ARIZONA CARDINALS

Dealing Cards: Seattle’s Russell Wilson is a ‘special player’

Nov 7, 2017, 8:21 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2017, 11:14 am
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passes during warmups before an NFL football game again...

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passes during warmups before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Any down. Any situation.

The Arizona Cardinals must defend Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson on every play, according to defensive coordinator James Bettcher.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Wilson, whom Bettcher called “a special player,” can beat teams with either his arm or his feet. He ranks third in passing yards (2,305), fourth in passing touchdowns (17) and leads the Seahawks in rushing (271 yards), averaging almost six yards a carry.

As a dual-threat quarterback, Wilson becomes a difficult cover for opposing defenses.

“He’s elusive,” Bettcher said Tuesday. “But it’s one of those things where the rush has got to work with the coverage and the coverage has got to save the rush on some downs.

“There’s going to be an opportunity for him to get outside the pocket and he’s going to try to extend the play and we’re going to have to plaster, stay on our man, cover three, four, five seconds longer on a couple of downs during this game. And if we do that in the backend and if we handle those things up front, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win the game.”

Wilson made his NFL debut against the Cardinals in 2012. He and the Seahawks lost that afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium. But in his last four trips to Glendale, Wilson is 3-0-1, completing 64.8 percent of his passes for 996 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also rushed for one touchdown.

“Going against Russell the last five years we pretty much understand what he’s going to do,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “We don’t know when he’s going to do, but we know at some point in time in the game he’s going to buy time for his receivers. And we just have to be ready for it.”

Peterson added that means staying disciplined. The pass rushers must stay in their lanes and not fall for any pump fakes, he said, while the secondary must stay glued to the receivers.

The good news here is that the Cardinals defense is heading into Thursday night’s matchup coming off one of their better performances of the season. And though it came against a winless San Francisco team, the defense played fast and with energy, according to Bettcher.

“That looked like the Cardinal defense to me,” he said.

Making an impact on special teams

While he waits for his opportunities on defense, rookie safety Budda Baker is more than making the most of his opportunities on special teams.

Twice now he’s recorded three special teams tackles in a game, including last Sunday in San Francisco, where all three tackles were made in the first quarter.

“He’s learning how to make those tackles in the open field. Whipping that blocker—not worry about the blocker and go ahead and make that tackle,” head coach Bruce Arians said, referring to Baker’s role as gunner on punt coverage.

Baker credited the coaches for putting him in position to make plays and fellow gunner Justin Bethel, a three-time special teams Pro Bowler, for showing him how to make plays.

Through eight games, Baker is tied for second in the NFL with 11 special teams tackles behind only Atlanta’s Derrick Coleman (12).

“I never really knew that, but right now, I’m just trying to make plays,” Baker said.

Markus Golden surgery

Currently on injured reserve, linebacker Markus Golden underwent surgery on Thursday to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.

“Surgery went well today!” he tweeted. “Thanks for all the prayers and support! I’ll be back huntin before you know it! #44TakeOver”

Golden, who led Cardinals with 12.5 sacks last season, suffered the injury against the 49ers in Week 4.

Injury report

Only two players, wide receivers Brittan Golden (groin) and Chad Williams (back), were limited in Tuesday’s walk-through. All other players participated fully, including Baker (ankle), linebacker Karlos Dansby (finger/hamstring), safety Rudy Ford (foot) and defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (shin); each of whom had been listed limited the day before.

The Seahawks are not as healthy.

For the second straight day, linebacker D.J. Alexander (ankle), tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle), guard Luke Joeckel (knee), running back Eddie Lacy (groin), cornerback Richard Sherman (Achilles), defensive end Marcus Smith (concussion) and safety Earl Thomas (hamstring) did not practice.

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Dealing Cards: Seattle’s Russell Wilson is a ‘special player’