The potential is there for Pierre-Louis, even if the consistency hasn’t been.

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RENTON — Kevin Pierre-Louis’ problem sounds like a nice problem for a linebacker to have, but it can still be a problem.

“I run well,” he said, “but I can run into the wrong spot. Now it’s just running well — into the right position.”

He played in only seven games last season because of a season-ending shoulder injury, and he also didn’t play in Seattle’s first exhibition game last week because of a shoulder strain, so the sample size is small. But what we’ve seen from Pierre-Louis is raw, unharnessed speed on some plays and the unpredictability of where that speed might take him on others.

“I am pretty quick, and that’s an attribute a lot of people see, even the rest of my teammates,” said Pierre-Louis, who is expected to play in Kansas City on Friday. “But now it’s controlling that speed. It’s just making sure I’m in the right position. Our defense is a sound defense, and everybody has a job to do. So if I use my speed and run out of my gap, I’m exposing someone else. So it’s really just controlling that speed.”

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Over the past two seasons, starting linebackers K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin have missed multiple games because of injury or suspension. And with trusted fourth linebacker Malcolm Smith now playing in Oakland, Pierre-Louis is the likely alternative.

“Right now I have no trouble putting him in there to give guys a rest,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That’s a lot of ground he’s made up in a short time.”

The potential is there for Pierre-Louis, even if the consistency hasn’t been.

One play from last year: The Seahawks are playing the Panthers, and Pierre-Louis is filling in at linebacker. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dumps the ball off in the left flat for a screen to running back Jonathan Stewart. Pierre-Louis closes the 12-yard gap between himself and Stewart so quickly that Stewart gains only one yard.

In response to that play last year, former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said, “It was no surprise to us to see how fast he was playing.”

One play from a scrimmage this preseason: Pierre-Louis bites on play-action and takes a few steps forward. He recognizes that it’s a pass play, sees the tight end slip out to the flat and breaks up the pass.

A year ago?

“I would have been there a little bit later,” he said. “It would have been the same speed, but it’s picking up those keys. … I’m able to react to it sooner.”

After watching film from that scrimmage, Carroll said Pierre-Louis “might have been the single guy that stood out the most.”

And then Pierre-Louis got hurt and has been limited since. Pierre-Louis said he’s better at understanding “keys” this year. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard said Pierre-Louis is more patient and knows where to “fit” in his run gaps.

The watered-down version: Pierre-Louis understands what to look for, what’s coming his way and where he should be better than last year. Now that needs to translate into production.

“He’s a guy that we’re really expecting a lot from this upcoming season,” Richard said.