With the Seattle Seahawks finally settling into the 90-man roster a week into training camp, I thought today would be an appropriate time to take a closer look at the training camp battles as we head into the team’s first preseason game on Thursday.
With so many new names and faces, it’s pretty difficult to predict what players might emerge when Seattle tries to get down to a final, 53-man roster in a month. But here we take an early look at who might be on the bubble.
Also, you can download the 90-man roster here in this Excel file.
QuarterbackNumber kept last season: ThreeCurrently on roster: ThreeAverage number kept since 2008: ThreeLock: Tarvaris JacksonLooking good: Charlie Whitehurst,Longer odds: Josh PortisComment – The fact that Pete Carroll named Jackson the starting quarterback before he even took a snap in practice does not bode well for Whitehurst. Not only does the team appear to prefer Jackson because of his knowledge of Darrell Bevell’s offense, they also like his skill set, athleticism and overall leadership more compared to the Clemson product. So Whitehurst has an uphill climb to get into the conversation as the future starter for this team. Add to that the fact that his $4 million base salary is non-guaranteed, meaning the team would not be on the hook for Whitehurst if they cut him before Week 1 of the regular season, and don’t be surprised if we see some more movement at this position come September. Portis is a talented-but-raw developmental prospect who has shown flashes that he could develop into a decent quarterback over time.
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Running backNumber kept last season: FourCurrently on roster: SixAverage number kept since 2008: FiveLocks: Justin Forsett, Marshawn Lynch, Leon WashingtonLooking good: Michael RobinsonLonger odds: Dorson Boyce, Chase ReynoldsComment – Lynch looks slimmed down and quicker in the open field this season. If gets some consistent blocking up front, he could break the 1,000-yard barrier. Forsett and Washington again provide a nice complement to the hard-running Lynch, but expect to see Washington used more, both in the backfield and lined up as a receiver in the passing game. At 6-1, 237 pounds, Boyce looks the part, but has yet to stand out during training camp. And Reynolds appears to be hard runner, and could stick around as a practice squad guy if he performs well during preseason play.
Wide receiverNumber kept last season: SixCurrently on roster: 12Average number kept since 2008: 5.7Locks: Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate.In the hunt: Kris Durham, Doug Baldwin, Deon Butler, Richardo Lockette, Isaiah Stanback.Longer Odds: Dominique Edison, Patrick Williams, Chris Carter,Comment – Adding Rice significantly upgraded this position, with the talent level going from average to above average, now that the former Minnesota receiver takes over as the team’s No. 1 receiving threat. As usual, this position will have a heated battle for those last, couple spots. Baldwin has shown a keen ability for reading coverages and creating separation in the slot, making it easy to understand why Seattle did not re-sign Brandon Stokley. Durham provides insurance for Williams if he gets dinged up again. Durham has looked as good as advertised. And Stanback could be a core special teams guy if he can be counted on as solid backup at receiver. Lockette has proved that he’s more than an athlete, making a one-handed catch on a deep ball early in camp. Butler could be a candidate for the PUP list.
Tight endNumber kept last season: FourCurrently on roster: SixAverage number kept since 2008: 3.3Locks: Zach MillerLooking good: John CarlsonIn the hunt: Anthony McCoy, Cameron Morrah, Dominique ByrdLonger odds: Ryan TravisComment – Like Rice, Miller significantly upgrades the position. And true to his word, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has used more two TE sets, keeping both Miller and Carlson on the field. However, there’s still no guarantee Seattle won’t move Carlson if some team comes calling (think Mike Holmgren in Cleveland). McCoy has enormous potential, but doesn’t show up consistently. Byrd is a good pass catcher that has to prove he can stay healthy and handle the physical aspect of the game. Morrah might be the most explosive player of the bunch, but has to get healthy. Offensive lineNumber kept last season: 11Currently on roster: 15Average number kept since 2008: 10Locks: Russell Okung, Robert Gallery, Max Unger, John Moffitt, James Carpenter, Mike Gibson, Tyler Polumbus.In the hunt: Paul McQuistan, Breno Giacomini, William Robinson, Paul Fanaika,Longer odds: Caz Piurowski, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Zach Hurd, Brent Osborne.Comment – The addition of Gallery, along with draft picks Carpenter and Moffitt, make this group more talented than last year. However, with all five starters never playing together in a meaningful game, expect some severe growing pains in the first half of the season. But with Okung, Gallery and Carpenter, this group should be pretty good at running the ball. Pass protection could be another matter, so expect Tarvaris Jackson to have to use his legs a bit more early in the season. Gibson provides good value because he can play center, guard and tackle. And Polumbus can play both guard and tackle positions. McQuistan has experience in offensive line coach Tom Cable’s system from his time in Oakland. And Fanaika is a solid run blocker who needs work in pass protection.
