts got some positive news when quarterback Jacoby Brissett was a full participant in practice Wednesday. He’ll be back in the starting lineup against Jacksonville on Sunday barring any kind of setback. Brissett missed the Week 10 game against Miami with a sprained left MCL. Wednesday was definitely a significant step in the right direction for his return, after he was a limited participant in practice last week. — Mike Wells
Mike Clay doesn’t see Eric Ebron as a top tight end to start in fantasy, but sees a little bit of optimism with Jacoby Brissett returning.
The Jaguars are pretty healthy after the bye week. Every player practiced Wednesday in some capacity, but one player to monitor is defensive lineman Calais Campbell. He’s dealing with a back injury (he was limited on Wednesday), and while he is expected to play on Sunday, back issues can be troublesome because they tend to linger. Dawuane Smoot has been a pleasant surprise this season (four sacks after having none in his first two years) and would absorb some of Campbell’s reps. — Mike DiRocco
The bye week comes at an ideal time for the Titans. Linebacker Jayon Brown (groin), wide receiver Corey Davis (hip), tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) and defensive lineman Jurrell Casey all missed last week’s game and should benefit from the time off this week. Coach Mike Vrabel said all of the players who missed time are working their tails off to return, and coaches will evaluate where they are when they get back after the bye week. — Turron Davenport
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James (knee) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, and he continues to work his way back into the lineup. James, who was one of the Broncos’ major free-agent signings in the offseason, has played 32 snaps this season. James played 10 snaps in the season opener in Oakland before injuring a knee, missed six games and returned to play 22 snaps against the Colts before reinjuring the same knee. He missed the Week 9 game against the Browns before the Broncos’ bye, and he is still a significant question mark to return to the lineup. It has continued to limit the Broncos’ ability to adjust to any troubles in the offensive line, including left tackle Garett Bolles‘ struggles with penalties. — Jeff Legwold
The rash of offensive line injuries could be easing to the point where the Chiefs could have their initial group of starters back on Monday night for the first time since Week 2. The Chiefs are hopeful left tackle Eric Fisher and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif could be ready to play. The Chiefs will know more on Thursday, when they begin their practice week. The Chiefs have been patching offensive line holes all season. Only center Austin Reiter of the original starting group has yet to be knocked from the lineup because of injury. Things were most perilous last week in Tennessee, where the Chiefs played without Fisher and Duvernay-Tardif, lost two others to injury and for a time were without any available backups on the bench. — Adam Teicher
Chargers left tackle Russell Okung played only seven snaps against the Raiders last week due to a groin strain. Okung did not practice on Tuesday while the Chargers prepared for the high altitude of Mexico City in Colorado Springs. However, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn remains hopeful that Okung can return to the field in time for Monday night’s game against the Chiefs. If not, rookie Trey Pipkins would get his first career start. “We’ll see where he’s at,” Lynn said this week. “I’d love to see him play. But if he can’t go, he won’t go.” — Eric D. Williams
Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner pulled up with a strained hamstring on the last defensive series of the Raiders’ white-knuckle defeat of the Chargers on Thursday, and he has not practiced since. Joyner has been Oakland’s primary nickel cornerback, and if he cannot play against the Bengals, the Raiders could slide Daryl Worley into the slot and put rookie Isaiah Johnson on the outside, opposite another rookie corner in Trayvon Mullen. Veteran Nevin Lawson would be another option at nickel, as would undrafted rookie Keisean Nixon. — Paul Gutierrez
Amari Cooper did not practice as he continues to deal with a number of lower-body injuries, including a bruised knee. He took part in just one limited practice last week but managed to catch 11 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. The Cowboys will look to make sure Cooper is ready for game day and limit his work in practice to make sure he is healthy. On the offensive line, the Cowboys will work in Xavier Su’a-Filo at left guard after Connor Williams had knee surgery Tuesday. Meanwhile, the right side of the line, Zack Martin (elbow) and La’el Collins (back), did not practice Wednesday, but the expectation is they will be ready to play Sunday. — Todd Archer
