Dave Boling: Seahawks have a few things to sort out before new season

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comJune 21, 2014 

Maybe the biggest thing the Seattle Seahawks proved during their offseason workouts is that they look very much like a team hungry to earn a trip to the Super Bowl rather than one fattened up from celebrating the last one.

Workouts have been competitive and contentious, and some players and observers fairly suggest the roster is better than the one they took into last season.

It’s probably the fastest Seahawks team in history, and most positions enjoy the luxury of depth.

Just making it to training camp with the Seahawks might be enough to assure a player of a job elsewhere in the NFL, as it has become trendy for teams to pad their rosters with Seattle’s castoffs.

But there’s a great deal yet for the Seahawks to sort through between now and training camp, and ultimately before the Sept. 4 opener against the Green Bay Packers.

 •  Some important guys need to concentrate on healing. If key players such as left tackle Russell Okung (foot) or strong safety Kam Chancellor (hip) have any hiccups in their recovery from surgeries, it will be a test of the quality of depth at their positions.

Linebackers Bruce Irvin (hip) and Malcolm Smith (ankle) also are mending. Irvin looks like the post-surgical Seahawk facing the biggest challenge of returning in time for camp.

Yes, these guys have players behind them ready to step in if their rehab drags, but that’s two Pro Bowl players, a first-round draft pick and a Super Bowl MVP on that rehab list.

Receiver Sidney Rice was able to run routes on the sidelines but was held out of practices to give his knee more time to recover. They can afford to be patient with Rice.

After the Seahawks drafted a pair of promising receivers in Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood, and with Percy Harvin healthy to go along with the returners, Rice will have to prove in camp that he can stay healthy and be productive.

 •  Mollify Marshawn Lynch. Reports suggest the workhorse back wants more money. Lynch is under contract, and the Hawks have some big expenses on the horizon (e.g., Russell Wilson), which make a dramatic contract alteration unlikely.

But Lynch showed up for minicamp after missing the voluntary organized team activities, which seems to signify that some middle ground might be found that could get him into camp and ready to perform at his typical high level.

But this is a situation that could become a distraction if it lingers toward the season. The Hawks have prepared for the eventual replacement of Lynch by drafting Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. But are they ready for action now if the Lynch situation unravels?

 •  Figure out what to do with Terrelle Pryor. This probably will take some preseason action to clarify. In OTAs and minicamp, Pryor, a former starting quarterback in Oakland, showed the kind of rushing skills that allowed him to run for 6.9 yards per attempt and a 93-yard touchdown with the Raiders.

But he has been unconvincing as a passer, which was the problem in Oakland. With Tarvaris Jackson as a proven backup, do you keep Pryor as a third-stringer in the hopes that his passing improves and then perhaps use him on occasion as a running threat? Spots on the active roster are so valuable as to make that a costly option.

 •  Determine who returns punts. This is one that got a lot of attention in OTAs, as a list of All-Pros, including Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Harvin, all showed interest.

At some point, they must decide if the big-play potential is worth the added risk of exposing such valuable every-down players to the collisions common on special teams.

 •  Rest. These guys have worked out with such intensity that minicamp practices sparked some scuffles.

We might assume that training camp will be conducted at an even higher fervor. This will be a long season, and some winding down in July could be a smart approach.

But when a team motto compels players to give a “championship effort” every day, it’s going to be hard to convince anybody to take it easy in July and pace themselves in August.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440
dave.boling@thenewstribune.com

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