To Carroll, the biggest offseason story might involve one of the team’s most proven players — Wilson. “He’s made a clear step ahead, and his command is like all time,’’ Carroll said.
RENTON — The focus during an NFL offseason inevitably falls on the unanswered questions, the competition for position battles and new players.
But in the eyes of coach Pete Carroll, the biggest offseason story might involve one of the team’s most proven players — quarterback Russell Wilson.
As the Seahawks concluded their three-day minicamp Thursday, a session that also ended the team’s roughly two-month official offseason program, Carroll was left raving about the progress of Wilson as he enters his fifth NFL season.
“He’s made a clear step ahead, and his command is like all time,’’ Carroll said. “His ability to move defenders with his eyes to set up some things — he’s consistently doing that, almost (subconsciously), he’s so clued in. We saw him throw the ball all over the field throughout the offseason, and he’s been strong and accurate and really precise about stuff.’’
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Carroll’s comments came after a practice in which big offensive plays were the norm. Offseason workout rules favor the offense — there’s no contact and no pads.
Still, during some of the passing drills the ball hardly seemed to hit the ground. At one point, Wilson threw a 30-yard touchdown to a streaking Tyler Lockett, who had gotten behind cornerback Richard Sherman. Wilson also hit a leaping Kasen Williams in traffic for another score.
Reporters don’t see every workout, and when Carroll was asked afterward about the apparent efficiency of the passing game Thursday, he said that was the norm.
“All camp he threw the ball great,’’ Carroll said. “Today to me didn’t stand out any more than any other day.’’
And the way Carroll sees it, Wilson is set to answer every question about his ability to lead an offense with his arm.
“You guys have asked me, ‘When is he going to arrive?’ or, ‘How long is it going to take?’ and all that,” Carroll said. “And I kept telling you it’s going to be down the road. It takes 4-5-6 years for these guys to develop.’’
Wilson is entering Year 5, already with one Super Bowl title and a slew of team records under his belt. He threw for 24 touchdowns and just one interception in the final seven games of last season. His 34 touchdowns were a team record, as were his 4,024 yards and passer rating of 110.1.
“It’s a culmination of that, it’s taken all this time to get to this point,” Carroll said. “And he will still improve. You can really see him as a real, true vet now.
“I think coming off of last year and the great successes he had in the second half of the season, he’s taken it right into the offseason.’’
The second-half outburst came after the Seahawks shifted their offense during their bye week, deciding to emphasize quicker passes, timing routes and spread formations. They were especially successful with empty sets (no running backs in the backfield).
Throwing passes more quickly also helped mitigate some of the offensive-line struggles. Wilson was sacked just 15 times in the last nine games after the Seahawks allowed 31 in the first seven.
Carroll said to expect more of the same in 2016, the first season since 2010 without running back Marshawn Lynch as the focal point of the offense.
“Our rhythm throughout camp, we stayed connected to what we did in the second half of the year,’’ Carroll said. “We went in determined to do that, and right from the get-go when we got back here on the field we were at it with tempo and timing and all that and stood strong throughout the whole camp.”
Wilson spoke to the media Wednesday and said: “For minicamp we are as good as it can get. I think this is the best it has been in four or five years.”
Wilson is known for his strenuous offseason workouts, and he said a focus as he gets older — he turns 28 in November — is his legs.
“I want to play 15-plus more years, and a big part of that is taking care of my legs and getting stronger, but also getting more flexible, more mobile,’’ he said.
Wilson is listed at 215 pounds but played last year a few pounds heavier and hopes to play this year a few pounds lighter. He said his workouts have gone so well that “whenever somebody asks me how I feel, I say ‘I feel like I am 18.’ ”
The way Carroll views it, though, Wilson appears ready to truly come of age.