Defensive lineNumber kept last season: NineCurrently on roster: 16Average number kept since 2008: NineLocks:Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Alan Branch, Brandon Mebane, Raheem Brock.In the hunt: Colin Cole, Junior Siavii, Jimmy Wilkerson, Ryan Sims, Dexter Davis, Pep Levingston, Kentwan Balmer.Longer odds: Jameson Konz, A.J. Schable, Jay Alford, Pierre Allen, Jarrett Crittenton.Comment – It’s hard to get a handle on this group because we got our first look at half of these guys on Thursday, the first day free agents were allowed to practice. Further, Clemons, Davis and Bryant have been limited because of injuries, so it will take some time to sort out where new defensive line coach Todd Wash wants each of these guys to work. But for now, expect Mebane to play nose, Branch 3-tech, Bryant 5-tech and Clemons at Leo. Cole is still nursing an ankle injury and could wind up on the PUP list. However, he’s also due to make $3.75 million in base salary, so he could be a candidate for the team to ask to restructure his contract. And Konz actually hasn’t looked half bad rushing the passer. With his strength and speed, the Kent State product could develop into a core special teams player, and just needs to find his niche as a depth guy on the roster. LinebackersNumber kept last season: SixCurrently on roster: NineAverage number kept since 2008: SixLocks: Aaron Curry, David Hawthorne, K.J. WrightIn the hunt: Leroy Hill, Matt McCoy, Mike Morgan, Malcolm SmithLonger odds: Michael Johnson, Neal HoweyComment – Once the strength of this team, the talent and depth at this position has taken a serious hit over the last, two years. Team leader Lofa Tatupu is gone, and Hawthorne now has to emerge as a consistent player and team leader at middle linebacker. Curry has looked better at outside backer, and must continue to raise his game now that Tatupu is gone. And the Hawks hope that Hill still has something left in the tank. Behind those three is a group of inexperienced, but athletic rookies, including Wright, Smith and Morgan. McCoy is a savvy vet who will anchor the special teams units.
CornerbacksNumber kept last season: SixCurrently on roster: 13Average number kept since 2002: 4.7Locks: NoneLooking good:Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond.On the bubble: Roy Lewis, Byron Maxwell, Marcus Brown, Josh Pinkard, Kennard Cox.Longer odds: Jesse Hoffman, Ron Parker, Brett JohnsonComment – This group provides the most intriguing competition in camp. The Seahawks do not intend to ask Trufant to restructure his contract. He will earn $5.9 million base salary in the fourth year of his six-year deal in 2011. The Tacoma native turns 31 on Christmas day, and has been slowed due to back and head injuries. And Trufant has $16 million coming in 2012-13 – so if his play does not improve, it’s possible the Hawks cut ties with him and go with younger options at the position. Jennings provides a veteran presence should Seattle move on from Trufant. Sherman has looked surprisingly comfortable on the perimeter and has made his share of plays. And Browner’s sheer size and physical nature creates an imposing presence on the outside. Lewis and Thurmond have been slowed by injuries.
SafetiesNumber kept last season: FourCurrently on roster: FiveAverage number kept since 2008: FourLocks:Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Mark LeGreeIn the hunt: Jeron Johnson, Longer odds: Rickey ThenarseComment – With Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux gone, the greybeard of the group is 23-year-old Kam Chancellor. The Virginia Tech product has proved he did his homework under the steady tutelage of Milloy last year, and so far as been one of the standout players in camp. Thomas will get a chance to show off his play-making ability more this season by playing closer to the line of scrimmage. LeGree appears to be going through some rookie growing pains, but the talent level is evident. Johnson is a thumper who could help out on special teams. Pinkard also comes into play here because he plays some safety as well as corner.
SpecialistsSpecialists kept last season: ThreeCurrently on roster: FiveAverage number kept since 2008: 3.3Locks: (P) Jon Ryan, (LS) Clint Gresham.Looking good: (K) Jeff ReedIn the hunt: (K) Brandon CoutuLonger odds: (P) John GoldComment – Ryan is signed through 2015 and Gresham through 2012. Reed is a veteran who has kicked in big games and adverse conditions in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. But Coutu has proven he can make field goals consistently at CenturyLink Field. The problem in the past for Coutu has been his lack of leg strength on kickoffs, but with the league moving kickoffs up five yards, that could work in the Georgia product’s favor.