Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard says the Seahawks are a different team now than when they lost to Carolina 27-23 in October.

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Maybe the dominant theme of the week at the VMAC has been that the Seahawks feel as if they are a different — and better — team than the one that lost to Carolina 27-23 on Oct. 18 at CenturyLink Field.

Defensive coordinator Kris Richard echoed that sentiment when he met the media Thursday noting that the defense now has Jeremy Lane healthy and playing cornerback and that Bobby Wagner and Jordan Hill are also back.

Wagner, recall, missed the Carolina game with a pectoral injury, the only game he missed all season.

“Yeah, we’re not the same team, that’s for sure,” said Richard (who you can see in the video above having his press conference briefly interrupted by Kam Chancellor and Wagner). “Critical pieces were missing in that game. Obviously, Bobby’s starting, Bobby will be back for this game. Jordan Hill will be back for this football game. Jeremy Lane will be back out there for this football game. All those guys right there are critical pieces to what we do, and who we are. That’s exactly right. We’re not the same. We do feel as though we’re better, but it makes no difference if we don’t go out there and uphold our standard.”

The return of Wagner could go a long way toward helping the Seahawks improve their defense on Carolina tight end Greg Olsen, who had seven receptions for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown in October.

Specifically, getting Wagner back will mean K.J. Wright playing this game at weakside linebacker — Kevin Pierre-Louis played there against the Panthers in October.

Richard, though, said the Seahawks don’t have to do anything different schematically than the first time.

“Just executing,” he said of the key to defending tight ends. “Following the defense, doing what you’re coached to do. Going out there and playing ball.”

Some observers have looked at Seattle’s Cover Three defense, its predominant look, and concluded that it is a little vulnerable to passes to the tight ends.

But Richard said that doesn’t have to be the case.

“Well, our zone coverages, we should be able to take away all the openings and things like that if we go out there and do what we’re supposed to do,” he said.

As for Olsen, he said the Seahawks will definitely have to make some plays against him Sunday.

“The quarterback throws it to him as much as he possibly can,” Richard said. “Whether he’s covered or not, the ball is going there.”

Olsen’s 26-yard game-winner in the first game came against a Seahawks’ blown coverage in the secondary, the result of some players getting one signal and some players getting another.

Richard said he’s glad the Seahawks will get a chance to atone for that ending.

“We’ve played a lot of football around here, and there was no excuses for what happened then and there,” he said. ” So we didn’t play up to our standard, we know it, and thank God we have another chance to go out there and do so.”