With three days before the Seattle Seahawks cut down the current 75-man roster to 53 players, tonight’s game at Oakland will serve as a final audition for players on the bubble looking to impress the team enough to make it on the final cut.
With that in mind, here are some position battles to watch this evening.
Running back – Julius Jones vs. Leon Washington vs. Justin ForsettComment: None of the three backs have jumped out in front of the pack during preseason play, so Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will have a tough decision to make come Saturday. It appears that some of the roles have already been determined however, with Carroll mentioning that Washington will likely be the kick return specialist now that Josh Wilson has been traded, and that he likes Forsett as a third-down guy.
Perhaps this is Jones’ last opportunity to show he can be the lead back starting the regular season. Otherwise, it’s hard to see the Seahawks keeping Jones and his salary ($2.45 million this season) as a reserve back that doesn’t play on special teams. Also, don’t count out the possibility of Seattle making a move to improve the overall depth here. Someone like Carolina reserve running back Mike Goodson, who’s buried behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, could come in and provide a different kind of runner for Seattle.
Quarterback – Charlie Whitehurst vs. J.P. LosmanComment: The thought heading into preseason play by some team observers was Losman had outplayed Whitehurst during the first week of training camp. But after receiving just a couple series during the first preseason game, Losman received limited practice time since. Whitehurst’s impressive play in the first preseason game against Tennessee also had something to do with that, but he’s cooled off since. Losman likely will get extensive playing time tonight against Oakland, so it will be interesting to see if he plays well enough to again challenge the notion of Whitehurst as a lock as the No. 2 quarterback.Left guard – Mike Gibson vs. Ben HamiltonComment: Head coach Pete Carroll said the position is open, and Gibson has taken advantage of Hamilton being out with a sore knee for the past week. If Gibson can assert himself by playing well against Oakland as the starter, Hamilton ($2 million base salary this season) becomes an expensive player to keep as a backup, although the Seahawks need all the experienced bodies they can get along the offensive line.
Tight end – Anthony McCoy vs. Cameron MorrahComment: Morrah has been more productive and is more explosive in the passing game, but McCoy is the more well-rounded player. McCoy also has an ankle injury and might not play tonight, so I’m interested to see how that affects the competition there, or if Seattle has already made their decision. McCoy also is this regime’s sixth-round pick, so that means something. I don’t expect them to keep four tight ends, and John Carlson and Chris Baker are locks right now.
Wide receiver – Ben Obomanu vs. Ruvell Martin vs. Brandon JonesComment: This will be another tough call for Seattle. Obomanu offers versatility because of his special teams play. But Martin is a big body who can run and also play special teams. And Jones really hasn’t got a chance to show what he can do, so tonight is important for all three players. However, if Seattle only keeps five receivers, like last season, then all three guys could be out.
Safety – Jordan Babineaux vs. Jamar AdamsComment: Earl Thomas, Lawyer Milloy and Cam Chancellor are probable locks to make the team, so Babineaux and Adams are likely competing for a final spot at safety, with Kevin Ellison having an outside shot to break into that conversation. Babineaux offers experience and versatility, with the ability to slide inside and play the slot receiver in nickel and dime situations. But if the Seahawks kept Babineaux ($2.45 million base salary this season), he’d be making more than twice the base salary than Milloy, which doesn’t make sense for a backup.
Linebacker – Matt McCoy vs. Tyjuan HaglerComment: Hagler is probably a little more versatile because he can play all three positions, but McCoy has been solid at middle linebacker and also plays on special teams. Both could make the team while David Hawthorne heals from a hip injury, and Leroy Hill serves his one-game suspension and also heals from a knee injury.
Defensive tackle – Craig Terrill vs. Quinn PitcockComment: Terrill is still effective as an inside pass rusher, but he’s 30 years old and Pitcock (26 years old) offers an opportunity for Seattle to get younger at the position, and he’s also cheaper.