Seahawks' K.J. Wright: Playing Madden helped develop football smarts

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RENTON, Wash. -- Linebacker K.J. Wright is in his sixth season with the Seattle Seahawks, and 2016 has probably been his best yet.

Wright has 52 tackles, a pair of sacks and has been excellent in coverage.

Richard Sherman recently called him one of the defense's most underrated players, and linebacker Bobby Wagner said Wright has not received the credit he deserves.

I caught up with Wright this week to talk about his football savvy, his keys to recovery and the team's most underrated player.

Defensive coordinator Kris Richard said you're one of the smartest players he's been around, and Wagner said he's always impressed with how you diagnose plays. How'd you develop those football smarts?

K.J. Wright: From playing Madden as a kid. I'm telling you, the same plays on Madden are the plays that NFL teams run. I've been playing Madden since 1995, so over time it just sunk in my brain, and I figured it out.

Is that true? Are you being serious?

KW: That's very true. Playing Madden and NCAA. It just registered in my head.

So in high school, did you feel like you were ahead because you had been playing Madden for so long?

KW: Yeah, you just know stuff. Teams have to run certain concepts. They can't put two guys in the same spot, so you just know when the flat route comes, something else has to come in. So it's kind of simple.

Who did you play Madden against?

KW: When I was younger, I played against my dad. He used to let me win, then started playing with my teammates. Then you start playing online against the best in the world, and then you get really good. I've been doing this for a long time.

Are you the best Madden player in this locker room?

KW: I don't lose games.

What team did you play with?

KW: Each year was different. I always played with the best team though.

What system did you play on? This will tell me how much older I am than you.

KW: I'm a PlayStation man.

What's the job description for being a Will linebacker in this scheme?

KW: Just be a baller. You're off the ball so you're running from sideline to sideline making plays. You cover tight ends, cover running backs. They ask a lot out of everyone in this defense, but the Will in particular. You have your hands full with everything, taking on linemen, taking on fullbacks. We do it all.

You played 102 snaps last week. What are you doing this week to recover?

KW: I'm doing extra massages, doing my Epsom salt, of course doing my cold tub. Come Sunday, you've got to be ready to roll.

How does the Epsom salt help?

KW: You know about Epsom salt. I've been doing that since I was a kid. You swole up your ankle, your mom will be like, 'Alright, put some Epsom salt on it and some hot water.' I just dump my whole body into it. I've got this stuff called Blue Magic [pulls bag out], that's some good [stuff] right here. After the game, Blue Magic. It does good for you.

What's the angriest you've ever seen head coach Pete Carroll?

KW: [Long pause] That dude doesn't get mad. When he does get mad, he's still positive.

Last year, teammates were pushing you for the Pro Bowl. Give me an honest answer: Would it mean something to you if you made it this year?

WKW: I mean, I'm just here to play football. Whatever comes with it, comes with it. I don't play for the fame, don't play for the glory. I play because I've got the abilities and God blessed me with it.

Are you playing the best football of your career right now?

KW: I believe last week was another step, and I've just got to keep taking those steps. It's good football, but there's always room to improve.

Why was last week a big step?

KW: I just made more one-on-one tackles than I have all season. More solo tackles. And I saw the game really clear. I really felt I knew what was coming, diagnosed things really well.

So it comes back to Madden once again?

KW: It does, I'm telling you [laughs].

Last question: Who's the most underrated guy on this team?

KW: Let's go Tuba [Ahtyba Rubin].

People always say him when I ask that question. Why?

KW: Because people don't understand how important he is. They just don't understand. They don't see how he takes on double-teams. They don't see how when he has to be a hook-dropper [in zone coverage], how he covers really well. They don't see how hard he runs to the ball. No D-lineman's running like him. None. Zero.

I saw him drop and cover last week, looked pretty good. Could he fill in at Will if you got injured?

KW: I think he could [laughs]. He runs sideline to sideline and makes plays.