Earlier this week, Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson told The Seattle Times that second-round linebacker Bobby Wagner reminded him of San Francisco 49ers All-Pro inside linebacker Patrick Willis, Robinson's teammate from 2007 right up until the week before the 2010 regular-season opener.
"He's going to be another special player one day," Robinson said of Wagner. "I call him a 'Baby Patrick Willis' because I hadn't seen a linebacker move like that since Pat."
With the Seahawks unwilling to match what the New Orleans Saints were willing to pay David Hawthorne, Seattle's leading tackler the last three seasons, Wagner is competing with veteran Barrett Ruud for the starting middle linebacker job. Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley discussed Wagner's progress with "The Brock & Salk Show" on 710 ESPN Seattle.
"He really is doing well," Bradley said. "I think those flashes that Michael talked about â the speed, the strength and just his ability to show some flash plays has shown up. That's the reason why we drafted him."
Bradley added that the team is trying to "speed up the learning curve" for Wagner, including having the rookie from Utah State make all the calls in a defensive huddle that has a strong leadership presence.
"That's probably the biggest adjustment, Brock," said Bradley. "We got Kam Chancellor, Red Bryant, but this guy (the middle linebacker) is in front of the huddle every play. And he's giving the calls, he's setting our front, he's making checks, so they really rely on him.
"It comes back to the cliché of mental toughness and trying to develop that," Bradley continued. "And for us, we try to put our guys in a calm and, at times, a hostile environment, because that's how you speed up the whole process. So we're forcing Bobby to make all the calls. Now, let's say its two weeks or three weeks, we're really struggling at that point, K.J. Wright can make all the calls. He did it last year, he can get us into defenses and can make the solid calls and we can take a little less off of Bobby's plate. So we have answers to it, but we'd really like to progress (to) where he's (Wagner's) in charge of the huddle."
Wagner will make his preseason debut tonight against the Tennessee Titans, the NFL Network will show the game live at 10 p.m. ET.