It’s a good thing that tight end Evan Engram gets this extra week to rest his injured foot with the Giants on their bye week. He was still in a walking boot on Tuesday, and coach Pat Shurmur said he didn’t practice. Engram was hopeful to return next Sunday against Chicago, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be a lock. — Jordan Raanan
Receiver Alshon Jeffery missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury, which he suffered late in a Week 9 win against the Bears. The fact that he was sidelined even after having the bye week to heal makes his absence more notable. If he can’t go, the Eagles will be down their top two receivers — Jeffery and DeSean Jackson — against the 8-1 Patriots. — Tim McManus
The Redskins still aren’t sure when running back Chris Thompson will return from his turf toe injury, but coach Bill Callahan said he remains week-to-week. Tight end Vernon Davis is more of a possibility for this week, though he remains in the concussion protocol after missing the past five games. The Redskins need what Davis provides: someone who can win at the line and create opportunities in the pass game. The passing game struggles because the Redskins lack enough players who can do this. Davis did go through practice Wednesday, but he’s done that before during the time he’s been in the protocol. — John Keim
Bears coach Matt Nagy said he isn’t sure whether veteran inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow) will be placed on injured reserve, but Trevathan is likely out for the foreseeable future. The veteran suffered a gruesome left elbow injury last week vs. the Lions and was replaced by Nick Kwiatkoski, who recorded nine tackles, one sack and an interception. Nagy was also vague about tight end Trey Burton‘s status for Sunday night versus the Rams. Burton has been ineffective all year with just 14 catches for 84 yards, and is battling a calf injury. — Jeff Dickerson
The injury to watch is quarterback Matthew Stafford, who didn’t practice with a back injury that kept him out of his first game since 2010 last Sunday. Stafford was at practice, but he mostly watched from the side in a baseball cap, occasionally chatting with coaches after doing some light throwing on the side. That Stafford didn’t practice is a large concern for his status for Sunday. Jeff Driskel would be the starter in his place, and what Stafford does Thursday and Friday will be worth monitoring. Beyond Stafford, the Lions’ defensive line is pretty beat up. Six defensive linemen were listed on the injury report, with the most concerning being Da’Shawn Hand (ankle) and Romeo Okwara (groin), neither of whom played Sunday. That Mike Daniels (foot) practiced in full is a help for a unit struggling with health. — Michael Rothstein
Wide receiver Davante Adams said he’s staying in Green Bay during the bye in part to continue treatment on his turf toe to make sure it’s “3 million percent better.” Adams said he still has “some soreness,” but he obviously was highly productive with seven catches for 118 yards in his second game back, Sunday’s win over the Panthers. Said Adams: “I still have to deal with some uncomfortable stuff, but I’m obviously able to perform at a high level and still run around and be full speed, so that’s a plus. But dealing with some soreness is really all I’ve got right now.” — Rob Demovsky
Don’t expect Linval Joseph to return until after Minnesota’s Week 12 bye at the earliest, after he underwent surgery on his right knee last week. The nose tackle isn’t the only interior defensive lineman dealing with injury, either. Shamar Stephen, who has been playing through a recent knee injury, was sidelined during Wednesday’s practice. The Vikings have a handful of reserves they can turn to on the interior, from Jaleel Johnson to Jalyn Holmes to Armon Watts, and did well behind Stephen to stop the run in Dallas despite Joseph’s absence. Wide receiver Adam Thielen continues to remain out with the hamstring injury he reaggravated in Kansas City, while right guard Josh Kline is in the concussion protocol after suffering his second head injury this season. — Courtney Cronin
Both tight end Austin Hooper (MCL) and running back Devonta Freeman (foot) are recovering from injuries and are “long shots” to play at Carolina, coach Dan Quinn said. Quinn wouldn’t put a timetable on when each player would return. Brian Hill likely gets the start at running back with Freeman ailing. Without top receiving option Hooper, the Falcons will need both Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham to step up and fill the void. — Vaughn McClure
Field Yates and Stephania Bell debate whether Austin Hooper should return this season if he becomes healthy because of the large contract he could sign at the end of his rookie deal.
