GLENDALE, Ariz. — Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson made his NFL debut in Arizona a little more than a year ago.
He lost that game, but his Seahawks are 17-6 since as he evolved into a multi-dimensional dynamo at the controls of a powerful offense.
“I’m a 5-11 quarterback,” he said, “but I don’t think my height defines my skills.”
Wilson brings the Seahawks back to Arizona on Thursday night to a stadium where Seattle has struggled, losing five of its last six games at University of Phoenix Stadium. He said he returns a far better quarterback than he was that Sunday 13 months ago.
“The game has slowed down a lot for me,” Wilson said. “I understand our offense a lot more, the protection calls and all that. Just knowing my receivers, too.”
Seattle (5-1) has been virtually invincible at home, winning 11 in a row. The last time Arizona played there, on Dec. 9, it lost 58-0, the Cardinals’ most one-sided shutout loss in franchise history and a game that helped seal the fate of then-coach Ken Whisenhunt.
But the Seahawks have been vulnerable when they venture out of the Pacific Northwest. Their lone loss this season was at Indianapolis and their other two road games were close, 12-7 at Carolina and 23-20 in overtime at Houston.
Like Seattle, Arizona (3-3) toned down practices in a short week after a rough 32-20 loss at San Francisco.
The preparation, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, has to be “all mental.”
“Getting to know your opponent without doing it full speed,” Arians said, “the nuances of an offensive game plan without running full speed. So it takes a lot of extra mental preparation.”
Arizona star receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a sore hamstring, so that might make him easier for Seattle’s standout cornerback Richard Sherman to cover, although the Arizona wide receiver did go 75 yards on a touchdown pass play at San Francisco.
“There’s definitely a mutual respect,” Sherman said. “He’s a great player. He’s been a great player for a while, he’s been incredibly consistent over the years, and he’s been consistent through multiple quarterbacks, multiple systems. He should’ve won the Super Bowl for his team when they went — he played a heck of a game, and you have to respect a guy like that.”
The Seattle Seahawks expect to see the return of starting tight end Zach Miller to the lineup Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals.
Miller has missed the past two games with a hamstring strain suffered in practice. Coach Pete Carroll said Miller was close to returning last week against Tennessee, but decided to give him a few more days to recover.
Miller’s return will be a boost for Seattle along the line of scrimmage as he can help in pass protection for an offensive line that will still be without starting tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini.
“It was the right decision to hold him back, but he’s fine now,” Carroll said. “He’s going to have to play himself back out there, but he’s going to play in the game.”
Defensive end Chris Clemons will be a game-time decision for Seattle. Clemons suffered a hyperextended elbow last Sunday against the Titans. He returned in limited participation in practice on Wednesday and has a chance to play against the Cardinals.
Bobby Wagner and Spencer Ware both will not be able to play as they are recovering from high ankle sprains.
Running back Marshawn Lynch was limited in practice Wednesday with a hip injury, but Carroll said Lynch is fine and will play Thursday night.
“The recycle process is a little different in this week for him, but he feels good enough and he should be good,” Carroll said.