A happy, and consistently productive, birthday to K.J. Wright

Posted Jul 23, 2014

Wednesday is K.J. Wright’s 25th birthday, and the versatile and productive linebacker has been a pleasant surprise for the Seahawks since the first day he stepped on the practice field in 2011.

In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of the National Football League there’s K.J. Wright, who just continues to do good things for the Seahawks – and on a ridiculously consistent and versatile basis.

Since stepping into the starting lineup early in his rookie season, the versatile and productive linebacker has started at all three spots in the Seahawks’ defense and finished fifth, second and fourth in tackles. Wright’s total of 237 tackles makes him one of only four Seattle defenders with 200-plus stops in the past three seasons – along with All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor (278), middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (259 in two seasons) and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas (237).

Wright’s right-stuff role, and production, in a defense that has ranked ninth, fourth and first in the league the past three seasons is pertinent for a couple of reasons. The Seahawks’ first training camp practice is scheduled for Friday morning. But first, Wednesday is Wright’s 25th birthday.

To appreciate Wright’s effect on the Seahawks’ already good, but still improving, defense, it helps to revisit just how immediate his impact has been since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

When a knee injury rendered then-middle linebacker David Hawthorne inactive for the 2011 season opener, the 6-foot-4, 246-pound Wright started and collected five tackles. That performance showed the coaches that Wright needed to play on a regular basis, which led to 2009 first-round draft choice Aaron Curry being traded to the Oakland Raiders. Stepping in on the strong side for Curry, Wright had three games with at least seven tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Wright remained the starter on the strong side in 2012, when he had a career-high 96 tackles in 15 starts and five passes defensed. Last season, Wright moved to the weak side, turning in another strong season with 80 tackles and four passes defensed.

“You’ve heard me say many times that he is unique,” coach Pete Carroll has said of Wright, well, many times. “He’s so long. His arm length is so special and he ran real fast also and he was really good behind the ball. He surprised us early on and he was so stout about the game. He just could learn quickly and handle a lot of information and utilize all of the stuff and he surprised us again with his coverage ability. He’s a very, very good cover guy and he has great instincts about it.

“There have been a lot of surprises with K.J. and he’s played great football for us.”

And he has done it on a consistent, and productive, basis. So special birthday wishes go out to a player who has been truly special for the Seahawks.