By Brady Henderson
The ripple effect of Bruce Irvin’s move to strong-side linebacker includes a position switch for K.J. Wright, who is sliding over to the weak-side spot known as Will in Seattle’s defense.
Linebacker K.J. Wright, pictured returning an interception during a 2012 preseason game, could be in better position to make plays now that he’s moving to the weak side. (AP)
It’s a transition that Wright isn’t just embracing during Seahawks training camp, but one he seems genuinely excited about.
“I think this is my most natural position,” Wright told “Wyman, Mike and Moore” on Monday. “With this defense we’ve got, I’m off the ball the majority of the time, I’m off the ball reading stuff, I have opportunities to blitz up the middle and cover tight ends on third down and man-to-man situations. It’s a really good position for me and I really like it, where I fit into this defense.”
The move to Will means Wright will have played all three linebacker spots by the time he finishes his third season in Seattle. A fourth-round pick in 2011 out of Mississippi State, Wright started the first game of his rookie season at middle linebacker when David Hawthorne was out with an injury. The next week he moved over to the strong side, where he replaced Aaron Curry in the starting lineup and eventually drew praise for his instincts while finishing fifth on the team in total tackles.
Wright’s 98 tackles last season were the third most on Seattle’s defense. But as solid as he’s been with the Seahawks, Wright hasn’t always stood out for making the types of big plays that most significantly impact games. He has a combined three sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception in two years. He could conceivably improve upon those numbers now that he’s playing on the weak side, where linebackers tend to have more freedom and better opportunities to make plays while operating in space.
“I’ve got a great defensive line in front of me so in practice I’ve been just running through, being untouched by guys, taking on fullbacks and being able to make a lot of plays,” Wright said. “So that position is really good for me and I’m really looking forward to playing it this year.”
Wright’s job description might entail more blitzing. Previous defensive coordinator Gus Bradley wasn’t big on sending his linebackers after the quarterback, but that could be a bigger part of Seattle’s defense this year if Bradley’s replacement, Dan Quinn, favors the more aggressive approach that some expect him to.
“It’s a really good defense that he has,” Wright said. “He’s not going to hold back and just sit there and be in a lot of Cover 3, let guys pick us apart. We’re going to latch onto guys, cover them man-to-man and force the quarterback to make some tight throws. I’m really excited to play for him, he’s got a lot of energy to him. This defense I believe is going to be even better than last year.”