First cuts take place on Monday, when NFL teams have to get down from 90 to 75 players.
So Friday’s contest against Kansas City will be important one for those players on the fringes of earning a roster spot for the Seattle Seahawks.
With that in mind, we take a look at some players that have helped themselves in the first two games and training camp, and some guys who still have to work to do in order to prove they deserve a starting job or a spot on the roster.
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Phillip Adams: He’s been the most consistent performer of all the reserve cornerbacks, is a good special teams player and is also working inside as a nickel cornerback with the second unit. Adams also has flashed playmaking ability at times, with a handful of interceptions in practice.
Deon Butler: The fourth-year pro looks like he’s back to his old self after a leg injury in 2010, and has played with good feel as the team’s starting slot receiver with Doug Baldwin out. The Penn State product also proved he can make a tackle is he has to play special teams.
Braylon Edwards: Every day during practice Edwards makes at least one eye-opening play. Right now, Edwards is the most consistent of the big receivers who can make explosive plays down the field. I find it hard to believe he will not be on Seattle’s roster when the season begins.
Jeron Johnson: He’s like a cockroach – you just can’t get rid of this guy. Seattle considered drafting the BSU product in the fifth round last year, but instead selected Appalachian State product Mark LeGree, and brought in Johnson as an undrafted rookie free agent. But LeGree is with his third team, and Johnson earned a roster spot. This year, the Seahawks drafted Winston Guy in the sixth round as a potential backup to Kam Chancellor, but Johnson’s the guy making plays in practice and in games. Johnson leads the team in tackles in exhibition play, and has an interception and a forced fumble. He’s a football player.
Tyrell Sutton: The Northwestern product has rushed five times for 51 yards, including a 46-yard run against Denver. And he also has a 34-yard reception for a score against the Broncos on a screen pass. While he might have a tough time making the roster with Robert Turbin and Leon Washington ahead of him, Sutton has put together some good film, which should help him catch on with another team.
J.R. Sweezy: Carroll gushed over Sweezy’s remarkable development since May on Thursday. He’s a great athlete and a mauler in the run game, but he still have to develop a better feel for pass protection. Seattle’s coaching staff might have a tough decision to make if John Moffitt is not ready to go for the season opener.
Russell Wilson: He’s showed good command of the offense and has a presence about him on the field. He’s a leader, and guys want to make plays for him. But for me, the most important distinction between Wilson and Matt Flynn is the Wisconsin product’s ability to make plays – either with his feet or his arm. It could be the difference to scoring touchdowns or settling for field goals. And in razor-thin margin of the NFL, that’s the difference between winning and losing.
Still work to do
Kris Durham: He’s played better the past week, making a handful of good grabs during practice. And he’s also done a nice job of executing the little things, including solid stalk blocking on the perimeter to spring runners for big gain. But we have yet to see that explosive playmaking ability show up in a game.
Matt Flynn: While Wilson’s accelerated development and playmaking ability have been talked about, what has went unsaid is Flynn’s inability to grab control of the starter role – and the team – during offseason work and training camp. Wilson getting his first start also is a reflection of Flynn not being able to win the job outright up until this point, something I expected him to do. It will be important for Flynn to not get frustrated with the situation and play well in whatever snaps he get against the Chiefs. I still think he has a good shot to be the starter for the season opener against Arizona, but he’s left the door cracked open for Wilson.
Winston Guy: He has the prototypical size and speed that the team is looking for at strong safety, but Guy has not been consistent in his play. At least one of the punt blocks against Denver can be attributed to Guy’s poor blocking on special teams.
Ricardo Lockette: A leg injury prevented Lockette from being part of the conversation in the battle for the starting job at split end. And now he appears to be just competing for a roster spot. His hands are becoming more consistent – Lockette made a great grab on a fade route in the back of the end zone during practice on Wednesday. However, he’ll need to contribute on special teams if he’s to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Deuce Lutui: The personal foul penalty against Denver did not help his cause. Add to that the development of Sweezy, and Lutui is in a dogfight for a roster spot. But Lutui has something working in favor – experience. Also, he’s one of the better run blockers on a team that will lean on the run game this season.
Byron Maxwell: The Clemson product has had his share of health issues and did not look good against Tennessee. However, Maxwell had a good week of practice, and might be finding his game at the right time. The coaching staff still loves his athleticism, versatility and the physical way he plays.
Terrell Owens: He has a lot to overcome. And the fact that he finished without a catch and a bad drop against Denver is just scratching the surface. He still appears to be the same T.O. who complains when things are not going his way. And Pete Carroll will not put up with that from a fifth or six receiver – see T.J. Houshmandazadeh.
Malcolm Smith: The 2011, seventh round draft pick from is battling through injuries once again, and fellow USC product Mike Morgan has passed him on the depth chart. But like Maxwell, the speed and athleticism still is intriguing.