Bobby Wagner would rather shoot hoops -- he dreams of playing for the Lakers. He rather play pool, hang with his family that often visits him from Southern California, listed to his tunes on his ever-present Beats be Dre headphones.
Anything but talk about himself. Or the other-wordly start he's had to this season.
“Off the field I’m who I am. I’m quiet. I talk when I want to. I kind of just be me," Seattle's dynamic middle linebacker told me this week before a practice in Renton.
“On the field I understand it’s a whole different personality. Gotta be loud. Gotta tell everybody where they’re going. Gotta be vocal. Gotta speak. I understand that, and make the change.
Seattle’s second-round draft choice from out-of-the-way Utah State in 2012 has 43 tackles through four games entering Sunday’s personal challenge from NFL rushing leader Demarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at CenturyLink Field.
Wagner had eight tackles with a sack and three tackles for loss Monday night as the Seahawks (3-1) held Washington to 32 yards rushing on 17 carries. Those eight, thudding tackles were his season low.
Some low. Wagner is on pace to smash the team record of 153 tackles by Terry Beeson from the 1978 season. Plus, Wagner has played every snap on defense this season — all 254, and counting.
In Seattle’s base 4-3 defense. In the nickel, five-defensive backs, two-linebackers schemes. In temperatures that reached 120 degrees on the field last month in San Diego and had teammates dropping around him and going to the locker room for intravenous fluids. In whatever, Wagner has yet to leave the defense for even one snap.
He is the primary reason Seattle leads the NFL in run defense, allowing 62.3 yards rushing per game.
“He’s making all kinds of things happen,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s playing with speed. He’s playing physically, and making his hits.”
He is now being considered among the NFL’s top two middle linebackers — along with Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, Wagner’s training partner at IMG Academy for sports-performance training in Bradenton, Florida, before the 2012 draft.
Not bad for a 6-foot, 241-pound middle man who is making $781,618 a year while still on his rookie contact. Not bad for a guy who got exactly one offer out of high school in Ontario, California, because everyone thought (still thinks) he’s too small.
“Yeah, my only offer. Utah State,” he said of the Western Athletic Conference school in Logan, Utah, with a population of 48,000, just outside the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
“Yeah, that pissed me off. It pissed me off a lot,” he said. “Especially none of the California schools (offered me a scholarship), and I wanted to stay in California.
“But I’m here, so can’t complain.”Read the rest of my story on the still somewhat-overlooked Wagner here, or in today's News Tribune.
--The Seahawks have a practice early this afternoon in Renton. After it, Carroll is expected to address the status of wide receiver Percy Harvin, safety Kam Chancellor and center Max Unger. All three starters missed practice yesterday.
Unger's absence was expected; he had a sprained foot and Stephen Schilling has been preparing this week to possibly make his first career start at center against the Cowboys.
Harvin was new to the injury report with what the team says is a thigh injury. Chancellor has bone spurs in his ankles that he is going to have to manage all season.
As I wrote yesterday here, my sense is Harvin and Chancellor got a day of rest from the Seahawks' most extensive practice of the week yesterday. But we will know more in a few hours.
--This isn't going to be the last rumor on this, and there are about 1,592 issues to cross before the league would ever get this far, but thought this might raise an eyebrow of yours (if you haven't seen it already).