The Seattle Seahawks began trimming the current group of players to the final 53-man roster that will suit up for the team’s regular-season opener in two weeks at home against the St. Louis Rams.
Head coach Jim Mora got a head start on the arduous task on Sunday, as the team waived defensive lineman Kevin Brown, fullback Dan Curran, linebacker Shane Simmons and tight end John Tereshinski.
The moves cut Seattle’s roster to 76 players – including cornerback Marcus Trufant, whom the team put on the physically unable to perform list at the beginning of training camp. Trufant still counts toward the final roster.
The Seahawks have to be down to 75 players by Tuesday’s league deadline. And by Saturday, Seattle needs to have its roster down to the 53-man final limit.
Mora understands he has a difficult task ahead this week, but he has already proven he can help make weighty personnel decisions – as evidenced by the team’s terminating the contract of popular player T.J. Duckett, creating a spot for free-agent Edgerrin James to boost the team’s running game.
“We’ve got some tough decisions to make,” Mora said after the Seahawks’ 14-10 victory over Kansas City on Saturday. “We’ll make them as quick as we can for the best of the team. And I hope those guys that we do release put enough good tape out there that maybe they get a chance to catch on somewhere else.”
A sampling of some of Mora’s tougher decisions this week:
• Placekicker: In the battle between Olindo Mare and Brandon Coutu, neither distinguished himself on Saturday. Mare missed field goal attempts from 51 and 27 yards, and Coutu, who had been 11-for-11 in exhibition field-goal attempts the past two years, missed badly from 51 yards.
“That wasn’t a real positive for us,” Mora said about the kicking game against Kansas City. “The field goals were disappointing. But no, we’re not (close to making a decision) unfortunately.”
• Defensive line: Baraka Atkins and rookies Nick Reed and Michael Bennett are likely battling it out for the final spot. Atkins, in his third year, has shown flashes of being a good pass rusher but hasn’t fully tapped his potential. At 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, Reed is small for a defensive end. But he has three sacks, an interception and a tipped punt in three exhibition games. Bennett has been a disrupting force inside, and also has the versatility to play both defensive end and defensive tackle.
• Wide receiver: The competition continues for the last couple slots. The team traditionally kept six receivers while Mike Holmgren was coach, but new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has run more two-tight-end sets during the preseason and not as many three- or four-receiver sets, so the Seahawks could get by with keeping just five wideouts.
So far, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and Deon Butler are likely in, with Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu and Jordan Kent fighting for the last couple of spots.
Or perhaps Branch could be on his way out.
The veteran will make $5 million this season to be Seattle’s third receive r and the Seahawks have a lot of depth at the position. So they may live with five receivers and let Branch go to keep a player at a different position.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437