Russell Wilson is often seen as the face of the Seattle Seahawks, but he has a lot more going on than just being a football player. D’Wayne Eskridge, a former wide receiver for the team, recently told ESPN that he was mentored by Russell in his early days during sunrise sessions.
Russell Wilson is a quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. D’Wayne Eskridge has been working with him on his sunrise sessions.
6 a.m. ET
Brady Henderson is a professional football player. ESPN
WASHINGTON, D.C. — D’Wayne Eskridge, a rookie receiver, has been working extra with Russell Wilson as he attempts to catch up. Their additional labor begins early in the morning. Eskridge sets his alarm at 5:15 a.m. most mornings so he and Wilson can be on the practice field by 6 a.m., just as the sun rises over the Virginia Mason Athletic Center’s berm.
Eskridge said, “It’s what I’ve had to do.” “It’s difficult to wake up so early, but it’s well worth it in the end.”
This is exactly what the Seattle Seahawks’ second-round selection has to accomplish in order to make up for the time he missed due to a huge toe injury. He, like any other rookie receiver, was already facing one of the NFL’s steepest learning curves, owing to the intricacy of Seattle’s new system. Eskridge was out for most of the spring and the first three weeks of training camp, compounding the problem (as well as the annual throwing sessions with Seahawks skill players that Wilson hosted in mid-July).
Wilson and Eskridge will go through routes, hand signals they’ll use to communicate while playing up-tempo, and all the intricacies of the system that new coordinator Shane Waldron is implementing, which players have characterized as complex, for around 45 minutes to an hour.
This is two hours before the formal start of the workday, which is at 8 a.m. with a special-teams meeting. It will be almost three hours before the whole squad gathers at 8:45 p.m.
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Wilson said, “There’s still dew on the grass.” “But it’s simply nice to go through the plays and mentally go through everything,” says the actor.
In practice, Eskridge may sometimes break the huddle and seem to be unsure of his positioning. He has made more huge plays than mistakes since being reinstated off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Aug. 17.
Last week, he ran by multiple defenders on a bubble screen, demonstrating the kind of run-after-the-catch skill that will be crucial with Seattle’s current focus on shorter, faster passes. Wilson found Eskridge for a big score earlier this week when he went behind an undrafted rookie safety on a deep post.
Early efforts seem to be paying off.
Coach Pete Carroll stated, “It speaks a lot about his knowledge of what it takes.” “He’s also following the lead. It wasn’t his idea in the first place. Russ approached him and said, “Come on!” He’s been more than willing, and it’s really aided him because he’s out there and moves quickly. That he understands what he’s doing and is sticking it through with the installation learning. As a result, it’s a significant lift.”
When the Seahawks selected Eskridge with the first of their league-low three selections, he seemed to be the obvious favorite to start the season as their third receiver behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. But the more time he missed, the less clear that seemed.
As he prepares for the season, rookie D’Wayne Eskridge has been putting in extra early work with Russell Wilson. Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Eskridge claimed his big toe problem stemmed from inflammation that began during rookie minicamp. The team’s equipment crew had him try on several types and sizes of cleats, as well as socks to keep his feet from sliding about, until they found a combination that enabled him to run without discomfort. He had to recover the fitness he had lost while sidelined before he could be reinstated once that was sorted out.
Eskridge said that he is now 100 percent.
“He’s doing well and blending in,” Carroll added. “He’s really natural and things come naturally to him.” When he accomplishes anything, whether it’s receiving the ball, coming out of a break, or blocking and utilizing his hands, it looks the way it should. He’s a big child with a big heart, and it shows. He has excellent power, which we expected, but he spent so much of his time spread out and not in the slot, and he wasn’t active in any of those things. We just couldn’t assess them and had to make educated guesses.
“He’s doing well so far. This weekend, we’d want to see him perform.”
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Beyond the projected top five of Lockett, Metcalf, Eskridge, Freddie Swain, and Penny Hart, Saturday’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers will help the Seahawks determine which receiver(s), if any, they’ll retain on their 53-man roster. When the team opens its season on Sept. 12 against the Indianapolis Colts, the next issue to be answered is what will happen after Lockett and Metcalf.
Eskridge will have to remain fit and maintain his upward trend if he wants to finish third.
One early morning at a time, that’s what I’m going to do.
Wilson remarked, “He’s been doing a fantastic job.” “We’ve been spending a lot of additional class time out on the field, just like actual repetitions, going through every scenario, every play, from beginning to finish. He’s doing a fantastic job on it. So I have a lot of faith in what he’s doing… and I’m really enthusiastic about him.”
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