It was supposed to be Bobby Wagner’s first, light drill in two weeks.
The All-Pro linebacker turned it into a thudding proclamation he absolutely was back on the field in a helmet and shoulder pads.
Wagner was supposed to put his shoulder into an assistant holding a blocking pad and simply, almost gently, wrap him up. A form-tackling routine. That’s what all the other linebackers were doing.
Wagner? When it was his turn he raced at the assistant, former Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry, who is working with the team this preseason. Wagner plowed into him and the pad so hard he lifted Curry off his feet. Wagner spun him in the air. A surprised Curry landed on his feet about 3 yards away.
They both laughed, Wagner almost sheepishly over his eagerness to finally hit somebody—anybody—again.
The All-Pro linebacker practiced Friday for the first time since his platelet-rich plasma injection therapy in an achy knee 12 days earlier.
“I feel great,” Wagner said.
Now, when will he play again for the Seahawks?
Wagner did only position drills. He stayed out of team scrimmaging.
Rookie Cody Barton was the middle linebacker with the first-team defense again in practice, as he’s been all week. All signs are the third-round draft choice from Utah will start Seattle’s second preseason game, Sunday night at Minnesota.
Is Wagner targeting playing in the third exhibition game, Aug. 24 at the Los Angeles Chargers? The third preseason game is typically the veteran starters’ final tuneup before the season gets real. That for Seattle this year is Sept. 8, at home against Cincinnati.
“It don’t matter,” he said.
Coach Pete Carroll said following Wagner’s return to practice the veteran’s work and progress on the field next week will determine whether he plays against the Chargers.
Carroll said “it would be good for Bobby to get on the field” and play in one of Seattle’s final three preseason games.
“We’ll see if we can get that done,” the coach said.
“He would be better off if he could play some, just to get going, just to get a feel. But other than that, you know, he’s a master of what we are doing, and all. He’ll play well and play sharp. He’ll play smart, regardless, because he’s been involved with all the mental side of the stuff.
“But it would leave him maybe a little bit more rusty starting off (the regular season if he didn’t play in the preseason). But it wouldn’t take long.”
Wagner would like to play this month in the preseason, though he and the Seahawks know he doesn’t have to.
“I definitely want to get out there, because, you know what I’m saying, we get a chance to tackle at practice,” Wagner said. “I’ve been trying to get as many mental reps as I can. But it would be good to get to hit somebody, besides my teammates.”
Wagner practiced in the team’s mock game Aug. 3, then had his procedure Aug. 4.
PrP injections occur after blood-warming and spinning treatment, putting the body’s own platelets into aching joints and body parts. The platelets of one’s blood is spun in a centrifuge then injected back into the person’s injured areas.
K.J. Wright and four other Seahawks starters had the treatments during training camp two years ago. Wright, Tyler Lockett, Pro Bowl defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, left guard Luke Joeckel and outside linebacker Michael Wilhoite. All those players returned to play in that 2017 regular season for Seattle.
Wagner was asked Friday what led to his decision to have his PrP injection this month.
“I just wanted to kind of get it done,” he said. “I felt it was a good time to get it done, knock it out and feel good going into the season.
“Everything went perfect. I heal pretty fast. I feel really good where I’m at.
“As you get older, the mental side of the game is really, really important. I feel like I’ve improved a lot in that area.”