RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks’ remodeled defense could be without one of its top holdovers when the regular season begins.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday that linebacker K.J. Wright may not be ready for the season opener at Denver after he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Carroll said Wright came out of last week’s preseason game against Minnesota feeling something off in his knee and made the decision to have surgery.
“After the game — he didn’t get hit or anything or have an episode — just felt that maybe something wasn’t quite right so we took a good look at it so we’re going to a scope job and get him back really quick,” Carroll said.
That was the most the Seahawks coach was willing to offer about what’s going on with his starting weakside linebacker and one of the few players returning after a major overhaul of Seattle’s defense in the offseason. Carroll was vague about the nature of Wright’s injury, other than saying it didn’t happen on a hit during the game against the Vikings. Wright was in for 45 defensive snaps against Minnesota.
How long will Wright be out?
“Don’t know,” Carroll said.
Will he be ready for the opener?
“I don’t know that,” Carroll said.
Is it the same knee Wright had a procedure done on last year during training camp?
“I don’t know that answer. Sorry.”
The Seattle defense that fans came to know with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril is no more. All those players are gone for various reasons — trade, injury — and with the return of Ken Norton Jr. as defensive coordinator, the Seahawks were expected to be centered even more around Wright and fellow linebacker Bobby Wagner this season.
That still may be the case, but Wright’s absence could affect some of what Seattle wants to do defensively because of his ability to stay on the field as an excellent pass defender. Wright has started 103 of 107 games he’s played in over seven seasons, missing just five regular-season games.
Wright had an orthopedic procedure known as Regenokine on his knee a year ago during training camp. Depending on Wright’s recovery, the status of cornerback Byron Maxwell and the lingering holdout by safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks could have just one defensive starter from either of its Super Bowl teams on the field against Denver: Wagner.
Wright’s backup is rookie fifth-round pick Shaquem Griffin. While Griffin has been noted for his playmaking and speed during the preseason, he’s also been caught out of position at times and can be bullied by bigger players. Griffin should get significant playing time in the preseason finale Thursday against Oakland.
“At this point, today, he’s got to be ready,” Carroll said.
NOTES: WR Doug Baldwin returned to practice after missing most of training camp with a sore knee. Baldwin won’t play against the Raiders but appears on track for the opener in Denver. … DE Frank Clark suffered a hyperextended elbow and S Tedric Thompson suffered a stinger in the game against the Vikings. … Carroll said DE Dion Jordan (knee) is recovering quickly but was uncertain if he’ll be healthy enough to start the season on the active roster.