SEATTLE (CBS) – Three years ago, Bobby Wagner thought he’d be selected by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL Draft.
In fact, he very nearly was.
After appearing in two Super Bowls, earning a Pro Bowl selection and signing one of the largest middle linebacker contracts in history, it’s safe to bet Wagner is happy with the way things turned out.
Asked whether he ever thinks about what could’ve been when he plays St. Louis, Wagner smiles.
“I’m good here.”
Wagner recently earned another honor: defensive team captain. It’s a first for the 25-year-old.
“It was a blessing,” he says. “I definitely feel honored that my team thinks highly of me and I just want to do my best to lead this team to another Super Bowl. I just got to be a little more vocal and make sure everything’s going right, but I feel like I’ve been doing that since I got here.”
The veteran presence of Wagner, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and other core members of Seattle’s defense has certainly been a helpful force for Seattle’s new faces. The help (including advice from Kam Chancellor) has come at the right time for second-year safety Dion Bailey, who is set to start opposite Earl Thomas in Chancellor’s absence.
Seattle leads the series overall with St. Louis, 21-12. The favored Seahawks have lost two of their last three road games against the Rams, though a win Sunday might tip a division battle in the Seahawks’ favor early — the Rams haven’t won a game in Seattle since 2005. This time, the Seahawks will be facing a new quarterback in Nick Foles. (Seattle played Mark Sanchez when facing Philadelphia last season, and this is Foles’ first season in the Rams’ system.)
“Foles has done a great job with the Eagles and I’m pretty sure he’s going to try to do the same thing over here,” says Wagner. “He likes to get the ball out quick and likes to do all the short passes, but he has a big arm too. So we just got to make sure — as far as my job, the linebackers — make sure all the short routes are taken care of and trust the safeties and DBs to take care of that deep ball.”
Perhaps due to Chancellor’s holdout (or due to a new defensive coordinator, right corner, strong safety, and a recovering Earl Thomas) some critics question whether Seattle’s defense can be the same dominant force fans are used to seeing – at least this Sunday.
For his part, Wagner doesn’t seem at all concerned.
“We’re a very deep team,” he says, when asked about what improvements are taking place behind the scenes. “When a guy goes out, we have a guy that steps in. Just look at the Kam situation. Dion [Bailey] has definitely stepped in and done a pretty good job, and we’re excited to see him get out there and play. So, I think we’re going to be fine, I think we’re going to be good.
We’re used to proving people wrong.”