After making a few jokes, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says Russell Wilson looking better than ever

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RENTON — Russell Wilson is nothing if not consistent, but this offseason coach Pete Carroll noticed one change in the Seahawks quarterback after Wilson’s marriage to Ciara.

“He’s smiling a lot,” Carroll said, and with his joke delivered, Carroll laughed and added, “That was terrible.”

Wilson, of course, had a busy offseason: He launched his own clothing line, hosted the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and, oh yeah, got married to singer/celebrity Ciara in England.

It raised the same questions that have followed Wilson as he has transformed from a young quarterback to a celebrity quarterback over the past few seasons: Can he balance his off-field obligations with the position’s demands?

“I’m always busy,” Wilson said. “You guys know that. But ultimately I think I stay motivated the more busy I am.”

Wilson is entering his fifth year with the Seahawks, and he’s coming off his most productive season. Wilson said he weighed 215 pounds Friday and that he had “leaned out a little bit.”

Already this offseason, Carroll has raved about Wilson’s improvement, about how developed he is now compared to a few years ago.

“Looking at him now and talking to him now and watching him on the field and with his teammates compared to two or three or four years ago, there’s a big difference,” Carroll said. “And it’s subtle. I think it would be subtle to you, but I just think it shows up in so many ways … He’s going to continue to get better and continue to improve, and I think it’s what brings him back with great enthusiasm every year. He knows he can get better, and he knows he can improve. He loves that challenge.”

Wilson shrugged off the idea that his personal life could affect his play.

“I don’t really look that far into it,” he said, adding, “I’m always motivated to being the best in the world at playing quarterback.”

Battle to replace Bruce Irvin

Mike Morgan is the “first guy up” to replace Bruce Irvin at strongside linebacker.

Morgan, who played for Carroll at USC, is entering his sixth season with the Seahawks. He has been a leader on special teams and filled in at linebacker and defensive end when needed. Carroll said Morgan knows the defense, understands what the Seahawks want and is as “rock-solid as we can hope for.”

His challengers for the starting job are Cassius Marsh, who spent his first two seasons as a backup defensive end, and Eric Pinkins, who played some safety and cornerback before switching to linebacker.

Clark to play more

Carroll admitted he wished the Seahawks had played defensive lineman Frank Clark more during his rookie year.

Clark played 34 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps as a rookie. Carroll plans on using Clark much more in year two.

“I think we should have forced him a little bit more,” Carroll said. “When we look back and count his numbers, I wish we would have gotten more playing time out of him. That’s why I’m already telling ya: He’s going to play a ton. We’re going to get him all over the place and do all of the things he can do.”

Carroll added one important caveat: “If he can hold up with the kind of workload we’re talking about, he’ll be spotted all over the place.”

Clemons’ retirement not a big surprise

Carroll said he wasn’t surprised when veteran defensive end Chris Clemons informed the Seahawks recently that he was retiring.

“He just didn’t want to play anymore,” Carroll said. “He’s just done. When we went into it, I had a little thought that it might be getting near the end for Chris. I wasn’t surprised by that, to tell you the truth. He was a terrific player and a great guy on our team, and we loved having him.”

The Seahawks wanted to see if they could use Clemons in a limited and situational role as a pass-rusher. It was more of an experiment than a guarantee so it shouldn’t have huge consequences on their plans for the pass rush this season.