Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said he had to resort to reading lips for a time during Sunday's game to receive play calls from the sidelines.
Turns out it wasn’t just Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who had issues with his helmet headset system during Sunday’s game at Carolina.
So did middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who calls the plays for the defense.
NFL teams are allowed to have one player on each side of the ball fitted with a helmet communications system to receive play calls from coaches to then relay to the rest of the players. The headsets are turned on until the 15-second mark on the play clock (actually, two defensive players can have the system but they cannot be on the field at the same time).
Both Wagner and Wilson had issues with theirs during the first half of Sunday’s 30-27 Seattle win (Wilson revealed his problems during an ESPN interview).
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Wagner said Wednesday there was something wrong with the ear piece, which forced him to improvise on how he got the calls from defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.
“I’ve been reading lips since my rookie year so I was reading some of the lips of coach Norton,’’ Wagner said. “If I hadn’t got a play (call) in I just called the play myself. I know what we are going to call for the most part.’’
Wagner said he didn’t think it really impacted the team’s play in any way.
“Not really,’’ he said. “We are professionals. We got a couple of calls in a little late and some of them got cut out. But this has happened before.’’
Wagner said the only thing he had to remind himself was to not let it seem like an issue to the rest of the defense.
“I feel like if I panic then everybody else would panic,’’ Wagner said. “So I feel like no one would know that it went out besides me and Norton.’’
Wagner said the team wanted to just switch his helmet so he would have a functioning earpiece but that “I don’t like switching helmets. So I was ready to read his lips the rest of the game. But they ended up getting a battery so they fixed it.’’
That apparently happened by halftime though Wagner said he didn’t recall exactly when.
Wilson’s helmet was also apparently fixed by the end of the first half.
The Seahawks apparently don’t think it was anything other than a simple malfunction and did not report it to the league.
Norton confirmed Wednesday the team had issues with its headsets but downplayed it, saying “for the most part it was working.”