RENTON, Wash. – When he first underwent knee surgery in mid-August, K.J. Wright targeted the Seattle Seahawks’ Week 3 game against Dallas for his return.
It made sense. The procedure was relatively minor and the amount of recovery time should have been sufficient for Wright to be able to play at least some against the Cowboys.
“I was running within two weeks,” Wright said. “But I think I went a bit too hard.”
It’s now Week 8 and Wright is finally set to make his season debut when the Seahawks travel to Detroit on Sunday. A month later than he expected, Wright’s return should help solidify a position that’s used four different players through Seattle’s first six games.
If Wright can play at the level he has for most of his career, his return is a major boost for a defense that has held three of its last four opponents to under 20 points, including a 27-3 rout of Oakland in Seattle’s last game.
“We’ve been playing together for seven years, so we have a communication that can’t be replicated,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “He makes plays and he’s going to make adjustments and things of that nature. I’m extremely excited to have him back. I think the last time you saw him, he was making big hits and all that stuff, so that’s what I’m expecting from him.”
Wright said it was a very simple movement that led to his injury during pregame warmups before Seattle faced Minnesota in the third preseason game. Wright said he was doing a shuffle move when his leg gave out momentarily. He didn’t really think much of it and went on to play in the game without any problems.
It was afterward, when he told trainers his knee was a little sore, that concerns started to grow. Wright initially balked when told he needed to undergo an MRI, but soon learned the concerns were justified.
“I was like, ‘I don’t need the MRI,’ but once they showed what happened, it showed that it was messed up and I had to get it repaired,” Wright said.
While Wright was out, the Seahawks used four different players to try to fill his spot. They started rookie Shaquem Griffin in the opener against Denver, but it was obvious Griffin wasn’t ready for the role. Seattle signed Mychal Kendricks, but he lasted only three games before being indefinitely suspended by the league for his guilty plea on federal insider trading charges. Austin Calitro also got a look, but the most promising option may have been Barkevious Mingo.
Signed by Seattle to play strongside linebacker and rush the quarterback in passing situations, Mingo showed a knack for playing behind the line of scrimmage and covering in space.
“It’s a tremendous boost for him in his career, too, to be able to play behind the line of scrimmage as he grows to do that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It really will help him. I don’t think anybody’s seen him do that very much and (we’re) surprised that it’s come so easy to him, but we’ll continue to work on with it.”
The emergence of others at weakside linebacker and the time missed with injury has heightened questions about Wright’s long-term future in Seattle. He’s in the final year of his current contract and Wright said not having future security crossed his mind briefly in the immediate aftermath of his surgery.
“When I got hurt it did cross my mind like, ‘Damn, this is the worst timing,’” Wright said. “But when you get hurt and you miss some ball, all you care about is football, and the contract stuff will handle itself. I just want to play. The money is the money – whatever. I just want to play ball, be out three with my guys, and just do what I love.”
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