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Chargers prepare to face Broncos QB Russell Wilson at his best

No question, the numbers don’t look good after Russell Wilson’s first five games with the Denver Broncos after he signed a mammoth five-year contract potentially worth $245 million following a stellar 10-year tenure with the Seattle Seahawks. He hardly looks like the same quarterback.

Wilson threw for 65 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Seahawks, including a career-best 40 in 16 games in 2020. He has only four touchdown passes in five games so far with the Broncos, and they have averaged a mere 15 points a game with Wilson at the helm.

It doesn’t add up.

So, the Chargers (3-2) prepared for the Wilson of old rather than the Wilson of today. They’re taking nothing for granted when they play host to Wilson and the Broncos (2-3)  on Monday night at SoFi Stadium. After all, they’re not in a position to overlook anyone at this point in their season.

“You have a decade worth of film of Russell Wilson, if you need a reminder — which we’ve given our guys a reminder of — a decade worth of film of him being one of the top players in the league,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said when asked about preparing to face the underachieving Broncos.

Or, as Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill put it earlier in the week when asked about facing Wilson and the Broncos, “We all know Russell. If he gets going, it can be a scary movie. That can happen at any point, so we have to make sure that we’re prepared and ready to go.”

Hill then added, “We’re expecting the best Russell.”

Wilson is not at his best, though. He has a partial tear of a back muscle near his right shoulder and underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection 10 days ago, according to reports from ESPN and The Denver Post. Wilson is expected to play against the Chargers.

The Broncos haven’t played since a dreary 12-9 loss Oct. 6 against the Indianapolis Colts that had TV viewers across the country complaining via social media about the quality of the football. Hackett hopes the extended period between games works wonders for Wilson.

“He doesn’t complain,” Hackett said. “He keeps his head down, he works hard, and he does everything he can to make his body feel as good as he possibly can throughout the season. I think that you’re always dealing with that stuff across the board, but I do think that he’s doing an amazing job getting himself to 100%.”

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Wilson gave the obligatory “it’s getting better every day” answer when asked about his injury last week. The scrutiny of his play and that of the Broncos has not gotten better. If anything, it has gotten more intense in light of the size of the contract he signed and the team’s lack of success.

Against the Colts, he completed 21 of 39 passes for 274 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked four times and had a 54.9 passer rating. Overall, he has thrown for 1,254 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions for a rating of 82.8.

Wilson, who turns 34 next month, has faced plenty of questions about his play head-on, though. The past week was no exception.

“I’ve had tough times,” he said. “I think — you ask me how tough these times are. When people ask me that question, I always think about my dad, because he was on his death bed talking about playing football and what I love to do. (There’s) a lot of season left, a lot of season left, a lot of greatness in store. I’ve done it before and I’m going to do it again. That’s what I really think about.”

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