NFL

Wagner looking to seize linebacker job

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RENTON, Wash. (AP)

Seattle coach Pete Carroll has wanted the Seahawks to get faster on defense, especially at linebacker.

With the addition of Bobby Wagner in the second round of the draft, Carroll hopes they've solved that issue.

Wagner has been thrown into the fire during this weekend's rookie minicamp getting reps at middle linebacker as the Seahawks look to fill the hole left by David Hawthorne's departure to New Orleans.

''The (MLB) spot is wide open and we have to see what happens. This is what Bobby is putting his sights on, but we'll have to see how it goes,'' Carroll said.

Seattle brought back Matt McCoy and signed veteran Barrett Ruud during free agency that will also be a part of the competition for the starting job.

McCoy played well in spot duty last season before a knee injury ended his season. Ruud has started 77 games throughout his seven-year career, but is dealing with offseason injuries of his own.

''Bobby's going to get a heck of a chance. We want to see him. We'd love to get that speed on the field if we could. It's rare to find a linebacker that runs that fast,'' Carroll said. ''... But he's got to do it. He's got a long way to go before he can take that over.''

Part of that learning curve will be becoming comfortable with calling defenses on the field. While at Utah State, defensive calls came from the coaching staff on the sideline instead of through a player on the field. Wagner hasn't called defenses since he was in high school.

Those duties will instead fall on K.J. Wright at strongside linebacker. Wright played both middle and outside for Seattle last season.

''We're not going to burden (Wagner) with that and we'll let that be something that is staged in later,'' Carroll said. ''If it takes place over the course of this season and it's something where he's playing a lot then that'll happen, but right now K.J. is really good at it so we'll let him do it.''

Wagner knows the coaching staff is putting a lot on his shoulders. It's a burden he's happy to carry.

''I love the pressure. I'm just going to do whatever I can to start. I know I've got a lot to learn, but I'm going to take my time,'' Wagner said.

Wagner was unable to attend the NFL combine when he came down with pneumonia just two days before he was set to leave for Indianapolis.

But he managed to make a mark with scouts at his pro day workout instead. Wagner ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash, recorded a 39.5-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot broad jump.

His athleticism would be a welcome addition for Carroll in the middle of the Seahawks defense if he can take hold of the spot.

''It comes down to can he run, can he hit, can he fit into our profile and what we do best here. That's absolute,'' linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said. ''He certainly looks the part, acts the part and he works the part and just a matter of handling all the installation as we go on day by day.''

Unlike a season ago, Wagner will have that time to acclimate over a full offseason. The rookies get to start working out with the veterans now that rookie camp is over and Wagner will get the chance to show what he can do.

''A lot of people get here and then in two years you never hear from them, so I'm trying to stay here for a while and be a contributor to this team,'' Wagner said.

Notes: Pete Carroll says QB Russell Wilson will compete for the starting job with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson. ''He's going to be in the competition. He's shown us enough. He's in the competition,'' Carroll said. ... All 10 draft picks have signed as fourth-round picks DT Jaye Howard and RB Robert Turbin signed over the weekend. ... Carroll singled out G Rishaw Johnson and CB Donny Lisowski as players that stood out during minicamp.

Tagged: Matt McCoy, Matt Flynn, K.J. Wright, Seahawks, Bobby Wagner

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