Entering the summer the Seahawks’ transformed defense was really Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and a bunch of guys few outside of the Pacific Northwest know.
Such was what was left following a tumultuous offseason of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor departing then Earl Thomas beginning his holdout.
Now Wright is gone, too. At least for now.
On a day the Seahawks’ offense got its Pro Bowl wide receiver back to practice for the first time in a month, the defense’s Pro Bowl outside linebacker left to have knee surgery.
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Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, out since the first days of training camp in late July with a left-knee injury, returned to do individual position drills in the same practice K.J. Wright missed.
The veteran weakside linebacker felt following his 45 snaps over 2 1/2 quarters playing with the starting defense Friday in the preseason game at Minnesota “something wasn’t right” in his knee, coach Pete Carroll said.
So Wright and the team opted to send him right away for arthroscopic knee surgery.
“He had a scope job,” Carroll said following Monday’s practice for Thursday’s preseason finale against Oakland. “After the game (Friday), (he) didn’t get hit or anything, didn’t have an episode. Just felt that maybe something wasn’t quite right. So took a good look at it. So we
“So we are going to do a scope job and get him back really quick.”
Even the quickest returns from such minimally invasive procedures tend to be after multiple weeks. The Seahawks’ opener at Denver was 13 days away as of Monday.
Asked how many weeks Wright might miss or if the team was holding out hope Wright would play in the opener, Carroll said: “Don’t know that yet.”
So remarkable rookie Shaquem Griffin is poised to start his first NFL game, as the first one-handed player drafted into the league.
His remarkable story keeps getting better. If he does play for Wright in Denver, as now appears likely, twins Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin will be starting together again on the same defense, just as they did in high school in Florida and at the University of Central Florida. Shaquill is entering his second season as Seattle’s starting cornerback.
The Seahawks have been grooming Griffin this preseason for specialty roles to utilize his speed in pass coverage, run stopping and blitzing. Monday in practice he was the weakside linebacker on every defensive scrimmage unit he could have been: first team, second team and scout team. The crash course of preparation to start had begin.
Asked if Shaquem Griffin was ready for the task to fill in for Wright as an every-down linebacker, Carroll said: “At this point, today, he’s got to be ready, you know. We don’t have any choice for that thought, until we know more.
“So, we’ll see how it goes.”
Wright, 29, is entering the final year of his contract. He was one of a handful of Seahawks veterans who left the team briefly in 2017’s preseason to have alternative, regenokine, blood-spinning treatment on his knee. He said then it was no specific injury, that the knee had been bothering him for more than month last yaer and that “things pop up, flare up and you have to take care of it.”
Carroll said Monday he wasn’t sure if that was the same knee as the one on which Wright is now having surgery.
Baldwin had a helmet on, played catch with Carroll then ran routes and caught passes with the rest of his teammates for the first time in a month.
“Yes, he’s back. He’s back in action,” Carroll said of quarterback Russell Wilson’s top target for years. “It’s really good to see him back out there running around, feeling great. He’s had a really good ramping-up to get to this point. He’ll work the rest of the week with us. He won’t play in the game (Thursday).
“But he’ll be ready to go next week.”