The Seahawks are an uncharacteristic 18th in the NFL in rushing this week, something they hope to begin changing Sunday against the Falcons.

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The Seahawks ended the first quarter of the regular season standing in a most-unfamiliar 18th in the NFL in rushing offense, averaging just 93 yards per game.

Seattle has ranked fourth or better each of the last four seasons, never averaging less than 136 yards per game for a full season.

And what the team thinks may be the biggest difference is something that also is changing for the better — Russell Wilson’s health.

Wilson has established himself as one of the best running quarterbacks in the history of the NFL in his first four years in the league, rushing for 489 yards or more each season (including 849 in 2014) and 5.9 yards per carry overall.

But after suffering a high ankle sprain in the third quarter of the opening game, and then a sprained knee in the third quarter of the third game, Wilson has understandably not been the running threat he has been in the past, and has just 28 yards on 15 carries through four games.

Not only is Wilson a threat to run on his own, but the threat of Wilson’s running — and the decisions he makes in the zone-read option of whether to keep it or hand off — are also vital to Seattle’s rushing attack.

Wilson, though, had another good day of practice on Wednesday, according to assistant coaches Tom Cable and Darrell Bevell, and if he’s healthier Sunday than he has been for most of the season that should help revive the running game.

“He looks great and that’s a great sign for us,” coach Pete Carroll said before practice. “The threat that he poses is always a benefit and has always been a benefit to our running game. He’s averaging one yard a carry right now — that’s not the guy we know. As he comes back to full speed and he can be the factor, it affects everything.”

Added Bevell: “He has a major impact on our run game. I believe that it will help it. There’s still things that we need to do to improve in the run game. Without him we obviously have to make some adjustments while he’s not at full strength, that we can continue to iron out there. But it’ll have an impact when he gets back.”

Offensive line coach Tom Cable agreed, saying that while defenses haven’t necessarily played Seattle a lot differently in Wilson’s absence, there has been an impact.

“I think just the threat,” Cable said. “He’ll still pull it and do those kind of things and as he’s getting healthier, and he looked really good today, that will all come back.”

Coaches cautioned, though, that they don’t expect Wilson’s return to health to solve everything.

Carroll has indicated he thinks the offensive line may simply be better at the moment at pass protecting — something that has been more of an emphasis due to Wilson’s relative immobility — and that the run blocking needs to now match that.

“We have to get better in the fundamentals,” Carroll said. “We are improving, you can see that. There’s been a little bit of a lack of consistency in it.”

Cable said the running game has not been “very clean. I don’t think we’re very consistent. It’s been kind of hit or miss. Certainly with the injury element with the quarterback you’re missing that part of it, but we’ve known that. So we have to clean up the other areas and do a better job there.”

Cable, though, also says he thinks there could be a big-picture silver lining to having to spend a month or so becoming more proficient at other areas of the game.

“I said to the coaches two weeks ago and again last week before we left, I think it’s actually a lesson of making everybody else have to perform at a different level around him, meaning we’re more of a pocket passing team now,” Cable said. “Our run game is different now, so we all have to adjust in that way. I think it’s going to help us in the long run so that when we are all healthy and kind of back to normal, if you will, it should make us better.”

Carroll echoed the thought that the Seahawks are benefiting from being able to win in different ways. But he also said he’d like to see the running numbers look a little more Seahawk-like and that maybe the turnaround can start Sunday against an Atlanta defense that ranks 26th overall (388.8 per game) and 15th against the run (98.6).

“Most of all, we keep going and keep hammering,” he said. “We’re really excited to keep handing the football and get back to the numbers that we want. We have also had the benefit of the ability to rely on the throwing game, like against the Jets when it was loaded with a bunch of guys up front, we were able to protect them, so we threw the heck out of the football that day. We were able to take advantage of that. That’s really taking advantage of balance. However, the numbers aren’t where we would like them on the running game. We need to get those going.”