A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:
K.J. Wright. One good start earns the opportunity for another. That’s the case for the rookie linebacker from Mississippi State, who is working at the strong-side spot with the No. 1 defense in practice and could start in Sunday’s home opener against the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field.
“K.J. Wright has played very well for us, especially in that first game,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said after today’s 110-minute practice. “We just felt like we wanted to have more competition at that spot, so we’re giving K.J. a chance there.”
Wright is replacing Aaron Curry, the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft who has been a starter since his rookie season. But Bradley stressed that there remains competition at the position.
“We’ll evaluate it the whole week,” he said. “As you know, the motto here is competition. We just felt like we needed to stress that position even more. We’re getting a good look at K.J. this week.”
Wright, a fourth-round draft choice, was the team’s leading tackler during the preseason and then started the regular-season opener at middle linebacker because David Hawthorne was out with a sore knee. Wright had five tackles in the opening-day loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.
“K.J. is very instinctive. He plays very smart situational football,” Bradley said. “He’s just such a quick study. He picked up on this stuff that we taught him playing Sam linebacker.”
The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Wright also has the needed physical traits.
“He’s got great length,” Bradley said. “If you’re going to play on the edge against the tight end, you need length and you need size. And he’s got both.”
Beanie Wells. In the Cardinals’ first two games, the third-year running back has had the best back-to-back games of his short NFL career with 183 yards on 32 carries.
But then he’s no stranger to the Seahawks or Hawthorne, who entered the league the year before Wells.
“He’s definitely evolved,” Hawthorne said. “I’ve played him the past two years, and seen him on film this year, and every year he seems to get better.”
This season, Wells is averaging 5.7 yards per carry – compared to 4.5 as a rookie and 3.4 last season.
“He’s a downhill, physical running back that can make all the cuts and all the reads,” said Hawthorne, the Seahawks’ leading tackler the past two seasons. “He likes to impose his will on people, especially when he gets into the secondary. You see him getting stronger as he gets through the line.
“Definitely, you want to get to him early and often.”
IN AND OUT
Defensive end Raheem Brock returned to practice after being excused on Wednesday.
Four players remained sidelined: left guard Robert Gallery, who already has been ruled out for at least a month because he needs surgery to repair a groin injury; fullback Michael Robinson (ankle), cornerback Byron Maxwell (ankle) and tackle Jarriel King (ankle).
For the Cardinals, tight end Jim Dray (pectoral) and wide receiver Chansi Stuckey (hamstring) did not practice and five players were limited: linebackers Daryl Washington (calf) and Joey Porter (knee), wide receiver DeMarco Sampson (hamstring), running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) and Wells (hamstring).
PRACTICE SQUAD ROULETTE
Safety Chris Maragos has been signed to the practice squad. Cornerback Ron Parker was released to clear a spot.
Maragos (5-10, 200) signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent last year and began the season on their practice squad. He was signed to the active roster twice. But the 49ers released him on the final roster cut this summer. He began his college career at Western Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Center Focus, David Hawthorne, Defensive coordinator, Draft Choice, first game, gus bradley, Home Opener, J Wright, Middle Linebacker, Mississippi State, Nfl Career, nfl draft, Rookie Season, Season Opener, Sore Knee, Strong Side, Tight End, Virginia Mason
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