Seahawks linebackers Cody Barton and Jordyn Brooks have ‘big shoes to fill’

NFL

RENTON, Wash. — Previous watched current at Seattle Seahawks observe on Thursday.

K.J. Wright was in attendance for his or her fifth organized workforce exercise, albeit merely as a customer. The longtime Seahawks linebacker and present free agent is inquisitive about taking part in in 2022, however provided that a chance arises in Seattle. He would not wish to be away from his household once more like he was final 12 months throughout his lone season with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Seahawks and Wright have mentioned a doable return, however as normal supervisor John Schneider has mentioned, that might most likely be in a non-playing position.

Wright is without doubt one of the most necessary gamers from probably the most profitable period in franchise historical past, however the Seahawks are beginning a brand new chapter at linebacker. They usually’re extra desperate to see fourth-year professional Cody Barton be a part of Jordyn Brooks within the beginning lineup than you may notice.

After primarily spending his first three seasons as a particular groups participant and backup behind Wright and Bobby Wagner, Barton is lastly getting his shot with each franchise cornerstones gone.

“I believe persons are going to be stunned at how nicely he performs,” mentioned one Seahawks expertise evaluator.

Barton has 5 spot begins because the Seahawks drafted him within the third spherical in 2019 out of Utah. He made 18 mixed tackles rather than an injured Wagner in the course of the closing two video games of final season.

It was certainly an audition for the beginning job that got here open when the Seahawks launched Wagner in March. The one inside linebacker they signed in free company was Joel Iyiegbuniwe, who received a minimum-salary deal to be a backup and play on particular groups. They did not draft a linebacker with any of their 9 picks.

“Actually good within the go sport,” mentioned new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt of Barton. “He is at all times had an important consciousness for that. He is received a background being a security rising up, after which clearly working his approach down into the field so that you see a few of these issues together with his consciousness and choosing up go routes and the communication with guys on the again finish. … The trouble, the eye to element for Cody has at all times been part of it, however now he has an important alternative, and he is had a very nice spring up to now.”

Whereas Barton was filling in for Wagner over the ultimate two video games, Brooks was closing out one of the vital productive seasons of any NFL linebacker. The 2020 first-round decide completed with 184 tackles, ending second within the league and breaking the single-season Seahawks mark. That whole was partly due to how a lot time Seattle’s protection spent on the sector — it led the league in snaps by a large margin — but in addition the strides Brooks constituted of his rookie season.

Not that Yr 2 was excellent. However even with the occasional problem Brooks had in recognizing display screen passes — at one level prompting delicate public criticism from coach Pete Carroll — he appeared like a Professional Bowler within the making.

With Wagner gone, Brooks will take over as Seattle’s defensive signal-caller.

“He had an unbelievable season final 12 months and he is simply frequently gotten higher, and you’ll see simply the uncooked expertise that he has,” mentioned linebacker/fullback Nick Bellore. “… He took the items, I believe, from Bobby and Ok.J. that [they] sort of taught him alongside the way in which, and I believe he is simply taken it and run with it. I believe a man that may run like that and canopy like he does and hit like he does, I believe the sky is the restrict for him.”

The transition away from Wagner and Wright may need occurred earlier if not for Ken Norton Jr., their former place coach and one in every of their largest advocates. Properly earlier than he was fired as defensive coordinator earlier this offseason, Norton developed a repute inside the group for being reluctant to play younger gamers, curiously so in a number of circumstances.

In 2019, for example, he favored a base-heavy protection that repeatedly saved a 3rd linebacker on the sector — veteran Mychal Kendricks and never Barton — as an alternative of inserting a fifth defensive again in rookie Ugo Amadi. It baffled some inside workforce headquarters when rookie second-round decide Marquise Blair, regardless of making performs in three earlier fill-in begins, did not begin late that season whereas Quandre Diggs was sidelined. Brooks performed sparingly at first of his 2020 rookie season regardless that Seattle had simply drafted him twenty seventh general. It took an harm to veteran Bruce Irvin to get him into the beginning lineup.

“We will play younger guys,” Hurtt mentioned. “They are going to get on the sector. We received to get them prepared. They’re the long run. However on the identical time, we received to ensure that the very best gamers are on the market.”

Whether or not or not Wright finally ends up again with the Seahawks in some capability, he and Wagner will each find yourself within the workforce’s ring of honor. They’re third and first, respectively, on the franchise’s all-time tackles record. Within the meantime, Wagner continues to be including to his Corridor of Fame résumé with the Los Angeles Rams.

“It is a sport the place somebody has to step in and sort of fill these roles,” Bellore mentioned. “I believe we clearly have the fellows to do it. They’re massive sneakers to fill.”

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