Linebackers coach Ken Norton says the team expects undrafted rookie Brock Coyle to be the starting middle linebacker on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field.
The reasons: middle linebacker Bobby Wagner remains out with a turf-toe injury that's caused him to miss the last two games; Wagner is in a walking boot and doesn't appear to be
coming back anytime soon; the Seahawks were wowed by how well Coyle ran the first-team defense through most of training camp and the first two exhibition games in August while Wagner was out with a hamstring injury; and it's looking more like outside linebacker Malcolm Smith may not play against the Raiders because of a groin injury he got last weekend during the win at Carolina, forcing K.J. Wright back outside after Wright had started for Wagner in the middle the last two weeks.
So it's apparently going to be the captain of the Montana Grizzlies until just a few months ago running the middle of the Super Bowl champions' defense against Oakland. Coyle has been on just about every special-teams unit but not involved in the defense's game plans -- until now.
"It's his position to lose. He's in there right now," Norton said this afternoon's outdoors practice here in Renton that just ended. "He could mess it up by a bad week and change our mind. But right now, I think Brock, we were pleasantly surprised in the summer with his performance throughout the camp, throughout the preseason. He stepped in when Bobby was out then. He's going to do the same thing now.
"We know exactly what we are getting. And we are very pleased with what we have. That's why he's here. ... He's a guy we have a lot of faith in.
"He, K.J. and (outside linebacker) Bruce (Irvin) are a really good tandem."
Norton also said how impressed he and the team were with rookie outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis' speed in blitzing and covering much of the field last weekend at Carolina.
It would make sense that Pierre-Louis will get many more snaps this weekend on passing downs, perhaps as the second of two linebackers along with Wright in nickel, five defensive-back packages that Seattle has been in for the majority of snaps this season. And no team has run the ball less effectively than Oakland this season; the Raiders' 133 rushes and 69.6 yards per game on the ground are both the lowest in the NFL.
Here is the audio file of Norton also talking about Pierre-Louis -- plus offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on how yardage early in games rushing by Marshawn Lynch effects the entire playbook and his thoughts on why the hurry-up offense works so well when the rest of the game plan gets bogged down.