Cornerback James Bradberry missed the loss at Green Bay with a groin injury, but he was back practicing on a limited basis on Wednesday and could be ready for Sunday’s game against Atlanta. His return would be key in the coverage of Julio Jones. Bradberry has the size and athletic ability to give Jones issues. Last season, with Jones coming off a 10-catch, 169-yard effort against Philadelphia, Bradberry limited the perennial Pro Bowler to five catches for 64 yards and no touchdowns. With fellow cornerback Donte Jackson battling a hip injury, the return of Bradberry could be crucial. — David Newton
The Saints will be without Pro Bowl left guard Andrus Peat for the next six weeks or so because of a broken arm. And top cornerback Marshon Lattimore‘s status is in doubt because of a hamstring injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice. Lattimore would be greatly missed this week at Tampa Bay since he has been consistently locking down No. 1 receivers for most of the season — and because the Saints are about to face Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. — Mike Triplett
With Vernon Hargreaves now gone and multiple cornerback injuries, the Bucs’ secondary is looking pretty thin. Starter Carlton Davis, who suffered a hip injury during pregame warm-ups in Week 9 and missed the past two games, still isn’t practicing. Nickelback M.J. Stewart suffered a sprained right knee, a source told ESPN. According to coach Bruce Arians, he will be out “three to four weeks.” Ryan Smith, who has played outside and inside at nickel, played only two defensive snaps last week and was pulled immediately after surrendering a 69-yard touchdown against the Cardinals. He has played only five defensive snaps all season. Rookies Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting will see a heavy workload. The Bucs also called up rookie Mazzi Wilkins to the 53-man roster. “I think all those guys, I’ve got confidence in that they’ll do a heck of a job,” Arians said of his young secondary. “They’ve got a heck of a task in front of them.” — Jenna Laine
Patrick Peterson is “day-to-day” with a calf injury, but he was healthy enough to participate in the open portion of Cardinals practice on Wednesday. And by the looks of it, he was moving pretty well, cutting and sprinting, both of which were signs that the calf is improving. He still has three days to let it heal before Sunday. — Josh Weinfuss
The Rams’ offensive line is in bad shape, the worse it’s ever been since Sean McVay became coach in 2017. They already lost left guard Joseph Noteboom for the season, and now center Brian Allen joins him on injured reserve because of a damaged MCL in his left knee. Right tackle Rob Havenstein also will be out Sunday, and possibly longer, because of an injured meniscus in his right knee. This means that Jared Goff and the Rams’ running game will be dependent on a line that will feature three first-year starters. — Lindsey Thiry
The Niners head toward Sunday’s game against Arizona with uncertainty surrounding their two best weapons in the passing game, tight end George Kittle (knee, ankle) and receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ribs). Kittle didn’t play last week, and multiple players told ESPN they were preparing for the possibility of being without him for two games. Sanders suffered his injury on Monday night. Coach Kyle Shanahan has said both likely will be game-time decisions. If they’re out again, the Niners will need guys such as Kendrick Bourne, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis to take a big leap forward after major struggles in Monday’s loss to Seattle. — Nick Wagoner
The Seahawks expect their bye week to give wide receiver Tyler Lockett enough time to recover from his leg contusion to play Nov. 24 at Philadelphia. Luke Willson‘s status is less clear after he suffered what Pete Carroll called a “legit” hamstring injury that could keep him out a couple of weeks. The Seahawks expect to have Ed Dickson back for the Eagles game, so they should be OK at tight end with Dickson, Jacob Hollister and George Fant if Willson can’t play. — Brady Henderson
Stephania Bell explains why Tyler Lockett’s leg injury required extra time in the hospital.
49ers left tackle Joe Staley out ‘a couple weeks’ after finger surgery
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan announced Wednesday that Staley had finger surgery after he fractured and dislocated his finger in Monday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
“He will not play this week,” Shanahan said. “He’ll probably be out a couple weeks.”
Staley suffered the injury in the game and was able to play through it, but when he woke up on Tuesday morning, the finger had swelled considerably, and he sought out San Francisco’s medical staff to find out the extent of the injury.
Shanahan told reporters Tuesday afternoon that Staley had the broken finger but was seeking a second opinion before getting the surgery that would require him to miss a couple of weeks.
As it turned out, Staley needed surgery and underwent the procedure Tuesday evening. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey, a close friend of Staley’s, said he has been in touch with Staley.
“It was an unfortunate thing, didn’t even realized that it happened,” McGlinchey said. “It was a finger that I think he had already had some issues with, and he came in the next morning, and it had ballooned up on him, and it was like an afterthought. Unfortunately, that’s the results that came back. But his spirits are high, he’s going to continue to rehab and be a pro like he always does, and hopefully we get him back in a few weeks.”
Rookie Justin Skule, who filled in for Staley while he was out earlier this season, will “most likely” step back in to that role, according to Shanahan.
“I thought he did a very good job,” Shanahan said. “He came in there and stepped it up right away. I thought he got better each week.”
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