By Brady Henderson
The NFL's lockout robbed last year's rookies of offseason workouts that would have helped ease the difficult transition from college.
Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright had a nice rookie season despite that, even if it got off to a rough start.
"When I first got here, I'm telling you, I was real lost. I didn't know how to make the strength calls and I was playing a new position," Wright, a fourth-round pick in 2011, told "Bob and Groz" after the team's training camp practice on Thursday.
"Coming in here and having OTAs and minicamps [this year], learning the insides of the defense, why we're doing certain things, it really helped me out."
For a guy who claims to have been lost, Wright seemed to figure it out quickly. He started the season opener at middle linebacker while David Hawthorne was out with a knee injury, and by the sixth week of the season the Seahawks were convinced enough in his ability to start at strongside linebacker that they gave him the job and shipped Aaron Curry out of town.
He had his rookie struggles, sure. But when it was all said and done he was a productive starter on a defense that finished in the top 10.
As Wright enters his second season, his stated goal is to be more of a playmaker. He notes that he had no interceptions, two sacks and roughly 60 tackles in 2011.
Not that his rookie season was devoid of game-changing plays. In Week 15, it was his pressure on Caleb Hanie that forced the Bears' backup quarterback into a desperation pass that landed in Red Bryant's arms. One of his sacks came a week earlier against the Rams, a game in which he had three tackles for losses.
As for not picking off any passes, Wright should have his chances this season. The Seahawks like his length and range in pass coverage, and could use him as a middle linebacker in passing situations.
Having a year under his belt should help as well.
"I know what I'm doing now," Wright said. "I'm more mature as a football player, coming out here talking to the young guys, telling them how to play football. It's going real good so far."
In the video below, Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby share some more highlights and thoughts from their conversation with Wright.
You can listen to Thursday's podcast here.